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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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March 2008
7 March 2008

Is user-generated content out?

Revenge of the experts
Newsweek claims that the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward edited information vetted by professionals:

Some of the same entrepreneurs that funded the user-generated revolution are paying professionals to edit and produce online content.

In short, the expert is back. The revival comes amid mounting demand for a more reliable, bankable Web. “People are beginning to recognize that the world is too dangerous a place for faulty information,” says Charlotte Beal, a consumer strategist for the Minneapolis-based research firm Iconoculture. Beal adds that choice fatigue and fear of bad advice are creating a “perfect storm of demand for expert information.”

Read full story

7 March 2008

In Barcelona today

Disruptive Thinking
I am in Barcelona today to attend the Art Center Global Dialogues: Disruptive Thinking event.

The one-day conference is set up as “a series of on-stage conversations with internationally renowned thinkers in many fields whose “disruptive” ideas and actions challenge convention, break current paradigms, and inspire positive changes in the larger world. Unlike traditional conferences, the Art Center Global Dialogues pair these speakers with influential media figures—including highly regarded editors, publishers, and reporters—in vital exchanges that encourage the development of new ideas.”

Invited by mobile services strategist and fellow Belgian Rudy Dewaele and intrigued by the reputation of the organisers (The Art Center College of Design and the ESADE Business School), I decided to attend, curious to hear what the participants have to say about six influential areas in our daily lives: climate change, geopolitics, business, science, belief and design.

To make this event a truly global conversation, the organisers have set up a live video stream (with the possibility to interact with the audience through a live chat); a twitter stream for live questions and live micro blogging from the conference; and a Flickr group for people to send their pictures during (and after) the event.

5 March 2008

Nokia on the future of mobile phones in three, five and eight years

Nokia Research Center
Darren Waters of BBC News recently visited Nokia’s scientists and researchers at their lab in Palo Alto to talk about the future of mobile phones in three, five and eight years, and also beyond that.

The first thing he highlighted is the fact no-one at Nokia calls the devices phones anymore; they are multimedia computers.

He was shown three projects being developed at Nokia’s labs around the world, two of them in Palo Alto.

Read full story

5 March 2008

The 2008 mobile user experience manifesto

Mex300
MEX, the PMN Mobile User Experience conference, is a yearly two day strategy forum for the leading minds in mobile telecoms, to be held in London on 27th – 28th May 2008.

Every year PMN challenges the mobile telecoms business to respond to the MEX Manifesto, a 10 point blueprint for enhancing the mobile user experience. Here are the ten headings:
1. Content itself will be the interface of the future
2. Handsets are no longer just for the hand
3. Fragmentation is the enemy of innovation
4. Fashion is a stronger motivator than functionality
5. The developing world is the new frontier for mobile user experience
6. Search requires a radically different approach in the mobile environment
7. Intelligent contact lists are the future centres of the user interface
8. Mobile payments herald the next generational shift
9. Users as individuals: uniquely complex and contradictory
10. The potential of smart voice

Marek Pawlowski, one of the organisers, wants a public debate on these issues and will put the Manifesto and reader feedback at the heart of the conference agenda.

He also published short interviews with some of the conference speakers, including JD Moore, a user interface designer for Nokia, who will be responding to the MEX Manifesto statement entitled ‘The developing world is the new frontier for mobile user experience’, and Dr. Norman Lewis, chief strategy officer of the Wireless Grids Corporation and chairman of the International Telecommunications Union’s TELECOM Forum Programme Committee, who will the speaker for Point #9 of the Manifesto, entitled ‘Users as individuals: uniquely complex and contradictory’.

4 March 2008

New green online community for youth, by WWF, IUCN and Nokia

connect2earth
Two of the world’s largest environmental organizations, WWF and IUCN, supported by Nokia, are launching today connect2earth.org for young people to tell the world what they think about the environment.

Gland, Switzerland, and Espoo, Finland (IUCN, WWF and Nokia) – A new online community where young people can have their say on the environment by uploading videos, pictures and comments is being launched today.

The site, www.connect2earth.org, will also allow people to rank other entries, discuss the issues that matter most to them, and share smart ideas and solutions from their own communities. Each month users will vote on a winner who will be rewarded with a Nokia mobile phone.

The overall winner, selected by a panel of prominent conservationists, will get the chance to participate in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona this October and present his or her ideas directly to political, environmental and business leaders from around the world.

As mobile phones become an increasingly popular way to access the internet and online communities, the connect2earth site is optimized for using mobile phones to create short films, capture photos and submit comments.

Nokia press release | WWF press release

3 March 2008

Putting innovation in the hands of a crowd

Kluster
If executives are going to rely on the wisdom of the masses for business help, it’s probably time the masses get a little compensation for it.

That’s the theory behind Kluster, the newest in a lineup of companies using the Web to channel the collective wisdom of strangers into meaningful business strategies. With a cash reward system for contributors and a big beginning at the TED conference last week in Monterey, Calif., Kluster hopes to attract just enough visitors with just enough business smarts to gain early momentum.

Read full story

1 March 2008

More Americans turning to Web for news

Webnews
Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch, and nearly half are turning to the Internet to get their news, according to a new survey, Reuters reports.

While most people think journalism is important to the quality of life, 64 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities, a We Media/Zogby Interactive online poll showed.

Nearly half of the 1,979 people who responded to the survey said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, up from 40 percent just a year ago. Less than one third use television to get their news, while 11 percent turn to radio and 10 percent to newspapers.

But aren’t those the results you would expect when doing an online poll?

- Read full story
Read Zogby International press release | Read iFocos press release

1 March 2008

Comparing the practice of usability in the UK, Germany and China

uiGarden
Although usability engineering as a profession has been developed in the western countries for over twenty years, its development in other parts of the world like China remains relatively unknown. The study reported in this paper seeks to compare the practice of usability professionals in the United Kingdom, Germany and China. It focuses on the development of interactive products for local markets and for the other markets. The major objective of this research is to have an initial understanding of usability practice for each country.

Focus groups were conducted in order to obtain insights into the usability practice of each country. The results provide good indication of the usability knowledge shared and used in each of the studied national markets. Two levels of distinction regarding results can be made for processes and methods: One is results across countries – that is differences in processes and methods between China, Germany and the UK. The other one is results across domains within countries – that is differences between usability engineering (UE) and cross-cultural usability engineering (XUE) processes and methods for each country.

The major findings can be summarized that differences in methods and processes applied differed more between China, Germany and England than for the different domains of UE and XUE. UE-processes in England and Germany seemed more mature, flexible and integrated than in China. Specific processes for cross-cultural product development seem to be not existent. Neither is specific cross-cultural usability-methods applied by any team.

This white paper describes the objectives, methodology and results of the study. It is hoped that the findings presented in this paper will inform the development of usability practices better adjusted to the local realities of each of the participant countries.

Part I | Part II | Part III