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Putting People First

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September 2008
22 September 2008

More service design symposium videos online

Service Design Symposium
In March, the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (blog) organised a symposium on service design.

Some time ago, I reported that videos of three of the presentations (Bill Hollins, Bill Moggridge, and Jørgen Rosted) were online.

Meanwhile you can also see videos and read extensive synopses of the talks by Lavrans Løvlie (co-founder of the London-based service design consultancy live|work), Ezio Manzini (Milan Polytechnic), and Mikkel Rasmussen (ReD Associates).

20 September 2008

Experience design terminology in other languages [update]

 
What is the experience design terminology in other languages? Here are some equivalent expressions dealing with interface design, user experience, experience design, user-centred design and usability in nine European languages (updated version of older post):

- Czech: design uživatelskeho rozhraní (interface design), zkušenost uživatele (user experience), design zameřeny na uživatele (user centered), uživatelskeho prožitku (experience design), použitelnost (usability)
Danish: brugeroplevelser, oplevelsesdesign, and brugercentreret innovation.
Dutch: gebruikservaring, gebruiksvriendelijkheid, gebruiksgemak
Finnish: käyttöliittymäsuunnittelu, käyttäjäkokemus / käyttökokemus, kokemussuunnittelu, käytettävyys (thanks to Marjut Mutanen)
French: design d’interfaces, expérience utilisateur, conception centrée utilisateur, utilisabilité
German: Interfacedesign, Benutzerfreundlichkeit, Gebrauchstauglichkeit
Italian: design delle interfacce, esperienza dell’utente, design utente-centrico, usabilità
Portuguese: desenho da interface (or “design da interface”), experiência do usuário, desenho centrado no usuário (or “design centrado no usuário”), usabilidade
Spanish: diseño de interfaces, experiencia de usuario, diseño centrado en el usuario, usabilidad

Note that some of these words seem a little akward for native speakers (e.g. Gebrauchstauglichkeit, kokemussuunnittelu), who often prefer the English version.

Please send me other words and languages to add to this list.

20 September 2008

A surprising Africa at PICNIC

Surprising Africa
Cross media storytelling, vibrant and fast moving technological and creative developments in cities across Africa and the new plans that Google, Vodafone and Nokia have for the region: these are a few of the things that will be discussed in the Surprising Africa special, a full day special at the upcoming PICNIC conference on Friday 26 September.

Ethan Zuckerman is an activist, blogger and geek, who co-founded Global Voices, an online citizen media community focused on amplifying voices from the developing world. He also writes a blog called My heart’s in Accra. Laura Martz of PICNIC caught up with him and asked him about his work and the role of new media.

“Africans’ creative uses of technology not only counter negative stereotypes of the continent, they also hint at its receptiveness to simple, efficient everyday innovations.

Its problems, though, often require locally specific solutions rather than ones imported from outside.”

Read interview

(via Smart Mobs)

18 September 2008

Sir Mick Jagger now an EU usability consultant

Mick Jagger at the EU
The BBC reports that Sir Mick Jagger has taken on a new challenge, as an EU usability consultant:

You can’t always get what you want – that was the EU’s message to rock star Sir Mick Jagger at a forum aimed at making internet shopping easier.

The veteran rocker was among a group of business leaders invited to help find ways to simplify the complex e-shopping rules that EU citizens face.

Online consumers often feel they are not getting a fair deal, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. […]

The business panel also included: Apple boss Steve Jobs, the head of EMI Roger Faxon, Alcatel-Lucent boss Ben Verwaayen and the bosses of Fiat and eBay – John Elkann and John Donahoe.

Read full story

18 September 2008

The end of consumer surveys?

ARF
Advertising Age is waking up to a situation which for us in the experience design community has been apparent for many years: simple question-and-answer consumer surveys are not sufficient to be “in touch with the lifestyles of consumers”.

“After issuing dire warnings about the future of consumer surveys, the two biggest advertisers and buyers of market research in the world — Procter & Gamble and Unilever — are linking with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) for an industry effort to embrace online chatter and other naturally occurring feedback like never before.

“Without transforming our capabilities into approaches that are more in touch with the lifestyles of the consumers we seek to understand, the consumer-research industry as we know it today will be on life support by 2012,” Kim Dedeker, VP-external capability leadership, global consumer and market knowledge at P&G, said in a statement provided by the ARF.

To tackle the issue, the ARF will hold two industry summits in the coming six weeks to support new ways of listening to consumers that don’t involve the traditional question-and-answer format.”

Nice also this quote, which could come out of any book on user-centred design:

“You can’t ask people what they want, because what they say and what they do are two different things,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior VP-research and sales for ESPN, another backer of the ARF effort. “We can actually improve our [initiative’s] success rate if we just listen a bit more … on a passive basis.”

The article then goes on about the alternatives such as mining insights from blogs, social networks, consumer comments to websites, but doesn’t mention qualitative tools.

Interestingly, the ARF initiative seems to reflect a larger paradigm shift, “that could help research shed its uncool image and move researchers beyond today’s primary role as gatekeepers toward idea generators.”

Read full story

(via Fallon Planning)

18 September 2008

Book: Whiff! The revolution of scent communication in the information age

Whiff
Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age
by C. Russell Brumfield
Quimby Press, Hardcover, June 2008

Secretly, scores of Fortune 500 companies, like Proctor & Gamble, Disney, Bloomingdales, Lexus, Reebok, Sony, Samsung, and Starwood Hotels, have been using aroma to bypass their competition.

These cutting edge companies are using scent research to trigger and enhance customers’ emotions, perceptions, and brand loyalty, resulting in increased sales and satisfied customers.

Whiff! conveniently pulls back the veil for the rest of the $3.9 trillion U.S retail marketing trade, so that innovative small and mid-sized businesses can share the advantage of the big boys.

Yet this is only the beginning stage of the scent revolution. This global wave is changing how branding and marketing experts communicate with their customers at every level across every industry.

Whiff! reveals how exciting new scent discoveries are being applied to safety, security, healthcare, navigation, diagnostics, product design, and even on the battlefield. With a comprehensive overview of this global phenomenon, Brumfield and his team offer up a breath-taking whiff of the future.

- Amazon page
Book review on Neuroscience Marketing

(via FutureLab)

17 September 2008

New IBM center to focus on social software

IBM
Building on the momentum in social networking for business, IBM Corp. is opening the IBM Center for Social Software in Cambridge, Mass., to research and quantify the effects of social software on workplace productivity.

The center will bring together the area’s top minds in software development, social research and business formation to discover the next breakthrough application in Web 2.0 business software and persuade customers that the social software — which covers such things as social networks and user-generated content­ — was is a good investment.

Read full story

Here is the press release. More background can be found in The Boston Globe and on CNET News.

17 September 2008

Nokia’s Legends Telegraph

Legends
Nokia’s Legends Telegraph is a new Flash interface – with a silly, old-fashioned look and feel – to eight introductory videos and a new section on the company’s website on upcoming innovations and new experiences Nokia is working on and how they work.

Covered are indoor positioning, location sensing, Traffic Works, Connected Home, personalised web widgets, MultiScanner, mobile journalism and NFC.

Apparently the old newspaper look, the accompanying bar soundtrack, and the down-to-earth working class accent by actor Ron McLarty have to “show how real some stuff that might seem unreal actually is” and to “plant new technology right into the palms of regular folks.”

Very gimmicky, if you ask me, with doubtful results. Who is this aimed at? Baby boomers? Kids? Working class geeks?

Well, according to Ross Lamont, one of the people behind the project, this “campaign is all about innovation”, with the main aim of “telling stories about the innovations going on inside Nokia”.

17 September 2008

IDEO blogs

IDEO
For years I wondered why IDEO was so little present in the online debate. That has now changed with no less than two new blogs by IDEO:

IDEO Labs

“IDEO Labs is a place where we can share bits of what we’re working on, talk about cool techniques and share our excitement over the tools that help us create.

Ringing new ideas to life is an essential part of what we do. The first versions are usually rough. They’re early proofs of the concepts, ways of helping us explore, learn, and think. Usually they’re not very pretty. They’re not finished products, after all, but prototypes of what could be.

Most of the time those prototypes don’t get shown to anyone but the client who hired us. But sometimes we do stuff that we can share, and we’ve created this blog to do just that.

It’s also a place where we hope conversations will take place. If you see something you like, leave a comment and let us know. Point us to an even cooler version of whatever it is we’re so jazzed about. Toss in an idea. Ask a ‘what if’…”

Design thinking

In this personal blog, the company’s CEO Tim Brown elaborates on his recent Harvard Business Review article – a place therefore to share ideas and have a discussion in preparation of a book he is writing on the subject.

Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week really likes the blog because “it delves deeply into the evolving field of design thinking”, because Tim “is embracing design and design thinking to raise the economic standing of people at the bottom of the pyramid”, and because it’s well designed.

16 September 2008

Understanding non-users

Marsouin
Interesting article by Hubert Guillaud of InternetActu.net on understanding non-users (my translation):

The French Marsouin research lab just published an interesting study on people who do not use the internet. The study starts off with the various existing typologies to characterise non-users, such as those developed by the Walloon Telecommunications Agency or the ones from the Aquitaine region in France (pdf). When one starts to map out these profile characteristics (particularly those that are socio-demographic or economical), the limitations of this exercise become apparent. The researchers Annabelle Boutet and Jocelyne Trémembert stress that in order to understand the profiles of non-users, we have to start off with inversing the well-known statistics: 7% of those between 12 and 17, 91% of those above 70, and 4 out 5 of those who didn’t finish high school… don’t use the internet.

Their study was based on participative research in the sensitive urban zone of Kérourien in Brest, in order to maximise the involvement of the 125 non-users. As in previous studies, also this study stresses the importance of people’s social circle in the diffusion and the actual appropriation of use; “one makes the step towards technology or towards shared environments, when accompagnied by a close one”. In fact, a decisive factor with non-user is the absence of internet usage in their social circle. However, the role of close family members remains unclear, say the researchers, because we need to better understand each of their roles in the home: they could play a facilitating role (e.g. teenagers helping their parents using web tools), but also a censoring one (by excluding family members through discriminating behaviours and practices), or even a “proxy” one, i.e. as a usage mediator where the value is not so easy to determine: e.g. the teenager who sends mails on behalf of his mother, or helps her setting up internet webcam or chat connections).

In any case, non-users are not necessarily living within a non-technological environnment: 59% of the respondents had a computer at home and 49% had an internet connection. The authors insist strongly on the limitations of the definition of the non-user itself (users through third parties? those who gave up? those who refuse?) which covers a wide range of non-use (frequency, duration, level of knowledge, autonomy…).

15 September 2008

Ethnic minority groups continue to lead the way on digital device take-up and use

Ofcom
Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, states that ethnic minority groups are the prime early adopters in Europe, thereby confirming ethnographic user research at Swisscom.

“Ethnic minority groups are at the forefront of digital communications in the UK, with high levels of mobile phone, internet and multichannel television take-up. But, despite this, many people from ethnic minority groups lack confidence finding content online and are concerned about content delivered on digital communications, new research from Ofcom reveals.

Ofcom’s media literacy audit of UK adults from ethnic minority groups draws on quantitative research from the four largest ethnic minority groups in the UK : Indians, Pakistanis, Black Caribbeans and Black Africans. The audit provides a rich picture of the different elements of media literacy across television, radio, the internet and mobile phones amongst ethnic minority groups.”

Read full story

15 September 2008

Cultural aspects of interaction design

International Journal of Design
The latest issue of the International Journal of Design is devoted to the cultural aspects of interaction design:

“When a group of people, no matter its scale, start sharing common ways of thinking, feeling and living, culture emerges. Culture therefore can emerge from any population segment. It is not limited to a geographic area or ethnicity. Different cultures can be distinguished by their individual and group characteristics, e.g. the mental models, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, aesthetics, rules, norms, and values that group members share. Different cultures therefore produce different artifacts and environments based on their cultural characteristics. On the other hand, artifacts, through people’s interactions with them, influence cultures and can even produce a new culture.”

Read issue

14 September 2008

How to make open source projects care more about usability and user experience?

malware
Open source projects have historically suffered from featuritis and poor usability (even WordPress, which this blog runs on, has a cumbersome software update). Now a private company is investing in improving Ubuntu, the Linux desktop poster child:

Canonical, the corporate backer of the Ubuntu version of Linux, is hiring a team to help make open-source software on the desktop more appealing and easier to use.

The company plans to sign up designers and specialists in user experience and interaction to lead Canonical’s work on usability and to contribute to other free and open-source desktop-environment projects, including Gnome and KDE, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical chief executive and founder of the Ubuntu project, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.”

Why do we need a private company to do this? Why are usability and user experience still issues that open source is grappling with? Why are some of the best software development projects in terms of usability still privately developed projects? What would need to change in the open source movement so that these issues become engrained in development? Are there some serious best practices, aside from the encyclopaedic approach taken by such initiatives as OpenUsability and Interaction-Design.org?

Canonical’s Ubuntu initiative: article 1 | article 2

13 September 2008

The user experience of malware

malware
Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent [Wikipedia definition], and we all hate it.

But is there something more relevant to say about the user experience of malware? Yes, because the definition of what constitutes malware is flexible and can affect very legitimate applications (like Facebook) or companies (like Intel or Sony). In an article for UXmatters, Paul J. Sherman looks at the wider context of this and comes up with a draft assessment tool.

“My position is that, like many qualitative attributes, malware is in the eye of the beholder. And, I’ll suggest a method that product or service developers can use to assess the risk that their users, the media, or the market at large might perceive their offerings as malware.”

Read full story

12 September 2008

Eataly launching in Tokyo and New York

Eataly
Eataly, the very successful “slow” and experiential supermarket in Turin, Italy, is now opening branches in Tokyo and New York.

According to the La Repubblica newspaper, Eataly will inaugurate its first foreign branch on 26 September in Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighbourhood. The two-floor, 1500 m2 shop will feature a sales area (including a bakery, pastry shop, ice cream angle and coffee shop), a restaurant area (with zones devoted to pasta, salami/cheese, and vegetables), and — typically, Slow Food — an educational zone for courses on food culture, meetings with chefs, cooking lessons, and wine and food tastings.

On sale will be both Japanese products (to value the “short supply chain”) and Italian products, primarily coming from the Piedmont and Liguria regions. Eataly Tokyo will be open from 8 in the morning until midnight, and have a staff of about 100.

The New York branch is currently set to open in December.

12 September 2008

Philips Design magazine is now an email newsletter

Wake up
Philips Design magazine used to be published three to four times a year, but the last edition was from July 2007. Now it has been turned into a simple newsletter, that comes to you via email (not rss).

The articles in the first (September 2008) edition are very short, very corporate, and therefore a bit on the shallow side – with none of the edginess of let’s say a Vodafone Receiver magazine:

  • A better way to wake up: how an alarm clock that wakes you up with light is more in tune with people’s natural patterns and rhythms, who are increasingly interested by the way in slowing down;
  • A brand on its best behavior: how design plays a crucial role in maintaining consistency in how people experience and perceive the brand;
  • Two Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA Awards) for Philips Design: a Silver award for the Philips Moisturizing Shaving System and a Bronze for the Chulha low-smoke stove;
  • Interview with Simona Rocchi, senior director “Design for Sustainability” on responsible design – a discussion which strangely positions user-centred design and environmentally and socially sustainable design as two separate issues. It doesn’t tackle the interesting position, advocated by e.g. Nathan Shedroff, that user-centred design is inherently more sustainable, although the example of their ‘Chulha’ project seems to imply exactly that.

The newsletter also contains an event calendar.

11 September 2008

NLab’s social networks conference

NLab
NLab is a lab developed by the Faculty of the Humanities of De Montfort University in Leicester, UK to connect creative businesses with writers and generate pioneering partnerships.

In June they organised a very interesting one-day conference on social networks (blog), addressing the following four future-oriented questions:

  • What is a social network and how can it generate wealth for your business?
  • How can social networks increase creativity and why is that important?
  • How will social networks affect the future of your company?
  • What can you do right now to benefit your business?

Videos are now online:

Opening address (video)
David Asch, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at De Montfort University

Social networking for small businesses – lessons from Microsoft? (video)
Steve Clayton, Microsoft International
Microsoft is hardly a small business so what can they offer in terms of advice on how small businesses can use Social Networking? Steve Clayton works for Microsoft International on their Software + Services strategy and is a veritable social network butterfly – dancing between Facebook, Twitter and his blog by the minute. Come along to hear his thoughts on how his experiences can be applied to Small Business.
Blog post

Are online social networks the new cities? (video)
Roland Harwood, Open Innovation, NESTA
Cities are the traditional meeting point for financial, social and cultural centres. How are the development of online networks changing the mode and quality of human interactions, and the economic, social and cultural activities of on and off-line communities?
[Or as worded on the NESTA Connect blog: “Cities arn’t just simply analogous to social networks, but rather some of the functions that cities provide (proximity, economies of scale, random interaction etc) are now increasingly being provided by social networks. And most importantly, we are only just beginning to see the impact on our cities and places which will be profoundly impacted by the web, just as they have been historically by other disruptive technologies.”]
Blog post

The future of work: amplified individuals, amplified organisations (video)
Andrea Saveri, Institute for the Future
New technologies of cooperation are combining to create a generation of amplified individuals – workplace superheroes. In some cases they will compete with organizational model; in others they will amplify the capabilities of organisations where they already work. But are you amplified? How will key trends shaping work amplify your work and your organization? The Institute for the Future, a long-established Silicon Valley thinktank, has identified six major drivers of change.
Blog post 1 | Blog post 2 | Blog post 3 | Presentation download

Bioteams: what can we learn from nature’s social networks?
Ken Thompson, Swarmteams Ltd
Nature’s teams, such as bees, geese, ants and dolphins, are based on a small number of fundamentally different principles than human teams. Interestingly these “bioteams” seem to bear a much closer resemblance to today’s virtual/ mobile social networks than the traditional organisation teams we all know and love. Ken will explore whether an awareness of these principles can help us get much more value out of both social software and social networks.
Blog post 1 | Blog post 2 | Presentation download

Social networking beyond the dogma: let’s make some money
Jim Benson, Modus Cooperandi
The application of social networking and social media technologies ultimately should help your business work better. How do you set goals, create campaigns, and execute cost effectively?
Blog post

Panel discussion rounding up the issues of the day
with Steve Clayton, Roland Harwood, Chris Meade, Vijay Riyait, Andrea Saveri.
Blog post

(via Nesta Connect)

11 September 2008

Philips exploring the more “intimate” sides of experience design

Intimate massager
Philips’ new sex toy range, in other words.

Here some excerpts from today’s press release:

Philips launches new category of ‘Relationship Care’ with intimate massagers for couples

Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG, AEX:PHI) today announced the launch of a new category of ‘Relationship Care’ with the introduction in the UK of a range of products designed to enhance couples’ sexual well-being. These products will specifically target a new and previously unaddressed market of consumers in the 35-55 year age group who are open to using intimate accessories. Philips will sell its ‘Intimate Massager’ range in the UK through selected high street retailers i.e. Boots, Selfridges of London and Amazon.co.uk. […]

The category is being launched following extensive market research. In the UK, research showed that 35% of adults would consider using an intimate accessory with their partner if it were designed for couples rather than being meant for individual use. Furthermore, studies showed these adults would be more likely to try such products if they could buy them through more accessible and – what consumers perceive to be – less embarrassing retail channels.

The first product launch from the Relationship Care category is a range of ‘Intimate Massagers’. These have been designed to be tasteful and stylish in their look and feel, creating an appealing product for consumers that can be sold by mainstream retailers. Philips’ Intimate Massagers are also the first non-penetrative stimulators designed for partners to use together.

Read full press release

11 September 2008

Andrë Braz’s experience design manifesto

XDM
The Brazilian experience designer Andrë Braz, who is user experience design manager at the Globo Corporation, has published an appealing Experience Design Manifesto. Here is his reasoning behind it:

I have always thought that most designers pay little attention to the subjective side of what’s known as User Experience. Everybody knows it’s there, but they don’t strive to understand it, probably because it’s harder to measure and to bridge a concept to a more tangible solution.

Being a true fan of this constant challenge of understanding the intangible, I thought of bringing together ideas to share with everyone that thinks, reads, writes or talks about this. That is the reason I have created a blog at first time.

Later, inspired by some talks, I had this idea of writing a tiny manifesto: something that could point the way in which I believe design should be done. Since we are dealing with the way people feel, it is important we use any knowledge we have in a good way.

Of course, when you write something and name it “manifesto”, the first reaction is to think of it as something supposed to be big and judge it’s content. That’s great, because the clash of different visions can be very powerful, and getting people to criticize it will bring a better understanding of those issues. And yes, it will evolve through time.

So there it is. I got a name for it, worked on a logo and uploaded this simple page.

(via Adaptive Path)

9 September 2008

Book: Coming of Age in Second Life – an anthropologist explores the virtually human

Coming of Age in Second Life
Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Hardcover)
by Tom Boellstorff
Princeton University Press
Hardcover, 2008, 328 pages

Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love–the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. Coming of Age in Second Life is the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe.

Tom Boellstorff conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Second Life, living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so-called real world. He conducted his research as the avatar “Tom Bukowski,” and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life, including issues of gender, race, sex, money, conflict and antisocial behavior, the construction of place and time, and the interplay of self and group.

Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself.

Tom Boellstorff is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia and The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton).

Amazon page
Book reviews: The Guardian | Scientific American | Times Literary Supplement