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Putting People First

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November 2009
12 November 2009

Designing for a sustainable world

WUD
To celebrate World Usability Day 2009, System Concepts has put together a video podcast exploring how different stakeholders can enhance the user experience of their designs by including sustainability as a key requirement.

The interviewees include:
– Professor Ben Shneiderman – User Interface guru from the University of Maryland
John Thackara – Director, Doors of Perception and currently senior advisor on sustainability to the UK Design Council
Nicolai Peitersen – Founder and CEO of Ethical Economy
– Daniel Liden, Senior Designer at Chris Lefteri Design Ltd, who specialise in materials
– Dina Guth – Director of British design and innovation company TECAtech
– Liz Edwards, Home Editor of the UK Consumer’s Association
– Tom Stewart, President of the UK Ergonomics Society

View podcast

12 November 2009

Towards human-centred knowledge management tools

Knowledge Tools of the Future
Institute for the Future just released its latest research report, Knowledge Tools of the Future, written by Alex Pang and Mike Love. The report takes an in-depth look at signals, drivers, and trends shaping how organizations will utilize knowledge management in the future, particularly how humans will drive knowledge creativity and innovation.

Pang writes:

“It’s a truism that we live in a knowledge economy. For the last decade, being competitive in the knowledge economy has required developing systems to manage information—information like consumer data, logistics, organizational practices. But the tools of the next decade will be very different. The growing accessibility of knowledge management (KM) systems has greatly reduced the competitive advantage that companies can draw from adopting them: KM is business as usual. The growing recognition that there are important kinds of knowledge work that aren’t supported by KM systems has further dulled their edge. As a result, for companies that want to become more innovative, tools designed to make information storage and sharing more efficient are less attractive. So what tools will knowledge-intensive organizations use in the next decade?”

Knowledge Tools of the Future argues that companies trying to differentiate themselves around innovation and creativity rather than efficiency and cost will turn to the array of devices, systems, methodologies, and services sometimes called the “intelligent web.” These tools exploit things like semantic Web functions, microformats, and recommendation agents to provide a more productive and intuitive experience for users. These tools are powerful because they aren’t hard to use, are relatively easy to use, and don’t require creative people to change they ways they work. They enable users to be creative and innovative—to do what humans are uniquely good at doing, in other words—while leaving the heavy lifting of brute information processing to computers, which are very good at such tasks. These tools matter because the most powerful creative tools are brains and teams. There’s a social aspect to knowledge, creativity, and innovation that we are just learning to tap. It is this social aspect of knowledge that the next generation knowledge tools, and next generation of users, will seek to magnify and support.

Organizations are in the middle of a paradigm shift from machine-heavy knowledge management tools designed to maximize efficiency and standardize organizational practices to technically lightweight, human-centered instruments that facilitate creativity and collaboration. It is this human creativity that will differentiate businesses in the future.

11 November 2009

Nokia The Way We Live Next 3.0

The Way We Live Next
The third edition of Nokia’s The Way We Live Next conference took place yesterday and today in Espoo, Finland.

Nokia’s blog, Nokia Conversations, reports on a few of the keynote presentations:

Nokia’s vision of the future
by Heikki Norta, Nokia’s Head of Corporate Strategy
Smart ecosystems sits at the centre of our mobile life five years from now. That’s what Nokia’s head of corporate strategy Heikki Norta outlined this morning when he talked about what life will be like in 2015. During a short video, we saw how a combination of devices and services worked together to de-clutter life. This comes from a background that’s seeing the relationship between consumers and brands evolve from a monologue right now through a conversation and into a continuos relationship. The idea is simply to help users manage their lives better and enable them to create, share and get the most out of life.
Read more
Watch video (RECOMMENDED)
Download presentation

The opportunities for the future
by Oskar Korkman, Nokia’s Head of Opportunity Identification in Consumer & Customer Insights
Trend research plays a key role in understanding what’s going to happen in the future. Creating an understanding of how people’s needs are changing and evolving helps create a clearer idea of where the opportunity for next generation products and services. Oskar Korkman is head of opportunity identification in consumer insights at Nokia and today he shared some of his thoughts for how we’re going to evolve. For Oskar, it’s all about relationships, with everything from strangers to plants firmly in his sights.
Read more

Some other presentation downloads:
Multiplying our efforts by Henry Tirri, SVP, Head of Nokia Research Center
Communities creating Computers – Computers connecting Communities by Peter Schneider, Head of Technology Marketing, Maemo Devices, Nokia
Communities of the Future by Purnima Kochikar, VP, Head of Forum Nokia & Developer Community
Go mobile with cash by Teppo Paavola, VP, General Manager of Mobile Financial Services, Nokia

See also a few articles in Wired UK:
Social apps and open-source research
Nokia gets intimate with haptic technology

11 November 2009

Using ethnography to improve user experience

People shopping
Bonny Colville-Hyde of CX Partners has written a good introductory article on the value of ethnographic research.

How can you ensure your service stands out from its competitors in the marketplace as the one people want to use?

One way is to uncover how your users interact with you and find new ways to support their behaviours’.

Usability research can show you how successfully users engage with your website and how you can improve it to better fit user needs, but ethnographic research can tell you about the circumstances users go through before they interact with you online, and tell you about user’s needs that you weren’t aware of.

Understanding user motivations is the key to developing your website into a service that people actively want to use.

Read full story

11 November 2009

Accenture says tech-driven approach to CE innovation outdated

Accenture
Consumer electronics companies must rethink the old technology-driven approach to innovation because industry convergence has made this model obsolete, claims a study by Accenture.

In the converging world, “high-performance businesses in the CE industry have begun to embrace a consumer-engagement-driven model of innovation,” but many CE companies have not. Even those companies embracing the new approach to innovation, however, have difficulty converting successful concepts into successful products and services, the study said. [...]

Today, CE technologies have converged with “media, IT technologies, games, Internet, [and] mobile…into the same marketplace and compete against each other.” As a result, “the traditional eco-system is transformed. Technology, licensing, and content provider relationships no longer determine who dictates the rules of the game,” Accenture said. “The traditional standardization and alliance processes are becoming less effective due to competing interests, business models and strategies of ever more players and industries.”

“With so many industries competing for the consumer’s attention, the consumer has become the new focus,” the study claimed.

In this new environment, CE companies can better position themselves to accelerate growth if they “embrace a consumer-engagement-driven model of innovation,” Accenture contended. To accomplish this, “CE companies need to engage with consumers at the onset and throughout the innovation process.” [...]

Such companies also conduct a lot of consumer behavior research, but their research does not always take the form of traditional market research studies, the company said. Their research tends “to more observational and ethnographic in nature.”

Read full story

11 November 2009

How to create a long-tail user experience

Andrew Maier
Andrew Maier of UXBooth reflects on how to cultivate (or dissolve) a community, or in other words how to create a long-tail user experience.

Websites are social creatures. Or rather, their users are. In turn, the websites you visit are tempered by the users that interact with them. Your experience with a website, say facebook.com, is directly linked to the people with which you interact on that website. But this introduces an interesting challenge for a user experience designer: do you design for the intial experience or the resulting experience?

Read full story

11 November 2009

User stories: a strategic design tool

User stories
Collaborative design methods play a key role in aligning team members towards a shared and strategic project vision.

In this article Penny Hagen and Michelle Gilmore describe how user stories stimulate and facilitate discussion and decision making with clients in the development of a User Experience Strategy. In our context (the development of online projects) the User Experience Strategy becomes an ‘in principle agreement’ on the shape of the project (what), its purpose (why), and provides potential implementation strategies (how). It takes into account all perspectives (e.g business, technical, marketing, brand) but privileges the intended user experience.

A collaborative approach enables clients to actively participate in the process, increasing the likelihood of achieving a collective vision for the project. This article focuses on the first step in the journey towards collaboratively developing a User Experience Strategy and is concerned specifically with how user stories are generated, themed and prioritized.

Read full story

10 November 2009

Book: Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media

Hanging out
Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out
Kids Living and Learning with New Media
(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning)
An examination of young people’s everyday new media practices—including video-game playing, text-messaging, digital media production, and social media use.

Authors: Mizuko Ito, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Z. Martinez, C. J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, Christo Sims and Lisa Tripp
MIT Press, November 2009, 432 pages
Table of contents and sample chaptersAmazon link

Conventional wisdom about young people’s use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today’s teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth’s social and recreational use of digital media. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out fills this gap, reporting on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings—at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.

Integrating twenty-three different case studies—which include Harry Potter podcasting, video-game playing, music-sharing, and online romantic breakups—in a unique collaborative authorship style, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out is distinctive for its combination of in-depth description of specific group dynamics with conceptual analysis.

This book was written as a collaborative effort by members of the Digital Youth Project, a three-year research effort funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.

The project was spearheaded by Mimi Ito, a Research Scientist at the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

(via danah boyd)

10 November 2009

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviews Jan-Christoph Zoels

Jan-Christoph Zoels
Check out Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels’s superb appearance on CNN’s Christiane Amanpour show yesterday… vividly describing how as an opposition member, he was among the first East Germans to cross into West Berlin for the first time when the Germans messed up their plans, and inadvertently started letting people through.

Christiane said she loved it, we were told.

This show, which is available in 250 million homes and businesses around the world and started off with Jan-Christoph’s vivid recollections, can be seen online here.

Here is his written recollection of the events, now twenty years ago:

“My memories of November 9th, 2009

It was a very dark Thursday night. I was one of the first few hundred who waited at the checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse to go and see West Berlin.

And here’s why:

That evening a group of writers and artists met at the house of one of the co-founders of the “Neues Forum” – New Forum – the first independent political movement of East Germany. The assembled group was the communications brain of the organization. Together we had prepared leaflets, posters, and press statements.

During the meeting that evening we discussed the cryptic announcement by the central committee of the communist party of East Germany. We knew that changes would be happening to the travel permissions of people who wanted to leave East Germany forever. What surprised us that evening was that the general traveling rights for everybody would be expanded – like the right to get a visa to visit the West…

About 22.00 I left home to work on a press statement for the next morning. My best friend Sabine came about 22.50 and asked me to get whatever western money I had and come with her by bike to the checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse. She said that West German TV had just announced that people could now visit the West, even though very few were able to get through.

We raced with our bicycles to the checkpoint ca 10 min away and arrived at a waiting crowd of several hundred people – shouting to open the wall. Ca 30-45 later we were let through a small gate, our passports were stamped (originally to prevent us from re-entering), then we went through a row of border facilities, and arrived on a bridge leading to West Berlin.

On this evening, I saw many people crying. I clearly remember another friend and co-founder of the opposition movement, a scientist, weeping like a child, as we moved through the border.

Sabine and I persuaded a taxi driver to take us nearly for free to our best West Berliner friends. After many years of their visits we were finally able to reciprocate. We laughed, cried, toasted to this new won feeling.

Later that night I went to see Reie, the sister of my former girlfriend. Reie had left East Germany some years earlier and was forbidden to re-enter. Together with her boyfriend Sascha A, later identified as a spy for the secret service STASI, we drove through Berlin by night, climbed the wall on the Brandenburg Gate, gathered some friends and celebrated through the night.

The next morning Reie drove me back to the check point to go to work. I arrived late to the private design studio in which I worked. My boss welcomed me with the statement, “The fall of wall is not a reason to come too late to work”. I knew then I would change work soon.”

9 November 2009

The human factor

Doctors
NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, has published a 45-page discussion paper on how transforming healthcare to involve the public, i.e. the creation of people-powered public services, can save money and save lives.

The National Health Service (NHS) needs to save £15 billion to £20 billion over the next few years. This paper argues that these savings could be achieved through radical patient-centred service redesign and more effective approaches to public behaviour change. However, these approaches are difficult to develop within the existing health service.

NESTA’s experience of working with leading companies and developing projects in healthcare demonstrates that radical new ways of innovating that give genuine power to frontline staff, patients and the public are necessary to make these approaches widespread. This would unlock the savings we need and improve the nation’s health.

Download paper

9 November 2009

Designing mobile money services for emerging markets

Sente
Nokia user researcher Jan Chipchase has posted an in-depth presentation and paper on designing mobile money services for emerging markets:

“Hang around a telecoms industry conference long enough and you start to get big-number fatigue – as one stack of seemingly impressive statistic blurs into the next. The numbers that have stuck with me over the years came from our research into the lives of the working illiterate: people who have jobs and want to keep them – spending time with people who work 16 hours days, 7 days a week with just a few days off per year is not uncommon. Who benefits more from the introduction of mobile money management services – a white-collar worker in New York City or a migrant manual labourer living out of a dormitory in Xi’an? For many access to mobile money services is a game-changer.

For practitioners working in this space (hei) the most useful section is likely to be on mobile phone practices and behaviours: covering mediated use from the perspective of customers; agents and the service providers themselves; charging; and multiple-SIM card practices.”

Read full story

9 November 2009

The internet is killing storytelling

Ben Macintyre
Narratives are a staple of every culture the world over. Yet, argues Ben Macintyre, writer at large for The Times (UK), they are disappearing in an online blizzard of tiny bytes of information.

“The internet, while it communicates so much information so very effectively, does not really “do” narrative. The blog is a soap box, not a story. Facebook is a place for tell-tales perhaps, but not for telling tales. The long-form narrative still does sit easily on the screen, although the e-reader is slowly edging into the mainstream. [...]

What is needed is a machine that can combine the ease and speed of digital technology with the immersive pleasures of narrative.”

Read full story

9 November 2009

Banking the unbanked Africans – the mobile initiatives

Banking the unbanked Africans
The November 2009 edition of Mobile Money Africa, “Africa’s leading online resource for mobile financial inclusion”, is entitled “Banking the unbanked Africans” and is entirely available for download.

The December edition will focus on Mobile Money and Payment technologies for Africa.

Download magazine (November 2009)

(via David Tait and Niti Bhan)

5 November 2009

Reinventing British manners the Post-It way

Bill Moggridge
Wired UK asked Bill Moggridge and his IDEO team to tackle the urban rage problem that is rendering the UK cityscapes ever more aggressive.

“Design thinking defines the practical way in which IDEO approaches its problems, but as a phrase it also allows design to be talked about in a meaningful way by non-designers. After all, what is a designer? In the popular mind, it’s the person who lends his or her name to a range of sunglasses or shoes – beret-sporting chaps who add several noughts to price tags. Or it’s the engineer surrounded by technical drawings, making machines. Either way, for most people – and most companies – the idea of the designer does not involve solving problems that don’t involve making a product. But proponents of design thinking say that they can extend this creative mindset to address all forms of problem-solving. Designing products, yes, but also designing new businesses, new strategies, even new additions to society. Tim Brown, IDEO’s president, calls it “a way of describing a set of principles that can be applied by diverse people to a wide range of problems”.”

Read full story

5 November 2009

Social isolation and new technology

Social Isolation
The Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community survey finds that Americans are not as isolated as has been previously reported. People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.

Read media reports:
Tech tools may help pull people together (Silicon Valley Mercury News)
Web, cellphone users are not isolated from reality (USA Today)
Study finds social media is actually social (ReadWriteWeb)

5 November 2009

Strength in science collaboration

Rory Cellan-Jones
Rory Cellan-Jones of BBC News reports on how Google Wave is proving its worth in the scientific community, as one of the new collaboration tools which scientists are using to work together and conduct research.

“The key to these sites is putting scientists in touch with fellow researchers and academics in a way that was only before possible with word of mouth or extensive, time-consuming networking.”

Read full story

4 November 2009

Answering the call to service design

Good brand audit
Phi-Hong D. Ha, an interaction design and strategy consultant, discusses discusses the viability of the new field of service design with Steven Heller of AIGA Voice.

Isn’t all design a service to someone? Perhaps that can be debated. But currently the service design genre is receiving considerable attention and achieving currency. When Phi-Hong D. Ha, an interaction design and strategy consultant, was asked what is meant by “service” in today’s design world, she responded, “Service design is a collaborative process of researching, planning and realizing the experiences that happen over time and over multiple touch points with a customer’s experience.” And according to Liz Danzico, chair of the School of Visual Arts’ new MFA Interaction Design program, “Service design looks at customer needs and experiences in a holistic way.” Yet many service designers in the United States do not call themselves Service Designers. Much of the work done in this area is still referred to as “customer experience” or “user experience.” This is where Ha enters the arena. She was a senior user experience designer for Method, where she led the team in redesigning TED.com and TheApt.com. At Method she started championing the emerging field of service design, and she is currently on the faculty of SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design and a member of the Service Design Network.

Read full story

4 November 2009

The new fast ways of keeping in touch are driving us further apart

 
Email, texting and Facebook let us hide behind our computer screens instead of talking to each other. Elizabeth Day asks in The Observer if we have the tyranny of technology to blame or ourselves?

According to John Freeman, who is the new editor of Granta magazine and a former president of the National Book Critics Circle in the US, the modern tools of communication that are meant to connect us are actually driving us further apart. Instead of bringing us into closer contact with the global community, email, instant messaging, texting and social networking sites all enforce the notion of what the French philosopher Guy Debord termed “the lonely crowd”.

Read full story

4 November 2009

Nokia Life Tools tailored to the needs of Indonesians

Farmer
Nokia Life Tools was designed to help improve the livelihood and lives of farmers, students and many people in more remote and rural areas in emerging market countries.

It does this by offering easily accessible and up-to-date crop prices, education tools and entertainment packages, delivering this valuable information on a simple SMS backbone.

Nokia Life Tools has now been announced for Indonesia, where it has been tailored towards its people’s needs.

Read full story

4 November 2009

The Fuzzy Boundary: Four products that are also services

Objects
Mike Kuniavsky of ThingM was invited to speak at Kimiko Ryokai’s Theory and Practice of Tangible User Interfaces class at UC Berkeley yesterday, where he discussed the relationship between products and services in a ubicomp environment, and presented a set of examples of device/service relationships that show some of the variation in the possibilities.

Download presentation