counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


January 2010
29 January 2010

Nokia’s introduction to user experience

Introduction to UX
User experience is one of the most important success factors of a mobile application, according to Nokia.

Therefore the company created a web section that describes the benefits of a good user experience, which also provides links and resources with more detailed material.

23 January 2010

Ethnographic research could make Google more relevant in China

Tricia Wang
Ethnographer Tricia Wang wrote an excellent and long comment on why Google is having troubles in China:

While unfortunate that Google.CN may be shutting down, my ethnographic work in China revealed five things that aren’t being told in the current story:

  1. Many Chinese internet users don’t find Google to be very useful. Therefore, a Google withdrawal would not have any immediate impact on the daily Chinese internet user because most people search with Baidu, the reigning search engine in China.
  2. Many Chinese internet users prefer Baidu over Google because using Baidu makes them feel more “Chinese.” Baidu does an excellent job at tapping into nationalistic fervor to promote itself as being the most superior search engine for Chinese users.
  3. Chinese internet users don’t know how to get to the Google site. While they may “know” of Google, it’s a whole other matter when it comes to typing or saying Google’s name.
  4. Google is primarily used by highly educated netizens. And even these users prefer Google.COM over Google.CN.
  5. Google is not successful at reaching the mobile internet market.

[…]

It’s one thing if Google’s difficulties could just simply be attributed to government interference, and bad marketing and publicity. But that’s not the case. Their services just simply are not useful for most Chinese users. I suggest that Google dedicate itself to understanding the Chinese market in a socio-anthropological way. They should be hiring teams of Chinese and non-Chinese ethnographers, sociologists, and anthropologists to work intimately in all phases with human-computer interaction designers, programmers, and R&D managers. Google should invest in long-term fieldwork for teams to immerse themselves in a diversity of environments. While usability tests and focus groups are useful for specific phases of app development, they aren’t as useful for understanding cultural frameworks and practices because by the time an app is being tested, it already has accumulated so many cultural assumptions along the way in the design process that users are asked to test something that functions in the programmer’s world, not the user’s world.

Read full story

(via danah boyd)

21 January 2010

Front book vs back book pricing: a service design challenge

Milkman online
Nick Marsh of EMC Conchango reflects on the conundrum of ‘front book’ vs ‘back book’ pricing, and the implications for service design.

“This is a great example for illustrating the differences between designing for service-centric organisations as compared to designing for product-centric organisations, and it fits nicely with the insight that service design is really an organisational challenge, not an aesthetic one.”

Read full story

21 January 2010

Upcoming service design conference in Sweden

Service design conference
One of the projects funded by the Danish programme for user-driven innovation (English summary) is DESINOVA (see also this earlier post).

DESINOVA’s purpose is to enhance innovation among service and trading companies using the methods of user-driven innovation and service design. DESINOVA develops competences for user-driven innovation in trade and service companies and in design companies. More than 25 companies and organisations are participating in DESINOVA.

DESINOVA kicked off in December 2007 and is now moving into its final activities, including the completion of the nine innovation projects, concept and product development, documentation and recommendations, and the establishment of a resource center and network activities.

Some interesting case studies (Spejder Sport and DSB) can be found in the latest English newsletter.

Now Robert Jacobson, guest professor at Malmö University’s MEDEA Program and also involved in DESINOVA, is running an innovation and service design conference (Swedish announcement) next Friday 29 January in Malmö, Sweden, as a first step toward an innovation/services design industry hub in the region.

The conference, during which reports on DESINOVA and on innovation and service design in Sweden will be presented, is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. You can register here.

The conference will be webcast (more info here tomorrow) and we hope to post the presentations on this blog soon afterwards.

21 January 2010

Urban sensing via mobile phones, an ARUP project

CityRail
Arup Australasia has published a three-part technical overview on its research blog of its ‘urban sensing via mobile phones’ project.

The research project, in collaboration with the UTS Centre for Real-Time Information Networks, explores technical approaches to sensing the presence of mobile phones in transit environments (bus, train, ferry etc.) as well as pedestrians, in order to provide real-time data on such activity, potentially informing urban planning and transport planning decisions. Such approaches might reveal how the city is being used, in real-time.

Disclosure: Experientia is working with Arup on the Low2No project in Helsinki, Finland.

ApproachHardwareSensing

21 January 2010

FT on cultural differences in Chinese internet use

Chinese mouse
Western companies are struggling to bridge the growing gap created by the evolution of a cyberspace with Chinese characteristics. Kathrin Hille explains some of the cultural (and political) differences in today’s Financial Times.

“[Chinese people] tend to roam the web like a huge playground, whereas Europeans and Americans are more likely to use it as a gigantic library. Recent research by the McKinsey consultancy suggests Chinese users spend most of their time online on entertainment while their European peers are much more focused on work. […]

Foreign companies have taken a long time to figure out – then adapt to – one of the key features of Chinese consumers: they do not like to type. “Typing is a pain in Chinese,” explains Zhang Honglin, demonstrating how he has to enter a search word in Latin transcription, then pick the right character scrolling through sometimes dozens of different choices in a pop-up window. This is because Mandarin has many thousands of characters. So when 35-year-old Mr Zhang sneaks away from his family’s tobacco and liquor shop in Beijing to an upstairs internet café for hours on end, he navigates almost entirely using the mouse.

Most portals have reacted by filling their pages with hundreds of colourful links competing for attention – creating a cluttered and disorderly view to the western eye but making life easier for Chinese users.

Beyond aesthetics, Chinese web users are much more lively than their western peers – a characteristic that forms consumption preferences.”

The articles also contains a thoughtful reflection on the cultural importance of user-generated content in China.

Read full story

21 January 2010

Report: Booting up mobile health

mHealth
Mobile health is emerging at the intersection of dynamic changes in mobility patterns, health care delivery, and new mobile technologies and networks. New technologies and the services they enable will be just one piece of a larger strategy for engaging consumers anywhere, anytime. Ultimately, mobile health will create more distributed health care systems that will move from an episodic to a continuous-care model, supported by decentralized, integrated care interwoven seamlessly into our daily lives, and driven by even more advanced smart systems that help us sense and understand our actions and environments.

Over the next decade, a bottom-up transformation of mobility will create a growing number of opportunities and dilemmas for the health care industry.

Booting Up Mobile Health: From Medical Mainframe to Distributed Intelligence, a new report by Institute for the Future, identifies the drivers shaping mobile health in the future, and forecasts new business and consumer practices that reorganize the health care system as we know it.

21 January 2010

Articles on Danish design research

DCDR
The Danish Centre for Design Research (DCDR) is an umbrella organisation under the Danish Ministry of Culture for the design research that takes place at the Aarhus School of Architecture, The Danish Design School, Designskolen Kolding, and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

The centre helps establish and promote Danish design research, disseminate knowledge, and build Danish and international networks among research institutions, enterprises and the general public.

The latest DCDR Webzine (nr. 25) contains three interesting articles:

Design research – a catalyst for innovation (editorial)
In the first issue of Mind Design in 2010, Director Dorthe Mejlhede takes stock of the activities in the Danish Centre for Design Research in 2009 and of the platform that the centre has created for current and future design research. Design research can act as a catalyst for innovation and as a source of value creation for companies and for society at large. That is why it is so important to continue to expand and support the design research environment, Dorthe Mejlhede points out.

Is design philosophical?
At first glance, design and philosophy inhabit different worlds. Design is often aimed at physical and concrete action, while philosophy is abstract and reflective. However, there are certain fundamental philosophical questions to be asked about the essential nature of design and the design process, as explained by Per Galle, an associate professor of design theory at The Danish Design School, the director of CEPHAD, Centre for Philosophy and Design as well as the main organiser of CEPHAD’s conference in January at The Danish Design School.

Using creativity to enhance consumer awareness
An Industrial Ph.D. project involving the Danish savings bank Middelfart Sparekasse and Kolding School of Design aims to design tools that draw on the creativity in our thinking and reflections. Specifically, Ph.D. scholar Kirsten Bonde Sørensen seeks to develop a new service for current and prospective customers to help them uncover their unrecognised knowledge and emotions and make them more aware of their own needs and values. The project also aims to illustrate a new type of consumer communication that is not about persuasion but rather about making consumers aware of their own values and dreams.

20 January 2010

Real-time video in 2020

The future of real-time video
Skype commissioned the Institute for the Future to research and start a conversation about the future of real-time video communication and what will it feel like to live and work in a world where real-time video is ubiquitous.

The newly-released report was designed as a conversation starter about the likely changes in how we communicate as individuals, businesses, governments, and societies. It examines the current trends affecting the future of real-time video communication, as well as the foundational trends necessary for this future to occur.

Included are four scenarios that present plausible futures that integrate real-time video communication into the lives of every day people—an average employee, a sports fan, a newly engaged couple, and a fully-connected small business.

Read full story

20 January 2010

If your kids are awake, they’re probably online

Generation M2
The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.

Read full story

20 January 2010

Nokia’s design and user experience library

Forum Nokia
In recognition of the importance that good design and user experience plays in creating successful products and services, Forum Nokia has renewed and extended it support available for those looking to improve the quality of their mobile applications. Central to this effort has been the launch of a new User Experience program and resources for designers.

Most useful of all is the launch of the Design and User Experience Library. It contains essential basic principles and key information needed when creating services for mobile devices.

Read full story

19 January 2010

“Turn right after the petrol pump” – User research improves navigation on Google Maps India

Landmarks
Interesting Google Blog article on how user research dramatically improved driving directions on Google Maps India.

The research was based on the fact that street names are not commonly known in India and the typical wayfinding strategy is to ask someone on the street. Now Google Maps India describes routes in terms of easy-to-follow landmarks and businesses that are visible along the way.

“We knew from previous studies in several countries that most people rely on landmarks — visual cues along the way — for successful navigation. But we needed to understand how people use those visual cues, and what makes a good landmark, in order to make our instructions more human and improve route descriptions. To get answers to these questions, we ran a user research study that focused specifically on how people give and get directions. We called businesses and asked how to get to their store; we recruited people to keep track of directions they gave or received and later interviewed them about their experiences; we asked people to draw us diagrams of routes to places unfamiliar to us; we even followed people around as they tried to find their way.

We found that using landmarks in directions helps for two simple reasons: they are easier to see than street signs and they are easier to remember than street names. […]

We also discovered that there are three situations in which people resort to landmarks.

The first is when people need to orient themselves — for instance, they just exited a subway station and are not sure which way to go. Google Maps would say: “Head southeast for 0.2 miles.” A person would say: “Start walking away from the McDonald’s.”

The second situation is when people use a landmark to describe a turn: “Turn right after the Starbucks.”

The third use, however, is the most interesting. We discovered that often people simply want to confirm that they are still on the right track and haven’t missed their turn.”

Read full story

19 January 2010

Book: Pervasive Information Architecture

 
Pervasive Information Architecture – Designing information space in ubiquitous ecologies is a book being written by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati for Morgan Kaufmann-Elsevier which promotes a holistic approach to information architecture and user experience.

“Information is going everywhere, bleeding out of we thought was cyberspace and back into the real world: increasingly, many tasks we perform every day not only constantly require us to move between different media, but actually have us move from the digital to the physical environment and back.

Computation is everywhere, and so are search and interaction. It’s time to move beyond the computer screen to design information space in these new ubiquitous ecologies.

The book presents an holistic, heuristics- and methodology-driven approach to information architecture and user experience for the design of ubiquitous ecologies, emergent systems where old and new media and physical and digital environments are designed, delivered, and experienced as a seamless whole.”

Table of contents
Manifesto
Anticipatory papers

(via InfoDesign)

18 January 2010

Information and communication technologies vital for social inclusion

Scaling ICT
The World Economic Forum today released its study on Scaling Opportunity: Information and Communications Technology for Social Inclusion, an analysis of how ICT is evolving to address the social and economic needs of the poor. The study notes that, as 4 billion people have access to the global communications infrastructure, the opportunity to create innovative and inclusively tailored solutions for connecting the unconnected is extraordinary.

The report notes that a primary catalyst of change in closing the connectivity gap is the accelerated adoption of mobile phones within emerging economies. Robust market competition, affordable pricing, liberalized regulation and bottom-up innovation have coalesced to create a vibrant multistakeholder ecosystem.

Along with highlighting the rapid adoption rate of mobile phone usage within emerging economies, the report focuses on the question: “What’s next?” While the adoption of baseline voice and data services has been shown to have a material economic and social impact in emerging economies, it is essential that the evolution of communication services remains economically sustainable, innovative and socially inclusive.

Read press release
Download report

17 January 2010

danah boyd on why Zuckerberg is wrong to say “Privacy is Dead”

danah boyd
Ethnographer danah boyd, a Microsoft researcher, argues that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is wrong saying that ‘the age of privacy is over’.

“Privacy isn’t a technological binary that you turn off and on. Privacy is about having control of a situation. It’s about controlling what information flows where and adjusting measures of trust when things flow in unexpected ways. It’s about creating certainty so that we can act appropriately. People still care about privacy because they care about control. Sure, many teens repeatedly tell me “public by default, private when necessary” but this doesn’t suggest that privacy is declining; it suggests that publicity has value and, more importantly, that folks are very conscious about when something is private and want it to remain so. When the default is private, you have to think about making something public. When the default is public, you become very aware of privacy. And thus, I would suspect, people are more conscious of privacy now than ever. Because not everyone wants to share everything to everyone else all the time.”

Read full story

16 January 2010

Are mobile phones Africa’s silver bullet?

Cape Town phone
Whether it’s checking market prices of crops, transferring money or simply making a call, mobile phones are transforming Africa. But, asks The Guardian, could this new technology end up bypassing the poorest?

The problem apparently lies in the taxes levied by national governments that can make the cost prohibitive.

Read full story

16 January 2010

Good: the Slow Issue

The Slow Issue
Good, the collaborative magazine, has published its “Slow Issue” with perspectives on a smarter, better and slower future:

“At its simplest, slow stands for a focus on quality, authenticity, and longevity rather than a mindless adherence to the faster and cheaper ethos.

This issue is about planning not only for tomorrow, but for the next year, and the next generation. Because if progress isn’t permanent, can it even be called progress at all?”

Here are the longer articles:

Hurry up and wait
We asked some of the world’s most prominent futurists — Julian Bleecker (Nokia/Near Future Laboratory), Esther Dyson, Jamais Cascio (Worldchanging), Bruce Sterling, John Maeda (RISD), and Alexander Rose (Long Now Foundation) — to explain why slowness might be as important to the future as speed.

Slow burn
Money—not the paper stuff in your wallet, but the bits of data that whip around the world in billions of instantaneous transactions each day—moves too fast.

Built to last
Designer/inventor Saul Griffith argues that we need to stop buying things and then throwing them away so quickly. In short, we need more “heirloom design.”

Mass reduction
Welcome to slowLab, a collective of designers applying a cradle-to-cradle philosophy to consumer goods.

Turning the tables
Tracing the slow-food movement back to its feisty Italian roots.

Pushing the limits
In Oregon, radical antisprawl laws aim to save the state’s bucolic paradises. But with land-hungry suburbs on the prowl, can these goats be saved?

14 January 2010

From people to prototypes and products: ethnographic liquidity and the Intel Global Aging Experience study

Global Aging Experience
The latest Intel Technology Journal (Volume 13, Issue 30 reports the research and development activities of the Intel Digital Health Group and its colleagues.

One article, entitled “From people to prototypes and products: ethnographic liquidity and the Intel Global Aging Experience study“, documents how a large-scale, multi-site, ethnographic research project into aging populations, the Global Aging Experience Study, led to the development of concepts, product prototypes, and products for the independent living market.

Successfully leveraging the output of ethnographic research within large organizations and product groups is often fraught with challenges. Ethnographic research produced within an industry context can be difficult for an organization to thoroughly capitalize on. However, careful research design and sound knowledge transfer activities can produce highly successful outcomes that can be thoroughly absorbed into an organization, and the data can lend itself to re-analysis. Our research was conducted by the Product Research and Innovation Team in the Intel Digital Health Group, and the work was done in Europe and East Asia, eight countries in all. Using a mixed methodology, our research examined health and healthcare systems in order to chart the macro landscape of care provision and delivery. However, the core of our study was ethnographic research with older people, and their formal (clinical) and informal (family and friends) caregivers in their own homes and communities. Data from this study were organized and analyzed to produce a variety of tools that provide insight into the market for consumption by teams within the Digital Health Group. As the results of the research
were driven into the Digital Health Group and other groups within Intel, it became clear that the Global Aging Experience Study possessed what we term ethnographic liquidity, meaning that the data, tools, and insights developed in the study have layers of utility, a long shelf life, and lend themselves to repeated and consistent use within and beyond the Digital Health Group.

Download article
Download research brochure

13 January 2010

Design for sustainable behaviour (part 3)

Robert Cialdini
Can design change behavior?
Although at times it can seem difficult to change just one person’s behavior, Professor Banny Banerjee, director of the Stanford Design Program says it is possible for design to induce large numbers of people to change their lifestyle, including deeply ingrained habits, to cause them to do better by the environment.

Stanford researchers awarded $6.27 million to study energy efficiency and human behavior
The Stanford team will use the money to develop technologies that provide consumers with information about energy consumption in an engaging and usable way.

Never mind what people believe—how can we change what they do? A chat with Robert Cialdini
When it comes to energy, policymakers are often confronted with human behavior that seems irrational, unpredictable, or unmanageable. Advocates for energy efficiency in particular are plagued by the gap between what it would make sense for people to do and what they actually do. Efforts to change people’s behavior have a record that can charitably be described as mixed.

See also: Part 1 and Part 2

13 January 2010

The world in 2020: A glimpse into the future

Future glimpse
Ten years ago we thought wireless was another word for radio, Peter Mandelson’s career was over – and only birds tweeted. So what will life be like a decade from now? The Independent newspaper provides a glimpse.

2020 vision: Our team of futurologists peers into mists of time
Reflections on UK politics, the environment, leisure, literature, the arts, fashion, celebrity, business, US politics, and sport.

The world in 2020: A glimpse into the future
Reflections on society, transport, health, politics, and the arts.

The world in 2020: Thrift, hard work – and no smoking
Reflections on social affairs, the economy, religion, crime, and the natural world.