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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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May 2010
28 May 2010

Usability and user experience in digital libraries

Ariadne
Lorraine Paterson and Boon Low of the UK National e-Science Centre at the University of Edinburgh highlight findings from the usability inspection report they conducted for the JISC-funded research project, Usability and Contemporary User Experience in Digital Libraries (UX2.0). The article was published in Ariadne, the UK web magazine for information professionals in archives, libraries and museums.

“Demands for improved usability and developments in user experience (UX) have become pertinent due to the increasing complexities of digital libraries (DLs) and user expectations associated with the advances in Web technologies. In particular, usability research and testing are becoming necessary means to assess the current and future breeds of information environments such that they can be better understood, well-formed and validated.

Usability studies and digital library development are not often intertwined due to the existing cultural model in system development. Usability issues are likely to be addressed post-hoc or as a priori assumptions. Recent initiatives have advanced usability studies in terms of information environment development. However, significant work is still required to address the usability of new services arising from the trends in social networking and Web 2.0.

The JISC-funded project, Usability and Contemporary User Experience in Digital Libraries (UX2.0), contributes to this general body of work by enhancing a digital library through a development and evaluation framework centred on usability and contemporary user experience. Part of the project involves usability inspection and research on contemporary user experience techniques. This article highlights the findings of the usability inspection work recently conducted and reported by UX2.0. The report provided a general impression of digital library usability; notwithstanding, it revealed a range of issues, each of which merits a systematic and vigorous study. The discussion points outlined here provide a resource generally useful for the JISC Community and beyond.”

Read article

28 May 2010

Moving past user needs

IIT DRC
Tara Mullaney (and not Allan Chochinov as erroneously reported earlier) has published her reflections on IIT’s 2010 Design Research conference on Core77.

Although there were about 30 speakers, Mullaney focuses on the contributions by Donald Norman, Rick Robinson (Elab), Doug Look (AutoDesk), Tim Brown (IDEO), Martha Cotton (gravitytank), Heather Fraser (Rotman DesignWorks), Eric Wilmot (Wolff Olins), Kim Erwin (IIT’s Institute of Design), Usman Haque (Pachube), Kevin Starr (Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program), and Cathy Huang (China Bridge International).

“What has been and always will be true about Design Research is its consideration of people. The future lies not in ignoring needs, but in broadening our horizons. We need to think about more than just insights. We need to be collaborators and co-creators not only with the companies we are designing for, but also the communities and individuals we are researching. The increasingly elaborate tools available to us will enable these connections to happen in both traditional fieldwork and through digital interactions. The present calls for new business models where design researchers will function as the translators between society and industry.”

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26 May 2010

Mobile banking: mediated use

CGAP
Jan Chipchase (frog design and until recently an acclaimed user researcher/anthropologist at Nokia) reflects on the topic of technical and textual illiteracy in the context of mobile banking, and the role of privacy within the mediated use illiterate people often need to rely on.

“Textual and technical illiteracy is often cited as a barrier to the adoption of services and by default the benchmark for success is often set at ‘understanding and completing the task by oneself’. However if there are ‘literate’ people nearby to what extent does it matter that the user is illiterate?

‘Mediated use’ is simply recognising that part or all of a task or process is mediated through others.

Read article

25 May 2010

Growing up online

Growning up online
In Growing Up Online, the American public affairs series FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood.

“The Internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, and now it’s something that really is the province of teenagers, ” says C.J. Pascoe, a postdoctoral scholar with the University of California, Berkeley’s Digital Youth Research project.

“They’re able to have a private space, even while they’re still at home. They’re able to communicate with their friends and have an entire social life outside of the purview of their parents, without actually having to leave the house.”

As more and more kids grow up online, parents are finding themselves on the outside looking in. “I remember being 11; I remember being 13; I remember being 16, and I remember having secrets,” mother of four Evan Skinner says. “But it’s really hard when it’s the other side.”

At school, teachers are trying to figure out how to reach a generation that no longer reads books or newspapers. “We can’t possibly expect the learner of today to be engrossed by someone who speaks in a monotone voice with a piece of chalk in their hand,” one school principal says.

“We almost have to be entertainers,” social studies teacher Steve Maher tells FRONTLINE. “They consume so much media. We have to cut through that cloud of information around them, cut through that media, and capture their attention.”

Fears of online predators have led teachers and parents to focus heavily on keeping kids safe online. But many children think these fears are misplaced. “My parents don’t understand that I’ve spent pretty much since second grade online,” one ninth-grader says. “I know what to avoid.”

Many Internet experts agree with the kids. “Everyone is panicking about sexual predators online. That’s what parents are afraid of; that’s what parents are paying attention to,” says Parry Aftab, an Internet security expert and executive director of WiredSafety.org. But the real concern, she says, is the trouble that kids might get into on their own. Through social networking and other Web sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.

Another threat is “cyberbullying,” as schoolyard taunts, insults and rumors find their way online. John Halligan‘s son Ryan was bullied for months at school and online before he ultimately hanged himself in October 2003. “I clearly made a mistake putting that computer in his room. I allowed the computer to become too much of his life,” Halligan tells FRONTLINE. “The computer and the Internet were not the cause of my son’s suicide, but I believe they helped amplify and accelerate the hurt and the pain that he was trying to deal with that started in person, in the real world.”

“You have a generation faced with a society with fundamentally different properties, thanks to the Internet,” says Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “It’s a question for us of how we teach ourselves and our children to live in a society where these properties are fundamentally a way of life. This is public life today.”

Watch programme online

25 May 2010

How social mood moves the world

Mood
Why do share prices, skirt lengths, even the state of the European Union, fluctuate so wildly? It’s down to social mood, says John Casti, and we must heed its messages.

“No collective human activities or actions, such as globalisation or, for that matter, trends in popular culture such as fashions in films, books or haute couture, can be understood without recognising that it is how a group or population sees the future that shapes events. Feelings, not rational calculations, are what matter. To see what our world might be like tomorrow, next year or next decade, we need to spend time and money investigating “social mood”.

Put simply, the mood of a group – an institution, state, continent or even the world – is how that group, as a group, feels about the future.”

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22 May 2010

Digital Death Day

Candles shrine
On 20 May 2010 an event known as “Digital Death Day” brought together the businesses of social networking, data management and death care.

One of its organisers, Jennifer Holmes, says: “We have reached a critical mass of personal data online.”

She is referring to the billions of pages held by Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as blogs, online gaming sites… basically anything into which we put data… data which, in most cases, remains after we die.

So what should happen to it?

“There’s no standard practice across the industry yet. There are no norms for how digital assets are passed on to heirs,” says Kaliya Hamlin, another of Digital Death Day’s organisers.

And it could be the case that digital assets could have real-money value. Domain names can be sold for large sums of money and even Twitter accounts can be monetised with “sponsored tweets”.

Read article

22 May 2010

Meta Products

Skal
Meta Products is a fairly new blog (started in September 2009) related to developments on the Internet of Things. It is run by Wimer Hazenberg and Menno Huisman, both managing partners at Dutch design studio Booreiland.

“Meta Products are the next generation consumer products. These products consist of both a physical and a web part. By combining the offline and the online world, they make the web just a little bit more meaningful to all of us.”

Some of their best posts sofar:
Meta architecture – on the information architecture of Meta Products
Meta economics – on the business models of Meta Products
Meta fields – a categorisation of Meta Products
Platform thinking” – Guest post by Sara Córdoba on innovation with new platforms

22 May 2010

Africa – on the road to technology perdition?

Tech in Africa
Let’s face it, says Bright Simons, Director at IMANI-Ghana and President of the mPedigree Network, Africa is on the downward slope to perdition as far as technology is concerned.

“Many people who are not directly confronted with this reality on the continent are usually lured into a false sense that things are looking up because of the fountain of good news that is the telecom sector.

The truth though is that the seeming proliferation of ICT success stories across the continent masks the real picture, which is one of a splattering of embers in a desolate patch of darkness.”

Read article (alternate link)

21 May 2010

Design Of The Other Things

designoftheotherthings
Experientia participates in the exhibition “Design Of The Other Things” at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan.

Stefano Maffei is the curator of the exhibition, which explores the ways in which the world of design is changing, becoming transversal and interfacing increasingly with other fields, such as art, technology, management, fashion and scientific research. The collection demonstrates several interesting and problematic dimensions of undertaking alternative research (of 360° design) in Italy.

Experientia will showcase the Lifestream project that it developed for the user experience department of Vodafone, in collaboration with Aeolab.

Also participating are Massimo Banzi, Elio Caccavale, esterni, Id-Lab, Kublai, Lanificio Leo, Reggio Children and SENSEableCity Lab (MIT).

Design Of The Other Things runs from 26 May to 4 July 2010 (the exhibition has been extended with one week from the original closing date of 27 June).

21 May 2010

Experience design: technology for all the right reasons

Technology for all the right reasons
Experience Design: Technology for All the Right Reasons
Marc Hassenzahl
Morgan & Claypool, 2010

In his In the blink of an eye, Walter Murch, the Oscar-awarded editor of The English Patient, Apocalypse Now, and many other outstanding movies, devises the Rule of Six — six criteria for what makes a good cut. On top of his list is “to be true to the emotion of the moment,” a quality more important than advancing the story or being rhythmically interesting. The cut has to deliver a meaningful, compelling, and emotion-rich “experience” to the audience. Because, “what they finally remember is not the editing, not the camerawork, not the performances, not even the story—it’s how they felt.”

Technology for all the right reasons applies this insight to the design of interactive products and technologies — the domain of Human-Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering, and Interaction Design. It takes an experiential approach, putting experience before functionality and leaving behind oversimplified calls for ease, efficiency, and automation or shallow beautification. Instead, it explores what really matters to humans and what it needs to make technology more meaningful.

The book clarifies what experience is, and highlights five crucial aspects and their implications for the design of interactive products. It provides reasons why we should bother with an experiential approach, and presents a detailed working model of experience useful for practitioners and academics alike. It closes with the particular challenges of an experiential approach for design. The book presents its view as a comprehensive, yet entertaining blend of scientific findings, design examples, and personal anecdotes.

A sample can be found at issuu! Buy it at Morgan Claypool or Amazon.

(via InfoDesign)

21 May 2010

Special issue on experience design

New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia
Last year, Mark Blythe, Effie Law and Marc Hassenzahl edited a special issue on Experience Design in the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia.

It features a more designerly perspective on and some reflections about Experience Design itself and its relation to common approaches and views in Human-Computer Interaction and Design.

Editorial:
Blythe, M., Hassenzahl, M., and Law, E. (2009). Now with added experience? New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 15(2):119-128.

Articles:

  • Toward an articulation of interaction esthetics by Jonas Löwgren
  • Designing for human emotion: ways of knowing by Danielle Lottridge and Gale Moore
  • Mood Swings: design and evaluation of affective interactive art by Leticia S. S. Bialoskorski, Joyce H. D. M. Westerink, and Egon L. van den Broek
  • Designing for playful photography by Marianne Graves Petersen, Sara Ljungblad, and Maria Håkansson
  • Designing in the face of change: the elusive push toward emotionally resonate experiences by Matt Schoenholz and Jon Kolko

I am not sure where you can download the articles, but I suggest by using the author links that you can find here.

(via InfoDesign)

21 May 2010

The psychologist’s view of UX design

Susan Weinschenk
Dr. Susan Weinschenk is a psychologist by training and education. She has been applying psychology to the design of technology for 30 years and is the author of Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?. She is Chief of User Experience Strategy, Americas, at Human Factors International, and runs the popular blog whatmakesthemclick.net.

In this article, she looks at experience design from what we know about people and how we apply that to design. “I take research and knowledge about the brain, the visual system, memory, and motivation and extrapolate UX design principles from that.”

Read article

21 May 2010

BeAware – Boosting Energy Awareness

BeAware
BeAware, an EU-supported research project, has created a solution to motivate and empower citizens to become active energy consumers, by offering them the opportunity to raise awareness of their own power consumption in real time.

Energy Life includes a mobile phone application and an ambient interface that makes use of the home lighting and lamps as a means to communicate with the user. It provides feedback about consumption habits, and empowers users to become active and responsible consumers.

The efforts are part of a European Union research project that is creating new ways to allow consumers to follow and better understand their use of energy.

The technology developed in the project is being set up in two different pilot si­tes – one Nordic (Sweden/Finland) and one Southern European (Italy). In each site, studies are carried in a home environment. The research is highly multidisciplinary and combines a variety of approaches in the area of user studies, user-centred design and evaluation.

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View video

17 May 2010

Embedded anthropology

Simon Roberts
Anthropologist Simon Roberts, who manages the social science research and design research team for Digital Health Group at Intel in Ireland, spoke last week at an RSA event on Embedding Design in London, UK, on the role of anthropology within large organisations.

“I would argue that much of the work of corporate anthropologists is spent not doing fieldwork or analysing that fieldwork, but engaging with people within their organisations. The reason for this is that they know that their success is contingent on them engaging in a long conversation with their organisations.

For ‘embedded’ or resident anthropologists the transfer of their knowledge, or their research findings, is not an event. It is very rarely a matter of merely presenting of ‘ethnographically sensitive deliverable’ to a selected audience, although it may entail such communication. Rather it is a process, a long conversation, with multiple stakeholders all differentially located within the business (geographically, functionally, hierarchically): it is an ongoing set of interactions.

The intention is not merely to ‘debrief and depart’, but to inform and engage.”

Read article

17 May 2010

User experiences for children, for seniors and for play

UX Matters
UX Matters is another one of these great resources for the user experience community. Here three recent articles:

Designing user experiences for children
By Heather Nam (Mediabarn)
Creating a great experience for Web site users should always take the users’ perspectives into consideration. While a user’s age can be a contributing factor in a design’s success for a particular user, demographic information should not trump design conventions. Then, why do UX designers struggle when creating Web sites for children?

Designing for senior citizens | Organizing your work schedule
By Janet M. Six
Every month in this column, the Ask UXmatters experts (this month: Steve Baty, Dana Chisnell, Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Caroline Jarrett, Janet Six and Daniel Szuc) answer readers’ questions about user experience matters. The questions this month:
– What fonts and colors are easiest for senior citizens to read online? Do you have any other tips for me? I am building an informational Web site for senior citizens.
– What are your favorite tools for organizing your work schedule? Do you organize such information on your computer, your phone, or on paper?

Playful user experiences
By Shira Gutgold
Rather than trying to motivate users to go down routes they have no personal motivation to follow or to use a new feature they’ve never seen before and are perhaps a little wary of trying out, why not tap into people’s existing motivations and use their natural inclinations to encourage them to interact with our products? The most evident natural motivation is play.

17 May 2010

Bringing behavioural change from lab to studio

Dan Lockton
Nick Marsh recently published an article with Dan Lockton in the fourth edition of Touchpoint, the Service Design Network journal.

The issue is completely focused on the relationship between service design and behaviour change, but unfortunately the content is not available online.

Marsh published his conversation with Lockton about using the ‘design with intent’ behaviour change lenses in a service design consultancy (also published in the journal).

“Design influences behaviour, whether it’s planned or not. Service Design has a great opportunity to lead the emerging field of design for behavioural change, helping guide and shape ex- periences to benefit users, service providers and wider society. In this article, presented as an evolving conversation between research and practice, Nick Marsh (EMC Consulting) and Dan Lockton (Brunel University) discuss and explore design pat- terns for influencing behaviour through Service Design, and how Service Designers and academics can work together for social benefit.”

Read interview

16 May 2010

UX reflections in UX Magazine

UX Magazine
UX Magazine keeps to its high standards with these three well written contributions:

Curators of the Real-Time Web: Distilling the chatter to relevant, actionable information
By Jonathan Gosier (Appfrica)

“Information wants to flow and it wants to flow freely and torrentially. Twitter, SMS, email, and RSS offer unprecedented access to information. With all these channels of communication comes a deluge of overwhelming retweets, cross-chatter, spam, and inaccuracies. How do you distinguish signal from noise without getting overwhelmed? Can we somewhat automate the process of filtering content into more manageable portions without sacrificing accuracy and relevance?

These are the exact questions I attempted to answer during the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. As the Director and System Architect of SwiftRiver at Ushahidi, we’re working on an open-source software platform that helps journalists and emergency response organizations sift through real-time information quickly, without sacrificing accuracy. These earthquakes, however unfortunate, offered extreme use-cases for testing ideas internally, as small nonprofits and organizations as large as the U.S. State Department were relying on us for verified information.

The approach SwiftRiver takes is to combine crowdsourced interaction with algorithms that weight, parse, and sort incoming content.”

The FedEx UX Journey, Part 1: The genesis and early progress of FedEx’s UX practice
By Thomas Wicinski and Brice Stokes (Digital Access, Fedex Services) and Mike Downey (UX Magazine)

“Underlying FedEx’s global shipping and logistics business is a complex technological infrastructure with many digital customer touchpoints. FedEx has recognized the need to improve the user experience of its systems, and has taken strong steps toward not only creating a UX practice area, but also toward moving the entire company to pay closer attention to UX in its customer-facing products. This interview is the first in a set of articles we’ll be running over the coming months to examine how FedEx is building its UX competency and practice. They’re still early in what they call the UX “maturity model,” so this interview focuses on the genesis of the effort and some of its early goals and successes.”

How UX can drive sales in mobile apps
By Jeffrey Powers, Vikas Reddy and Jeremy Olson

“This is an interview with Jeff Powers and Vikas Reddy, the founders of Occipital and creators of the popular iPhone app, RedLaser. We became interested in their story when we learned the differentiating factor between a somewhat unsuccessful first version and a wildly popular second version was due to their attention to UX.”

16 May 2010

Why it’s time to put the social back into services

Hilary Cottam
Is there an alternative to the seemingly inevitable cuts to public services? Hilary Cottam of Participle poses the question.

“The scale of the challenge to our public services is clear. The mainstream debate is all about cuts – how fast and how deep. At Participle, however, we are asking if there might not be another way. Our work is showing that it is possible to both increase social impact and reduce spending levels, by developing services that place relationships and participation at the centre.”

Read article

16 May 2010

Danah Boyd and the Facebook privacy discussion

Monopoly
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd doesn’t need much introduction as her outspoken and well-developed analysis is frequently quoted on this blog. Two long articles — each with many comments — react to the current Facebook privacy discussion:

Facebook and “radical transparency” (a rant) (14 May)
The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being duped, tricked, coerced, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely unfair. It gives users the illusion of choice and hides the details away from them “for their own good.”

Facebook is a utility; utilities get regulated (15 May)
What’s next is how this emergent utility gets regulated. Cuz sadly, I doubt that anything else is going to stop them in their tracks. And I think that regulators know that.

16 May 2010

The trust economy: A world of P2P money-lending

P2P money lending
Wired UK has published a long article on P2P money-lending in its June issue:

The article devotes particular attention to Kiva.org, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer (P2P) non-profit, which uses the principles of social networking to connect individual or group lenders to entrepreneurs via microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world, and Zopa.com, a British matchmaker for borrowers and lenders.

“Just as eBay shook offline retail to its foundations, P2P lending models such as Kiva, though still marginal, threaten to disrupt high-street banking. Although the public’s faith in banks has been damaged and credit remains hard to come by, evidence suggests that a new trust-based economy is proving more efficient than traditional lending. [...]

If P2P finance has yet to prove scalable or profitable, it’s also true that, not so long ago, the same was said of other web ventures which went on to change the world.”

Read article