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Putting People First

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March 2011
10 March 2011

Why Nokia failed: ‘Wasted 2,000 man years’ on UIs that didn’t work

Andrew Orlowski
Controversial British columnist Andrew Orlowski published a long investigating article on Nokia’s failure to build its own smartphone platform.

“When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that Nokia was abandoning its development of its own smartphone platforms and APIs, and betting the farm on somebody else’s, many people asked why it was necessary. [...]

The question as to why Nokia surrendered its independence lies in why it took so long to engineer a competitive UI, and then under new management, decided that it couldn’t.

I’ve called it the “for want of a nail” question: if Nokia had a UI, it would not have had to lose its independence. And as Nokia gave up its independence, Europe lost its last global technology platform. US and Japanese companies now dictate the market.”

Read article

10 March 2011

Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces – conference in Milan

DPPI11
DPPI 11, the 5th conference on Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, will take place in Milan, Italy this year and Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken is part of the scientific committee.

The DPPI conference originally began through the desire to move away from talking purely about usability, and look at the role of experience in human-product interaction. As products and services in mature markets become increasingly standardised, the DPPI organisers realised there was a space to debate the the end-user’s perception of products, and to explore a more experiential approach to innovation.

This year the conference, which will take place from the 22-25th June, at Milan Polytechnic, will have the general theme: “How can Design Research serve Industry? – Design visions, tools and knowledge for industry,” thus trying to stimulate the discussion on user driven design within the context of other design approaches and its role for industries.

The conference will provide a mix of workshops, paper presentations and other activities. It aims to get participants “listening, doing, researching, designing, discussing, learning and having fun.”

Keynote speakers are:

  • Prof. Bruce Brown, professor of design at the University of Brighton and co-editor of Design Issues Research Journal (published by MIT press)
  • Jon Kolko, founder and director of Austin Center for Design
  • Dr. Donald Norman, co-founder and principle of the Nielsen Norman Group, IDEO fellow, and professor at the Department of Industrial Design, Kaist (South Korea)
  • Dr. Ezio Manzini, coordinator of DESIS International of the INDACO department at the Milan Polytechnic
  • Dr. Roberto Verganti, professor of management of innovation at the Milan Polytechnic, and visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School

As member of the DPPI 11 scientific committee, Mark Vanderbeeken is responsible for reviewing some of the conference papers.

Organisers have been pleased to note that this year the committee received an unprecedented number of responses to their call, giving them a deep pool from which to select the highest quality content for the conference.

10 March 2011

Experientia partner jury lead at Core77 Design Awards

c77da
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken will be one of 15 international Jury Captains for the inaugural year of the Core77 Design Awards.

The Core77 Design Awards which have just been launched is positioned as “a global design award aimed at recognizing and celebrating design excellence, enterprise and intent.”

“Recognizing excellence in all areas of design enterprise, the Core77 Design Awards celebrates the richness of the design profession and its practitioners. Dedicated jury teams around the world will judge 15 categories of design endeavor with the top professional and student entries winning the inaugural trophy, and Winners, Runners Up, and Notable entries published in the Awards Gallery and across the Core77 online network. “

The award covers 15 design categories – Products, Soft Goods / Apparel, Furniture / Lighting, Graphics/Branding/Identity, Packaging, Interiors/Exhibition, Interactive/Web/Mobile, Transportation, Service Design, Design for Social Impact, Strategy/Research, Design Education Initiative, DIY/Hack/Mod, Speculative Objects/Concepts, and Never Saw the Light of Day – and submissions are due by 3 May 2011.

Interestingly, Core77 has developed an innovative, low carbon impact jury concept:

“Instead of bringing everyone to one location, we took a new approach to assembling the jury, distributing the field globally. No plane fuel, more legroom. Our Jury Captains are based in 13 cities spread around eight countries. Each will recruit four people from their area to form a locally-based multidisciplinary Jury Team. They get to do the judging in their own location, and we’ll provide the snacks. Once their results are finalized and validated, the teams will reconvene for a live web broadcast revealing their Winners, Runners-up and Notables, and the reasoning behind their choices. And they’ll do it all without jet lag.”

Mark Vanderbeeken will be the jury captain of the Strategy/Research category – which is vaguely described as “projects that are predominantly strategic or research focused” – and judging will be done in either Milan or Turin, Italy.

We will soon let you know the fellow judges in this category.

9 March 2011

Sitra’s Marco Steinberg on Low2No project

Ecobuild
Last week Experientia participated in Ecobuild 2011 (London, UK) to showcase its work in user-centred sustainable design for the built environment, and in particular its experience of Low2No, a major low-to-no carbon impact development in Helsinki Harbour, Finland.

The Low2No project is run by Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, and Marco Steinberg, Sitra’s head of strategic design, made a strong case study presentation about Low2No at Ecobuild.

Experientia’s contribution to the Low2No project is to understand contexts, habits and beliefs that influence sustainable change in behaviour and design solutions that offer people control over their consumption and allow them to see the effects of their actions on the environment.

Renewable energy, smart grids and sustainable technologies will only make an impact if we also address the underlying behavioural issues of our energy use. Rather than individual smart meter designs, Experientia is therefore working on integrated demand management solutions, that is, a holistic approach in which advanced smart meters actually become an access point for social networking tools and services in the community, by offering things like bookings, deliveries, schedules for communal services, and information about public transport solutions.

At Low2No, Experientia applies its user research methods to evaluate the impact of the architectural and design choices on residents’ behaviours.

Experientia also led the mixed use planning of a regional and seasonal food hub offering a restaurant, cafe and natural/organic supermarket, an eco laundry and a communal sauna for the Low2No block. Engaging prospective residents early in various stages of the design of service and residential design, helped to understand people needs, desire, fears and expectations. This helped in addressing issues such as multi-story timber construction, natural vs centralized/decentralized ventilation systems, flexible layout of living spaces and the planning of smart systems to reduce residential carbon footprints in the post-occupancy phase.

Experientia researched the user requirements for smart systems to design smart home assistants:
- provide contextual real-time feedback
- analyse personal consumption (energy, water, waste…)
- incentivise reduced consumption through social reward systems
- integrate controls – holistic approach
- design intuitive and meaningful interface controls

We will soon post more extensive background information on our Low2No experience, approaches and learnings.

Listen to Marco Steinberg presentation (audio file recorded by Mark Vanderbeeken)

7 March 2011

Understanding society

Understanding Society
Understanding Society is a major £15.5 million research study designed to provide valuable new evidence about the people of the UK, their lives, experiences, behaviours and beliefs.

Understanding Society follows 100,000 people in 40,000 households year by year and asks them questions about a wide spectrum of areas relating to their working and personal lives. The study focuses on:
* Peoples’ state of health
* Our experiences of crime
* Personal finances
* Bringing up children
* How involved we are in our local community
* Our working lives
* Our views and outlook, including about the political system

The focus is on the household, looking at how different members of a family relate to each other.

The power of the survey lies in the links that can be made about different aspects of peoples lives. These links will allow the researchers to understand the life journey that people take, whether it be why some people get to university whilst others ended up in poverty in old age. The study will catch major trends and have an understanding of why major changes in the way that we all live and work take place.

An earlier study – the British Household Panel Survey – helped decision makers to evaluate the impact of key policies designed to help the low paid and encourage mothers return to employment. Understanding Society has continuing potential to influence decisions that affect all our lives, whether we are parents, savers or users of public services.

The scale of the survey will allow the researchers to focus in on key sections of the community, such as older people, parents, people from ethnic minorities or people with low incomes.

With an initial budget of £15.5 million, Understanding Society is the largest single investment in academic social research resources ever launched in the UK. The study is based at, and led by, the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, together with colleagues from the University of Warwick and the Institute of Education. The survey work will be delivered by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). Understanding Society both replaces and incorporates the successful, but much smaller, British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which has been running since 1991.

Download early findings

4 March 2011

Videos of Interaction 11 keynotes

Interaction11
Videos are now available for all seven Interaction11 keynote presentations.

Interaction is a yearly conference organised by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). The 2011 conference took place on February 9-12 in Boulder, Colorado.

- Bill Verplank (opening keynote) [1:02:38]
- Brenda Laurel [47:45]
- Bruce Sterling (closing keynote) [45:09]
- Eric Hersman, Ushahidi [33:04]
- Jason Bruges [55:14]
- Lisa Strausfeld, Pentagram [48:09]
- Richard Buchanan, Weatherhead School of Management [53:12]

1 March 2011

Discussing ethnography at University College London

Digital anthropology
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken will be giving a talk tomorrow at 6 pm, as a part of the Digital Anthropology MSc course at University College London (UCL).

The “Anthropology in the Professional World” section of the course features talks from well-known practitioners in the field. Mark will speak about the challenges inherent in Experientia’s research and design work, focusing on qualitative user experience research: from device and user interface challenges to contexts, ecosystems and sustainability.

UCL’s Digital Anthropology programme is led by Stefana Broadbent, former chief anthropologist at Swisscom (and featured as such in The Economist in June 2007).

The talk is part of Experientia’s ongoing commitment to the education of upcoming designers, researchers, and usability experts, which has seen all of Experientia’s partners lecture at various tertiary institutions, as well as a recent five-year research and education collaboration agreement with the Design and Human Engineering School (DHE) of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea.

More information on the UCL Digital Anthropology course, and Mark’s talk, can be found here.