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Putting People First

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November 2011
29 November 2011

On the value of social proof (informational social influence)

Velvet rope line
Aileen Lee, partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, believes that the best way to cost-effectively attract valuable users is harnessing a concept called social proof.

“What is social proof? Put simply, it’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something. It’s also known as informational social influence.

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behavior for a given situation… driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.” In other words, people are wired to learn from the actions of others, and this can be a huge driver of consumer behavior.”

The author provides a “teardown” on various forms of social proof, and how some savvy digital companies are starting to measure its impact.

Read article

24 November 2011

How can we change consumer behaviour to benefit the environment?

Five levers to change
The concept of of social labelling could lead to a subconscious change in behaviour, Guy Champniss writes in The Guardian.

“By social labelling, we’re referring to the tag society gives a particular behaviour in order to make sense of it. In other words, society interprets the action and tags it with a motivation – for all to see – that it considers consistent with the behaviour. This means your individual behaviour can carry a social tag independently of the internal tag you may assign it. The big difference is that the social tag is visible to everyone.

Where this gets interesting is that these social tags can be applied to make sense of the behaviour, but they don’t need to reflect the original motivation. So choosing to take the train rather than the car could be driven at the individual level by a desire to be able to read and make phone calls on the way. But society can publicly tag this behaviour as being pro-environmental in motivation. And society can applaud that motivation.”

Read article

24 November 2011

Unilever’s five levers to sustainable behaviour change

Five levers to change
Five Levers for Change: inspiring consumers to adopt sustainable behaviour is fundamental to achieving Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever’s Five Levers for Change is a coherent set of principles, which, if applied consistently to behaviour change interventions, will increase the likelihood of having a lasting impact. The Five Levers are: make it understood, make it easy, make it desirable, make it rewarding and make it a habit.

A huge part of our environmental impacts come from how people use our products; two thirds of the greenhouse gas impacts across the lifecycle and about half of our water footprint is associated with consumer use. So inspiring consumers to adopt new sustainable products and behaviours is fundamental to achieving the goals set out in the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan.

Related links:
Encouraging behaviour change
Unilever Sustainable Living Plan
Inspiring Sustainable Living: Expert Insights into Consumer Behaviour & Unilever’s Five Levers for Change (November 2011) (2.4 MB)

24 November 2011

Demanding devices: design and the Internet of Things

Design and the Internet of Things
On Tuesday 22 November, NESTA in London organised an event that looked at the challenges of designing for an Internet of Things.

The speakers: pioneers Usman Haque, founder of Pachube, and Matt Jones, formerly at the BBC, Dopplr and Nokia, and now a principal at design agency BERG.

Videos:
Part 1: Usman Haque (17:20)
Part 2: Matt Jones (18:58)
Part 3: Q&A (26:49)

23 November 2011

The Jawbone UP fails, but teaches 3 golden rules for experience design

UP
Cliff Kuang, editor of Co.Design, used the Jawbone UP for a week, and can’t recommend it.

“The wristband itself is superbly designed: The slight oval shape and rubberized case mean that it hews to your wrist without bouncing around, which would have made it into an annoying bangle. But the wristband is a minor part of the offering. The real product is the software, and the interaction experience. And that’s where things go wrong: The software is too buggy and confusing, the user experience too unresolved. But rather than carp on what’s wrong, I wanted to lay out a few lessons that the product’s shortcomings teach you about app design and user experience design in general. A product like this teaches us all how to make things better.”

Read article

23 November 2011

Complexity and User Experience

Complexity
The best products don’t focus on features, they focus on clarity, argues Jon Bolt.

“Problems should be fixed through simple solutions, something you don’t have to configure, maintain, control. The perfect solution needs to be so simple and transparent you forget it’s even there.

However, elegantly minimal designs don’t happen by chance. They’re the result of difficult decisions. Whether in the ideation, designing, or the testing phases of projects, UX practitioners have a critical role in restraining the feature sets within our designs to reduce the complexity on projects.

Read article

22 November 2011

Everything is a service

Process and service
A long essay by Dave Gray, founder of the XPLANE/Dachis Group, explores the topic of the service economy from a user experience point of view.

Make sure you read his thinking of the product as a service avatar.

“The emerging service economy will require business and society to do some some fundamental restructuring. The organizations that got us to this point have been hyper-optimized into super-efficient production machines, capable of pushing out an abundance of material wealth. Unfortunately, there is no way to proceed without dismantling some of that precious infrastructure. The changes are already underway.” […]

“Unlike products, services are often designed or modified as they are delivered; they are co-created with customers; and service providers must often respond in real time to customer desires and preferences. Services are contextual – where, when and how they are delivered can make a big difference. They may require specialized knowledge or skills. The value of a service comes through the interactions: it’s not the end product that matters, so much as the experience.

To this end, a company with a service orientation cannot be designed and organized around production processes; it must be designed and organized around customers and experiences. This is a complete inversion of the mass-production, mass-marketing paradigm that will be difficult for many companies to adopt.” […]

“The first step to a service orientation is to change the way we think about products. Instead of thinking about products as ends in themselves, we need to think of them as just one component in an overall service, the point of which is to deliver a stellar customer experience.”

Read essay

22 November 2011

Design for digital context (white paper)

Design for digital context
Fjord, the digital design consultancy, has just completed a white paper called “Design for Context: Understanding How User Context is Evolving”, looking at the background to context-sensitive design and current approaches, as well as providing high-level design recommendations for using context effectively and profitably.

The paper was developed as part of Fjord’s involvement with the three-year EU-funded research project SmarcoS.

“Designing and creating the best digital service experiences demands a clear understanding of user context.

Coupled with the rise of embedded technology, contextually aware design and technology is being utilised more and more to tailor and automate digital experiences.

This Fjord Report looks at the background to context- sensitive design, current approaches, and concludes with analysis and high-level design recommendations for creating digital services that use context effectively and profitably.”

Download white paper

(via Dexigner)

21 November 2011

How much should people worry about the loss of online privacy?

Privacy
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal posted excerpts from a debate between Danah Boyd, Stewart Baker, Jeff Jarvis, and Chris Soghoian on privacy:

“Privacy in the digital age means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some people fret about the privacy controls on social networks, some worry about the companies that track their online behavior, and others are concerned about government surveillance. We asked a diverse group of panelists how much our readers should worry about the vast array of privacy threats.

Read debate summary and watch video

In preparation for the piece, the participants had to respond to a series of questions. Two of these more extensive pieces are now online: Jeff JarvisDanah Boyd.

Note Danah Boyd’s description of privacy:

“Privacy is the ability to assert control over a social situation. This requires that people have agency in their environment and that they are able to understand any given social situation so as to adjust how they present themselves and determine what information they share. Privacy violations occur when people have their agency undermined or lack relevant information in a social setting that’s needed to act or adjust accordingly. Privacy is not protected by complex privacy settings that create what Alessandro Acquisti calls “the illusion of control.” Rather, it’s protected when people are able to fully understand the social environment in which they are operating and have the protections necessary to maintain agency.”

21 November 2011

Announcement: Dataviz workshop in Torino, Italy

Dataviz
On 12 to 17 December, the people of Better Nouveau plan Dataviz, an in-depth workshop on the visual representation of large datasets.

Better Nouveau is an independent design label and an innovation project initiated in June 2011 by ToDo, an Italian interaction design studio with a knack for setting up play dates between craft and code.

The six-day workshop, taking place in Torino, Italy, focuses on the visual representation of complex phenomena and large datasets.

“Over six days, you’ll learn to use the visual, node-based approach of NodeBox – an open-source data visualization tool – to create interesting and unique visualizations that evolve and react to varying inputs.

You’ll study how to capture, prepare, visualize and refine data, gaining insight in dataviz theories to the point you’ll start looking at data in a different way. By learning about the history of data visualization, you’ll discover how to create your own new and interesting designs for the future.

The final project will consist in a poster visualizing the data relating to a specified subject (we are currently selecting interesting datasets to be used during the week).”

20 November 2011

Tablets, sensors, foot boards and other gadgets for (French) seniors

Grandpa skype
As the first baby boomers turn 65 this year, high-tech is gradually making its way into the lives – and homes – of older folks.

French newspaper Le Monde looks at the tablets, sensors, foot boards and other gadgets seniors can use to get caught up and connected (article translated in English for Worldcrunch).

“Surprising but true: the touch tablet is well-adapted to older people, even the least tech-oriented. No cables, no complicated data structures, just single-function touch points. The result is that tablets can be used as an all-purpose communication tool: to keep up with the news, check the weather, play games, or conduct video conference calls with one’s children, grand-children, and home-bound friends.”

Read article

20 November 2011

The invisibility of ethnography

Usefulness of ethnography
Tricia Wang reflects on the fact that ethnographic work is often invisible.

One way to overcome this, she argues, is for ethnographers to find ways to visualize their work. Visuals make recommendations tangible and demonstrate the ethnographer’s value.

This is one of the reasons why she values and loves learning from designers because they are experts at visualizing their process.

Read article

20 November 2011

Social computing

Tom Erickson
The Interaction-Design.org Foundation is a labour of love founded by Mads Soegaard in 2002, and in 2010, his wife, Rikke Dam, joined the project (and their exotic office on a semi-deserted island in Thailand). Apart from Rikke and Mads, hundreds of people have helped out and continue to do so.

They are on a mission to make free and open educational materials: There are so many great minds in the human-computer interaction and interaction design community and they want to empower these authors to reach all their interested readers around the world.

Their currently featured chapter (one out of nine) is an authoritative overview of Social Computing by Tom Erickson – veteran researcher at IBM Research Lab. It includes 9 HD videos filmed in Copenhagen and commentaries by renowned designers/researchers like Elizabeth Churchill from Yahoo! and Andrea Forte.

Read chapter (and watch videos)

20 November 2011

Out with the old, in with the new: a conversation with Don Norman & Jon Kolko

Jon Kolko, Don Norman and Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson has interviewed many people on stage, but, he says, the best of these, for multiple reasons (some very personal), might have been the most recent: a “conversation” with Don Norman and Jon Kolko, which took place at the Academy of Art University (AAU) in San Francisco the evening of September 30, 2011.

The ~2-hour exchange with and between Don and Jon and the audience (comprised mostly of AAU students) was particularly engaging, thoughtful, rich, and delightful.

Topics addressed included the nature of and the difference between art and design, whether design should be taught in art schools (such as AAU), Abraham Maslow, usability, what design (or all) education should be like, the problem with “design thinking” courses, the destiny of printed magazines and printed books, aging and ageism, the relationship between HCI and interaction design, Arduino, simplicity, social media, Google, privacy, design research, the context in which design occurs, the Austin Center for Design, solving wicked problems, whether designers make good entreprenuers, politics, Herb Simon & cybernetics, the strengths & weaknesses of interconnected systems, and how designers should position themselves.

Read highlights (and watch full video)

20 November 2011

Enabling codesign

Codesign
The term co-design refers to a philosophical and political approach to design best applied throughout the design life cycle. Codesign builds on the methods and principles of Participatory Design which assumes ‘users’ are the experts of their own domain and should be actively involved in the design process.

This article explores some of the methodological tools design strategist Penny Hagen and design researcher Natalie Rowland use to enable codesign. Specifically, they explore the rationale behind some common workshop techniques used early in the design process, which combine the activities of research and idea generation.

Read article

20 November 2011

Sketchnotes of Ezio Manzini at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Ezio Manzini sketchnotes
This past Monday evening, on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago, sustainability expert Ezio Manzini gave a thought-provoking lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mr Manzini is a Professor of Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Milano, and is a renowned expert in the application of strategic design for sustainability. His perspectives on systems and service design relate nicely to his core message of sustainability, yielding a compelling framework for a vision of the future city.

Craighton Berman, self-styled “resident sketchnote correspondent”, was there to cover his lecture in drawing-form.

Read article

20 November 2011

On Culture and Interaction Design: an interview with Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell
Recently Dianna Miller had a chance to talk to Genevieve Bell, anthropologist and researcher, and the director of Intel Corporation’s Interaction and Experience Research. Genevieve Bell will be one of the keynote speakers at Interaction 12.

Dianna talked with her about social research, myths, design research and several other interesting subjects.

DM: What new skills and knowledge should interaction designers who’ve been focused on screen-based projects be developing now to design for smart objects and environments?

GB: I think there is a lot to be gained for reading the work in material culture from neo-Marxism through the Manchester School and the various American reinterpretations of cultural studies. There is much to be gained from the theoretical perspectives that have been rehearsed in that body of work. I think we need to continue to privilege thinking holistically. Even if you are not designing for the whole system or the whole environment, I suspect you need to understand it. For me, that means we also need to attend to ideas of power, both social and political, as it has much to do with these news spaces we find ourselves exploring.”

Dianna Miller is professor and program coordinator for the Service Design BFA/MFA program at Savannah College of Art & Design. She has twenty years experience as an interaction designer, user researcher, project manager, and content strategist. In 2003, she completed studies at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

Read interview

10 November 2011

Transforming behaviour change

Transforming behaviour change
The RSA’s latest report, Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania, argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains.

Abstract

The Government is taking behavioural science very seriously, but existing nudge-based approaches to behaviour change tend to represent what Aditya Chakraborty called “Cute technocratic solutions to most minor problems”. The major adaptive challenges of our time, including debt, climate change, public health and mental health, require a deeper and more ambitious approach.

Transforming Behaviour Change argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains, based on a considered response to two major cultural developments. The first is the growing ascendancy of neuroscientific interpretations of human behaviour, leading to fears of reductionism and pharmaceutical control. The second is behaviour change becoming an explicit goal of government policy, leading to fears of Government manipulation and coercion.

The report critically engages with these two developments, and proposes an alternative approach to behaviour change that builds on existing public and professional interest in brains and behaviour. We set out to shift attention away from the threatening idea of ‘science as authority’, justifying moral judgements, medical interventions and policy positions, and focus instead on the more productive notion of ‘science as provocation’, helping people foster the kinds of self-awareness and behaviour change they are seeking to develop.

10 November 2011

Craftmanship

 
John Kolko reflects on design education and the importance of craftmanship in an article for Interactions Magazine.

“Based on my experience reviewing portfolios from recent business school graduates, I would argue that one of the most fundamental failings of “design thinking” education is the _lack of craftsmanship_. Students don’t appear to learn a honed, tacit, and careful “innate” sensibility for making, and simultaneously, they don’t appear to have developed an intimate understanding of the medium they are responsible for shaping. Instead, they are equipped with a toolkit of methods.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

10 November 2011

GEM, Nokia’s new concept phone

GEM
Nokia releases a new phone concept – Gem – which “revolutionizes mobile design by turning the entire handset into a touchscreen”.

Launched on the 25th anniversary of the Nokia Research Centre, the GEM device changes appearance from camera to phone or map according to the function selected by the user. It could even display advertising messages on the back of the phone.

The back and front are also interactive, making it possible to pinch and zoom the rear of the phone while getting a constant clear view of the image on the front.

Read announcement (with concept video)