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Putting People First

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September 2012
29 September 2012

Book: Doing Design Ethnography

Doing Design Ethnography

Doing Design Ethnography
By Andrew Crabtree, Mark Rouncefield, Peter Tolmie
Springer Publishers – Human-Computer Interaction Series
March 2012, 212 pages
(Amazon link)

Ethnographic approaches associated with social and cultural anthropology are common currency in systems design. They are employed in academic and industrial research labs, consultancy firms, IT companies and design houses to understand user requirements, to develop design ideas, and to evaluate computing systems.

Doing Design Ethnography is about one particularly influential approach: ethnomethodologically informed or inspired ethnography. This approach focuses distinctively on the embodied work practices that people use to conduct their everyday activities and to concert them with others. It enables system developers to factor the social organisation of human activities into IT research and systems design, and to do so with respect to its real world, real time character.

Doing Design Ethnography is the first dedicated practical text explaining how to do ethnography in a design context. Particular emphasis is placed on doing to convey and elaborate the approach as a concrete job of work consisting of particular skills and competences that are responsive to the practical demands of systems development. The authors work through a range of examples to elaborate key aspects of the job, and offer practical guidelines for researchers and design practitioners who seek to do ethnography for systems design.

Andrew Crabtree (Associate Professor, School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham), Mark Rouncefield (Senior Research Fellow, Computing Department, Lancaster University) and Peter Tolmie (Senior Ethnographic Consultant, Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham) draw on over 50 years of combined practical experience to creat this book, which will be of broad appeal to students and practitioners in Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Cooperative Work and software engineering, providing valuable insights as to how to conduct ethnography and relate it to systems design.

28 September 2012

How cultural differences affect mobile use

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CNN reports on mobile phone culture and how use differs starkly across cultures.

Whereas the article is rather superficial, the “open mic” videos from New York and Nairobi and the photo gallery are recommended.

27 September 2012

Aaron Marcus publishes (free) ebook about HCI in Sci-Fi

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The Past 100 Years of the Future: Sci-Fi and HCI in Movies and Television
by Aaron Marcus
2012 – 197 pages

On 24 August 2012, AM+A published its first ebook, The Past 100 Years of the Future: HCI in Science-Fiction Movies and Television.

The book, downloadable at the AM+A Website, is a work in progress, says the author, because movie studios have demanded extremely high publication permission rights, as high as $4500 per image, for individual images for some of the many films cited in the book. This cost seems prohibitively expensive, especially when the publication is being issued as a not-for profit, non-commercial, but downloadable publication. Consequently, the book appears without these images. As rights are secured, revised versions will be published. AM+A hopes readers enjoy the current version, and thanks readers in advance for their patience and for coming back for later versions.

The e-book is based on Aaron Macus’ keynote lecture (video) on Sci-Fi and HCI at the Chemnitz Technical University Mensch und Komputer Konferenz in September 2010.

Aaron Marcus is an American user-interface and information-visualization designer, as well as a computer graphics artist.

26 September 2012

Alok Nandi to chair Interaction14 – February 2014 in Amsterdam

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The IxDA Board of Directors just announced that Alok Nandi will be Chair of Interaction14, to be held February, 2014 in Amsterdam in conjunction with Utrecht School of the Arts and Delft University of Technology.

Alok, an independent media writer/director and designer exploring narrative spaces in cross-media project, was selected from a short list of candidates following an open call that resulted in more than 30 qualified submissions.

Interaction14 will be the second IxDA conference to be held in Europe, following from the successful staging of Interaction12 in Dublin, Ireland earlier this year. It will take place in Amsterdam in February 2014.

Interaction13 will be in Toronto in January 2013.

Alok has named Yohan Creemers, Chair of IxDA Netherlands and a member of the Dutch bid team, as his Co-Chair for Interaction14.

Congratulations, Alok!

26 September 2012

Designing for Mobile, Part 1: Information Architecture

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Mobile devices come with a whole host of new constraints (and opportunities) for our designs.

In this – the first part of her series on mobile design – Elaine McVicar explores a handfull of the most popular architectures for mobile websites and applications.

26 September 2012

The magic of good service

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THE customer is king. So some firms have started appointing chief customer officers (CCOs) to serve the king more attentively. These new additions to the (already crowded) C-suite are supposed to look at the business from the customer’s point of view. They try to focus on the entire “customer experience”, rather than on individual transactions.

An article by The Economist reflects on the matter, and refers to the book “Outside In” (Amazon) by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research, who observe that customers are growing more powerful.

“The internet makes it easier to shop around and share complaints with a wide audience. Yet poor service persists. Mr Manning and Ms Bodine have been asking customers about their experiences with American companies for years. In 2012 a third of the 160 firms they asked about were rated “poor” or “very poor”. Health insurers and cable companies fared worst.”

The article ends with this hilarious recommendation: “Phone a firm that has appointed a chief customer officer and see if you can reach a human being. If not, that CCO might as well be tossed from an executive-floor window, no doubt clutching his collection of ‘journey maps’ and ‘customer archetypes’.”

26 September 2012

Book: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century

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Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century
By Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs
UCLA, Cotson Institute of Archaeology
July 2012

Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century cross-cuts the ranks of important books on social history, consumerism, contemporary culture, the meaning of material culture, domestic architecture, and household ethnoarchaeology. Far richer in information and more incisive than America at Home (Smolan and Erwitt), it also moves well beyond Rick Smolan’s Day in the Life series. It is a distant cousin of Material World and Hungry Planet in content and style, but represents a blend of rigorous science and photography that none of these books can claim. Using archaeological approaches to human material culture, this volume offers unprecedented access to the middle-class American home through the kaleidoscopic lens of no-limits photography and many kinds of never-before acquired data about how people actually live their lives at home.

Based on a rigorous, nine-year project at UCLA, this book has appeal not only to scientists but also to all people who share intense curiosity about what goes on at home in their neighborhoods. Many who read the book will see their own lives mirrored in these pages and can reflect on how other people cope with their mountains of possessions and other daily challenges. Readers abroad will be equally fascinated by the contrasts between their own kinds of materialism and the typical American experience. The book will interest a range of designers, builders, and architects as well as scholars and students who research various facets of U.S. and global consumerism, cultural history, and economic history.

25 September 2012

Latest RSA Animate on the truth about dishonesty

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In this new RSA Animate, Dan Ariely, bestselling author and professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, explores the circumstances under which someone would lie and what effect deception has on society at large.

The RSA Animate was taken from a July 2012 lecture given by Dan Ariely as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.

Enjoy.

25 September 2012

Book: Observing the User Experience

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Observing the User Experience
A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research
by
Elizabeth Goodman, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, and Intel PhD Fellow
Mike Kuniavsky, Founder, ThingM
Andrea Moed, Staff User Researcher at Inflection
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers
608 pages – September 21, 2012
(Amazon link)

The gap between who designers and developers imagine their users are, and who those users really are can be the biggest problem with product development. Observing the User Experience will help you bridge that gap to understand what your users want and need from your product, and whether they’ll be able to use what you’ve created.

Filled with real-world experience and a wealth of practical information, this book presents a complete toolbox of techniques to help designers and developers see through the eyes of their users. It provides in-depth coverage of 13 user experience research techniques that will provide a basis for developing better products, whether they’re Web, software or mobile based. In addition, it’s written with an understanding of how software is developed in the real world, taking tight budgets, short schedules, and existing processes into account.

> See also this article by UC Berkeley: “Elizabeth Goodman revises classic handbook of user experience research“.

24 September 2012

Why user-centered design is not enough, by John Wood

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John Wood, Emeritus Professor of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London, argues on Core77 that the user-centered mindset is based on a one-dimensional map in which only two places exist—master and servant. In the workplace, the designer is the servant and the client is the master. From a greater distance, the user is the master and the ‘client plus designer’ is the servant.

“The idea of user-centered design grew out of ‘humanism’, which can be traced to ancient Greece and the early Christians, who came to value the differences between individuals. However, while humanism has many admirable qualities, it is a dangerously incomplete basis from which understand things. [...]

We have designed ourselves into a bubble of self-satisfaction. ‘Solipsism’ is a good word for it. It reminds us of the old story of Narcissus, who was became obsessively absorbed by his own reflection in the lake and failed to notice that a beautiful girl was trying to get his attention.”

23 September 2012

SAP’s new Mobility Design Center uses user-centered design approach

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A few days ago SAP announced the opening of the new SAP Mobility Design Center to help customers meet the growing need for individualized mobile solutions.

Headquartered on the company’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif., the center is focused on enabling companies to keep up with the consumerization of IT trend by conceptualizing, designing and building mobile solutions to better connect with employees and consumers.

To achieve consumer-grade experiences, customers collaborate with a team of user experience (UX) designers, architects and developers. The team employs design thinking principles and validates mobile solutions with end users continually throughout the build process.

The SAP Mobility Design Center is a one-stop shop for designing, developing and validating customer-specific mobile enterprise solutions that are intuitive for users and leverage features such as touch, camera, GPS and other device functionality across a variety of device platforms.

21 September 2012

Five experts on what comes after the touchscreen

 

Post-touch hasn’t found the killer use case that the mouse found with GUIs and the touchscreen found with mobile web browsing and apps — but it’s not for lack of trying. We’ve had a flood of prototypes, demos and art projects, any one of which could flourish into an industry — that is, once every laptop comes with a near-field depth camera. As for which will take off…it’s anyone’s guess. But some guesses are better than others.

Read the opinions by Michael Buckwald, CEO of Leap Motion; Doug Carmean, Researcher-at-Large for Intel Labs; James Alliban, interaction designer; Andrew Hudson-Smith, Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis; and Casey Reas, co-creator of Processing.

21 September 2012

Can ethnography save enterprise social networking?

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In this guest post for Ethnography Matters, Mike Gotta from Cisco Systems, makes the case for bringing the human back into enterprise software design and development, starting out with enterprise social networking (ESN). The introduction to the post is by ethnographer Tricia Wang.

“One of the biggest problems with ESN’s right now is that developers and trainers don’t account for culture. Often times ESNs are implemented with little understanding of the company’s social and tech context. For example, companies try to incentivize employees to fill out social profiles, or blog, or join communities, but often employees don’t understand why, or what’s in it for them to change their behavior to collaborate in such a public way. The result – slow adoption of the ESN. Can better design practices solve the problem? How can ethnographers help fill the context and cultural gap?”

21 September 2012

The workplace of 2025 will be wherever you want it

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Sampling views from a panel representing Imperial College London, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Washington, other international academics and the UK government, research has just been published that points to dramatic changes in the workplace as we know it.

Forget whether it’s practical to bring your own technology devices to work – in the future, you may not even have an office.

According to the expert panel, by 2025 technology will allow us to conjure workspaces out of thin air by using interactive surfaces.

Read article (BBC)

21 September 2012

Book: Communicating the User Experience

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Communicating the User Experience: A Practical Guide for Creating Useful UX Documentation
by Richard Caddick and Steve Cable
Wiley
2011, 352 pages
ISBN 978-1119971108
(Amazon | Scribd)

Abstract
As web sites and applications become richer and more complex, the user experience (UX) becomes critical to their success. This indispensible and full-color book provides practical guidance on this growing field and shares valuable UX advice that you can put into practice immediately on your own projects. The authors examine why UX is gaining so much interest from web designers, graduates, and career changers and looks at the new UX tools and ideas that can help you do your job better. In addition, you’ll benefit from the unique insight the authors provide from their experiences of working with some of the world’s best-known companies, learning how to take ideas from business requirements, user research, and documentation to create and develop your UX vision.

> Book review (UX magazine)

18 September 2012

A report on the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston

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Report by Experientia researcher Anna Wojnarowska

Harvard Medical School hosted this weekend the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston.

The fifth edition of the event invited academics, practitioners and clinicians for two days of lectures, discussions and presentations, analyzing the changes taking place in the healthcare sector around the world.

A major topic recurring throughout the presentations was how decision makers can respond and finally fulfill patients’ needs to engage more consciously in their treatment, personal data management and the diagnosis process, areas that had been hidden from them beforehand.

Dave Debronkart, the closing speaker of the conference highlighted how the dynamics between the medical institutions and their patients reshape in the Web 2.0 reality and how they will further develop.

While we are used to a one directed top down relation between the authorities and the patients this is changing now into a growing interaction between the two and will further evolve into a dynamic environment where all of the parties involved will be able to freely share content, exchange opinions and expertise and look for advice.

The area of user experience research in healthcare seems to be still only developing, but with visible progress. An interesting presentation by Cassie Mcdaniel from the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (Toronto) showed how the designers struggle to survive among the healthcare providers, trying to deliver user friendly solutions.

Two obstacles – complexity of the issues to address and the difficulty in cooperating with all the parties involved – render the implementation of changes slow and rarely effective. Nevertheless the reality is changing and more and more stakeholders see the value of users research methods when researching future opportunities for development.

As one of the presentation in the “Consumer empowerment, patient-physician relationship and sociotechnical issues” panel, I presented a project I conducted at University College London in 2011, under the supervision of Stefana Broadbent.

It was an ethnographic study of a cardiology institute in Warsaw with a focus on the way the digital technologies influence the dynamics between the doctors and patients. The audience admitted that approaching such a fragile context as hospitalization in an ethnographic, direct way is highly valuable and allows to formulate context relevant insights that would not be attainable through other methodologies.

I am looking forward to hearing about the progress in various research initiatives signaled this year during Medicine 2.0 2013 next fall in London!

18 September 2012

Experientia researcher speaking at Harvard’s Medicine 2.0 conference

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Experientia researcher Anna Wojnarowska spoke this Sunday at the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston on her research on the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

The yearly conference, which had over 500 attendees, focuses on social media, mobile apps, and internet/web 2.0 in health, medicine and biomedical research.

Anna’s talk, entitled Body Wholeness and Technological Struggles: How Patients and Staff Cope with the Reality of the Hospital, presented an ethnographic study of a cardiology institute in Warsaw with a focus on the way the digital technologies influence the dynamics between the doctors and patients

Background:
What interested me the most in the specificity of the hospital environment was the potential influence of digital technologies – such as mobile phones and laptops – on the dynamics between patients and doctors, mediated through medical treatment. I wanted to find out what role digital communication devices play in the balance of authority between doctors and patients and how using these tools expresses the personal needs of patients.

Objective:
My research examines the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

Methods:
I conducted ethnographic research in a cardiological institute in Poland. Having negotiated access as an “ethnographic intern” to one of the clinics, I participated in the life of the hospital to the extent available to an outside observer, for a period of three weeks. I conducted interviews with eleven patients, two family members, seven members of the medical staff – doctors and nurses – and three members of the hospital’s administrative staff. Further, I engaged in extensive observation of the hospital environment.

Results:
All of the patients whom I met during the research period were extensive users of mobile phones, but they were rarely equipped with their own laptops. Patients treated technology as an important conveyor of their private realities, lives that they did not necessarily want to include in their hospital routine. Patients approached hospitalization as a temporary period, which they did not want to integrate with their everyday lives. They protected their bodily integrity by negating their dependence on medical and communicational devices, not wishing to be perceived as ‘cyborgs’ (Haraway 1985) or ‘techno-social beings’ (Latour 1993). In order to separate themselves from their roles as ‘patients’, they exerted their agency on those technological aspects of the hospital reality, which were within their reach, such as medical screens and drips. Even though the doctors were very eager to share stories of how patients undermined their medical authority by browsing the internet, the patients themselves claimed that they do it only for their own sake, without wanting to disobey their doctors. The complexity of the treatments conducted in the clinic increased patients’ trust in the medical profession and decreased their motivation to look for alternative information online. Nonetheless, online sources do play an important role during the curing process, as an effective source of emotional support and personal comfort.

Conclusions:
The hospital is an area where patients construct their personhoods in reference to the surrounding environment and where they foster their identities. Digital technologies became deeply embedded in the process of maintaining bodily integrity and tackling a new – and yet temporary – hospitalized reality. What requires attention is the potential of technology in creating bonds among the patients themselves as well as supporting their daily routine in the hospital, far different from the ‘ordinary’ one. The influence of technology on the balance of authority seems a secondary issue, as patients who come equipped with an extensive knowledge of their condition seem able to effectively distinguish trustworthy online sources (such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, online medical journals) from the unreliable ones (online forums) and have no intention to carelessly undermine doctors’ diagnoses and opinions.

In the next post, Anna writes about her experience of the conference.

18 September 2012

Book: Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction

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Make It So – Interaction design lessons from science fiction
By Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel
Rosenfeld Media
September 2012
ISBNs: paperback (1-933820-98-5); digital editions (1-933820-76-4)

Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying these “outsider” user interfaces, designers can derive lessons that make their real-world designs more cutting edge and successful.

Make It So shows:

  • Sci-fi interfaces have been there (almost) from the beginning
  • Sci-fi creates a shared design language that sets audience expectations
  • If an interface works for an audience, there’s something there that will work for users
  • Bad sci-fi interfaces can sometimes be the most inspiring
  • There are ten “meta-lessons” spread across hundreds of examples
  • You can use — and not just enjoy — sci-fi in your design work

Also:

16 September 2012

Book: Economy of Experiences

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Today Albert Boswijk, founder and CEO of the European Centre for the Experience Economy, contacted us about his new book “Economy of Experiences”.

Boswijk co-founded the Centre, a structure affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, in 2000 with Joseph Pine, who was the first to launch the term in 1998 and then co-authored the seminal 1999 book with the same title.

Economy of Experiences
By Albert Boswijk, Ed Peelen and Steven Olthof
European Centre for the Experience Economy
2012 – 335 pages
ISBN: 978-0985593209
(Amazon link)

Abstract
Economy of Experiences sheds light on the fundamental process of change whereby society is currently searching for new forms of value creation. The ‘Experience Economy’ is the first symptom of this process. The Economy of Experiences is more than ‘feed me’ or ‘entertain me’. Businesses and organisations have a larger, more significant role to play in supporting individuals in their search to find their own way and a significant role for themselves. This book describes, step-by-step, the foundations of new forms of value creation and how businesses can avoid the downward escalation of price competition (commoditisation). It starts by placing individuals at the centre of their social context as well as events that are important to them in the world in which they live. In order to facilitate these, we present new business models in which co-creation plays an important role. Concrete design principles are given that can be used as a basis for creating meaningful experiences. Both theory and practice are discussed; numerous cases studies are dissected. The last three chapters focus on practical applications in health care, financial service innovation and developing creative cities. The book is backed by its own website: www.experience-economy.com.

Download table of contents and introduction

16 September 2012

UX Curve: A method for evaluating long-term user experience

 

UX Curve: A method for evaluating long-term user experience
Sari Kujala (a), Virpi Roto (b), Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila (a), Evangelos Karapanos (c), Arto Sinnelä (a)
a) Tampere University of Technology, Finland
b) Nokia Research Center, Finland
c) Eindhoven University of Technology, Dept of Industrial Design, Netherlands
Article in Press – Elsevier – Interacting with Computers

—————

The goal of user experience design in industry is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.

So far, user experience studies have mostly focused on short-term evaluations and consequently on aspects relating to the initial adoption of new product designs. Nevertheless, the relationship between the user and the product evolves over long periods of time and the relevance of prolonged use for market success has been recently highlighted.

In this paper, we argue for the cost-effective elicitation of longitudinal user experience data. We propose a method called the ‘‘UX Curve’’ which aims at assisting users in retrospectively reporting how and why their experience with a product has changed over time. The usefulness of the UX Curve method was assessed in a qualitative study with 20 mobile phone users. In particular, we investigated how users’ specific memories of their experiences with their mobile phones guide their behavior and their willingness to recommend the product to others.

The results suggest that the UX Curve method enables users and researchers to determine the quality of long-term user experience and the influences that improve user experience over time or cause it to deteriorate. The method provided rich qualitative data and we found that an improving trend of perceived attractiveness of mobile phones was related to user satisfaction and willingness to recommend their phone to friends. This highlights that sustaining perceived attractiveness can be a differentiating factor in the user acceptance of personal interactive products such as mobile phones.

The study suggests that the proposed method can be used as a straightforward tool for understanding the reasons why user experience improves or worsens in long-term product use and how these reasons relate to customer loyalty.