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Putting People First

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September 2012
2 September 2012

Focus on service design – in UK and in Italy

 

Earlier this year, the UK Design Council and the Arts & Humanities Research Council conducted a wide ranging review of the place of design research in UK universities, and its connection with businesses and policymakers. The aim was to identify future areas for research funding, and new and innovative ways of bringing research and industry together to contribute their ideas.

The findings from the initial scoping study indicated that a focus on service design is of the utmost importance, as it is an interesting field both in the design profession and in academic research, and one in which there is considerable opportunity for engagement with business:

“In relation to the UK design industry and the disciplines that we reviewed, we think it would be fair to say that the area that is perhaps most neglected is the developing sector and discipline of service design. It was certainly the area most regularly cited as in need of attention across all of the stakeholder research that we have conducted, but also has the potential to make major contributions to innovation and to major challenges such as health and sustainability.”

We believe that it is bringing together economists, design businesses and design researchers in multidisciplinary teams that will generate evidence that can fill some of the gaps currently seen in the literature.”

The Design Council will now conduct a study of service design that will conclude in November.

Italy

In Italy, there is a strong tradition of service design at academic level, with high-level English language Masters programmes at Domus Academy (directed by Elena Pacenti) and at the Milan Polytechnic (directed by Anna Meroni).

But too few of the students end up working as service designers in Italy, and despite good initiatives such as Feeding Milano (LIFT conference video), the impact of these programmes on public services is still scarce.

We at Experientia contribute to making that change happen, having hired former students from both programmes and also recruited their interns. They work with Italian and global players in multi-disciplinary and evidence-based projects, as recommended by the Design Council scoping study. Experientia partners Jan-Christoph Zoels and Mark Vanderbeeken also taught service design this Spring at resp. Domus and the Polytechnic, eager to inspire future positive change in the Italian context.

1 September 2012

John Payne on his Occupy Wall Street ethnography

john-p

A few weeks ago, Tricia Wang asked John Payne, a principal of Moment, to write a guest post on Ethnography Matters about his ethnographic field work on Occupy Wall Street.

John had facilitated a 2 and half day course of ethnographic fieldwork on Occupy for designers and blogged a series of 3 very thoughtful posts about the experience, which are now reposted on Ethnography Matters, with this new introduction:

“Successful adoption of products (physical or digital) relies heavily on an individual’s ability to judge appropriateness, usefulness and ease-of-use. As a practicing designer, I have long employed an ethnographic approach to better understand the people and organizations my firm designs for, to give them products that not only address their needs, but that also actually make sense in their everyday lives.

As any reader of this blog knows, ethnography has proven invaluable at getting beyond “user needs,” to reveal the shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that influence decisions about adoption and ongoing use. But the influence of cultural factors on product design are sorely lacking from the discussion of user experience.

To address that challenge, last fall I taught a workshop on ethnography as applied to user experience design for the New York chapter of the IxDA. We took as our research site Liberty Square, a.k.a Zucotti Park, ground zero to the Occupy Wall Street movement and spent a cold winter afternoon there, visiting, observing, and engaging with the occupiers in their two month old encampment. Our goal, to determine what, if any, design interventions would improve their ability to communicate and coordinate their protest.

The post that follows was originally a three-part discussion presenting ethnography to an audience of designers and describing what we learned from our afternoon there, the ideas that emerged from our analysis, and the value that ethnography brings to user experience work.”

1 September 2012

Perception Strategy: The Emotional Side of User Experience

 

The way we interact and respond to information depends on many things: our goals about what we want to do with that information, the nature of the information, the context we find ourselves engaging with it, etc. Throughout these interactions is a continual dance between the rational and emotional, says information architect John Schneider.

“Our rational selves ask questions like, “What does this do?”, “What are the features?”, or “Can I download it?” This is our practical side that wants to get things done and accomplish tasks. It is the side we seem to focus on, which makes sense since people do, in fact, need to get things done and we can help them do just that. Plus, we can measure it via usability testing.

But what about when there’s not a strong motivation to get things done, or someone needs convincing? Or maybe they do need to get something done but they’re put off or just not encouraged by the presentation of the information? That’s when we need to speak to the emotions.

Our emotional selves don’t ask questions, but instead filter actions through an emotional lens. Our emotions provide the impetus for our action or inaction. We first react, then act, formulating ad hoc rationales for either engaging in or avoiding something. It’s our job to anticipate and help guide the emotional engines of our users and direct them accordingly to either things they need or things we would like them to do or at least consider.”

A first post explores how people respond to information and discussed the need for a good understanding of human psychology and behavior if we want our designs to be more effective, while a second one takes a look at some of those underlying principles and provides a framework that can help guide design decisions.