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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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June 2013
29 June 2013

Designing for services beyond the screen

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The producer-consumer model is so ingrained in our society that we tend to treat everything like a product—a one-and-done offering that can be pushed to the market and forgotten. Yet, writes interaction and service design consultant Andy Polaine, online experiences are rarely so simple.

“Dividing businesses into silos, with each silo reporting back to management, worked well for industrial product companies: on an assembly line, each worker works on building the same object, such as a car, that never changes its planned final form over the course of assembly. Each task is repeatable and requires little or no interaction with other people—so much so that factory workers can be replaced by robots.

But services aren’t made on an assembly line. They are complex and difficult to get right, because your users might interact with the service across a wide array of touchpoints. You can’t predict precisely which of them each user will need, in what order she will encounter them, and who will help her along the way. The service is experienced differently by every person, because every person is different.”

29 June 2013

Design in Service: Crafting the Citizen Experience

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Many agree that a combination of factors – a demand for better user experience, the rise of ubiquitous technologies and more readily accessible datasets – present the conditions necessary for a more enjoyable life as a citizen of our country. But necessity is just the mother of invention; it takes hard work to get there. To narrow the gap between today’s promises and tomorrow’s opportunities, designers are increasingly intent on improving what’s known as the citizen experience.

Anyone who’s interacted with an office of their local government knows that the public sector works as best as it can to serve the needs of its constituents. Organizations frequently adopt and adapt solutions along the way which inevitably introduces inefficiencies. Inefficiency, however, is something for which user-centered design is well suited. It’s just rarely the case that these two parties meet in the middle, despite the fact that they have so much to gain from one another.

25 June 2013

The culture of borrowing and debt: an ethnographic approach

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What are people’s philosophy and attitudes toward loans and debt? And how financial marketers can respond to their basic emotional needs in the lending process?

Americans have a complicated relationship with debt, one that defies easy analysis. That’s why a pair of researchers from Filene, a credit union think tank, chose to study the subject using ethnographic models.

Filene’s report, “The Culture of Borrowing and Debt: An Ethnographic Approach,” set out to tackle two overarching issues: how consumers relate to borrowing and debt, and how financial marketers can respond to those basic borrowing needs. With that in mind, Filene used the following eight questions to guide its research project:

  1. What are people’s philosophy and attitudes toward money, borrowing, and debt?
  2. Does the average consumer understand the loan process, from considering whether to borrow, to obtaining a loan and paying it off?
  3. What is the language consumers use to discuss borrowing and loans?
  4. What are the influences and influencers around borrowing and taking loans?
  5. Who do consumers trust in the lending process, and what creates this trust?
  6. What forms of financial education work and what doesn’t? What can be done to improve consumer understanding of the lending process?
  7. How do members perceive the value of credit union membership?
  8. What is the customer lending experience? What works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be changed?
25 June 2013

Understanding human behaviour: taking a more complex approach

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Large-scale surveys are useful but if we are serious about changing behaviours, we must use every tool to understand human complexity, writes Steven Johnson in the Sustainable Business section of The Guardian. Ethnographic approaches allow us to observe consumer behaviour as it happens naturally, rather than retrospectively discussing it in research setting.

“Recent advances in behavioural economics, cognitive neuroscience, network theory and social psychology more generally have overturned our common sense understanding of human behaviour. The rational, autonomous, self-aware agent acting in his own self-interest according to static preferences has faded as we realise that behaviour is largely irrational, unconscious and driven by external contexts. Ladies and gentleman, Homo economicus has left the building. […]

If we are to deliver on our ambitions to empower new consumer behaviours, it is essential that we listen to the science and go beyond the limitations of traditional self-reporting research methodologies as a source of insight. As I have worked to incorporate these new perspectives into my own work over recent years, the emphasis has shifted towards bespoke approaches based on ethnographic and co-creation principles.”

This is the first in a 5-part series of posts based on Steven Johnson’s upcoming book, ‘Considered Creative‘. Steven Johnson is an independent writer, speaker and consultant specialising in behaviour change and sustainability.

24 June 2013

Talking Design with Dan Hill

 

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We are pleased to invite you to the second in the “Talking Design” lecture series with Dan Hill, CEO of Fabrica.

On Thursday July 4th, designer and urbanist Dan Hill will speak about smart citizens, in his talk “The not-so-smart city”.

Talking Design lecture series
The “Talking Design” guest speaker evenings are part of our drive to bring the design world to Turin, by hosting a series of talks from global experts in the industry, to share their experience and knowledge with our friends in Turin. Initiated by Experientia, the initiative is now supported by four forward-looking Turin entities who together select the speakers, organize the logistics, and promote the event to our network: Cluster, Deltatre, Experientia and GranStudio.

Following the success of the first lecture, with Todd Harple, anthropologist and experience engineer at Intel, we have planned this July lecture, and one for the beginning of September. All lectures are in English. They will be video recorded and posted online (where possible).

Dan Hill, CEO of Fabrica
Dan Hill is CEO of Fabrica, a communications research center and transdisciplinary studio based in Treviso, Italy. A designer and urbanist, he was previously strategic design lead for Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, exploring how design might enable positive systemic change throughout society. Prior to Sitra, Dan was Arup‘s Foresight and Innovation leader for the Australasian region, as well as their lead on urban informatics and urban strategy. Before that, he had leadership positions at Monocle and the BBC. Dan writes the well-known blog “City of Sound“, and contributes regularly to “Domus” Magazine, where he is also Strategic Design Advisor.

We hope you’ll join us in this exciting new initiative to bring the design world to Turin. We are looking forward to seeing you.
The Talking Design Team

Date: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Time: 6pm
Location: Cluster, Via della Basilica 13, 10122 Torino
RSVP: Silvana Rosso, +39 011 812 9687

24 June 2013

Advice from a former Apple director who coined the term ‘user experience’

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Having worked on Apple’s User Interface Technologies and introducing the term “user experience” to company execs in the early 90s, Mitch Stein knows a thing or two about how humans interact with computers.

“The term ‘user experience’ is more than just aesthetics to me,” Stein said. “We have relationships with our technology. User experience is not just eye candy — it promotes a positive relationship between humans and technology.”

Stein spoke earlier this week at the Hacker News Meetup in Seattle, and provided some tips to GeekWire.

24 June 2013

Brian David Johnson on being more human

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Intel’s resident futurist reflects on how the steampunk culture offers clues to building a better tomorrow.

“Steampunk reveals three relationships that people want with their technology. First, they want their technology to have a sense of humor. Humor and jokes give us a way to connect with and understand each other. Also, humor is a great cultural indicator that we understand each other. Studies show that if I can make you laugh, you not only think I’m smarter but also feel a deeper human connection to me. If we want to have a closer relationship to these technologies that are filling our lives, it makes sense that we would want them to get our sense of humor and make us laugh.

Second, people want their technology to have a sense of history. History is the on-ramp to the future. Only by understanding where we have come from can we make sense of where we are going. It might surprise you to realize that a pocket watch is a lot like an iPhone. We carry both around in our pockets. Both give their owners an advantage over other people who may not have them. But there is one difference: a pocket watch was designed to be handed down from generation to generation. An iPhone is designed to be refreshed from generation to generation. For an increasing number of people this doesn’t work. They want their devices to have grounding in history, a connection to the past so we can have a clearer view of our future.

Finally, people want their technology to have a sense of humanity. They want their devices to understand them as individuals. If you sleep with your smartphone next to your bed you want it to know who you are when you wake up in the morning. As our devices become increasingly smarter and central to our lives, we want these devices to understand us as individuals, not as consumers.”

24 June 2013

Thirteen tenets of user experience

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Robert Hoekman Jr. provides his list of 13 beliefs on the value of user experience strategy, design, and designers, “one for every year [he has] been in the web industry”.

19 June 2013

Book: Trust is a Choice

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Trust is a Choice – Prolegomena of Anthropology of Trust(s)
by Stephanie A. Krawinkler
189 pages, 2013
Carl-Auer Verlag (Publisher)
[Amazon link]
[Extract]

Trust is a universal but culture-bound phenomenon and a critical success factor in corporate life. The author provides a compilation of anthropological theoretical threads on trust. She conducted a long-time ethnography of a company and describes what trust is, how it is established and maintained in this particular organization, and addresses the question whether it can be regained when lost. This elaborated case proves that the anthropological methods can be helpful in researching this abstract topic. An additional chapter outlines and further discusses the used research methods.

This book is for students, scholars, and for managers of companies that are interested in trust theory and research as well as business anthropology.

Dr. Stephanie A. Krawinkler, is a social and cultural anthropologist, author, and lecturer at the University of Vienna. She has been conducting business anthropological research since 2006. Other fields of research include cross-cultural communication, methodology, trust, awareness, and South East Asia.

19 June 2013

Service design in the physical space and why it makes sense to design for a minority

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The physical environment in which a service plays out has a significant influence on the experience of a service. So it’s not uncommon for service design projects to take the physical environment into account.

In a recent project focused on the physical environment of the train station, the Dutch service design consultancy 31 Volts, specifically looked at the “extreme users“; that small group of people which cause a rather big impact on the experience of the larger group of “normal users”.

So instead of analyzing and optimizing the existing customer journey they took the lateral approach and explored the weird and quirky behavior, because extreme users bring an environment to life that would otherwise be sterile.

(via InfoDesign)

19 June 2013

New Ericsson report on needs of today’s smartphone and mobile internet users

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A new Ericsson ConsumerLab report, Unlocking Consumer Value, identifies the needs of today’s smartphone and mobile internet users.

“The rapid uptake of smartphones and other connected devices has transformed the mobile broadband landscape – shaping and broadening the way users work, play and communicate. When the uptake of smartphones begins to accelerate in a particular market, it is vital to differentiate between consumers based on what they prioritize in an offering, whether that’s unwavering performance or cost control and data usage.

This report outlines Ericsson ConsumerLab’s findings and details six different mobile internet target groups: the Performance Seekers, the Cost Cutters, the Curious Novices, the Control Seekers, the VIPs and the Devicers.

As an example, for Performance Seekers the interaction with the operator is less important and price is of medium importance while the device and the performance are of high importance. Cost Cutters, on the other hand, only prioritize the price.

The report can be used to help operators and developers better understand what is important to their users. This information can enhance overall consumer experience and loyalty by creating more value through relevant services and offerings.”

13 June 2013

To get the most out of tablets, use smart curation

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In a second article in a four-part series on the use of tablets in educational settings, Justin Reich of MindShift examines the topic of curation.

“As technologies have developed, the tools and objects of curation have become increasingly accessible. For decades, teachers have arranged collections on bookcases, but now we create playlists of songs, folders of bookmarks, albums of photos, wall posts of life events, and portfolios of academic work. With this abundance of platforms for curation, teachers no longer curate to distribute works, they curate to model curation. […]

In a world of portable supercomputers and ubiquitous access, the task of the teacher is no longer to collect and distribute, but to empower students to curate their own collections of intellectual resources.”

Justin Reich is a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and co-Founder of EdTechTeacher. Beth Holland is a Senior Associate with EdTechTeacher

12 June 2013

Online, we’re all celebrities now. So what next?

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“In reality, we’re all kind of on ‘Big Brother’ — on a reality show,” says Syracuse University’s Anthony Rotolo, a professor who runs the Starship NEXIS lab, focusing on social networking and new technologies. “Whenever I give a talk, whenever you give a talk, there’s going to be someone live-tweeting it. There’s going to be somebody posting a picture on Facebook. We are redefining celebrity in this age, and anybody at any time could be speaking publicly without realizing it.”

There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle once it’s started sharing memes on Facebook. If you must be a Web celebrity, at least do so with self-awareness, experts say.

12 June 2013

A successful 21st century brand has to help create meaningful lives

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An enormous study of how consumers around the world interact with brands finds that only the companies that make life better for consumers create impactful connections.

For its second annual Meaningful Brands Index, Havas Media talked with more than 134,000 people in 23 countries about their impressions of more than 400 brands, from Apple to Goldman Sachs to Petrobras. They’ve found a rousing affirmation of last year’s findings: Brands that make life better are thriving. Brands that don’t are–slowly–being punished.

The Index features Google in first place, followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Nestle and Sony.

6 June 2013

Participatory design in healthcare

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Participatory Design in Healthcare: Patients and doctors can bridge critical information gaps is the title of a UX Magazine article by Andrii Glushko, a UX designer at SoftServe Inc.

“What we now call participatory design went through a number of changes, and can be seen influencing urban design, architecture, community planning, and placemaking, as well as landscape design, product design, sustainability, graphic design, software design, and healthcare. The combination of the last two elements is the subject of this article.

Most of us will agree that developing a model of a future healthcare IT product should involve professionals who are familiar with design thinking, and can apply usability best practices to design a solid product. But shaping a model or a concept of a healthcare product is too important and often too risky to leave to the UX designers alone.

The main issue is a lack of background knowledge and the completely different experiences of a designer and an actual user”

6 June 2013

Technology puts power in the hands of the Millennial Generation

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This week the Financial Times has run two reports on the Millennial Generation.

Part Two (pdf) came out today, whereas Part One is from June 3.

Part Two’s leading article is definitely worth exploring, particularly in how it connects technology and mobile devices with empowerment of a new generation:

“Technology has played a huge role in how they’re different from the ­generation that came before them,” says Jean Case, chief executive of the Case Foundation, which she and her husband Steve Case, AOL’s co-founder, created in 1997.

This generation sees technology as levelling the playing field. In the FT-Telefónica Global Millennials Survey of 18 to 30-year olds almost 70 per cent of respondents said “technology creates more opportunities for all” as opposed to “a select few”.

This belief has brought tremendous confidence to the world’s first generation of digital natives, despite facing the worst economic outlook since the great depression.”

More background also in this article.

6 June 2013

The future of human-centered design

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“Throughout my career, and especially as a designer at IDEO,” writes Nathan Waterhouse, “I’ve been a passionate believer of the value of placing people first, of designing from an end–user perspective. […] Perhaps it was the abundance of rhetoric about human needs [at the recent Skoll World Forum] that made me ask the question ‘But what about the rights of nature, other creatures, or of the planet itself?’”

“We are taught to think about the world in three lenses as designers: desirability – what people want, feasibility – the capabilities of a firm, and viability – its financial health. We are taught that we should start from the perspective of people’s needs first: desirability. This way of thinking, however, is selfish. It focuses on the needs of humans, but in doing so, ignores the needs of the rest of the 8.7M species that share planet Earth. What would be desirable, feasible, or viable if we took the perspective of planet Earth and ran it through the same venn diagram?” […]

“Although we don’t believe earth is the centre of the universe, we still behave as if humans are the most important species alive today.”

In the end, he says, “we need a new approach to design that takes into consideration what is important for the natural systems we depend upon and take for granted. Perhaps we should call it Holistic Design: designing with a frame that includes the natural and human systems in combination to ensure we consider the bigger picture.”

(Disclosure: Nathan Waterhouse studied at the renowned Interaction Design Institute Ivrea where he was a thesis student of Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels).

6 June 2013

Experientia presentation at EPIC London

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EPIC, the premier international gathering on the current and future practice of ethnography in the business world, just announced the program of its upcoming conference in London (15-18 September) and Experientia is proud to announce that it will be presenting a paper on Monday 16 September.

The paper is entitled “The changing face of healthcare. Using ethnographic methods in dynamic, complex environments” and will be presented by Experientia researchers Anna Wojnarowska and Gina Taha. Together they will discuss an international ethnographic research project that explored the role and impact of mobile devices, particularly tablet computers within healthcare environments in China, England, Germany and the USA.

“The healthcare industry is undergoing significant transition through new technology, rapidly evolving patient and medical practitioner expectations and new challenges and opportunities related to privacy and security. Within this context, the holistic understandings delivered by ethnographic insights are vital for any project seeking to understand the complex intermingled systems of business, service, practice, and technology, and to develop solutions for environments such as hospitals and healthcare centres. This paper will discuss an international ethnographic research project that explored the role and impact of mobile devices, particularly tablet computers within healthcare environments in China, England, Germany and the USA. In addition to the outcomes regarding tablet use, the project also identified important considerations for using ethnographic methods in healthcare environments, and highlighted why a thorough understanding of the organisational and cultural contexts of use and behaviours is particularly vital when designing for this industry. Moreover, strong collaboration between internal company divisions and, more broadly, between the client and the user experience research consultancy enabled a multidisciplinary approach towards the research and the analysis and provided actionable results, understandable by the broad audience of stakeholders and internal employees involved in the implementation process.”

Keynote speakers at EPIC 2013 are Genevieve Bell (anthropologist and Intel Fellow), David Howers (anthropologist, Concordia University, Montreal), Daniel Miller (Professor of Material Culture at the Department of Anthropology, University College London) and Tricia Wang (global tech ethnographer).

4 June 2013

Without opt in, Google Glass will generate hostility

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Google and friends should not be trying to make these things acceptable in polite society,” writes Roger Kay in Forbes. “If they persist, they can expect a wave of hostility the likes of which they have perhaps only begun to imagine.”

“People can’t opt in to public surveillance, and we live in a more dangerous world now, where surveillance mostly works in our favor. But even in public places, Google Glass wearers with the ability to do tactical research on others, using facial recognition technology, Google Search, social media, and other tools, will create a creepoid ethos and generate a tremendous amount of hostility.

Silicon Valley may not see things this way, but the Valley is a bubble all to itself. In the wider world, people want the right to opt in to something as invasive as surveillance by Glass.”

4 June 2013

A beautiful kids’ book that combines interactivity with good old-fashioned text

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The Jörgits and the End of Winter, an indie fantasy novel for kids nine and up, uses interactivity as a supplement to the story, not a stand-in for it, and shows how interactivity can work in a slightly more substantial text.

The app was created by Anders Sandell, a Finnish-born interaction designer who grew up in Hawaii, studied Chinese language and literature as an undergrad, earned a masters in NYU’s ITP program, and recently wrapped up a three-year stint establishing a toy design program at the Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology, in Bangalore, India. Unsurprisingly, diversity and community are main themes of the designer’s book.