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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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August 2013
7 August 2013

An object of journalism: the hyperlink

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Juliette de Maeyer kicks off this month’s edition of EthnographyMatters which focuses on Ethnographies of Objects, with a response to two questions posed to her: ‘Why is the hyperlink an interesting object of journalism?’ And ‘What’s the best way to approach this object methodologically?’

Her work on hyperlinks is a fascinating exploration of materiality, stubbornness and methods for trailing the object.

7 August 2013

To get users to make smarter choices now, show them their future

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Design can be used to introduce users to the future now, so they can act in ways that will benefit them in the future, writes Nikki Pfarr, researcher and strategist at Artefact.

“What [designers] don’t often do, is think of the future as a tool for persuasive design. But it is–and it can actually be quite powerful. When people get a peek at what’s in store for their health, their pocketbooks, and the environment, they tend to make better decisions–such as saving more money for retirement or going for a jog instead of watching television.

By making users’ futures–25, 35, or even 50 years from now–more salient in the products and services we design, we can nudge them toward future-oriented choices. A good place to start is by helping users feel more connected to their future selves.”

7 August 2013

Book: Why We Fail

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Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures
By Victor Lombardi
248 pages
Rosenfeld Media

Why did Twitter succeed while Pownce plotzed? Why has “to Plaxo” become a verb? And Zune: great product, but are you using one right now?

More and more, products succeed because not because they provide better designs or functionality, but because their overall experiences are superior to their competitors’. Victor Lombardi’s new book, Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures is your field guide to failure. It’s packed with case studies and lessons that will help you, as Don Norman suggests in his foreword, “embrace failure to learn from failure” and “learn from failure to avoid failure”.

Just as pilots and doctors improve by studying crash reports and postmortems, experience designers can improve by learning how customer experience failures cause products to fail in the marketplace. Rather than proselytizing a particular approach to design, Why We Fail holistically explores what teams actually built, why the products failed, and how we can learn from the past to avoid failure ourselves.

Why We Fail is available from Rosenfeld Media in paperback and three DRM-free digital formats (PDF, MOBI, and ePUB). It’s also available from Amazon and O’Reilly.

6 August 2013

The business case for service design

 

Service designer Bill Hollins shares his thoughts on why service design makes business sense and argues that more businesses should invest in employing a service designer.

1. Good customer service + quality product = brand loyalty
2. Rising consumer expectations
3. Integrating technology
4. Maximising resources
5. Innovating services
6. Looking abroad: the impact of services

The article is published on the website of the UK Design Council.

6 August 2013

User experience is not just design, it’s the key to innovation and growth

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Brian Solis met up with Jesse James Garrett (author of The Elements of User Experience and Co-Founder of Adaptive Path) to talk about the state of user experience (UX), its role in the future of business, and how UX deserves the attention of the c-suite.

In the discussion, Garret shares how research, psychology, behavior and design can open the doors to meaningful creativity for design and product experience strategies. But more importantly, he shares how executives across the organization can learn from the UX team to improve services, business models, and overall customer relationships.

6 August 2013

User experience is more than design – it’s strategy

 

t’s time that we expand the role of User Experience beyond execution, beyond output, and yes, even beyond design, writes Christopher Grant Ward, Director of Product Strategy and User Experience at SUBTXT.

“The most important thing I’ve learned in my career is that User Experience is not simply about designing for customers, but thinking strategically about customer behaviors, passions, and desires. User Experience provides an intellectual entry point, a framework that can give corporate leaders another perspective for making decisions and solving problems for customers. The UX skillset encompasses more than just design skills. It provides the foundation of a company’s customer strategy. [...]

User Experience is not just about design. It is about the strategic understanding of users and their behavior. If we are to contribute strategically, UX professionals must be willing and able to take responsibility for their final decisions and accept the corporate accountability that comes with making critical decisions about customers. We must be willing to go outside our design skillset and embrace all corporate functions, including finance, technology, marketing, and sales.”

6 August 2013

Putting the customer at the centre of your retail business

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Oracle recently conducted some research into the shopping needs and expectations of shoppers in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US – in an effort to better understand the role and importance of service to the retail experience.

Here are some of the things they found shoppers value most.

6 August 2013

Making the most of ethnographic research

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Applying ethnographic methods to digital experiences can yield myriad benefits that go beyond simply validating that something works or identifying opportunities for improvement, write Jessica Weber and John Cheng of AnswerLab.

Ethnography reveals how digital and physical processes work together to help businesses address gaps and focus on the entire customer experience. Anyone who has done ethnographic research can attest to its value, and to how expensive and time-consuming it can be. That’s why it’s critical to reduce the risk of investing in it. The investment does pay off, and this article presents five techniques to help ensure to make the most of this investment and reap the many rewards ethnography delivers.

5 August 2013

Smart cities workshop with the Design Center Busan

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A few days ago Experientia’s latest collaboration with Korea’s Design Center Busan wrapped up, as 21 South Korean students completed a summer study program in Turin.

Experientia ran a creative workshop for the students, titled “Barely legal, but very nice! Smart interventions in public spaces, offices and services“. The diverse curricula of the program included architecture, industrial design, visual design, fine arts and more, and was selected by the Design Center Busan (DCB), in collaboration with Gwangju Design Center (GDC) and the Daegu Gyeongbuk Design Center (DGDC). Experientia’s faculty were Design Director Jan-Christoph Zoels, and interaction designers Renzo Giusti and Seungjun Jeong.

Experientia’s workshop tackled contemporary issues in the design discourse about Smart Cities and smart citizenship, raising awareness of public interventions, grassroots initiatives, and the formal and informal best practices that cities around the world are rolling out to meet the challenges of civic development.

The workshop explored the use of participatory design techniques aimed at urban scale issues. The students were exposed to a diverse palette of solutions for issues of civic consent creation and management, creative problem solving, citizen engagement and public sphere re-appropriation.

Students were also challenged to come up with creative solutions to address real issues they identified, from their fresh perspective, during their stay in Turin. To face the challenge of designing in an unknown territory, they were invited to take a bold yet borderline stance. To conceive design intervention capable of bringing citizens together, students could design light and pop-up solutions that would achieve the goals expected, even eschewing full compliance with official regulations.

The workshop ended on Tuesday July 30th with a final exhibition of a set of posters showcasing the design interventions conceived by the 4 groups of young Korean designers. A final keynote speech by world-famous futurist and science fiction author Bruce Sterling officially concluded the proceedings.

The workshop benefitted from the contributions of many practitioners in Turin and Milan. Experientia wants to thank: Matteo Robiglio (Tra), Simone Carena and Marco Bruno (Motoelastico), Paolo Maldotti (Archilandstudio), Isabella Steffan (studiosteffan), Carlotta Bonvicini and Francesco Cerroni (MiC, mobility in chain), Stefano Recalcati (ARUP), Giovanna Castiglioni (Fondazione Achille Castiglioni), and Luca Troisi (Enhancers).

Finally, special thanks go to SeungJun Jeong (Experientia) for managing the workshop preparation and facilitating the relationship with Design Centre Busan, and to Federico De Giuli for hosting us at the wonderful Cluster Learning Communities space.

1 August 2013

EthnographyMatters on ethnography and education

 

This month’s edition of EthnographyMatters is dedicated to education. Says editor Morgan G. Ames, “ethnography is unique in being able to dig below the surface and uncover the complicated processes and contingent effects of education and education reform.”

Some personal highlights:

Why digital inequality scholarship needs ethnography
by Christo Sims, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego
Ethnography of a technology-focused public school in New York that inexplicably had many of its less advantaged students transfer out. With his research, Christo was able to say why this was happening and what it means for other efforts for digital inclusion.

Interactive eBooks and reading comprehension – I’ll meet you there
by Sheila Frye, literacy innovation researcher
Research on interactive eBooks, which promote active reading habits – a crucial part of literacy – to children who may not learn this skill otherwise. Sheila uses ethnography to take a close look at both the benefits and the potential drawbacks of interactive eBooks.

Interview with Mizuko ‘Mimi’ Ito
Interview of education, ethnography, and digital inclusion with Mizuko ‘Mimi’ Ito. Mimi has some impressive experience with the topics covered this month: she is the Research Director at the Digital Media and Learning Hub, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning, and a Professor in Anthropology and Informatics at UC Irvine (after getting two PhDs from Stanford).