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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Business'

10 October 2014

The future of UX leadership: radical transformation

 

Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit have started a series of columns that offers insights on how to help companies progress from delivering mediocre user experiences, as is all too common, to producing truly great experiences that differentiate their products and services in the marketplace. Doing so, they say, requires a radical transformation in the way business executives and UX teams engage in creating user experiences.

“This series is not about making incremental improvements to the way UX teams work. It is about taking a different approach and driving radical transformation within organizations. No major changes in history have ever come about by playing it safe. Having said this, all of the ideas that we’ll share in this series have proven effective in one business context or another.

In this first installment of our series, we’ll focus on three main points:
– the problem that UX teams currently confront
– the role that design-driven differentiation plays in business success
– positioning User Experience for success within your organization

Jim Nieters is Senior Director of User Experience for Travel Products at HP, Scotts Valley CA USA

Pabini Gabriel-Petit is Founder and Principal Consultant at Strategic UX Silicon Valley CA USA, and Founder, Publisher, and Editor in Chief at UXmatters

5 October 2014

The drive towards user-centred engineering in automotive design

 

Bryant, Scott & Wrigley, Cara (2014)
The drive towards user-centred engineering in automotive design.
In Bohemia, Erik, Rieple, Alison, Liedtka, Jeanne, & Cooper, Rachael (Eds.) Proceedings of 19th DMI : Academic Design Management Conference, London, UK, pp. 741-758.

Abstract:

Falling sales in Europe and increasing global competition is forcing automotive manufacturers to develop a customer-based approach to differentiate themselves from the similarly technologically-optimised crowd. In spite of this new approach, automotive firms are still firmly entrenched in their reliance upon technology-driven innovation, to design, develop and manufacture their products, placing customer focus on a downstream sales role. However the time-honoured technology-driven approach to vehicle design and manufacture is coming into question, with the increasing importance of accounting for consumer needs pushing automotive engineers to include the user in their designs. The following paper examines the challenges and opportunities for a single global automotive manufacturer that arise in seeking to adopt a user-centred approach to vehicle design amongst technical employees. As part of an embedded case study, engineers from this manufacturer were interviewed in order to gauge the challenges, barriers and opportunities for the adoption of user-centred design tools within the engineering design process. The analysis of these interviews led to the proposal of the need for a new role within automotive manufacturers, the “designeer”, to bridge the divide between designers and engineers and allow the engineering process to transition from a technology-driven to a user-centred approach.

The research, conducted as an embedded case study with a global automotive manufacturer in Germany, sought to test the following hypothesis developed upon reflection of the current state of the industry:

“The acceptance and implementation of design tools such as personas within the context of automotive engineering departments is dependent upon the benefits of the tools perceived by engineering staff in terms of effort vs. reward, in addition to its ability to be adapted to the inertia-bound, heavily regimented and hierarchical structure of large, global firms such as that assessed in the research.”

31 August 2014

Converting your home to LED lights is still a challenging user experience

60_LED_3W_Spot_Light_eq_25W

Switching to LED bulbs in your home is still a bit expensive, but makes a lot of economic sense – as you quickly earn your money back through a MUCH lowered electricity bill. Yet it is quite a challenge for most people.

I just successfully replaced 40 halogen and incandescent bulbs of the most varied fittings, sizes, lighting strengths and shapes. The new bulbs all fit and have the luminosity and color warmth that we want in our house. But I can only conclude that industry and retailers need to do a much better job at explaining the challenges and helping customers understand why to buy LED bulbs and what types to buy.

The first impression most people have of LED lights are usually the display racks in retail stores. The fact that LED lights sometimes come in the most bizarre form factors are off-putting if anything, while key information is largely provided in jargon (kelvin, lumen, fitting mount codes, etc.).

The next thing you might then do is go online and search for more relevant information, only to get lost in myriads of blog posts, tech jargon filled pieces, or product tech sheets. The best backgrounders I found – with some effort – are this one from The Guardian and one from the European Commission (in 22 languages!). Nothing much from industry, where websites focus immediately on individual products.

Then you have to figure out what you need in your house (or office). Besides the fitting mounts, the bulb sizes and the wattages, there are four key things to take into account:

  • Colour temperature: In short, the lower “K” or “Kelvin”, the better. For home use stay on or below 2700K for a warm white.
  • Luminosity or light strength: Commonly described in watt, but the most accurate value is actually “lumen”, or even better “lux”.
  • Dimmability: Some LED bulbs can be dimmed but it is usually never clear if you need a special dimmer for that or can do so with your regular dimmer – so trying out is the only option consumers have. Good luck.
  • Avoiding false savings: As The Guardian writes, “halogen bulbs use so much electricity for the light they produce – just feel their heat – that it’s a false economy to wait until they blow to replace them”.

Finally there is purchasing itself. Most DIY stores and electricity supply retailers limit themselves to the most common bulb choices. Special sizes and fittings are not that easy to find. You may want to buy online (which is what I ended up doing).

It is generally recommended to buy only products from reliable brands (Philips, Samsung, etc.), as there is quite some unreliable junk on the market. But these “reliable” brands may not have the exact fitting mounts, wattage or colour temperature you are looking for. It is also hard to find out what quality control the various retailers have in place, and what guarantees consumers have if a product is not up to par.

In all, this is not a trivial matter. If all homes and offices in a city would switch to LED, much less power would be needed in that city, and this would mean a significant impact on carbon emissions. Governments and media are starting to do their part in helping people navigate this.

Industry is lagging behind. Making the products is only part of the challenge. Guidance in consumer education and behavioural change is hardly addressed. It is a job for service designers and good writers/storytellers.

The industry or retailer that ends up doing that job well will gain quite a competitive edge in a rapidly growing market.

19 August 2014

Consumer Insights: The Music Experience in 2014

MusicPhoto

Today, music is as emotionally relevant as ever – and consumers have a myriad of ways to experience it, from streaming and downloading to live concerts and more. Thanks to social media, fans also have unprecedented access to their favorite artists.

Given these changes in the music landscape, the Music Group, which includes MTV, VH1 and CMT, conducted research into the “Music Experience,” taking a deep look into the ever-evolving process of discovering and obtaining music among teens, 20- and 30-somethings, as well as what the fan-music-artist connection looks like in 2014.

The study is based on a quantitative survey with more than 1,200 participants 13-40 years old; “blographies” with 34 participants; secondary research; as well as check-ins with proprietary panels and Facebook groups.

Key findings here.

31 May 2014

Design thinking – what is it in practice?

 

Promoted heavily by academic institutions and consultancies alike, design thinking has been a big buzzword during the past decade, turning some people on and others off. Though design thinking has actually been around for half a century, when asking creative professionals how they define it; Soren Petersen always gets “completely different answers and most are an inch deep and a mile wide”.

He then invited creative professionals to share their experience with design thinking on online social platforms, and he writes critically about what he learned.

“Plenty of case stories hail the virtues [of design thinking], however no objective evaluations of its performance is available.

As we push further into the future application of design thinking, we will see new ways to better understand and use statistical data models in design (i.e. better mathematical programs that are easier to understand and use). With better tools and methods to build, acquire and apply data sets, designers and design thinkers will be able to forecast with better accuracy how their convergent thinking decisions will affect potential growth, culture and scalability.

Only the design thinking that is adopted by industry creates value for society, so, for broad acceptance and maximum impact, design thinking needs to be understandable and collaboratively used by all stakeholders. For it to survive, it must continuously evolve and demonstrate measurable improvement over existing approaches. Unless it can also provide breakthrough innovations, it will remain a tool for incremental improvement of business as usual and soon lose its appeal.”

30 May 2014

How to use ethnography for in-depth consumer insight

Consumers_natural_habits-2000

Spending a weekend sitting in someone else’s house reporting when, why and how much they ate, drank, bathed, watched TV or used their mobile phone isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but for a marketer it is one of the best ways to gain deeper customer insight, according to a feature article in Marketing Week.

The process, often referred to as ethnography, can result in breakthroughs for brands, offering an insight into what people are really like, rather than what they want researchers to think they are like.

21 May 2014

World Economic Forum reports on personal data focus on trust, privacy and framework

 

The World Economic Forum has released three new reports on strengthening trust, transparency and privacy in personal data usage.

Rethinking Personal Data: A New Lens for Strengthening Trust, prepared in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, looks at how to enhance transparency and accountability in the use of personal data. It argues that a user-centred approach is the best way of achieving this. Individuals must have more of a say in how their data is used and should be able to use the data for their own purposes.

Supporting this analysis are two quantitative studies that look at the issues of trust, privacy and framework through the eyes of users. Rethinking Personal Data: Trust and Context in User-Centred Data Ecosystems, an empirical study across different countries, examines the importance of context-aware data usage and how it impacts trust.

The Internet Trust Bubble: Global Values, Beliefs and Practices uses the results from a survey of 16,000 respondents to assess the attitudes and behaviour of internet users globally.

9 May 2014

[Book] Handbook of Anthropology in Business

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Handbook of Anthropology in Business
Editors: Rita M. Denny and Patricia L. Sunderland
Left Coast Press
752 pp. / May, 2014

In recent years announcements of the birth of business anthropology have ricocheted around the globe. The first major reference work on this field, the Handbook of Anthropology in Business is a creative production of more than 60 international scholar-practitioners working in universities and corporate settings from high tech to health care. Offering broad coverage of theory and practice around the world, chapters demonstrate the vibrant tensions and innovation that emerge in intersections between anthropology and business and between corporate worlds and the lives of individual scholar-practitioners. Breaking from standard attempts to define scholarly fields as products of fixed consensus, the authors reveal an evolving mosaic of engagement and innovation, offering a paradigm for understanding anthropology in business for years to come.

> Table of contents
> Excerpt

25 April 2014

Why VC firms are snapping up designers

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Irene Au, former head of Google’s User Interaction Team, is the latest designer to make her way to a venture capital firm. Here’s why VCs are so hot for designers and how consumers could ultimately benefit from the trend.

“It’s a common misconception that VCs are just check writers who buy a piece of young companies, disappear for a few years, then come to collect when those small companies grow into big companies. In reality, modern VC firms not only carefully invest money, they offer any and all resources at their disposal to ensure their investments pay off. VC firms work closely with their companies to refine business and marketing plans, recruit talented staff, and even work side-by-side to turn products into hits. Designers, of course, can do at least two of these three tasks well. Recruiting new design talent was a responsibility of every design partner we talked to.”

23 April 2014

User experience is the new differentiator. How will that affect the internet?

 

The world of business is changing, as are the locations of the people who are driving that business. How companies reach new users and how they treat them once they do will be the defining business issue of the future. Those who deliver the best user experience to a global audience will win this race will change the internet as we know it.

An improved customer experience rapidly turns negative when it’s unavailable or slow. The internet was architected with reliability in mind. Speed and performance were second-class citizens to availability (rightfully so).

How will all of this impact the internet? We will see less growth in city-to-city “backhaul” traffic and investment, and more growth in diverse investment closer to users. Inter-location investment will be dwarfed by intra-location investment.

18 March 2014

People first, technology second. It’s time for businesses to get personal

mixtape

Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, explains in Re/Code how also in a business context a people-centric focus is increasingly essential.

“In order to unlock the opportunity for “people-centric” experiences and to realize the new kinds of business value those experiences can generate, IT leaders need to re-prioritize, understanding their people — employees, customers and partners — and their needs first. The technology that should serve those needs comes second. The ease at which end users are able to interact with your business and get the information they need on their terms becomes the differentiator.[...]

Experiences can now be defined by an individual’s preferences, what information people have access to at various points of time, what devices they’re able to access that information from, and the extent to which they’re allowed to interact with that information. There are a lot more rules to follow — and businesses are under much more scrutiny by which rules are enforced. The only relics of the old world are the users involved in each instance, but even that variable has gotten more diverse and outspread.”

7 March 2014

The Great Convergence

hubble-galaxies

Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path argues that the constellations in the user experience field are shifting and that we are experiencing some sort of collision of three different “galaxies”:

“The customer experience community developed out of the marketing and customer support functions in organizations — in other words, the people traditionally mandated to pay attention to customer needs. They’ve led the charge in helping organizations create operational strategies based on measuring customer feedback, and along the way have developed a sophisticated understanding of how to make the business case for experience design initiatives.

Originally championed by a handful of academic design programs, and finding success in the public sector in Europe, service design has now made the jump to the commercial sphere. The service design community wrestles with the operational implications of delivering services by a variety of means, including those messy, ephemeral human-to-human experiences.

Meanwhile, user experience design has pushed beyond its origins in digital product design. More and more people have discovered that the UX toolkit, with its emphasis on the human context of use, isn’t particular to digital products. As a result, the discourse about UX has expanded to encompass the wider world of products of all kinds.”

Either we fight it. Or we embrace it. Obviously Garrett endorses the latter.

6 March 2014

The user experience of enterprise technology

 

Most big businesses globally are locked into some kind of reliance on enterprise technology. Unfortunately such systems are not only fiendishly difficult to install and maintain, but often equally challenging for the workforce to use. So asks Rob Gilham, why is the user experience of enterprise systems so bad, when the stakes are so high?

“The problem from a user experience perspective is that enterprise systems are generally procured and implemented with the focus purely on solving problems for the business with little attention paid to who the users are and how they want to work. [...]

The result of this lack of user-awareness is that enterprise IT vendors and their business customers often build unfounded assumptions about users into the system – which in turn can lead to a deeply flawed user experience. The consequences of being wrong on this kind of scale can be highly damaging. Companies can find themselves stuck for years with the legacy of a difficult to use, inefficient system with higher-than-expected ongoing costs for user training and helpdesk support to compensate.”

(via InfoDesign)

24 February 2014

Will your clothing spy on you?

big-brother

In his lecture “The Ethicist’s and the Lawyer’s New Clothes: The Law and Ethics of Smart Clothes,” I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School, warns of the potential for wearable technology to annihilate privacy for good.

According to Fortune’s David Whitford, Cohen drew an analogy with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, where the action takes place in two locales: Venice itself, a hotbed of commerce and greed; and nearby Belmont, the refuge to which the protagonists escape for love and art. Smart clothes threaten to “disrupt the place of refuge,” even when we leave our phones behind. “At some point we squeeze out the space for living a life,” he warned. “Lots of people have things they want to do and try but wouldn’t if everything was archived.”

13 February 2014

Qualitative research in industry – videos from the Qualitative 360 Asia Pacific conference

qualitative360

Qualitative 360 Asia Pacific 2013 took place in Singapore in November 2013, and some videos are now available:

Winning with shoppers via qualitative research [23:57]
Michael Biscocho, Consumer and Market Knowledge Manager, Procter & Gamble
• Leveraging qualitative techniques to complement quantitative methods in consumer behavior
• Exploring FMCG consumer decision making through qualitative research engagement
• Harnessing different methodologies of qualitative research to gain better understanding of market trends
• Implementing qualitative methodologies as part of overall research to develop retail strategies

Taking qualitative research to the cloud [33:38]
Jasmeet Sethi, Regional Head of ConsumerLab, Ericsson
• Learning the art of how to transform qualitative research from a 12 year old kid.
• How could you build and run on-demand insight communities with zero investment?
• Case study from Ericsson on the first ever ‘Over the Top Qualitative Research’

Tapping into the informal economy to create new opportunities for innovation. A case study in recycling and push cart aunties [24:45]
Juliana Koh, Director, Consumer Faces
Manisha Dikshit, Managing Director, Consumer Faces
• Informal economy is a large contributor to the global economy and presents several opportunities/learning for the commercial world
• This paper presents a case study to understand the role of informal economy and how it can be applied in commercial businesses
• The paper further provides pointers on how the corporate/formal world can implement this

Achieving maximum insights from challenging consumers using ethnography for product development in China and Vietnam [27:38]
Christelle Michon, APAC Sensory and Consumer Insights Manager, Symrise
• Understanding the culinary habits of low income consumers in Vietnam through ethnography
• Observing the fun and excitement of kids related to foods in China
• Benefits and challenges of using ethnography: what were the lessons learned?
• How actionable insight were achieved and used for new product development in Symrise

Exploring the meaning of digital: a case of ethnographic research on mobile life in Singapore [26:33]
Masao Kakihara, Senior Research Manager, Google
• How Google does research globally and locally
• Making sense of the meaning of digital life in Asia
• Methodological challenges in the age of big data

Great Wall, Great Reward: finding design-actionable insights for medical devices in China [28:43]
Tico Blumenthal, Global Customer Insights Manager, Medtronic
• Learn how qualitative research is used to drive applied medical device innovations
• Hear a thought-leader introduce examples of how medical devices can be optimized for Chinese customers
• Understand the designer’s viewpoint when filtering observational data
• Hear about some of the unique challenges doing qual. in China
• Tips and tricks for getting better insights

Performance discovery project: emerging market update [25:31]
Ajay Mohan, Director of Partner & Web Marketing APAC, Intel
• Understanding what “performance” means to customers and how they respond to advertising and branding
• Using visualisation techniques to gain unarticulated emotional drivers and emotions behind “performance”
• Employing trained professionals to conduct “therapy” interviews across US, Brazil, China, Germany and India
• Discussing the outcome of the research: What have we learned and how new insights help answer business questions

Digital Qualitative: from add-on to core research [29:25]
Nehal Medh, Managing Director, Consumer Experiences, GfK
• Can online qual methods replace offline qual?
• What advantages do they offer?
• What are the pitfalls we should be aware of
• What are the best ways to engage and motivate the participants in an online qual research?
• Within online what potential does mobile qual research have?
• Going beyond the obvious online tools such as bulletin board, focus group?

Consumer understanding through unarticulated responses and points of expression [26:48]
Marilyne Chew, Head of Qualitative, Nielsen
• Understand how Neuroscience insights are working to make a discussion flow sharper and more precise
• Identifying ways Neuroscience and Qualitative works best together
• Overcoming the challenges of combining the two methodologies in a research study

31 January 2014

The Facebook ethnography kerfuffle

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At the center of this kerfuffle is an anthropologist, Daniel Miller, his ethnographic research with teenagers in a small town in the UK, and a press report on a blog post about his research that went viral.

What’s exciting about this story — leaving aside the business implications for Facebook for a moment — is that we get to observe the treatment of qualitative research in its moment in the spotlight. It’s not pretty.

Much of the drama came from the manner in which it was reported, which certainly is worthy of some discussion. Most came to the story with hyped expectations. But there is more to the story. Namely, how qualitative aids decision-making by giving access to insights unavailable to quantitative.

Peter Spear revisits the story, and particularly the bias towards quantitative and against qualitative understanding in the modern business world.

18 January 2014

[Book] Practical Ethnography

 

Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector
By Sam Ladner
Left Coast Press
April 2014, 200 pages
[Publisher link - Amazon link]

> Download free sample: pdfkindle

Abstract – Ethnography is an increasingly important research method in the private sector, yet ethnographic literature continues to focus on an academic audience. Sam Ladner fills the gap by advancing rigorous ethnographic practice that is tailored to corporate settings where colleagues are not steeped in social theory, research time lines may be days rather than months or years, and research sponsors expect actionable outcomes and recommendations. Ladner provides step-by-step guidance at every turn–covering core methods, research design, using the latest mobile and digital technologies, project and client management, ethics, reporting, and translating your findings into business strategies. This book is the perfect resource for private-sector researchers, designers, and managers seeking robust ethnographic tools or academic researchers hoping to conduct research in corporate settings.

Sam Ladner, PhD, works as both an academic and a practitioner. A sociologist specializing in the social aspects of technological change, she has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Time & Society and The Canadian Journal of Communication. Ladner successfully operated her own research firm, Copernicus Consulting, until recently joining Microsoft as a Senior User Researcher in the Microsoft Office division. She served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she also taught qualitative research methods as an adjunct professor. She holds a PhD in sociology from York University, an M.A. in communication from Simon Fraser University, and a Bachelor’s of Journalism from University of King’s College.

12 January 2014

The UX of commercial drones

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In order for commercial drones like Amazon’s or Australian startup Flirtey’s to become a reality, the drone (or any future-world technology, really) can’t merely do its job—meaning, it can’t randomly drop off deliveries and simply fly away as the drone in the Amazon demo video does. There’s a lot more to it than that. To make this kind of service take off (literally), companies will have to consider the user experience, and especially the microinteractions, the drones will have with customers, writes Dan Saffer in UX Magazine.

There are quite a few issues to be resolved, clearly.

12 January 2014

150,000 job listings in the user experience field in the USA alone

 

Hiring managers know that design plays, and will continue to play, a critical role in the success of their companies because: What has been seen cannot be unseen., writes Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman of the Unicorn Institute.

And what has been seen is companies like Apple, which are investing a lot of resources in design. We can see how much design matters by looking at Apple’s profits in comparison with their competition.

This understanding is leading to an increased demand for designers, and even more specifically it’s leading to an increase in demand for user experience designers. In fact, in the United States alone, there are around 150,000 job listings in the user experience (UX) field.

17 December 2013

Videos online of the Service Design Global Conference

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Nearly all videos of the recent Service Design Global Conference in Cardiff, Wales (19-20 November 2013) are now online:

DAY 1

Making Data Useful

Complex Service Systems

Co-Design & Co-Creation

Micro Services

DAY 2

Morning presentations

Afternoon presentations