counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Experience design'

28 July 2014

On the importance of forgetting

10574439473_4f87b29251_z

The ongoing debate about Europe’s so-called ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling on search engines has shone a light onto a key pressure point between technology and society. Simply put the ability of digital technology to remember clashes with the human societal need to forgive and forget, writes Natasha Lomas in a thoughtful piece on Techcrunch.

“There’s a problem with total recall. It doesn’t allow us as a society to forget. And that means, paradoxically, we lose something. Perfect memory engenders individual paralysis — because any legacy of personal failure is not allowed to fade into the background. And individuals are not, therefore, encouraged to evolve and move on.

Total recall shuts us down. It encourages conformity and a lack of risk taking. If trying to do something results in a failure that follows you around forever then the risk of trying is magnified — so maybe you don’t bother trying in the first place. It’s anti-creative, anti-experimental, even anti-entrepreneur.” [My emphasis]

“What’s needed, she writes, “are more creative approaches to the storage of information about private individuals.” She adds: “This is not about deleting knowledge or censoring/sanitizing behaviour; it’s about being appropriately sympathetic to the ephemeral character of (human) memory — which, being flexible rather than rigid, allows individuals and societies to move on.”

20 July 2014

Baking behavioral nudges into the products we own

1Addicted-toaster

Maria Bezaitis, PhD and Principal Engineer of Intel’s User Experience Ethnographic Research Lab, discusses the Real World Web and how internet-enabled sensors will create new kinds of intimacies and engagements.

“Commitment and engagement are really powerful sentiments,” said Bezaitis. “The get to the heart of what’s important about our social relations – that we can experience commitment and engagement and the associated positive notions of dependency and obligation and loyalty. In our closest most important social ties, these are the values that are important to us.

“Today’s technologies – instrumented things, sensor networks, data – have the opportunity to deepen social relationships, to brings us new important kinds of social relationships that we don’t already have and to participate directly in those relations. When we start to think about our technologies as not simply providing incremental value – good recommendations or metrics for this or that problem – we give them room to grow.

“This is the future of smart. It’s no longer simply about speed, accuracy and connectedness, but about new kinds of intimacies, commitments and engagements with technologies and other people.”

19 July 2014

Learning from extreme consumers

 

Learning from Extreme Consumers
by Jill Avery, Michael I. Norton
Teaching Note, 9 pages, January 2014

Traditional market research methods focus on understanding the average experiences of average consumers. This focus leads to gaps in our knowledge of consumer behavior and often fails to uncover insights that can drive revolutionary, rather than evolutionary innovation. This note outlines a process for studying extreme consumers-consumers who fall in both tails of a normal distribution of customers-with needs, behaviors, attitudes, and emotions atypical of the average customer. Different tactics for leveraging the power of the fringe, product category virgins, customers with constraints, and lovers, haters, and opt-outers are presented.

Michael Blanding reports in Forbes:

“What do Porsche fanatics, a video game hater, and a person who cooked two weeks’ worth of meals in a rice cooker have in common? They are all “extreme consumers”—those whose tastes are so out there that mainstream market researchers tend to dismiss them as “noise” when trying to figure out how typical consumers think.

That’s fine if you only want to keep making incremental improvements to your products, says Jill Avery, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a former brand manager at Gillette, Samuel Adams, and AT&T. “Traditional market research is all about studying the average consumer, which gets rid of the noise in an effort to study the majority of customers, but also gets rid of people who are potentially leading the category,” she says.

By understanding those consumers who lie “in the tails” of the bell curve, says Avery, product designers can discover truly innovative breakthroughs. “Only by looking at consumers who fall within those tails of the normal distribution can you understand the extremes,” she says. “And they often influence the middle, spilling over into what the average consumer believes.”

17 July 2014

When science, customer service, and human subjects research collide. Now what?

 

Mary L. Gray wrote a long essay for ethnographymatters that argues that technology builders and interface designers, data scientists and ethnographers (working in industry and at universities alike) “are now, officially, doing human subjects research”.

She argues that all these professionals now really need “to sit down together and talk” on topics such as “data sharing and users’ rights to the drop in public funding for basic research itself.”

We also need, she says, “a thoughtful, compassionate conversation among those who are or will be training the next generation of researchers studying social media”.

She also provides “some background to orient us and the people who pay our research bills (and salaries) to this new reality.”

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.”

31 May 2014

The future of modern marketing is human-centered

human-centered-marketing

Before the turn of the 20th century into the 21st century, a movement began. This movement called for a more user-centered approach, or also commonly referred to as human-centered, to designing products, software, digital interactions, and design concepts. It is rooted in the belief, which is by understanding human goals and behaviors; we can design concepts empathetic to the user – or humans. More than a decade later, these concepts are becoming increasingly important to marketing, writes Tony Zambito in B2C.

Modern marketing, as it responds to the overwhelming tentacles of the exploding digital economy, now requires the important element of design thinking. With the rapid growth of content marketing, modern marketing CMO’s now have to think about creating as well as designing the digital interaction experiences surrounding content.

31 May 2014

[Book] Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems

foundations

Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems: What System Designers Need to Know about People
by Frank E. Ritter, Gordon D Baxter and Elizabeth F. Churchill
Springer, 2014, Paperback
442 p. 108 illus.

Interactive technologies pervade every aspect of modern life. Web sites, mobile devices, household gadgets, automotive controls, aircraft flight decks; everywhere you look, people are interacting with technologies. These interactions are governed by a combination of: the users’ capabilities; the things the users are trying to do; and the context in which they are trying to do them. All of these factors have to be appropriately considered during design if you want your technology to provide your users with a good experience.

Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems introduces the fundamental human capabilities and characteristics that influence how people use interactive technologies. Organized into four main areas — anthropometrics, behaviour, cognition and social factors — it covers basic research and considers the practical implications of that research on system design. Applying what you learn from this book will help you to design interactive systems that are more usable, more useful and more effective.

The authors have deliberately developed Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems to appeal to system designers and developers, as well as to students who are taking courses in system design and HCI. The book reflects the authors’ backgrounds in computer science, cognitive science, psychology and human factors. The material in the book is based on their collective experience which adds up to almost 90 years of working in academia and both with, and within, industry; covering domains that include aviation, consumer Internet, defense, eCommerce, enterprise system design, health care, and industrial process control.

19 May 2014

People use phablets differently than smartphones and tablets

 

A new study from Opera Mediaworks found that people use these larger-screen devices — which combine a smartphone’s instant access to information with the tablet’s richer viewing experience — in ways that are distinct from how they use other portable gadgets.

“Social networking dominates use on phablets, accounting for nearly 54 percent of activity on these devices, Opera Mediaworks found. While that’s similar to smartphones, it’s much higher than global average for all mobile devices.”

But what if the people buying phablets are people who like social networks far more than the average? And why would they then be so attracted to phablets?

2 May 2014

Aiming for open source technology that is gorgeous and provides great UX

 

Designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan believes it is time to build an alternate future where we own our own tools, services, and data. And to do this we must create a new category of design-led, experience-driven ‘technology’.

That’s the point Balkan made at a talk (video) at RSA London recently.

The talk, entitled “Free is a Lie,” sets out the argument that in these times of all encompassing corporate and governmental data grabbing and surveillance, we shouldn’t think about privacy as about “having something to hide” but as about “the right to control what you want to share and what you want to keep to yourself.”

In other words, the cost of free (within the corporate, closed model) is our privacy, our civil liberties, our human rights.

The only answer, he says, is open tools that people can own, rather than being de facto forced to “rent from corporations”.

The big problem with open tools today is that they have poor user experience, because they are features-led.

Balkan argues that we need to create a new category of free and open products that are experience-driven and that are built by design-led organizations. Such products and technologies are a prerequisite to empower regular people to own their own tools and data. Balkan calls this independent technology or indie tech and has just launched an Indie Tech Manifesto.

But it doesn’t stop there, Balkan and his team are using these principles to build an operating system, indieOS, a personal cloud, indieCloud, and an actual phone, indiePhone.

27 April 2014

The challenge of the car interface

volvodashboard

Three articles – all published on Medium – confront the challenge of designing an effective car user interface:

The State of In-Car UX
by Geoff Teehan, Teehan+Lax
No matter the price or the brand, the interfaces that adorn today’s vehicles are in a bad place. Thankfully, there’s hope.
[Long, insightful article with lots of examples and visuals]

The State of Car UI
by Jonathan Shariat
Why can’t quality brands get it right? (Hint: It’s hard)

Why Your Car’s UI Sucks
by Neil Johnston

25 April 2014

What if doctors could prescribe behavior change?

how_it_works-impact_asthma_copd

Doctors have known for decades that, in order to prevent disease or its complications, they were going to have to get into people’s living rooms and convince them to change everyday behaviors that would very likely kill them.

The world urgently needs better ways to bring behavior change therapies to the masses, and advancements in digital tech are finally enabling us to orchestrate the necessary ingredients to make that happen in a clinically meaningful way: “digital therapeutics.”

“A handful of medically-minded visionaries have put real clinical rigor into every aspect of their design. For instance, David Van Sickle, a former CDC “epidemiologist intelligence officer,” and now the CEO and Co-Founder of Propeller Health, built a GPS-enabled sensor for asthma inhalers that links to an elegantly designed app — every puff is mapped and time-stamped, allowing patients and doctors to spot patterns in ‘random’ attacks and identify previously unknown triggers.

Another example is Jenna Tregarthen, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology and eating disorder specialist. She rallied a team of engineers, entrepreneurs, and fellow psychologists to develop Recovery Record, a digital therapy that helps patients gain control over their eating disorder by enabling them to self-monitor for destructive thoughts or actions, follow meal plans, achieve behavior goals, and message a therapist instantly when they need support.”

23 April 2014

Johan Blomkvist’s doctoral thesis on prototyping in service design

COVER01

Representing Future Situations of Service
Prototyping in Service Design
by Johan Blomkvist
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science

Doctoral Dissertation
Human-Centred Systems Division
Department of Computer and Information Systems
Linköping University

This thesis describes prototyping in service design through the theoretical lens of situated cognition. The research questions are what a service prototype is, what the benefits of service prototyping are, and how prototypes aid in the process of designing services.

Four papers are included. Paper one suggests that service prototyping should be considered from the perspectives of purpose, fidelity, audience, position in the process, technique, representation, validity and author. The second paper compares research about how humans use external representations to think, with reasons for using prototypes in service design and service design techniques. The third paper compares two versions of a service prototyping technique called service walkthrough; showing that walkthroughs with pauses provided both more comments in total and more detailed feedback. The fourth paper also contributes to our understanding of how prototypes aid in designing services, by connecting the surrogate situation with the future situation of service. The paper shows how the formative service evaluation technique (F-SET) uses the theory of planned behaviour to add knowledge to service prototype evaluations about the intention to use a service in the future.

Taken together the research provides a deeper understanding of what prototypes are, and their roles in service prototyping.

This understanding is further deepened by a discussion about service as a design material, suggesting that from a design perspective, a service consists of service concept, process and system. The service prototype acts as a surrogate for the future situation of service. The thesis describes what the benefits of using surrogates are, and shows how prototypes enhance the ability to gain knowledge about future situations. This leads to an understanding of prototyping as a way of thinking in design.

30 March 2014

Behavioral approaches to product innovation at the Base of the Pyramid

img_3252

Alexandra Fiorillo, Principal of GRID Impact, writes that if we want to achieve full financial inclusion, we cannot simply offer more financial products and services to more people and hope they need, want, like, and use them. Instead, she writes, we should spend the necessary resources to ensure our products and services work for clients by doing two things:

1. Design products that meet the needs, desires, and preferences of our clients by collaborating with them on the design and delivery of these products.

2. Help our clients follow-through with the intentions and goals they have for their financial lives by focusing on taking action rather than just providing more information.

She continues:

“A new approach to product and service innovation, behavioral research and design, attempts to do just this. Drawing on insights from behavioral economics and principles from human-centered design, behavioral research and design attempts to uncover deep personal and contextual motivators and influencers to human behavior so we can better design products and services in a client-centered way. The goal of this method is not to focus on stated preferences and opinion or market research, but rather to develop deep empathy for human needs and desires while also making sense of observable behaviors – which may be contrary to people’s stated preferences.”

GRID Impact is a global research, innovation and design firm that specializes in human-centered approaches to policy, program, and product challenges. They use data and evidence to improve social impact in areas such as financial inclusion, global health, agriculture and education.

29 March 2014

IBM invests $100M in interactive experience labs globally

 

IBM this week announced plans to commit more than $100 million to globally expand its consulting services capability to help clients with experience design and engagement. As part of the investment, the company will open 10 new IBM Interactive Experience labs around the world and plans to add 1,000 employees to create new, personalized models of engagement through data and design.

Located in Bangalore, Beijing, Groningen, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and Tokyo, the new labs provide clients with the opportunity to work side-by-side with researchers and consultants as well as experts in experience design, mobile and digital marketing. These multi-discipline teams analyze business challenges and jointly create solutions that integrate next-generation mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies. IBM plans to open additional labs in the future to support the global demand for data-driven experiences.

“There’s no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience. The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere, and the quality of that experience is entirely dependent on the use of individualized information,” said Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President of IBM Global Business Services. “As our clients recalibrate what it means to engage with their customers or employees, we’re bringing them the full spectrum of world-class design and IBM Research, book-ended by strategy consulting and our strength in Big Data.”

As hallmarks of the IBM Interactive Experience consulting practice, the new labs will enable companies to engage with their customers in entirely new ways. Researchers within IBM Interactive Experience are developing capabilities to harness the value of data to help clients create personalized experiences, while designers within IBM Interactive Experience are working directly with clients to develop experiences that are increasingly mobile-driven. These experiences leverage IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio to take advantage of the transformational nature of mobile solutions. The combination of these capabilities and design elements hinge on insights IBM converts from data — including information on individual decisions, choices, preferences and attitudes.

In addition to the 10 new labs and four existing locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto clients can partner with IBM Interactive Experience teams in IBM Research Labs in 12 locations around the world to personalize their every interaction with consumers.

Along with the new facilities, IBM also unveiled new data-driven innovations from IBM Interactive Experience that help business leaders gain deeper insights into individuals and transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands. IBM researchers within IBM Interactive Experience invented unique algorithms that conduct the analysis for these new capabilities.

Press release ! Core77 interview with Shannon Miller of IBM Interactive Experience

24 March 2014

What is it that you do exactly?

 

When you work in user experience or one of its many subsets, you tend to hear questions about what you do a lot. UX professionals often get this inquiry from parents, prospects, neighbors, friends, or casual acquaintances.

Too often, Baruch Sachs gets the same level of confusion from clients, people who are actually paying me to provide user experience services.

“Clients who don’t exactly get what user experience is tend to fall into two camps: those who believe that I swoop in and tell them what colors to choose and those who believe that I do everything from end to end without needing to talk to anyone, ever. Their impression in that I am basically a magician who, with a wave of my wand, can either brighten up a color palette or create the next App Store—no matter what data or process I need to have.”

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.

7 March 2014

Search results on travel sites: examples and best practices

flight_search_results-blog-200

Search results pages on travel sites should help customers to find the best deal for them without having to work too hard.

Graham Charlton of Econsultancy looked at a range of search tools from travel websites, which highlighted the importance of flexibility when users search for travel.

For this review he is looking at flight search, but the lessons apply equally to hotel and general holiday search.

He argues that the challenge lies in effective filtering and sorting of results, as well as a presentation style that allows for easy comparison. It’s not always easy though.

These are, according to him, the features of effective search results pages:

  • Ability to sort results. Users should be able to order results according to their own preferences. This may be price and duration of flights, departure times and more.
  • Presentation of results. The default display option should allow users to easily make sense of the information presented. Users should also have options to alter the display to suit their needs.
  • Filtering of results. Users need a good range of options to refine their results.
    Speed. Results should load quickly, and adding and removing of filters should also be smooth.
  • Clarity of pricing. This isn’t always easy for third party aggregator sites, but it can be very frustrating to see what looks to be a good price, only to find lots of extras added by the time you reach the checkout.
  • Quick link to change original search. Searches may produce a small number of results, or the user may not be satisfied, so make it easy for them to amend their search with a clear link.
5 March 2014

Experientia’s mini-doc for the UN’s International Labour Organization

 

The first destination: The path to decent work in rural economies
Experientia’s short documentary for the UN’s International Labour Organization

It’s always a pleasure to work on a project that is out of the ordinary. Experientia’s short documentary for the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) was not only a rare opportunity for our communications team to take centre stage on a project, it was also a chance to collaborate with a non-profit organisation with a global mission to do good that we solidly support.

The ILO promotes rights at work, encourages decent employment opportunities, enhances social protection and strengthens dialogue on work-related issues. It does this all over the world, combatting forced labour, child labour and unfair conditions, and ensuring that people have the opportunities and skills to rise beyond poverty, through decent work.

Experientia has worked on numerous occasions with the International Training Centre arm of the ILO (the ITC-ILO). In late 2013, an internal ILO group that focuses particularly on building work skills and decent work in rural areas commissioned us to create a short video, showcasing the work the ILO was doing in rural Vietnam.

So in November 2013, two Experientia collaborators travelled to Vietnam, to visit rural villages in Quang Nam province where the local farmers had been developing the skills to run community-based tourism programs, and rattan and cloth weaving cooperatives. The programs put skills development and work creation into the hands of the local people, so that they can improve their income sustainably and autonomously. This desire to ensure people are actively engaged in ILO programs is captured perfectly by Huyen Thi Nguyen, the ILO In-land Tourism National Project Coordinator, at the end of the video: “We always say that people are the first destination in tourism.”

The video’s narrative was developed by Erin O’Loughlin, part of Experientia’s communications team. Yohan Erent and SeungJun Jeong, from Experientia’s design team, developed infographics and motion graphics, to illustrate some of the more theoretical concepts of the ILO’s work.

The video itself is beautifully shot in HD cinema-quality film by Experientia collaborators Marco Mion and Andry Verga, and features interviews with the local villagers against a backdrop of rice fields, temples, and farmland, the ever-present water a reminder of the hardships for subsistence farmers in this lush yet challenging landscape.

The full 8 minute version of the film is now on Experientia’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. A 5 minute version is planned for the near future.

26 February 2014

What the tech business hasn’t yet grasped about human nature

20140225_Gen_Bell_MWC

Genevieve Bell, Intel’s in-house anthropologist, sees constants in our behavior that could mean big bucks for businesses that find a way to capitalize on them. C|Net reports on her talk at the Mobile World Congress yesterday.

“In this digital world, the story we’re telling about the future is a story driven by what the technology wants and not what we as humans need,” Bell said at the WIPjam developer event during the massive Mobile World Congress show here. “We want mystery, we want boredom, a lot of us in this room want to be dangerous and bad and be forgiven about it later. We want to be human, not digital.”

12 February 2014

The Museum of Future Government Services

bc-04

The Museum of Future Government Services, which in Dubai on the 10th of February at the UAE Government Summit, is an interactive design futures exhibition.

The Museum explores the future of travel, healthcare, education and urban services. It brings together over 80 designers, technologists and futurists from nearly 20 countries to imagine how these services could be changed for the better in the coming years.

“The first of its kind, the Museum goes far beyond written reports or special effects. It highlights real prototypes of prospective services that could be developed by the governments of tomorrow.

This approach allows visitors to interact with, experience, and enjoy future trends in a way never before possible.

The Museum of Future Government Services paints a bold and hopeful vision of what the future could be. It shows how businesses, governments, and citizenry could work together to create a world-class experience of government services. It is just one possibility among many, illustrating the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The future is uncertain, but the work of the Museum suggests that bold vision, creative experiments and committed partnerships can build a better world.

Project partners
- Client: The Prime Minister’s Office of the United Arab Emirates
- Lead Exhibition Designer: Tellart, Providence, Rhode Island
- Lead Content Designer: Fabrica, Treviso, Italy
- Lead Creative Consultants: Superflux Studio, London, and Near Future Laboratory, Geneva
- Lead Researcher: The Institute for the Future, Palo Alto, California
- Special Advisor: Dr. Noah Raford