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Posts in category 'User experience'

19 November 2014

Fundamental principles of great UX design

 

In this edition of Ask UXmatters (a series curated by Janet M. Six), an eight-person expert panel looks at the importance of considering the fundamental principles of great design — not just UX design principles, but design principles in general. The panel also discusses how great UX design takes place within organizations, looking at this topic on many different levels:

  • How can you create great designs when working with a variety of designers with different backgrounds and while working within the constraints of project-defined goals?
  • How can the presence of User Experience at the C-level and, in general, garnering support from the C-level affect our ability to implement great designs?
  • How can we produce great designs in a repeatable manner? Keep reading for the answers to all of these important questions?

The following eight experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters:

  • Leo Frishberg, Product Design Manager at Intel Corporation
  • Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Principal Consultant at Strategic UX; Publisher and Editor in Chief, UXmatters; Founding Director of Interaction Design Association (IxDA); UXmatters columnist
  • Peter Hornsby, Web Design and UX Manager at Royal London; UXmatters columnist
  • Jordan Julien, Independent Experience Strategy Consultant
  • Jim Nieters, Global Head, User Experience, of HP’s Consumer Travel Division; UXmatters columnist
  • Eryk Pastwa, Vice President of Design at Creatix
  • Daniel Szuc, Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd.
  • Jo Wong, Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
19 November 2014

A profile of Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google

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As part of an on-going series profiling people, institutions and programs in the EPIC People community, Katharina Rochjadi of Swinburne University of Technology has now profiled Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google.

“Conducting ethnographic work is not an end in itself. Elizabeth believes that by being a design ethnographer we are in the ‘business of translation’. We are making observations that can be interpreted to development teams or business partners. She also thinks that there might be a scenario in which we have to accept being wrong about our assumptions.”

7 November 2014

Technology-enabled navigation and mobility for people with sight loss

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Getting around cities is a nerve-wracking experience for too many people, especially those living with sight loss. Too often it feels like public spaces and services – from parks to transport systems – are designed with insufficient consideration for the people they serve.

Cities Unlocked was created to help fix this. Guide Dogs, a UK Charity for the visually impaired, and Microsoft joined forces in 2011 to improve mobility and navigation for people with sight loss, and Future Cities Catapult, a global urban innovation centre, followed in 2013. Over the last year, the team has been working towards realising one ambition: to make cities more accessible for people with sight loss.

They have taken a holistic approach to identifying the challenges that urban environments pose for the visually impaired, and developed a demonstrator device in response. The result is a new headset (video) that allows a smartphone app to provide the wearer with 3D-soundscapes, augmenting reality to provide a richer understanding of their surroundings.

Testing demonstrated that the technology helps people feel more comfortable in their surroundings and better placed to navigate their environment. But this is just the start: the team believe that this research provides a new way of thinking about people, places and the information that flows between the two. By opening the flow of data within cities, we can help everyone move around their city with confidence.

More information:
> Blog post/essay by Dan Hill, executive director of Futures and Best Practice, Future Cities Catapult
> Articles and videos: BBC | Daily Telegraph | Dezeen | CityMetric | The Guardian

6 November 2014

What do you learn when you observe 100 days of iPhone use?

mobilelife

Barry Brown, Moira McGregor and Donald McMillan of the Mobile Life Centre at Stockholm University audio-video recorded over 100 days of device use from 15 users and just published their results, which they presented in September at the MobileHCI conference in Toronto, Canada.

Internet connected mobile devices are an increasingly ubiquitous part of our everyday lives and we present here the results from unobtrusive audio-video recordings of iPhone use – over 100 days of device use collected from 15 users. The data reveals for analysis the everyday, moment-by-moment use of contemporary mobile phones. Through video analysis of usage we observed how messages, social media and internet use are integrated and threaded into daily life, interaction with others, and everyday events such as transport, delays, establishment choice and entertainment. We document various aspects of end-user mobile device usage, starting with understanding how it is occasioned by context. We then characterise the temporal and sequential nature of use. Lastly, we discuss the social nature of mobile phone usage. Beyond this analysis, we reflect on how to draw these points into ideas for design.

The results and their discussion are particularly insightful.

6 November 2014

Rethinking segmentation for the new digital consumer

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Apple’s launch this week of Apple Pay, its m-commerce product, could help finally move millions of mainstream consumers toward the promise of mobile payments, according to media reports. Given that Apple Pay will expose user preferences for payments and sharing data, this is a good time for companies to re-think how they segment their digital consumers, writes Mobiquity president Scott Snyder in this opinion piece.

“At their core, digital users are individuals who bring a unique digital profile and set of behaviors to every situation. This new digital world of “Bring Your Own Persona” (BYOP) requires a fundamentally different way of thinking about customers. It used to be assumed that people exhibited predictable behaviors in their public and private lives based on their socio-demographics, allowing firms to use classic segmentation for targeted interactions. Those models are no longer sufficient. Almost all demographics have access to mobile, social and wearables. What distinguishes different digital user segments is their savvy in knowing how to use these tools and their comfort levels with the data they are willing to share in various scenarios.

New digital personas can be characterized along two important dimensions: digital capability and trust. […]”

Using trust and capability as the core drivers of digital behavior, we have mapped out six digital user segments (shown below) to capture the new interaction models we expect to see and estimated the distribution across the general consumer population. “

6 November 2014

Little Data, Big Data and UX design at LinkedIn

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Julie Marie Norvaisas and Jonathan “Yoni” Karpfen of LinkedIn’s User Experience Design (UED) Research Team share how their team discovers and uses “little data” to inform and inspire, in the context of a company driven by “big data”.

“LinkedIn’s User Experience Design (UED) Research team is relatively small. The data we gather is even more drastically outnumbered. LinkedIn’s design and product development process is steeped in behavioral data, real-time metrics, and predictive models. Working alongside teams generating and focused on big numbers, our group of qualitative researchers helps decision makers understand how our products fit into members’ lives, envision future experiences, and take a peek behind the numbers.”

Julie Norvaisas is the Manager of User Experience Research at LinkedIn. while Jonathan (Yoni) Karpfen is a Senior User Experience Researcher at LinkedIn.

5 November 2014

Creating government tech systems with excellent UX and ‘good enough’ security

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Gov.uk, the website of the UK Government’s Digital Service that merges the websites of all UK Government Departments and many other agencies and public bodies, has posted a draft guidance document on risk management of cyber security in technology projects.

Based on user interviews and over ninety user stories, they found it to be essential to allow important members of the IT project (such as senior capability owners and technical practitioners) to create a culture and environment in which their risk management activities could flourish.

Below are Gov.uk’s eight fundamental principles of effective approaches to risk management:
– Accept there will always be uncertainty
– Make everyone part of your delivery team
– Ensure the business understands the risks it is taking
– Trust competent people to make decisions
– Security is part of every technology decision
– User experience should be fantastic – security should be good enough
– Demonstrate why you made the decisions – and no more
– Understand that decisions affect each other

28 October 2014

The zombiefication of business travelers

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Tim Askew, CEO of Corporate Rain International, explains how technology is increasingly isolating us from each other and stifling creativity and real experiences.

“As a frequent business traveler, I have noticed an unhappy change of late: I’m meeting fewer people than I used to. And I don’t like it. […]

I’m afraid technology is turning us into dull-eyed, unpresent I-Zombies. We are losing the gift for connection to our fellow human beings, as well as stunting our brain processes that summon nonrational revelations and “aha”s.

In short, he says, “our ‘eureka’ moments may be being sacrificed for a mess of pottage–that mess of pottage being our present experience of superficial sledding on an omnipresent sea of technological connectedness.”

30 September 2014

Using HCD to make mobile money relevant

 

Earlier in 2014, two consecutive Mondato Insights examined the role of Human Centered Design (HCD) in enhancing the user experience and closing the gap between registered and active users of Mobile Money.

In the six months since then, reports Mondato, the value of the HCD approach in creating MFS (Mobile Financial Services) products that meet the needs of, and are attractive to, low-income customers has further been highlighted by a number of research projects in Southeast Asia. Once again, many of the assumptions made by MFS providers about the market segments they hope to target have been challenged, showing that significant knowledge gaps persist between providers and potential customers, and these must be addressed by anyone hoping to create attractive value propositions for Base of the Pyramid (BoP) consumers.

“Central to the HCD approach are deep dive interviews that seek to understand BoP customers not merely as individuals, but as the totality of their relationships as members of families, communities and business networks. Interviews take place in a very unstructured fashion, allowing free-flowing discussion that gives subjects the confidence and space to express themselves in their own terms, without the potential for design bias that formal questionnaires carry with them. The goal of the research is to form a number of “personas”, which are representative of market segments, and to identify what are their needs.”

29 September 2014

An interview with Dirk Knemeyer on UX and reinventing democracy

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Dirk Knemeyer is a UX thought leader, an entrepreneur, a game designer, and a former UXmatters columnist. Recently, Pabini Gabriel-Petit had the opportunity to interview Dirk about his experiences as a UX professional and entrepreneur, as well as his reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.

Recently, Dirk published “Redesign Democracy: A Better Solution for the Digital Era,” on the Involution Studios Web site. This thought piece, which considers how we might reconceptualize the democratic process in the United States, provided the focus for the remainder of our discussion. – See more at: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2014/09/user-experience-entrepreneurship-and-redesigning-democracy-an-interview-with-dirk-knemeyer.php#sthash.UZVyhVRo.dpuf

18 September 2014

Why banks need to revamp their user experience

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The most interesting things happening in financial services are not happening in financial services, writes Rich Berkman, Associate Partner of IBM Interactive Experience, in UX Magazine. The most useful and powerful cross-channel, digital tools rolled out in recent years were not introduced by banks, he says, but by tech companies that understood how to use the Internet, data analytics, and mobile technologies to solve consumers’ day-to-day problems.

“Optimizing customer experience requires a holistic understanding of the user and a willingness to change. In some ways, this is where banks fall short. They already have more than enough information about their customers, they just need to figure out where the data is and how to use it effectively, which is easier said than done but also a necessity. The roll out of new mobile apps and other cross-channel experiences will exponentially increase data generation as more people use their phones, watches and more to interact with insurers, retailers, airlines, mortgage brokers, and so on. The better banks understand their customers—and can build models based on rich user research, analytics and evolved “personas”—the better they’ll be able to improve services to meet today and future customer demands.”

3 September 2014

How do consumers use and respond to energy monitors?

energypolicy

Feeding back about eco-feedback: How do consumers use and respond to energy monitors?
Kathryn Buchanan (a), Riccardo Russo (a) and Ben Anderson (b)
a Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
b Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, UK
Energy Policy
Volume 73, October 2014, Pages 138–146

Abstract
To date, a multitude of studies have examined the empirical effect of feedback on energy consumption yet very few have examined how feedback might work and the processes it involves. Moreover, it remains to be seen if the theoretical claims made concerning how feedback works can be substantiated using empirical data. To start to address this knowledge gap, the present research used qualitative data analysis to examine how consumers use and respond to energy monitors. The findings suggest feedback may increase both the physical and conscious visibility of consumption as well as knowledge about consumption. Accordingly, support was evident for the theoretical assertions that feedback transforms energy from invisible to visible, prompts motivated users to learn about their energy habits, and helps address information deficits about energy usage. We conclude by evaluating the feasibility of feedback to substantially reduce consumption and discuss ways in which feedback could be improved to aid its effectiveness in the long term before discussing the implication our findings may have for government policy.

31 August 2014

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

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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.

8 August 2014

Dropbox’s Head of Design on the dawn of personalized products

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Soleio Cuervo, design lead at Dropbox, spends his time thinking of new ways for products to understand our needs and wants in real time.

After years of firsthand work and observation, Cuervo has seen four ingredients emerge that power personalized products. At First Round’s recent Design+Startup event in San Francisco, he explained each one and how newer and smaller companies can put them together to not only build great products but accelerate progress for everyone:

IDENTITY – The takeaway for startups is that you should actively manage people’s identities in ways that encourage the behavior you want — whether it’s getting people to buy something or converse more with each other or share media. The features on your roadmap should bring out these aspects of your users’ identities whenever possible. And if engagement is your goal, your product should take cues from how people are organically identifying themselves on your platform.

GRAPHS – Just like people have a variety of identities spanning the digital world, they are also members of a growing number of groups, communities and networks that may have nothing to do with the people they know in real life. They belong to interest groups, follow celebrities, connect with professional contacts, tap into media sources for their news, and more. All of these systems of structured relationships act as graphs that can be used to deliver tailored experiences to individuals. As an entrepreneur, you want to select the graphs that make the most sense for your product.

CONTEXT – The new wave of innovation will be all about presenting the right information at the right time given the context of relationships, location, and device. Startups and apps that can filter people’s huge influx of information in a way that seems natural are set up to succeed in today’s climate. Startups looking to launch personalized products should fix their sights on how tasks and needs vary across different devices over the course of a given day.

BEHAVIOR – Don’t be afraid to be opinionated about how your users should behave. You’ve created a product to get them to do something. Get them to do it. “Be purposeful when it comes to driving a particular type of behavior — have a very strong viewpoint about how people should be using the service you’re providing.”

Cuervo’s final development tenet: “Remember that you’re not competing against other services. You’re competing against people’s habits. The companies that are truly out there disrupting things are the ones that drive a wedge into people’s habits. They say things like, ‘You used to walk out to the street to flag a taxi down. Now with Uber you can hail a car from your desk, so break that habit of leaving the building.’ As you’re creating your product, always be thinking about what people currently do and how you can very purposely create a new set of habits around your service. That’s what retention is — helping people build a routine around the utility you provide. Successful tech companies are built on new habits they helped form.”

8 August 2014

No time to think

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Nowadays, people can keep negative thoughts at bay with a frenzy of activity. Kate Murphy writes on the consequences in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times.

“You can’t solve or let go of problems if you don’t allow yourself time to think about them. It’s an imperative ignored by our culture, which values doing more than thinking and believes answers are in the palm of your hand rather than in your own head. […]

Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power, leading to intrusive thoughts, which makes people get even busier to keep them at bay.

Studies further suggest that not giving yourself time to reflect impairs your ability to empathize with others. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind,” said Giancarlo Dimaggio, a psychiatrist with the Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy in Rome, who studies the interplay of self-reflection and empathy. “Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it.”

Researchers have also found that an idle mind is a crucible of creativity. A number of studies have shown that people tend to come up with more novel uses for objects if they are first given an easy task that allows their minds to wander, rather than a more demanding one.”

27 July 2014

Qualitative self-tracking and the Qualified Self

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Mark Carrigan, sociologist, academic technologist and research assistant at the Centre for Social Ontology, is intellectually drawn to the Quantified Self because “it’s a fascinating example of the intensification of reflexivity in contemporary society”.

Most interesting in his reflective blog post is his attempt at a definition of qualitative self-tracking:

Using mobile technology to recurrently record qualities of experience or environment, as well as reflections upon them, with the intention of archiving aspects of personal life that would otherwise be lost, in a way susceptible to future review and revision of concerns, commitments and practices in light of such a review.

The Centre for Social Ontology (CSO) was established in 2011 at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). It is now based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick,

26 July 2014

The touch-screen generation

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Young children — even toddlers — are spending more and more time with digital technology. Hanna Rosin wonders what will it mean for their development?

“As technology becomes ubiquitous in our lives, American parents are becoming more, not less, wary of what it might be doing to their children. Technological competence and sophistication have not, for parents, translated into comfort and ease. They have merely created yet another sphere that parents feel they have to navigate in exactly the right way. On the one hand, parents want their children to swim expertly in the digital stream that they will have to navigate all their lives; on the other hand, they fear that too much digital media, too early, will sink them. Parents end up treating tablets like precision surgical instruments, gadgets that might perform miracles for their child’s IQ and help him win some nifty robotics competition—but only if they are used just so. Otherwise, their child could end up one of those sad, pale creatures who can’t make eye contact and has an avatar for a girlfriend.”

24 July 2014

Persona Power

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Article by Shlomo Goltz on “integrating the hero’s journey as part of the user-centered design process”:

“There are many prominent and outspoken members of the design community, such as Steve Portigal and Jason Fried, who feel that personas are unnecessary. They make compelling arguments, but they also rule out the use of personas entirely, which I feel is too strong a stance.

Like any other tool in your utility belt, personas have times when they are extremely powerful, and other times when they are simply not warranted—the trick is knowing when to use them, and then to use them effectively.”

22 July 2014

Call to bring refugee-led innovation into humanitarian work

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The humanitarian sector must lift barriers to user-led innovation by refugee communities if it is to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, says a new report, Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and presented at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, on Saturday (19 July).

The trajectory of humanitarian assistance is unsustainable — with the cost trebling and the number of people requiring help doubling over the past ten years — and humanitarian tools and services are often ill-suited to modern emergencies, says the report.

“The risk-averse sector needs to embrace innovation, private sector involvement and bottom-up solutions to keep up with modern challenges”.

The current debate focuses on improving the tools and practices of international humanitarian actors and has overlooked the “talents, skills and aspirations of crisis-affected people themselves”, who remain a “largely untapped source of sustainable and creative solutions”.

An alternative to these short-term, project-based solutions by external actors is user-centred design that embraces indigenous innovation and participatory methods, it says.

This, it adds, involves recognising and understanding innovation within communities and putting them at the heart of the humanitarian innovation process.

The report calls for early consultation on the design of solutions to make sure they fit with cultural practices, and for more investment in “innovation spaces and opportunities that mentor, accelerate, and incubate the initiative of affected populations and local organisations”.

It also says that international organisations should ensure users drive the process of defining priority areas for innovation, testing out products and processes to meet those needs, and providing feedback during implementation and scaling.

The report will be published on the OCHA website.

15 June 2014

Behaviour change presentations at Nudgestock event

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On 6 June OgilvyChange, the specialist behavioural sciences practice of Ogilvy & Mather UK, hosted the second edition of Nudgestock, the “largest gathering of behavioural experts in the world”. The one day event on May 24 saw speakers from fields as wide ranging as behavioural finance, evolutionary theory, the science of magic and design discussing where theory and hypotheses has been creatively translated into successful behaviour change around the world.

The organisers have uploaded most of the speaker videos, of which we highlight a few:

Dr. Dan Lockton: Designing with people in behavioural change
Many approaches to behaviour change largely model humans as defective – bad at making decisions and in need of intervention. Yet most people, surprisingly, actually manage to get by. More often, design lets them down and produces barriers to behaviour.
Dan Lockton is a Senior Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art.

Ed Gardiner: A recipe for making good ideas happen
Understanding how we tick is half the challenge, applying these insights in the real world is the real issue. We can now turn cutting edge science into real world products and interventions.
Ed Gardiner is the Head of the Behavioural Design Lab in partnership with the Warwick Business School.

Rob Teszka: Cognitive Psychology and Magic
Magicians have the uncanny ability to manipulate how people perceive the world. The study of attention and awareness reveals the efficiencies in the human brain. If we can understand why something fails, you can understand how it works.
Rob Teszka is a Cognitive Psychologist at Goldsmiths University and a Member of the Magic Circle.