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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'User experience'

1 June 2014

German psychologist aims to debunk behavioural economics (a.k.a. the “nudge” approach)

Illustration by Jack Hudson.

Daniel Kahneman, the ‘godfather’ of behavioural economics, has been challenged by rival psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Centre for Cognition and Adaptive Behaviour at the Max Planck institute in Berlin, who claims that Kahneman presents ‘an unfairly negative view of the human mind’.

Gigerenzer’s book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions debunks the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman, and Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, authors of the bestselling book “Nudge”, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once David Cameron’s pet thinkers.

Tim Adams reports on it all in the Observer.

“In an increasingly complex and specialised world, Gigerenzer preaches a gospel of greater simplicity. He suggests that the outcome of decisions of any complexity – a complexity of, say, trying to organise a successful picnic or greater – are impossible to accurately predict with any mathematical rational model, and therefore more usefully approached with a mixture of gut instinct and what he calls heuristics, the learned rules of thumb of any given situation. He believes, and he has some evidence to prove it, that such judgments prove sounder in practice than those based purely on probability.” […]

“Though Kahneman himself carefully limits its potential political application, his argument that we are irretrievably in thrall to our fallacies, in Gigernzer’s view, only strengthens the argument for such paternalism from government. Nudge theory becomes the more palatable expression of a deliberate wider manipulation. It makes us weaker and less questioning citizens.

Gigerenzer proposes an alternative solution. He believes, with education, the teaching of critical thinking about statistical probability, people can become more usefully ‘risk savvy'”

Related:
– Videos of Gerd Gigerenzer at TEDxZurich (2013) and TEDxNorrköping (2012)
– “Risk Savvy” book reviews in The Financial Times | The Economist | Times Higher Education
– An older, but in-depth review on the debate by Nick Dunbar

28 May 2014

When big data meets dataveillance: the hidden side of analytics

 

Among the numerous implications of digitalization, the debate about ‘big data’ has gained momentum. The central idea capturing attention is that digital data represents the newest key asset organizations should use to gain a competitive edge. Data can be sold, matched with other data, mined, and used to make inferences about anything, from people’s behavior to weather conditions. Particularly, what is known as ‘big data analytics’ — i.e. the modeling and analysis of big data — has become the capability which differentiates, from the rest of the market, the most successful companies. An entire business ecosystem has emerged around the digital data asset, and new types of companies, such as analytical competitors and analytical deputies, are proliferating as a result of the analysis of digital data. However, virtually absent from the big data debate is any mention of one of its constitutive mechanisms — that is, dataveillance. Dataveillance — which refers to the systematic monitoring of people or groups, by means of personal data systems in order to regulate or govern their behavior — sets the stage and reinforces the development of the data economy celebrated in the big data debate. This article aims to make visible the interdependence between dataveillance, big data and analytics by providing real examples of how companies collect, process, analyze and use data to achieve their business objectives.

Degli Esposti, Sara. 2014. When big data meets dataveillance: The hidden side of analytics. Surveillance &
Society 12(2): 209-225. http://www.surveillance-and-society.org | ISSN: 1477-7487
© The author(s), 2014 | Licensed to the Surveillance Studies Network under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.

24 May 2014

Left to our own devices

alone

Our well-being centers on the meaningfulness of our relationships: our intimate ties, our associations with a larger circle of people, and our sense of interconnectivity with a collective tribe. Technology has become deeply embedded in how we build these relationships and define ourselves. It is undeniable that we can use technology in ways that are alienating—texting while talking, for example.

As a clinical psychologist creating and studying technology for Intel, Margie Morris has been impressed by how people draw on their devices to enhance their relationships—in particular their capacities for being alone, interconnected, and attuned.

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.

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.

1 May 2014

Looking ahead in automotive UX with Mercedes

automotive-UX-mercedes

Steve Tengler recently sat down the user experience folks at Mercedes’ Research and Development Center in Sunnyvale, California, and interviewed Paolo Malabuyo (Vice President of Advanced UX Design), Vera Schmidt (Senior Manager of Advanced UX Design), and Viviane Eide (Manager of UX Research).

An excerpt:

With customers in the connected world being bombarded with nearly throwaway, evolving, mobile electronics, does that change your traditional advanced research development view from 10-12 years in advance to 2-3 years?

PAOLO: Seven years ago the iPhone didn’t exist, right? So I think it would be hubris for any of us to say we know exactly how things are going to turn out 12+ years in the future. But there are realities that we need to deal with that bridge the 2-to-12-year gap. One end of the spectrum is the supply chain necessary to support the creation of these amazingly complex things that require tens of thousands of parts that get sourced from raw materials, which require a kind of planning and institutional muscle memory that companies like Mercedes have. The opposite end of the spectrum—the tech sector—moves much faster and is an ecosystem with nearly zero risk aversion. For instance, you just had to restart your [phone’s] recording app. That’s a product that came about in that ecosystem. Can you imagine having to pull over and restart a Mercedes after a fifteen minute drive ‘cause, well, a few things just went wrong? Completely unacceptable. So it’s up to us to figure out where the right experience bar is, and then work with the people who are experts on moving things through this process, negotiating between them and the people saying, “OK, the future looks like .”

VERA: You can see really well that we are trying to bridge this gap with the Digital Car. We are looking really far ahead—sometimes 15 years or more. We are trying to envision our ideas. This is really important because the technology is going so fast that if you always think, “OK, next year it’ll be this technology,” or “In five years, it’ll be …” then you will always be behind something else instead of coming up with your own ideas. And the connected device really [enables that]. If you have ideas now and you want to bring it to the vehicle soon—not only in 10 years—we try to accomplish it with this team by taking advantage of mobile devices and connecting them to the car to bridge that gap.

VIVIANE: I think it helps—as we are confronted with the issue that technology moves at autobahn speed—if you think about it this way: we are ultimately designing for the user, and humans don’t change that quickly. Our core desires remain fairly stable. So if I had to predict what would be a core desire in 2020, people probably [still won’t] want to waste time in traffic. So we like to think about those human, core desires and how can we use technology to meet them. But one distinguishing factor, even if we are developing faster and [creating] apps, is that we do not release beta versions and test them in the market. That is obviously not acceptable in the automotive market for safety reasons.

24 April 2014

My digital shadow

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 11.45.23

The surveillance program PRISM by the US secret service NSA has reminded us that all of our activities online may be monitored without giving us the chance to understand whether we really are targeted or what the purpose of this monitoring is. Information is being collected about us all but we have little understanding about how it is being used.

We do though have some means of learning what information we are giving away and this can allow us to make conscious decisions about how we want to continue to use the internet. Some traces are difficult to avoid, but there are also many things we can do to reduce our digital shadows.

This website is created by the Tactical Technology Collective (and is in stable-Beta mode) to help you see which digital shadows you cast and how to make them smaller.

24 April 2014

The Qualified Self and Affective Sensing

the-qualified-self

The people at frog design have been exploring sensing technologies and their impact on the human experience. Two interesting articles are the result:

The Qualified Self: Going Beyond Quantification
Just as stories yield data, data yield stories. And just as it is difficult to quantify our lives without data, we cannot qualify them without context or narrative. When we bring the two sides together, we achieve deeper self-knowledge.

Design and the (Ir)Rational Mind: The Rise of Affective Sensing
How we experience the world—our perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment—may be driven more by the mind’s subliminal, pre-cognitive processes than by the conscious ones.

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.

23 April 2014

How Facebook uses UX research to personalize the way we see each other

facebookposter

Facebook recently made profiles more “contextual” on their iOS app, writes John Paul Titlow in Fast Company. That means that like Google searches or other personalized experiences, Facebook profiles will now appear differently based on who’s viewing.

“We wanted to know what people find useful when they look at their friends’ profiles.” says Facebook UX researcher Shivani Mohan. “And what do they not find very useful? When people are going to the profile of a person who is not their friend, we wanted to know the same thing.”

To figure out the look and feel of these dynamic layouts, Mohan and her team did tons of user research, both digital and analog. Here’s what they learned.

9 April 2014

Ethnography in action at Wells Fargo

wellsfargo

Only a few years ago, the corporate view of retirement planning at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank tended to focus on dollars and cents — how much an individual needed to invest, by when and for how many years,” write Julien Cayla, Robin Beers and Eric Arnould, authors of the article “Stories That Deliver Business Insights,” in the Winter 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. This segmentation did not account for context such as whether a person was inclined to think about long-term financial goals.

“As part of an ethnographic project commissioned by the bank, researchers had customers walk through a life timeline and recount activities they engaged in that related to retirement planning in each decade of their lives — their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond,” write the authors. The stories showed that baby boomers faced “a complex phenomenon of continually negotiated personal travails and marketplace dynamics.”

As a result of what they heard, the Wells Fargo team reworked how they think of customers. The bank developed a behavior-based segmentation that divided retirement approaches into three groups — Reactor, Pooler and Maximizer. […]

As a result, the bank adjusted its marketing strategy and “designed its retirement planning site to include the various life stages used in the ethnographic research to convey the message ‘we meet you where you are’ and provide relevant, unintimidating guidance — as opposed to producing numbers-dense material filled with endless financial projections.”

9 April 2014

Tell me a story: augmented reality technology in museums

logo-chess-400

Museums around the world today face the challenge of increasing and maintaining visitor numbers, especially with younger audiences. A fall in visitors is seen by most as a negative outcome, both financially and in terms of wider social and educational impact. It can happen due to a range of factors, but one of the most important is that museums can often find themselves competing with the products of the entertainment industry, which at its heart is in the business of telling a good story.

The EU-funded Chess project (a shorter name for the much longer Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling) plans to make interactive content such as games and augmented reality available to the entire museum sector.

“The project relies on visitor profiling, matching visitors to pre-determined “personas” – which are designed as a representative description of the various people that constitute a given museum’s visitor base. These are created through data from surveys, visitor studies and ethnographic observations. A given visitor is matched initially through a visitor survey to one of several representative personas, which in turn influences fundamentally the experience delivered by the Chess system.

Doing this makes the visitor experience non-linear. The system constantly adapts to a visitor’s preferences. For example, if a visitor fails in a game or stays longer in front of certain artefacts, the system can adapt the storyline. It makes the experience more dynamic and relevant, so instead of sending the visitor to X exhibit, the system might instead choose to send you to Y exhibit, where you will get more information that’s relevant to what you’ve shown an interest in.”

8 April 2014

[Book] A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences

a-web-for-everyone

A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences
by Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery
Rosenfeld Media, 2013
288 pages

In their new book, A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences, Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery make a case for accessibility that begins and ends with people. “We believe that great design starts by thinking about how to make products work for everyone.”

The book is a great resource for those trying to implement accessibility measures without making sacrifices that compromise design or innovation. In this excerpt, you’ll meet the personas (illustrated by Tom Biby) that are referenced throughout the book.

Sarah Horton is a consultant for strategic planning for websites and web applications. She also does accessibility and usability reviews. Sarah started her career in interaction design in 1991 at the Yale Center for Advanced Instructional Media, creating award-winning interactive instructional software. She was an instructional technologist at Dartmouth College for 11 years before becoming director of web strategy and design. As director, she was responsible for planning and developing Dartmouth’s digital environment, and she led a team of user-experience professionals responsible for web and media design, development, and production. More recently, Sarah was Web Strategy Project Lead at Harvard University, responsible for strategy and user experience design for the Harvard Web Publishing Initiative. Sarah is currently Director of Accessible User Experience and Design with The Paciello Group. Sarah is co-author with Patrick Lynch of Web Style Guide, now in its third edition and translated into at least eight languages. She also wrote Web Teaching Guide, which in 2000 won the American Association of Publishers award for best book in computer science. Her third book, Access by Design, combines the disciplines of universal design, accessibility, and usability into guidelines for designing websites that are universally usable.

Whitney Quesenbery is a user researcher, user experience practitioner, and usability expert with a passion for clear communication. She has been in the field for too many years, working with organizations from The Open University to the National Cancer Institute. She enjoys learning about people around the world and using those insights to design products where people matter. Before a little beige computer seduced her into software, usability, and interface design, she was a lighting designer in the theater. Like every other element of the production, lighting has to help tell the story. The scenery, lighting, costumes, direction and acting all have to work together tell the same story. She learned a lot about the craft of storytelling from watching hours of rehearsals. Whitney has served as president of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), on the boards of the Center for Plain Language and UXnet, and as a manager of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Usability and User Experience Community. As a member of two U.S. government advisory committees, she is working to update accessibility requirements and to improve the usability and accessibility of voting systems for U.S. elections. Whitney is a frequent author and presenter in industry events and is a contributor to UXmatters.com. Her first publication on storytelling was a book chapter on “Storytelling and Narrative” in The Personas Lifecycle, by John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin. She’s also proud that her chapter “Dimensions of Usability” in Content and Complexity turns up on so many course reading lists.

17 March 2014

Six ways to design humanity and localism into Smart Cities

frederiksberg

A long post by Rick Robinson, Executive Architect at IBM specialising in emerging technologies and Smarter Cities, admonishes Smart Cities planners and designers not to overlook the social needs of cities and communities. After all, he says, the full purpose of cities is: to enable a huge number of individual citizens to live not just safe, but rewarding lives with their families.

His well thought-through and experience based reasoning is very much worth a read and ends with an in-depth discussion of six practical steps:

  1. Make institutions accessible
  2. Make infrastructure and technology accessible
  3. Support collaborative innovation
  4. Promote open systems
  5. Provide common services
  6. Establish governance of the information economy
12 March 2014

A UX view of the future of mobile networks and systems

idea

The latest post of the User Experience Lab at Ericsson Research presents a UX view of the future of mobile networks and systems.

“The “Remote Control over Mobile Networks” concept is one of several concepts that we have defined in a longer term research project called “UX of future networks”, which is currently ongoing. The main scope for the project is for us at the UX Lab to investigate the next generation of networks and systems (such as 5G) from an UX perspective.”

6 March 2014

How collaborating with patients improves hospital care

hospital-care-improvement-009

The Guardian reports on how a new UK project where patients and NHS staff work together to improve services shows that even small changes can have a big impact on the quality of care.

The project, with an impossibly long name, has been designed by academics from Oxford university’s health experience research group and studies patients’ experience of illness. Working with professor Glenn Robert at King’s College London, who had developed a new approach to help the NHS make better use of patient feedback, the Oxford academics compiled short videos about patients’ experiences of intensive care and lung cancer services.

They formed the basis for small group discussions between medical staff, managers, patients and relatives who identified priorities for change, many of which were then implemented.

Download background materials

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)

27 February 2014

[Book] The Moment of Clarity

the-moment-of-clarity

The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems
by Christian Madsbjerg, Mikkel Rasmussen
Harvard Business Review Press
2014, 224 pages

Traditional problem-solving methods taught in business schools serve us well for some of the everyday challenges of business, but they tend to be ineffective with problems involving a high degree of uncertainty. Why? Because, more often than not, these tools are based on a flawed model of human behavior. And that flawed model is the invisible scaffolding that supports our surveys, our focus groups, our R&D, and much of our long-term strategic planning.

In The Moment of Clarity, Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen examine the business world’s assumptions about human behavior and show how these assumptions can lead businesses off track. But the authors chart a way forward. Using theories and tools from the human sciences—anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and psychology—The Moment of Clarity introduces a practical framework called sensemaking. Sensemaking’s nonlinear problem-solving approach gives executives a better way to understand business challenges involving shifts in human behavior.

This new methodology, a fundamentally different way to think about strategy, is already taking off in Fortune 100 companies around the world. Through compelling case studies and their direct experience with LEGO, Samsung, Adidas, Coloplast, and Intel, Madsbjerg and Rasmussen will show you how to solve problems as diverse as setting company direction, driving growth, improving sales models, understanding the real culture of your organization, and finding your way in new markets.

Over and over again, executives say the same thing after engaging in a process of sensemaking: “Now I see it . . .” This experience—the moment of clarity—has the potential to drive the entire strategic future of your company. Isn’t it time you and your firm started getting people right?

Christian Madsbjerg is one of the founding partners of ReD Associates, an innovation and strategy consultancy. Madsbjerg advises the executive suite of many Fortune 300 companies on top-level strategic issues, integrating sophisticated techniques traditionally used in the human sciences into each company’s problem-solving processes. His work has had a significant impact in the market for each of his clients, and he is known for debunking more traditional market research practices.

Mikkel B. Rasmussen, also a founding partner of ReD Associates, is an expert in innovation and business creativity. As the director of ReD Associates Europe, he works closely with the top management of some of Europe’s most forward-looking companies, including Adidas, LEGO, and Novo Nordisk.

See also:
TEDx talk by Christian Madsbjerg (Oct 25, 2013)
Book review, Financial Times (quite critical, towards the end)

12 February 2014

Data and design in innovative citizen experiences

 

The past decade has brought enormous and growing benefits to ordinary citizens through applications built on public data.

Any release of data offers advantages to experts, such as developers and journalists, but there is a crucial common factor in the most successful open data applications for non-experts: excellent design, writes Cyd Harrell, UX Evangelist at Code for America.

In fact, open data and citizen-centered design are natural partners, especially as the government 2.0 movement turns to improving service delivery and government interaction in tandem with transparency.

It’s nearly impossible to design innovative citizen experiences without data, but that data will not reach its full potential without careful choices about how to aggregate, present, and enable interaction with it.

“Design is a critical practice for enabling open data to reach its full transformative potential. Without citizens being able to interact with government data directly, we are unlikely to trigger a revolution in how services are provided. We all know how much we need that revolution, for reasons of cost, fairness, and human dignity.

Methods drawn from the user experience field are the easiest way to translate open data into a format that’s usable and accessible for the average (or non-average) citizen. The most successful and broadly used open data projects have always relied on design, whether or not people formally trained in design were part of the teams. Our task now is to bring our best design ideas into our shared movement and take advantage of everything the discipline has to offer. With design, we can give the public back its data in real use, as well as in name.”

9 February 2014

There is no UX, there is only UX

 

Leisa Reichelt, Head of User Research at the Government Digital Service [GDS] in the UK Cabinet Office, argues that UX belongs everywhere and nowhere. That there is no UX team, but that everyone is the UX team.

“At GDS we don’t have a ‘UX team’ and no one person has a job title that includes the term ‘UX’. We have designers and researchers who work as part of multidisciplinary, agile teams and who practice user centred design (UCD).

On the surface that may all sound pretty trite. The truth is that, for many of our projects, the truly challenging user experience issues come not from designing the interface*, but from the constraints of the product that must be designed. Those constraints and challenges tend to come from our friends in policy or standards, or procurement or other parts of the organisation. Try as you might, you can’t interface away inappropriate policy.

It is really important that no one in the team can point to someone over in the corner and put all the burden of user experience on that guy. No one person, no small group of people can be made responsible for the user experience of a service. It is down to the entire team to achieve this, and we need to drag people into the team who make decisions way before we get on the scene.”