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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'User experience'

6 March 2014

How collaborating with patients improves hospital care

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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

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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.”

12 January 2014

Solving the right problem and finding your own solution: an interview with Don Norman

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At the LAUX Meetup Group, Media Contour’s Luke Swenson was able to track down Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition and get his thoughts on problem solving, identifying the right problem, and why copying your competitors is unwise in a world where you should be focusing on your own strengths.

What about “featuritis.” Why is focusing on strengths so much more important than copying your competition?

You have to stand out. You have to look different from the others. Take the number of Android phones on the market today. They all look the same, right? Don’t feature match. Don’t design match. Make your phone stand out from the crowd. It’s about your company, not about your competitors. What are your strengths? What does your website design say about your company? What does your product design say about your company?

For instance, if your company is a fun, whimsical clothing company, your website needs to reflect that. You might not resonate with EVERY person who comes to the site, but you don’t WANT every person to buy your clothing. You want those who fit in with your company’s identity. That applies to every single business out there. You need to express what your business is like, what your image is, and then connect with people who share that. You need to show that you can solve their problem.”

12 January 2014

The UX of commercial drones

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

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

12 January 2014

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

 

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

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

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

12 January 2014

Discover the world’s best mobile UX

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To help you build better mobile experiences, UX Archive finds and presents mobile’s most interesting user flows so you can “compare them, build your point of view, and be inspired.”

“Documenting user flows is probably something many UX designers already do to some degree. Now a great collection is in one place, and wired to grow as new discoveries are added to the archive. Even more useful, the site is set up so you can easily filter user flows based on specific tasks, such as onboarding, purchasing and sharing, and compare just those.”

A side project of Feedly co-founder and designer [and former Experientia collaborator] Arthur Bodolec, and developers Chris Polk and Nathan Barraille, UX Archive is a lean, clean site that just does one thing and does it really well, writes Penina Finger.

31 December 2013

How do e-books change the reading experience?

 

Mohsin Hamid and Anna Holmes discuss in the New York Times Book Review how technology affects our reading habits.

Mohsin Hamid argues that in a world of intrusive technology, we must engage in a kind of struggle if we wish to sustain moments of solitude.

“As we enter the cyborg era, as we begin the physical shift to human-machine hybrid, there will be those who embrace this epochal change, happily swapping cranial space for built-in processors. There will be others who reject the new ways entirely, perhaps even waging holy war against them, with little chance — in the face of drones that operate autonomously while unconcerned shareholding populations post selfies and status updates — of success. And there will be people like me, with our powered exoskeletons left often in the closet, able to leap over buildings when the mood strikes us, but also prone to wandering naked and feeling the sand of a beach between our puny toes.”

Anna Holmes writes that who or what we choose to read can be as telling as the clothes we wear, and an e-book feels like a detail withheld, a secret kept.

“No matter how fancy the refinements made to, say, Apple’s much heralded Retina display or Amazon’s electronic ink, an e-book offers little promise of discovery or wonder. Browsers may be ubiquitous in our e-portal age, but an e-book doesn’t encourage actual browsing.”

17 December 2013

American-centric UI is leveling tech culture — and design diversity

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An article with a title like this cannot but intrigue me (being a non-American leading a non-USA company) – and even more so after I found out that it was written by an American working in an American company.

In a very frank and thoughtful article, Sean Madden, Executive Managing Director at Ziba, argues that the interactions designed into our devices overwhelmingly reflect a perspective native to modern, affluent, urban America.

“That our smartphones can be customized through the installation of apps assumes we want a device that is unique and personal. That our wearable devices track and analyze physical movement — as opposed to, say, proximity to friends or family — assumes that individual activity is the kind most worth monitoring. That our gaming consoles are designed primarily with a single, networked player in mind assumes we prefer remote interaction to the in-person kind; compare that to what Korean and Chinese gamers do, which is cluster in cafes.

This focus on individuality and personal mobility is deeply American, and it’s being taught to the rest of the world through the medium of American technology. And the age of invisible design, with its focus on experiences (as opposed to just products and interfaces) has made cultural influence the elephant in the room: obvious, ignored, and hugely powerful. Especially because technology platforms favor the culture that spawned them.”

Madden doesn’t stop at analysis, but sets out a vision for what the next challenge will be:

“Just as user-centered design transformed technology in the 1990s and early 2000s, cultural fluency needs to transform it today: user experience (UX) design that’s familiar enough with a user’s cultural background to meet him or her halfway.

Cultural fluency demands abandoning the idea that functionality is a universal language, and that “good UX” is culturally agnostic. [...]

It requires tremendous discipline to overcome the cultural biases of American design and engineering, to avoid teams building their own cultural norms into how the systems facilitate human interactions. Cultural fluency will require another expansion in design, one that incorporates anthropological, psychological, and historical insights in addition to everything that’s come before. And it will require understanding the broader impact on culture and society when devices begin making decisions and transacting on their own, as promised by the Internet of Things.”

14 December 2013

UX review of Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch

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Smartwatches are the future, but the Samsung Galaxy Gear is only partway there, writes Raluca Budiu, a senior researcher with Nielsen Norman Group, in her detailed and extensive UX review of the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch.

“One big reason to believe in watches is that this form factor has already been victorious. Historically, before wristwatches were invented, many people carried pocket watches. But the time needed to fish a device out of your pocket was much more than the time needed to whip around your wrist to face your face. Wristwatches are a much faster way to check the time (and maybe date) than using a pocket watch. As a result, you hardly ever see a pocket watch these days.

In the case of computers, the wrist computer (smartwatch) will not eradicate the pocket computer (mobile phone) the way wristwatches eradicated pocket watches, because a phone-sized screen can do so much more than a watch-sized screen. Most likely people will carry both.

The key is simplicity (you can do it more easily on a watch) and spontaneity (you can do it right away). Phones already encourage spontaneous use; watches will be for those moments when phones are too big and too slow to access. We’ll need to learn ways to make the apps more direct and distill their essence, so that a quick glimpse on a tiny screen will be enough to get what we need.”

See also this article on the iWatch by her colleague Bruce ‘Tog’ Tognazzini

14 December 2013

The lack of closure experience in digital products and services

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There’s an ever-growing tide of inactive, dormant, or extinct customer accounts and other online personal data swallowing up the digital landscape, writes Joe Macleo in UX Magazine.

As designers, one of our objectives when creating digital services and products should be to incorporate a “closure experience” that allows customers to end their relationship with the service as easily as they started it. A good closure experience brings a satisfactory conclusion to a product or service relationship, with each party feeling satisfied with the completed transaction. It should be a fair and just conclusion without consequence.

Users will feel increasingly vulnerable as more and more services fail to deliver closure, leaving user data hopelessly exposed in endlessly open digital relationships. Increased consideration for closure experiences in our designs can help with this.

8 December 2013

Robert Fabricant on scaling your UX strategy

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Leading businesses like Google are exploring scalable strategies that make UX relevant to engineers and MBAs across their organizations.

Robert Fabricant has posted a quick look at some of the different strategies that they are deploying:
1. Lean UX
2. UX in R&D
3. Baby-Step UX
4. Six Sigma UX
5. Customer-Driven UX

6 December 2013

The psychology behind information dashboards

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With its interactive and intuitive interface and its ability to visualize data in a single screen, the information dashboard is becoming a critical tool in the hands of the business user. Moreover, it is also making its way into apps used by laypeople for managing day-to-day activities like budget tracking and fitness management.

So what makes information dashboards so appealing to the human mind? What is it that the human mind seeks that is so nicely provided by information dashboards? Shilpi Choudhury explores.

In synthesis: Any product that has an information dashboard as one of its key offerings should keep the psychological needs of its end users in mind. Users like being in control, they have a limited short-term memory, and they love things that are simple. These three factors should form the foundation of all dashboard designs. Understand your user’s requirements and add in your design best practices and you have the ingredients for creating the perfect information dashboard.

6 December 2013

The UX explorers at Ford: an interview with Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau

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In response to the recent explosion in UX, Ford Motor Company has hired folks like Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau — Global Director of Human-Machine Interface and Executive Manager of Global Product Planning for User Interface, Connectivity, and Infotainment respectively — to react and reshape Ford’s user experience.

Hanna’s past was non-automotive having spent years in the connected world with Motorola. “I came from consumer electronics and telecommunications, where you are always looking for a captive space in which to work, like a kitchen or living room. Automotive has that captive space, which makes a big difference. The challenge is to help the user with other elements such as dealing with comfort, efficiency, interactions like navigation, making a call, listening to music, etc. layered in a single space and controlled in multiple dimensions, not to mention adjusting things like momentum and braking. A great blend of physical and digital design challenges.”

Thibodeau, on the other hand, comes from a long history of automotive product development (Visteon, GM) with teams including user experience designers and researchers. “It takes a two-prong approach to plan and design effectively. Silo engineering is not the way to get great user experiences. Parrish and I help and strive to bring a cross-functional mindset.”

Steve Tengler recently had an opportunity to sit down with both of them and inquire about Ford’s new direction for user experience and the next generation of human-machine interfaces.

21 November 2013

The intersection of UX, CX & corporate strategy: The holy grail for 21st century business?

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Chris Allen (CUA – HFI US Sales Director Eastern Region; Global Accounts Director) went to the UX STRAT Conference in Atlanta and came back with one big question: How do we as business leaders leverage the best techniques and outcomes of various research and design methodologies to create more rewarding, fun & useful interactions with our current and potential customers so they become loyal, repeat customers and advocates?

This question, he says, “really transcends whether or not we are advocates of Customer Experience (CX), User Experience (UX), Agile, Lean, or any SDLC methodology in play today. The point is, how can we bring these different perspectives/approaches together for a common purpose, instead of building more Chinese walls or reasons why someone cannot play in someone else’s sandbox?”

19 November 2013

Talks and presentations from UX Australia

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UX Australia 2013, a 4-day user experience design conference that took place in Melbourne at the end of August, has posted a lot of presentation slides and audio recordings on its site.

Here a (small personal) selection:

Agile ethnography in New York’s secret public spaces
by Chris Holmes, AnswerLab (AUS/USA)
A unique user research project which sought to explore the user experience of ‘privately-owned public space’ (or POPS)

Design at the edges: Mobile UX in the developing world
by Gabriel White, Small Surfaces (AUS)
Examples of how organisations working in developing countries are using mobile technology in novel ways to solve real problems.

Design research for emerging markets: Making relevant and successful products
by Andrew Harder (AUS)
A deep-dive into developing customised products for emerging market users and the unique challenges that Westerners face when we try to understand and design in this domain

Two models of design-led innovation
by Steve Baty (AUS)
An introduction to two dominant models of design-driven innovation: hypothesis-led and insight-led

19 November 2013

UX and the civilizing process

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Kevin Simler is clearly a highly informed and engaging writer. In this essay, he argues that “UX is etiquette for computers“.

“A focus on appearance is just one of the ways UX is like etiquette. Both are the study and practice of optimal interactions. In etiquette we study the interactions among humans; in UX, between humans and computers. (HHI and HCI.) In both domains we pursue physical grace — ”smooth,” “frictionless” interactions — and try to avoid embarrassment. In both domains there’s a focus on anticipating others’ needs, putting them at ease, not getting in the way, etc.

Of course not all concerns are utilitarian. Both etiquette and UX are part function, part fashion. As a practitioner you need to be perceptive and helpful, yes, but to really distinguish yourself, you also need great taste and a good pulse on the zeitgeist. A designer should know if ‘we’ are doing flat or skeuomorphic design ‘these days,’ just as a diner should know if he should be tucking his napkin into his shirt or holding it on his lap. And in both domains, it’s often better to follow an arbitrary convention than to try something new and different, however improved it might be.”

19 November 2013

What human experiences are we missing by adopting new technologies?

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The more our data is used to determine our needs and desires, the less chance there is for serendipity, writes Bronwen Clune. Are we willing to make this concession in the name of progress?

“Tracking, data mining and collaborative filtering are now the way things are done. There is little room left for the art of finding something good by accident, or stumbling upon something useful while not searching for it. We shouldn’t underplay this, as luck and serendipity have long played a role in science when it’s come to discoveries; penicillin, radioactivity and gravity to name a few. What role could technology play in reducing these accidents from our lives? If we’re only ever exposed to what has been determined to appeal to us, we reduce the chances of these accidental discoveries. This can be from the personal to things of larger consequence. Put simply, the more our data is used to determine our needs and desires, the less chance there is for serendipity.”