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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'User research'

9 November 2013

How a deeper customer understanding can energize innovation

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In today’s crowded and competitive energy markets, many product manufacturers fall short in their marketing, writes Andy Beck, Executive Vice President of Makovsky’s energy and sustainability practice.

“They’re forgetting a vital principle: that we motivate behavior by understanding and addressing the desires of the end-user customer. Vaunting product attributes–the default marketing formula among many companies–will only move the needle so far. What’s often lacking is the missing link: direct marketing to end-user customers, based on genuine insight into how the products benefit end-users and addresses their needs.” [...]

“One of the best ways that companies can begin to engage with end-users directly is through specialized “vertical” media. As opposed to marketing through a blanketed wide-ranging approach, the vertical strategy focuses on targeted sources where interested customers look to get specialized information. There is a web of trade journals, blogs, Internet forums, and social media outlets that target every relevant end-user, including those who influence them. This media is usually on the look-out for quality content–be it bylined articles or expert commentary. There are few better ways to build a company’s reputation with the individuals or groups that will ultimately purchase and use their product.”

8 November 2013

‘Why newsrooms need anthropologists’

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Journalism and anthropology both purport to observe and analyse human behaviour and experience, albeit in different ways and over extremely divergent timescales. And they both serve up their findings to the wider world in order to give it greater understanding of itself – and of what it ‘means’ to be ‘human’.

Walé Azeez and Sarah Marshall, both journalists with anthropology backgrounds, argue that combining the two could make for more ‘holistic’ and context-rich news storytelling and challenge much of the received wisdom and orthodox commentary often taken at face value.

News anthropologists, they argue, will not only be able to bolster the research process into stories and world events, particularly for long-form features and investigative work, but also complement the use of analytics and help drill down into so-called big data.

4 November 2013

Experientia presents “BancoSmart”, the innovative ATM interface designed for UniCredit Bank

 

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

A customer trials the new BancoSmart interface, with personalised home page.
Click on image to view slideshow

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

Experientia has reinvented the ATM interface for UniCredit – making it easier to use, faster, and with more services, all offered through full touchscreen interaction. The new ATM is already in use in selected locations, and will finish its roll out across Italy in 2014.

The first reactions to the BancoSmart interface have been extremely positive, with people commenting on the increased speed, legibility, appealing graphics, and the improvement in features and functions. The highly intuitive ATM interaction allows clients to easily navigate, locate and use functions, from simple features like cash withdrawals to more complicated functions like deposits, information retrieval, bill payments and mobile phone top-ups. The interface is visually attractive and easy to read, with large fonts and clear banking function categories.

Experientia carried out in-depth user experience research as a foundation for the information architecture and service design of the ATM.  Multiple cycles of design, prototyping and user acceptance testing ensured that the final interface is strongly based on people’s banking behaviours and exceeds their expectations and needs for ATM use.

Experientia’s design is a responsive solution that runs on various ATMs including legacy terminals of different providers with various screen sizes and tech specifications. Usability and technical tests were performed across this device range.

BancoSmart offers a full touchscreen interaction, thanks to the extended network of touchscreen ATMs available in Italy (over 6,000 UniCredit touch ATMs, equal to 85% of machines).

The ATM offers several original features, conceived especially for UniCredit Bank, based on the research findings. These include:

  • Speedy withdrawal, with 3 predefined options on the Home Page based on the most frequent behaviours of the user, which the system learns over time. This cuts the time for common task completion by 30%.
  • Georeferenced payment service, which organises bill payment options and filters them based on what is available in the user’s location.
  • Adaptive interface, with a home page that offers personalised content based on the user’s banking profile.
  • Tone of voice, with the creation of a coherent language in all situations, which is more friendly and direct, and provides the correct support during operations.
  • Contextual support and feedback Contextual messages and continuous feedback keep people informed during interaction, particularly in case of data entry errors or other problems, using a clear language and coherent visual support.

UniCredit SpA is an Italian global banking and financial services company. It has approximately 40 million customers and operates in 22 countries.

Experientia® is a global experience design consultancy that practices user research-based and people-centred design. They help companies and organisations conceive and innovate products, services and processes, through a qualitative understanding of people, their mental models and their behaviours.

Experientia won the 2011 Italian National Prize for Innovation in Services, for a low carbon service platform to be implemented in an eco-friendly residential area under construction in Helsinki, “using innovative methodologies devised in Italy.” They have conducted research and design projects in every continent, for industries ranging from mobile telecommunications to sustainability, from automotive to architecture, and much more. Their portfolio includes a range of financial products, aimed at bank and customer use, developed for some of the biggest banks in Italy and Europe.

Experientia’s client roster features Italian and international clients, such as Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank, United Nations and Vodafone.

 

Contact

Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia srl, +39 011 812 9687,
[mark dot vanderbeeken at experientia dot com]

4 November 2013

Experientia rivoluziona la user experience degli ATM con “BancoSmart”, l’innovativa interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit

 

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Un cliente prova la nuova interfaccia di BancoSmart e la home page personalizzata.
Click on image to view slideshow

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Experientia ha di fatto reinventato l’interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit, rendendola più facile da utilizzare, più veloce e più ricca di servizi, il tutto attraverso un’interazione full touch.

Il nuovo ATM (denominato “BancoSmart”) è già attivo in agenzie selezionate e terminerà il roll out sul territorio italiano nel 2014.

Le prime reazioni al lancio della nuova interfaccia sono state molto positive, in modo particolar riferite alla maggiore velocità, alla grafica più moderna e di facile lettura, al fatto di far emergere con più chiarezza la ricchezza dei servizi offerti. L’interazione intuitiva del nuovo ATM consente ai clienti di navigare, individuare e utilizzare agevolmente tutte le funzioni, da quelle più semplici come il prelievo di contanti a quelle più complesse come il versamento di assegni.

Experientia, prima di procedere con la progettazione, ha condotto una ricerca dettagliata sulla user experience, i cui risultati sono stati alla base dell’architettura dell’informazione e del service design di BancoSmart. Molteplici cicli di design, prototipazione e test con utenti, hanno permesso all’interfaccia di rispondere ai bisogni espressi dalle persone.

BancoSmart funziona su sportelli di fornitori diversi, con schermi di varie dimensioni e specifiche tecniche dissimili fra loro. I test tecnici e i test di usabilità sono stati condotti sull’intera gamma di dispositivi in modo da mantenere inalterata la user experience.

BancoSmart offre un’interazione full touchscreen grazie alla più estesa rete di ATM touch presente in Italia (oltre 6.000 ATM touch UniCredit pari all’85% dell’intero parco posseduto) e presenta funzionalità, alcune del tutto inedite, concepite appositamente per UniCredit e ispirate ai finding emersi dalla ricerca. Tra le principali novità citiamo:

  • Prelievo veloce, con 3 importi immediatamente disponibili sin dalla home page e definiti sulla base dei comportamenti d’uso del cliente, riducendo del 30% il tempo impiegato per il prelievo.
  • Servizi di pagamento georeferenziati, con le opzioni di pagamento organizzate e filtrate per aree geografiche.
  • Interfaccia adattiva, con una home page che offre contenuti personalizzati, adattandosi al profilo dell’utente.
  • Tone of voice unico, con la creazione di un linguaggio coerente in tutte le situazioni, più amichevole, diretto e in grado di fornire il corretto supporto durante le operazioni.
  • Supporto e feedback contestuali fornendo all’utente un aiuto costante durante l’interazione, con messaggi e feedback contestuali, anche in caso di errori o problemi, utilizzando un linguaggio chiaro ed elementi grafici a supporto.

UniCredit S.p.A. è tra i primi gruppi di credito europei e mondiali. Conta oltre 40 milioni di clienti e opera in 22 paesi.

Experientia® è una società internazionale di experience design, il cui obiettivo è supportare società ed organizzazioni a concepire e innovare i propri prodotti, servizi e processi, grazie a una comprensione qualitativa delle persone, dei loro modelli cognitivi e dei loro comportamenti.

Experientia ha vinto il Premio Nazionale per l’Innovazione nei servizi, nel 2011, per un progetto di change behaviour destinato a ridurre le emissioni di carbonio da parte della comunità di residenti di un nuovo complesso residenziale eco sostenibile in costruzione nella città di Helsinki,”utilizzando metodologie innovative concepite in Italia”. Experientia ha condotto ricerca e progetti di design in ogni continente, per settori che spaziano dalle telecomunicazioni mobili alla sostenibilità, dall’automotive all’architettura dall’healthcare all’entertainment e molti altri.

In ambito Finance & Banking Experientia vanta numerose collaborazioni su tutti i principali temi di innovazione, con progetti di ricerca e design sviluppati per alcune fra le maggiori banche italiane ed europee.

La lista di clienti di Experientia annovera aziende e multinazionali italiane e straniere quali:

Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, le Nazioni Unite, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank e Vodafone.

 

Contatto

Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia srl, +39 011 812 9687,
[mark dot vanderbeeken at experientia dot com]

2 November 2013

Book: Social – Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

socialbook

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
by Matthew D. Lieberman
Crown
October 2013, 384 pages
[Amazon link]

Abstract

In Social, renowned psychologist Matthew Lieberman explores groundbreaking research in social neuroscience revealing that our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter. Because of this, our brain uses its spare time to learn about the social world – other people and our relation to them. It is believed that we must commit 10,000 hours to master a skill. According to Lieberman, each of us has spent 10,000 hours learning to make sense of people and groups by the time we are ten.

Social argues that our need to reach out to and connect with others is a primary driver behind our behavior. We believe that pain and pleasure alone guide our actions. Yet, new research using fMRI – including a great deal of original research conducted by Lieberman and his UCLA lab — shows that our brains react to social pain and pleasure in much the same way as they do to physical pain and pleasure. Fortunately, the brain has evolved sophisticated mechanisms for securing our place in the social world. We have a unique ability to read other people’s minds, to figure out their hopes, fears, and motivations, allowing us to effectively coordinate our lives with one another. And our most private sense of who we are is intimately linked to the important people and groups in our lives. This wiring often leads us to restrain our selfish impulses for the greater good. These mechanisms lead to behavior that might seem irrational, but is really just the result of our deep social wiring and necessary for our success as a species.

Based on the latest cutting edge research, the findings in Social have important real-world implications. Our schools and businesses, for example, attempt to minimalize social distractions. But this is exactly the wrong thing to do to encourage engagement and learning, and literally shuts down the social brain, leaving powerful neuro-cognitive resources untapped. The insights revealed in this pioneering book suggest ways to improve learning in schools, make the workplace more productive, and improve our overall well-being.

The Author
Mathew Dylan Lieberman [Wikipedia - Personal site] PHD is a Professor and SCN (Social Cognitive Neuroscience) Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.

> New York Times book review

14 October 2013

New qualitative research report on tablet use in UK schools

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Tablets for Schools, a UK campaign organisation that seeks to “prove the categorical case of tablets in schools”, has just published its second qualitative research report.

“The report summarises findings from an evaluation study that is looking at the feasibility and educational impact of giving one-to-one Tablets to every child in school. Research for this stage was carried out between September 2012 and April 2013.

The research included an evaluation of four secondary schools that had chosen to give pupils one-to-one Tablets in September 2011, two schools that had introduced Tablets in autumn 2012, and three schools that were given Tablets by Tablets for Schools for Year 7s between 2012 and 2013. Methodology included qualitative and quantitative research. Results suggest that long-term use of the Tablet has a profound effect on pedagogy, and that pupils benefit from having access to content both at school and at home.

Pupils appear to have greater engagement with learning, collaboration with peers increases, and teachers can monitor individual progress effectively. There are some concerns about pupil distraction and managing time effectively. It is clear that schools need time to adjust to the introduction of one-to-one devices, and that the functions of the Tablet need to be understood by teachers, together with the changes to pedagogy that are brought about by an increase in independent learning. Strong leadership helps this process. Infrastructure, insurance or self-insuring, and protection for the devices need to be considered before introduction takes place, and access to appropriate content is key to using the devices effectively. For schools considering the introduction of one-to-one Tablets, learning from schools that have undergone this journey is highly beneficial.”

The Tablets for Schools team has summarised the key research findings below.

The benefits

  • Pedagogy: Tablets enhanced pedagogy by enabling teachers to adapt their teaching style to suit the needs of individual students, and allowed for innovative ways to learn. This was particularly beneficial for special needs students.
     
  • Engagement: Tablets improved student, teacher and parent engagement with learning. In particular, parents engaged more with the school and with their child’s education… “Somehow that engagement [learning composition] was much more intense with the tablet, and they were much more motivated and engaged, and worked quicker. The task didn’t feel like it was work.” – Teacher, Dixons City Academy.
     
  • Independent Learning and Collaboration: Tablets were found to foster both independent learning, and collaboration with teachers and other students.

Dealing with issues surrounding tablet use

  • Infrastructure. Infrastructure (including security) is a concern and one of the keys to successful implementation. Participants indicated the limits of their expertise, for example, schools are not experts in procurement so how can they compare the different costs of Wi-Fi?
     
  • Sourcing Educational Content. Finding reliable resources (particularly for maths) is an issue. However, teachers continued to be creative in terms of both customising content, and creating new content for teaching purposes (including multimedia tutorials) “…on the whole teachers like to create their own content because they know the content…it’s much more difficult to teach without your own notes…” Deputy Principal, Wallace High School
     
  • Students Being Distracted: Observation sessions noted that students multi-tasked during lessons (with messaging apps, etc). Though when asked what they did on their iPads during learning sessions, 95% said they focussed on work”. The concept of “distractibility” is unclear. For example, some students claimed music helped them concentrate, others were unable to multitask, and it was also found that a large number of the 5% of students who were “distracted” during lessons were actually “also” doing work. However, the key is to have clear rules, effective classroom management, and educating students in using tablets responsibly.
     
  • Teachers being Constantly Available: One of the key benefits for students was near-constant access to teachers. Teachers were comfortable setting their own boundaries around the resulting increased communication. One teacher pointed out that answering a student’s email on Sunday afternoon could save “significant amounts of time” on Monday morning.
     
  • Training and Preparation: There was a need for strong leadership, and the adoption of initiatives such as “device champions” and “parental consultation evenings” were identified as beneficial for implementation. Adequate preparation (such as training for both parents and teachers) was also essential.

A conference is planned on Monday 9th December in London, where attendees can gain practical experience of successfully implementing tablets from some of their research schools.

29 September 2013

The problem with big data correlations

 

“The people using big data don’t presume to peer deeply into people’s souls,” argues David Brooks in the New York Times (in an April 2013 column). “They don’t try to explain why people are doing things. They just want to observe what they are doing.”

“The theory of big data is to have no theory, at least about human nature. You just gather huge amounts of information, observe the patterns and estimate probabilities about how people will act in the future. [In other words,] this movement asks us to move from causation to correlation.”

While this approach has yielded some impressive results, he says, one should be also aware of its limits and goes on to list four of them:

  • The challenge of discerning meaningful correlations from meaningless ones
  • People are discontinuous and the passing of time can produce gigantic and unpredictable changes in taste and behavior
  • The world is error-prone and dynamic
  • The distinction between commodity decisions and flourishing decisions

Interesting too, his conclusion: “My worries mostly concentrate on the cultural impact of the big data vogue. If you adopt a mind-set that replaces the narrative with the empirical, you have problems thinking about personal responsibility and morality, which are based on causation. You wind up with a demoralized society.”

29 September 2013

The science behind using online communities to change behavior

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Sean Young, a behavioral psychologist, a family medicine professor and director of innovation at the center for behavioral and addiction medicine at UCLA, addresses the challenge of technology entrepreneurs on how to engage people and change behaviors.

Fortunately, he says, “there is a science behind how to change behavior, and the answer to engagement and behavior change lies in understanding people’s psychology.”

“By addressing people’s psychological needs and reasons for not changing behavior (including their social environments, cultural values, and emotions), we can be more effective at behavior change. Once we understand people’s psychologies, then technologies — online communities in particular — become really useful as platforms to rapidly change behavior.

Although social media and online communities might have been developed for people to connect and share information, recent research shows that these technologies are really helpful in changing behaviors.”

Dr. Young argues that newly created online communities can change people’s behaviors by addressing the following psychological needs:

  • The need to trust
  • The need to fit in
  • The need for self-worth
  • The need to be rewarded for good behavior
  • The need to feel empowered
21 September 2013

Financial Times on EPIC conference

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This week, business anthropologists from all over the world descended on the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference at London’s Royal Institution, the historic site where Michael Faraday first demonstrated the power of electricity, reports Emma Jacobs in the Financial Times.

Over three days, practitioners discussed applications of anthropology in the business world, covering such issues as big data and clinical trials. Addressed by such luminaries in the field as Genevieve Bell, who has worked at Intel for the past 15 years, the event is an opportunity to meet kindred spirits.

In the US, anthropologists have been hired for more than two decades by technology groups including Intel, Apple and Xerox. Microsoft is said to be the second-largest employer of anthropologists in the world, behind the US government. Technology groups descended on anthropology in order to understand the diverse markets they operated in.

19 September 2013

Who commits virtual identity suicide?

 

Who Commits Virtual Identity Suicide? Differences in Privacy Concerns, Internet Addiction, and Personality Between Facebook Users and Quitters
Stefan Stieger, Christoph Burger, Manuel Bohn, and Martin Voracek. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. September 2013, 16(9): 629-634. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0323.
Published in Volume: 16 Issue 9: September 12, 2013

Abstract:
Social networking sites such as Facebook attract millions of users by offering highly interactive social communications. Recently, a counter movement of users has formed, deciding to leave social networks by quitting their accounts (i.e., virtual identity suicide). To investigate whether Facebook quitters (n=310) differ from Facebook users (n=321), we examined privacy concerns, Internet addiction scores, and personality. We found Facebook quitters to be significantly more cautious about their privacy, having higher Internet addiction scores, and being more conscientious than Facebook users. The main self-stated reason for committing virtual identity suicide was privacy concerns (48 percent). Although the adequacy of privacy in online communication has been questioned, privacy is still an important issue in online social communications.

11 September 2013

The consumer has spoken but is anyone listening?

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One would expect that listening to your customers’ needs and wants is a basic prerequisite for any business active in a competitive industry. It also is understandable that no business can satisfy all of its customers’ needs nor always meet the basic needs for most of its customers. This is where a competitive market and assistance of adequate regulation comes into place. It’s about correcting the behaviors of non-performers.

But what happens when an entire industry, not just one firm, persistently refuses to listen to most of its customers?

A reflection by Rene Summer, Ericsson’s Director of Government and Industry Relations on the needs and wants of TV and video consumers.

2 September 2013

Ericsson Report: Identifying the needs of tomorrow’s video consumers

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The Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media 2013 report (presentation) looks at how the explosion of connected mobile devices in the home has opened a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to viewing TV and video content.

Consumer viewing habits now involve so much more than just the living room TV and traditional broadcast services. Today people take their entertainment with them around the house – and beyond.

Key findings

Mobile devices make up an increasing share of TV and video viewing
> 72 percent use mobile devices at least weekly for video viewing. 42 percent do this outside the home.

TV is becoming a multiscreen and multitasking activity
> 75 percent multitask by using mobile devices while watching TV. 1 in 4 even watch multiple video sources at the same time.

Even late adopters are becoming advanced video users
> As many as 41 percent of 65–69 year olds studied stream on-demand/time shifted TV and video content, including YouTube, on a
more than weekly basis.

Video-On-Demand (VOD) is increasingly used for relaxation viewing while linear and scheduled TV is shifting to appointment viewing
> The value of linear TV is becoming more focused on live sports, events and other content with high ‘here and now’ appeal. Social viewing continues to be closely linked to this kind of content.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is becoming increasingly important
> It is not only being used for entertainment, but also for education, how-to guides and watching product reviews. In fact, 82 percent use YouTube or a similar service at least monthly.

We are witnessing the birth of aggregated, pick-and-mix TV solutions
> The quest has begun to become the first easy to use, à la carte TV solution provider that aggregates consumer TV and video needs. Consumers rank having an à la carte TV offering as the fifth most important aspect of their viewing experience.

1 September 2013

How we do user research in agile teams

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Getting user research into agile teams in a way that is timely, relevant and actionable is a challenge that teams the world over are tackling. Working effectively in agile has recently been the driver of some fairly significant changes to the way researchers work at the UK’s Government Digital Service.

We’ve been iterating how we do research in the same way we iterate our product design, and learned that the following techniques seem to integrate good research into agile teams more successfully:

– Dedicated researchers for each team
– Test designs at least every fortnight
– Everyone in the team should take part
– A varied toolkit
– See it through from analysis to action
– Sharing what we learn

29 August 2013

Seeing the elephant: defragmenting user research

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“Forget Big Data — right now, our bigger problem is fragmented data that comes from siloed user research teams.”

Just as we favor the research tools that we find familiar and comfortable, large organizations often use research methods that reflect their own internal selection biases. As a result, they miss out on detecting (and confirming) interesting patterns that emerge concurrently from different research silos. And they likely won’t learn something new and important.

IA thought leader Lou Rosenfeld explains how balance, cadence, conversation, and perspective provide a framework enabling your research teams to think across silos and achieve powerful insights even senior leadership can understand.

28 August 2013

Exploring the use of tablets in educational settings

mindshift

MindShift, a service by KQED and NPR, has published a four-part series to explore the four dimensions of using tablets in educational settings, examining how teachers can take students on a journey from (1) consumption of media, to (2) curation, (3) creation, and (4) connection.

Each of the instalments explores the challenges ahead using the Someday/Monday template:

“The Someday/Monday dichotomy captures one of the core challenges in teacher professional development around education technology. On the one hand, deep integration of new learning technologies into classrooms requires substantially rethinking pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and teacher practice (someday). For technology to make a real difference in student learning, it can’t just be an add-on. On the other hand, teachers need to start somewhere (Monday), and one of the easiest ways for teachers to get experience with emerging tools is to play and experiment in lightweight ways: to use technology as an add-on. Teachers need to imagine a new future—to build towards Someday—and teachers also need new activities and strategies to try out on Monday. Both pathways are important to teacher growth and meaningful, sustained changes in teaching and learning.”

19 August 2013

Social scientists find story in data to attract more customers

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Social scientists say that tech companies are showing an increased interest in their skills, especially with the rising importance of social networking and big data, and that their roles within those companies are changing. A report by Janet I. Tu, the Seattle Times technology reporter.

In the past few years, with the rise of social computing and social media, tech companies have come to understand that, “It’s not enough to understand the individual user,” said Donald Farmer, a Seattle-based vice president of product management at QlikTech, a software company. “You have to understand them in a social context.” [...]

Tracey Lovejoy, a senior user research lead for Office, has used her anthropology training at Microsoft as a user experience researcher and an ethnographer, researching how technology is embedded in people’s lives.

Recently, she and her team conducted a field study of about three dozen people, talking to people and observing them in their environments to understand the kinds of work they do on their tablets and how those tablets fit within their wider technology ecosystem.

One theme that emerged was that many tablet owners used their devices for more “casual productivity” and in more relaxed positions, such as reclining on the couch — information useful for future iterations of Office.

These days, Lovejoy observed, it’s the researchers themselves who are more embedded into product teams, “becoming more impactful, and influencing decisions at the strategic level.”

6 August 2013

Making the most of ethnographic research

five-ethnographic-techniques-small

Applying ethnographic methods to digital experiences can yield myriad benefits that go beyond simply validating that something works or identifying opportunities for improvement, write Jessica Weber and John Cheng of AnswerLab.

Ethnography reveals how digital and physical processes work together to help businesses address gaps and focus on the entire customer experience. Anyone who has done ethnographic research can attest to its value, and to how expensive and time-consuming it can be. That’s why it’s critical to reduce the risk of investing in it. The investment does pay off, and this article presents five techniques to help ensure to make the most of this investment and reap the many rewards ethnography delivers.

25 June 2013

Understanding human behaviour: taking a more complex approach

People resting on steps at Piazzale Michelangelo above Arno River and Florence near sunset

Large-scale surveys are useful but if we are serious about changing behaviours, we must use every tool to understand human complexity, writes Steven Johnson in the Sustainable Business section of The Guardian. Ethnographic approaches allow us to observe consumer behaviour as it happens naturally, rather than retrospectively discussing it in research setting.

“Recent advances in behavioural economics, cognitive neuroscience, network theory and social psychology more generally have overturned our common sense understanding of human behaviour. The rational, autonomous, self-aware agent acting in his own self-interest according to static preferences has faded as we realise that behaviour is largely irrational, unconscious and driven by external contexts. Ladies and gentleman, Homo economicus has left the building. [...]

If we are to deliver on our ambitions to empower new consumer behaviours, it is essential that we listen to the science and go beyond the limitations of traditional self-reporting research methodologies as a source of insight. As I have worked to incorporate these new perspectives into my own work over recent years, the emphasis has shifted towards bespoke approaches based on ethnographic and co-creation principles.”

This is the first in a 5-part series of posts based on Steven Johnson’s upcoming book, ‘Considered Creative‘. Steven Johnson is an independent writer, speaker and consultant specialising in behaviour change and sustainability.

19 June 2013

New Ericsson report on needs of today’s smartphone and mobile internet users

unlockingconsumervalue

A new Ericsson ConsumerLab report, Unlocking Consumer Value, identifies the needs of today’s smartphone and mobile internet users.

“The rapid uptake of smartphones and other connected devices has transformed the mobile broadband landscape – shaping and broadening the way users work, play and communicate. When the uptake of smartphones begins to accelerate in a particular market, it is vital to differentiate between consumers based on what they prioritize in an offering, whether that’s unwavering performance or cost control and data usage.

This report outlines Ericsson ConsumerLab’s findings and details six different mobile internet target groups: the Performance Seekers, the Cost Cutters, the Curious Novices, the Control Seekers, the VIPs and the Devicers.

As an example, for Performance Seekers the interaction with the operator is less important and price is of medium importance while the device and the performance are of high importance. Cost Cutters, on the other hand, only prioritize the price.

The report can be used to help operators and developers better understand what is important to their users. This information can enhance overall consumer experience and loyalty by creating more value through relevant services and offerings.”

4 June 2013

Understanding people core strategic goal of World Bank financial inclusion group

cgap

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is an independent policy and research center, affiliated with the World Bank, dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor.

Their next five-year strategic direction lays out five priority themes, desired outcomes, and activities against each priority. The first one is “Understanding demand to effectively deliver for the poor”.

“To ensure that access to financial services improves the lives of poor, low-income and underserved people, financial inclusion must be client-centric. Client-centricity is about providing financial solutions based on a deep understanding of poor people’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. This will require a shift from a transactional approach (i.e., narrow focus on selling a product to a customer) to a relationship approach (i.e., broad focus on understanding the dynamic needs and behaviors of customers over their lifecycle).”

The strategic direction document provides quite some detail on how they intend to implement this user-centered approach.

CGAP is supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission to alleviate poverty. The Group provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors, and investors.