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Posts in category 'User research'

9 October 2012

Five new articles on UX Matters

 

Tips on Prototyping for Usability Testing
By Jim Ross, Principal of Design Research at Electronic Ink, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Because user research studies peoples’ behavior, the most effective research techniques involve observing participants doing things and talking about what they’re doing. Research that focuses on opinions and discussions of behavior in the abstract isn’t as useful, because it’s difficult for people to talk about their behavior out of context or to evaluate a design without using it. Therefore, the best way to evaluate a new design is to create a prototype and give participants something concrete to interact with and react to. In this column, Jim Ross provides some tips that can make your usability studies more successful and help you to avoid problems when testing prototypes.

Are You Still Using Earlier-Generation Prototyping Tools?
By Ritch Macefield, Owner of Ax-Stream, London UK
Given that we can now choose from a variety of fourth-generation prototyping tools, why is it that so many organizations are still creating second- or third-generation prototypes?

The Many Hats of a Usability Professional
By Rebecca Albrand, Design Researcher at Electronic Ink, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Sometimes it seems as though usability professionals need to have superhuman multitasking abilities to conduct usability test sessions. As a usability professional, you have to wear the hats of a facilitator, a consultant, a conversationalist, a note-taker, a technologist, and a psychologist. In this article Rebecca Albrand describes some objectives for each of the roles you’ll need to take on, as well as provide some tips that you should remember to help you wear each hat successfully.

Demystifying UX Design: Common False Beliefs and Their Remedies: Part 1
By Frank Guo, Founder of UX Strategized, San Bruno, CA, USA
In debunking common UX design myths, Frank Guo shows that they’re just half truths that don’t fully account for the complexity of user experience and that there are better alternatives for achieving your design objectives.

Product Review: Mobile Prototyping and Testing with Justinmind
By Afshan Kirmani, Information Architect at Global Dawn, London UK
Justinmind Prototyper supports requirements gathering, wireframe creation, application simulation, and usability testing. You can use it to create interactive prototypes of both Web and mobile applications. As a bonus, Prototyper lets stakeholders and users provide feedback on your prototypes of mobile and Web applications. Thus, it incorporates all of the features that are necessary for a prototyping project.

2 October 2012

Anthropological study by Google on our magic relationship with mobile devices

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What is the emotional relationship people truly have with the mobile space and how they make meaning there? To answer this, Google conducted an anthropological study to gain a better understanding of how people feel about, relate to and find meaning in the mobile space, and how brands can engage their consumers in more emotionally resonant and impactful ways.

“We hired an anthropologist to interview dozens of ordinary mobile device owners and observe them as they interacted with their smartphones. The first thing we found is that the phone’s pocket size is anything but a flaw — in fact, it’s the key to understanding what it really means.

Anthropology teaches us that in every culture, miniatures possess the power to unlock imaginations. Whether it’s a dollhouse, toy truck, or some other tiny talisman, miniatures look and feel real, but their size gives us the permission to suspend disbelief, daydream, and play. Remember The Nutcracker? In between pirouettes, a toy nutcracker comes to life, defeats an evil mouse, and whisks the heroine away to a magical kingdom. That, in a nutshell, is the story we implicitly tell ourselves about our miniature computers — one of youth, freedom, and possessing the key to a much larger world.

“Because it’s in my pocket I somehow squeeze this time in for various things — and only because I think it just sits in my pocket,” one of our subjects told us.

The screens may be small, but they serve as gateways to the gigantic. We see this power manifest in insights gleaned from the anthropologist’s observations. Our mobile devices help us fully actualize our best self, or what we call the Quicksilver Self; they engage us to create a shared culture, the New Tribalism; and they help us to make sense of the physical world around us, an act we describe as Placemaking. Understanding the deeper levels at which individuals, customers, are finding meaning in mobile will enable marketers to put this powerful medium to its best use.”

Report by Think With Google

2 October 2012

Why we are so rude online

 

Why are we so nasty to each other online, asks Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, message boards or websites, we say things to each other that we would never say face to face. Shouldn’t we know better by now?

Anonymity is a powerful force. Hiding behind a fake screen name makes us feel invincible, as well as invisible. Never mind that, on many websites, we’re not as anonymous as we think—and we’re not anonymous at all on Facebook. Even when we reveal our real identities, we still misbehave.

According to soon-to-be-published research from professors at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, browsing Facebook lowers our self control. The effect is most pronounced with people whose Facebook networks were made up of close friends, the researchers say.

25 September 2012

Latest RSA Animate on the truth about dishonesty

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In this new RSA Animate, Dan Ariely, bestselling author and professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, explores the circumstances under which someone would lie and what effect deception has on society at large.

The RSA Animate was taken from a July 2012 lecture given by Dan Ariely as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.

Enjoy.

25 September 2012

Book: Observing the User Experience

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Observing the User Experience
A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research
by
Elizabeth Goodman, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, and Intel PhD Fellow
Mike Kuniavsky, Founder, ThingM
Andrea Moed, Staff User Researcher at Inflection
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers
608 pages – September 21, 2012
(Amazon link)

The gap between who designers and developers imagine their users are, and who those users really are can be the biggest problem with product development. Observing the User Experience will help you bridge that gap to understand what your users want and need from your product, and whether they’ll be able to use what you’ve created.

Filled with real-world experience and a wealth of practical information, this book presents a complete toolbox of techniques to help designers and developers see through the eyes of their users. It provides in-depth coverage of 13 user experience research techniques that will provide a basis for developing better products, whether they’re Web, software or mobile based. In addition, it’s written with an understanding of how software is developed in the real world, taking tight budgets, short schedules, and existing processes into account.

> See also this article by UC Berkeley: “Elizabeth Goodman revises classic handbook of user experience research“.

18 September 2012

A report on the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston

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Report by Experientia researcher Anna Wojnarowska

Harvard Medical School hosted this weekend the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston.

The fifth edition of the event invited academics, practitioners and clinicians for two days of lectures, discussions and presentations, analyzing the changes taking place in the healthcare sector around the world.

A major topic recurring throughout the presentations was how decision makers can respond and finally fulfill patients’ needs to engage more consciously in their treatment, personal data management and the diagnosis process, areas that had been hidden from them beforehand.

Dave Debronkart, the closing speaker of the conference highlighted how the dynamics between the medical institutions and their patients reshape in the Web 2.0 reality and how they will further develop.

While we are used to a one directed top down relation between the authorities and the patients this is changing now into a growing interaction between the two and will further evolve into a dynamic environment where all of the parties involved will be able to freely share content, exchange opinions and expertise and look for advice.

The area of user experience research in healthcare seems to be still only developing, but with visible progress. An interesting presentation by Cassie Mcdaniel from the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (Toronto) showed how the designers struggle to survive among the healthcare providers, trying to deliver user friendly solutions.

Two obstacles – complexity of the issues to address and the difficulty in cooperating with all the parties involved – render the implementation of changes slow and rarely effective. Nevertheless the reality is changing and more and more stakeholders see the value of users research methods when researching future opportunities for development.

As one of the presentation in the “Consumer empowerment, patient-physician relationship and sociotechnical issues” panel, I presented a project I conducted at University College London in 2011, under the supervision of Stefana Broadbent.

It was an ethnographic study of a cardiology institute in Warsaw with a focus on the way the digital technologies influence the dynamics between the doctors and patients. The audience admitted that approaching such a fragile context as hospitalization in an ethnographic, direct way is highly valuable and allows to formulate context relevant insights that would not be attainable through other methodologies.

I am looking forward to hearing about the progress in various research initiatives signaled this year during Medicine 2.0 2013 next fall in London!

18 September 2012

Experientia researcher speaking at Harvard’s Medicine 2.0 conference

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Experientia researcher Anna Wojnarowska spoke this Sunday at the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston on her research on the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

The yearly conference, which had over 500 attendees, focuses on social media, mobile apps, and internet/web 2.0 in health, medicine and biomedical research.

Anna’s talk, entitled Body Wholeness and Technological Struggles: How Patients and Staff Cope with the Reality of the Hospital, presented an ethnographic study of a cardiology institute in Warsaw with a focus on the way the digital technologies influence the dynamics between the doctors and patients

Background:
What interested me the most in the specificity of the hospital environment was the potential influence of digital technologies – such as mobile phones and laptops – on the dynamics between patients and doctors, mediated through medical treatment. I wanted to find out what role digital communication devices play in the balance of authority between doctors and patients and how using these tools expresses the personal needs of patients.

Objective:
My research examines the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

Methods:
I conducted ethnographic research in a cardiological institute in Poland. Having negotiated access as an “ethnographic intern” to one of the clinics, I participated in the life of the hospital to the extent available to an outside observer, for a period of three weeks. I conducted interviews with eleven patients, two family members, seven members of the medical staff – doctors and nurses – and three members of the hospital’s administrative staff. Further, I engaged in extensive observation of the hospital environment.

Results:
All of the patients whom I met during the research period were extensive users of mobile phones, but they were rarely equipped with their own laptops. Patients treated technology as an important conveyor of their private realities, lives that they did not necessarily want to include in their hospital routine. Patients approached hospitalization as a temporary period, which they did not want to integrate with their everyday lives. They protected their bodily integrity by negating their dependence on medical and communicational devices, not wishing to be perceived as ‘cyborgs’ (Haraway 1985) or ‘techno-social beings’ (Latour 1993). In order to separate themselves from their roles as ‘patients’, they exerted their agency on those technological aspects of the hospital reality, which were within their reach, such as medical screens and drips. Even though the doctors were very eager to share stories of how patients undermined their medical authority by browsing the internet, the patients themselves claimed that they do it only for their own sake, without wanting to disobey their doctors. The complexity of the treatments conducted in the clinic increased patients’ trust in the medical profession and decreased their motivation to look for alternative information online. Nonetheless, online sources do play an important role during the curing process, as an effective source of emotional support and personal comfort.

Conclusions:
The hospital is an area where patients construct their personhoods in reference to the surrounding environment and where they foster their identities. Digital technologies became deeply embedded in the process of maintaining bodily integrity and tackling a new – and yet temporary – hospitalized reality. What requires attention is the potential of technology in creating bonds among the patients themselves as well as supporting their daily routine in the hospital, far different from the ‘ordinary’ one. The influence of technology on the balance of authority seems a secondary issue, as patients who come equipped with an extensive knowledge of their condition seem able to effectively distinguish trustworthy online sources (such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, online medical journals) from the unreliable ones (online forums) and have no intention to carelessly undermine doctors’ diagnoses and opinions.

In the next post, Anna writes about her experience of the conference.

6 September 2012

The new face of digital populism: The Netherlands

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Ahead of next week’s Dutch election, the UK think tank Demos launched Populism in Europe: Netherlands, which analyses the rise of Geert Wilders’ Partij voor de Vrijheid, through an analysis of its Facebook fans.

Nationalist populist parties and movements are growing in support throughout Europe. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their ‘anti-establishment’ views and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit and organise.

Geert Wilders and his Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands are perhaps the best known of these new movements, enjoying steady growth since being founded in 2004. In the 2010 parliamentary election, the PVV won 24 seats, which made it the third largest party in the Netherlands, and gave it a keyrole in keeping the minority government of Mark Rutte in office. The PVV places strong emphasis on the need to address immigration and what it sees as a failed multicultural policy, with Wilders being well known for his often incendiary remarks about Islam. Recently, Wilders has been directing more of his attention toward the EU: opposing the deficit reduction plan, and Brussels more generally.

This report presents the results of a survey of Facebook fans of the PVV. It includes data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also compares them with other similar parties in Western Europe, shedding light on their growing online support,and the relationship between their online and offline activities. This report is the fourth in a series of country specific briefings about the online supportof populist parties in 12 European countries, based on our survey of 13,000 Facebook fans of these groups.

The publication is part of the Demos investigation series into digital populism, which already launched previous reports on Hungary (January 2012) and Denmark (May 2012).

6 September 2012

Intel annual ‘Mobile Etiquette’ study examines online sharing behaviors around the world

mobileetiquette

According to a recent multi-country study commissioned by Intel Corporation and conducted by Ipsos Observer on “Mobile Etiquette,” the majority of adults and teens around the world are sharing information about themselves online and feel better connected to family and friends because of it. However, the survey also revealed a perception of “oversharing,” with at least six out of 10 adults and teens saying they believe other people divulge too much information about themselves online, with Japan being the only exception.

Intel’s 2012 “Mobile Etiquette” survey examined the current state of mobile etiquette and evaluated how adults and teens in eight countries share and consume information online, as well as how digital sharing impacts culture and relationships. The research was conducted in the United States in March and a follow-up study was conducted in Australia, Brazil, China (adults only), France, India, Indonesia and Japan from June to August.

“In today’s society, our mobile technology is making digital sharing ubiquitous with our everyday activities, as evidenced by the findings from Intel’s latest ‘Mobile Etiquette’ survey,” said Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and director of user interaction and experience at Intel Labs. “What is most interesting is not necessarily how widespread our use of mobile technology has become, but how similar our reasons are for sharing, regardless of region or culture. The ability to use mobile devices to easily share information about our lives is creating a sense of connection across borders that we’re continuing to see flourish.”

- Press release
- Article by The Register
- Interactive data visualization

6 September 2012

Consumers say no to mobile apps that grab too much data

PewInternet

A study by the Pew Research Center, released Wednesday, found that among Americans adults who use smartphone apps, half had decided not to install applications on their mobile phones because they demanded too much personal information. Nearly a third uninstalled an application after learning that it was collecting personal information “they didn’t wish to share.” And one in five turned off location tracking “because they were concerned that other individuals or companies could access that information.” A customer’s whereabouts can be extremely valuable to marketers trying to sell their wares, or government authorities trying to keep tabs on citizens’ movements.

The study seems to suggest a deepening awareness of digital privacy. And it contradicts a common perception that the generation of young Americans who have grown up in the Internet age blithely share their personal details.

Read article

4 September 2012

Ericsson on evolving TV and video-consumption habits

tvvideo

Ericsson is publishing interesting research these days (and therefore gets featured on this blog).

Its latest TV and video ConsumerLab report found that mobile devices are an important part of the TV experience, with 67 percent using tablets, smartphones or laptops for their everyday TV viewing.

New technology and services have also empowered us to interact socially with our friends as we watch our favorite content. Today, live sports commentary among mates is huge. The same ConsumerLab report found that 62 percent of consumers use social media while watching TV. This is up 18 percent from last year.

4 September 2012

MindLab, Denmark’s cross-ministerial innovation unit

mindlab

MindLab is a Danish cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. It is also a physical space – a neutral zone for inspiring creativity, innovation and collaboration.

They work with the civil servants in three parent ministries: the Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, emplyment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address.

Working with user-centred innovation requires a systematic approach to what needs to be investigated plus a wide variety of methodologies. MindLab’s methodologies are anchored in design-centred thinking, qualitative research and policy development, with the aim of including the reality experienced by both the public and businesses into the development of new public-sector solutions.

Their work is based on a process model which consists of seven phases: project focus, learning about the users, analysis, idea and concept development, concept testing, the communication of results and impact measurement.

MindLab is instrumental in helping the ministry’s key decision-makers and employees view their efforts from the outside-in, to see them from a citizen’s perspective. They use this approach as a platform for co-creating better ideas.

MindBlog, MindLab’s blog, is very rich in content and worth delving into. The keywords are: citizen-centred innovation, anthropological methods, service design, public development, communication, idea and concept development, innovation strategy and cross-institutional collaboration.

4 September 2012

Qualitative research, UX strategy and wicked problems

 

These are the topics of the latest update on UX Matters:

Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative and Qualitative Research
By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain
Both qualitative and quantitative methods of user research play important roles in product development. Data from quantitative research—such as market size, demographics, and user preferences—provides important information for business decisions. Qualitative research provides valuable data for use in the design of a product—including data about user needs, behavior patterns, and use cases. Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses, and each can benefit from our combining them with one another. This month, we’ll take a look at these two approaches to user research and discuss how and when to apply them.

UX Strategy: The Heart of User-Centered Design
By April McGee
Today, organizations interact with their customers through multiple digital channels such as call centers, mobile devices, applications, and Web sites. It is not enough to create a strategy for these channels from business, technology, and marketing perspectives. Rather, it is essential that an organization’s UX strategy be at the core of user-centered design. A UX strategy establishes goals for a cohesive user experience across all channels and touchpoints. The success of a UX strategy across multiple channels and offerings depends especially on identifying the business objectives of the channel leadership and relating them to the user experience, and understanding the overall ecosystem of the customer—in particular, what motivates them
Organizations must translate this information into a cross-channel user experience that meets the needs and aspirations of both its business and its customers.

Book Review: Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving (Author: John Kolko)
Review by Arun Joseph Martin, Calvin Chun-yu Chan, Erico Fileno, Noriko Osaka, and Yohan Creemers
In this “Handbook & Call to Action,” Kolko introduces the idea of wicked problems—large-scale social issues that plague humanity, like poverty and malnutrition—then describes the role of design in mitigating these problems. Kolko points out that traditional approaches cannot deal effectively with complex social and cultural problems. Such wicked problems always interconnect with other problems, are costly to solve, and often lack clear methods for understanding and evaluating them.
Kolko suggests that it is possible to mitigate wicked problems through what he calls social entrepreneurship—entrepreneurship that aims to create social capital by adding value to the community rather than focusing only on creating economic wealth.

31 August 2012

The new multi-screen world: understanding cross-platform consumer behavior

Screen Shot 2012-08-31 at 11.09.37

Google published yesterday a research report on how consumers use different devices together and navigating the new multi-screen world.

They set out to learn not just how much of our media consumption happens on screens, but also how we use these multiple devices together, and what that means for the way that businesses connect with consumers.

One of the key insights is that 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal, whether that’s on smartphones, PCs, tablets or TV.

A blog post provides further highlights from the research.

29 August 2012

What data can’t tell you about customers

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Across industries, companies are using the vast amounts of user-generated data to guide innovation of new products and services. But data mining does not equate to developing “customer intelligence,” write Lara Lee and Daniel Sobol of Continuum on Harvard Business Review’s Blog.

Human behavior is nuanced and complex, and no matter how robust it is, data can provide only part of the story. Desire and motivation are influenced by psychological, social, and cultural factors that require context and conversation in order to decode.

Data can reveal new patterns that point a firm in the right direction, but it can’t indicate what to do once there. It reveals what people do, but not why they do it. And understanding the why is critical to innovation.

Read article

3 August 2012

Ethnography for user experience

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In three essays John Payne, Principal of Moment’s Experience Design practice, reflects on his workshop, Ethnography for User Experience, and their field research with Occupy Wall Street.

Payne was recently asked by IxDA NY’s local leadership to lead a workshop on Ethnography for User Experience. His goal was to provide the attendees, a group of 25 interaction designers, some working principles of ethnography that they could adapt to their day-to-day design work; in essence, to help them shape a more “ethnograph-ish” approach to user experience design.

As he prepared the workshop materials, Payne suggested to the IxDA organizers that Zuccotti Park (or Liberty Square, depending on your persuasion) might be a good research site. For the uninitiated, this is the nexus of the global Occupy Wall Street movement. Ground Zero for “We are the 99%.” At that point, in early November, Payne hadn’t yet visited the park, but everything he was reading and hearing about it made it seem an ideal (if perhaps a bit risky) site for a group of eager workshop attendees to get some real-world experience putting ethnographic principles into practice.

They took on the task of trying to understand how the occupiers communicated and coordinated within the group and with other occupy sites around the world. Their design goal was to gather information to inform the design of digital products that could help that communication and coordination process.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

12 July 2012

Field notes from global tech ethnographer Tricia Wang

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A sociologist, ethnographer, and corporate consultant who studies global technology use among migrants, low-income people, youth, and others on society’s fringes, Wang has worked for the past several years in China. Since 2005, she’s crisscrossed the country–often riding the rails–observing the impact of digital technology on the lives of rural workers migrating into the cities, and more recently, documenting the wildfire spread of new social-media platforms like Weibo and Renren. Recharging at her home base in Brooklyn after a year away, Wang spoke with Fast Company about her field of digital ethnography, the benefits of working outside of big institutions, and what U.S. tech entrepreneurs can learn from their peers in China.

(Make sure to check the slide show too)

28 June 2012

Ethnographic research in a world of big data – Part 3

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In her final piece on ethnographic research in a world of big data (see earlier posts), Jenna Burrell, sociologist and assistant professor in the School of Information at UC-Berkeley, seeks to answer a few remaining questions:

1. How might big data be part of projects that are primarily ethnographic in approach?
2. What do people consider to be the compelling applications of big data?

27 June 2012

UCI to lead national social computing research center, led by Paul Dourish

photo by Intel Labs

UC Irvine will anchor a new $12.5 million, Intel-funded research center that applies social science and humanities to the design and analysis of digital information.

“Technology is profoundly entangled with our everyday lives. As researchers, we can’t get a handle on what’s going on by looking at technical factors alone. We have to study them in concert with human, social and cultural aspects,” said UCI informatics professor Paul Dourish.

He and Scott Mainwaring of Intel Labs will co-lead the center, dubbed the Intel Science & Technology Center for Social Computing, along with UCI anthropology and law professor Bill Maurer.

Intel researchers will work side by side with academics in campus labs. The research is not proprietary and will be public, open intellectual property. Mainwaring, senior research scientist with Intel Labs’ Interaction & Experience Research group, has already moved into an office at UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences.

Read press release

Experientia has always been very interested in the work of Paul Dourish, and frequently featured it on its blog. This is a tremendously exciting development, and we wish Prof. Dourish all the best with this new Intel research center.

And as a pleasant aside, the building tiles featured on the directors photo are somehow strangely reminiscent of the building tiles of another educational research center devoted to the same theme: the well-known Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

26 June 2012

Secrets about human behavior as the basis of future massive enterprises

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Nir Eyal, lecturer in marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, believes secrets about human behavior, which provide insights into the way people act even though they can’t tell you why, are levers for creating user habits and competitive advantage. These kinds of secrets are also relatively cheap to uncover but can be the basis of massive enterprises.

“Once, only large companies had the resources to discover monetizable secrets. Throughout the twentieth century, companies like GE, Dupont, Chrysler, and IBM specialized in discovering the optimal form of physical goods and their insights lay largely hidden in the discipline of industrial design. For these companies, uncovering secrets required massive R&D investment to find the best way to create a better, cheaper, or faster product.

But today, as software continues to eat the world, service industries are being upended by upstarts. A new crop of companies like AirBnB, DropBox, and Square exploits secrets gleaned not from industrial design, but from interaction and systems design. These companies remedy old problems by designing interfaces to create new user behaviors.’

Read article