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Posts in category 'User research'

4 November 2012

Book: Digital Anthropology

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Digital Anthropology
Edited by Heather A. Horst, Daniel Miller
Berg Publishers, Oct 2012
328pp

Anthropology has two main tasks: to understand what it is to be human and to examine how humanity is manifested differently in the diversity of culture. These tasks have gained new impetus from the extraordinary rise of the digital. This book brings together several key anthropologists working with digital culture to demonstrate just how productive an anthropological approach to the digital has already become.

Through a range of case studies from Facebook to Second Life to Google Earth, Digital Anthropology explores how human and digital can be defined in relation to one another, from avatars and disability; cultural differences in how we use social networking sites or practise religion; the practical consequences of the digital for politics, museums, design, space and development to new online world and gaming communities. The book also explores the moral universe of the digital, from new anxieties to open-source ideals. Digital Anthropology reveals how only the intense scrutiny of ethnography can overturn assumptions about the impact of digital culture and reveal its profound consequences for everyday life.

Combining the clarity of a textbook with an engaging style which conveys a passion for these new frontiers of enquiry, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of anthropology, media studies, communication studies, cultural studies and sociology.

Authors/Editors
Heather A. Horst is a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Australia.
Daniel Miller is Professor of Material Culture at the Department of Anthropology, University College London, UK

Contributors
Tom Boellstorff, Heather Horst, Lane DeNicola, Faye Ginsburg, Stefana Broadbent, Danny Miller, John Postill, Jelena Karanovic, Bart Barendregt, Jo Tacchi, Adam Drazin, Haidy Geismar and Thomas Malaby

30 October 2012

Designing products for value

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By encouraging more focused collaboration among multiple functional groups (notably marketing and sales, operations, engineering/R&D, and procurement), these leaders are combining deep insights about customers [particularly in developing markets], competitors, and supply bases to strip out costs and amplify what customers truly value. The results—including better products, happier customers, higher margins, and, ultimately, a stronger ability to innovate—should serve these organizations well in years to come.

In this McKinsey Quarterly article, authors Ananth Narayanan, Asutosh Padhi, and Jim Williams look at three such companies. Their experiences offer insights for any product maker hoping to improve its competitiveness.

25 October 2012

How the Kenyan Base of the Pyramid uses their mobile phone

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In order to understand mobile phone usage at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) in Kenya, iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa conducted a 6-month study, funded by infoDev (World Bank).

A total of 796 face-to-face interviews were conducted along with 178 diaries, 9 interviews with Kenyan developers, 12 focus group discussions (FGDs), and 10 interviews with key stakeholders in the industry. The full report will be released to the public in November 2012.

The following were key findings from the study:
– 16% of Kenyans at the BoP use Internet on their mobile phone
– Low awareness of other existing mobile applications
– Health and education Information most desired
– 1 in 5 forgo an expenditure to buy credit
– Calling, SMS, Mobile Money Transfer are the major uses
– No difference in mobile phone usage between men and women other than mobile Internet usage, which is dominated by educated male youth
– Higher likelihood of technology usage by those educated past primary level

25 October 2012

Want proof that market fit is everything? Test your app in the slums of Sao Paulo

emprego

For the Stanford-educated founders of Emprego Ligado, creating a successful app in Brazil required dismantling every assumption about the target audience.

Emprego Ligado, which translates to “connected job,” launched in Sao Paulo this summer with the aim of connecting unskilled laborers to jobs close to home via SMS: Workers text the system when they need a job, and they system texts back with jobs in the area that match their preferences. It sounds simple enough, but arriving at a working model required dismantling every assumption the founders had about their target market.

He and his two cofounders, Rosenbloom and Nathan Dee, decided to tackle the problem with good old-fashioned sociological research, which they used as a basis for a simple working prototype.

Read article

24 October 2012

Core77 report on the Design Research Conference

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A few days before the EPIC conference in Savannah, Chicago’s IIT Institute of Design organised and hosted its yearly Design Research conference.

Although no videos seem to be available yet, Ciara Taylor provides a concise report on two of the interactive sessions at the event on the design blog Core77: Elliott Hedman on Understanding Data, and George and Sara Aye on Human Behavior.

22 October 2012

Smartphone ethnography apps

 

The Qualitative Report website contains a very hard to find but highly recommended page on smartphone ethnography apps (or, as they call it, “Mobile and Cloud Qualitative Research Apps”).

Some highlights:

myServiceFellow
Mobile ethnography for (tourism-specific) service design via customer structured research based on perceived service sequence and service components importance through journey mapping and touchpoints sequences
(More info also here)

Ethos – Ethnographic observation system
Both a mobile device application for conducting fieldwork and a link to a web-based project management system

Revelation
Mobile device app seamlessly integrates with Revelation Project, making it simple to add mobile projects into larger studies

Ethnocorder
Multimedia enabled field research with over 20 types of multimedia elements that can be used in either questions or responses

myResearch
Field market research application for capturing live point-in-time feedback from respondents using video, audio, image recording and quantitative data

Over The Shoulder
Allows users to answer questions and provide opinions for research purposes with in-the-moment ideas, photos, videos and innovation inspiration

MyInsights
Conduct qualitative research connected to a closed web environment, where projects can be created, participants and observers can be invited and where you can view and download the results

19 October 2012

EPIC conference videos online

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Most of the videos of this week’s EPIC Conference, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD], are now online.

EPIC, which stands for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, promotes the use of ethnographic investigations and principles in the study of human behavior as they are applied in business settings.

The theme of the 2012 conference was renewal, focusing on the current turmoil in our world, and encouraging attendees to reflect on their own contribution to the field of applied ethnography and the role of EPIC in pushing communities forward.

Here are the videos in chronological order:

Opening keynote
Speaker: Emily Pilloton
Tell them I built this: A story of community transformation through design, youth, and education [51:15]
Emily Pilloton is the founder and executive director of Project H Design, a non-profit design agency founded in 2008 to use design and hands-on building for community and educational benefit. Trained in architecture and product design, Emily now spends most days teaching her high school Studio H design/build curriculum, in which students design and build full-scale architectural projects for their hometown. She is the author of the book Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People a compendium and call-to-action for design for social impact, and has appeared on the TED Stage as well as The Colbert Report.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Tony Salvador, Intel Corporation
Epic Endings: The Key Is Renewal [20:59]
Innovation is about new ways to do old things and new ways to do new things. Yet, products, services, systems and even countries do end. As markets become increasingly volatile, we introduce the necessity of the concept of designing intentionally for things to end by purposefully designing the rituals to go with it generating renewal experiences and providing an emic potential for creative destruction.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Sam Ladner, Copernicus Consulting Group
Ethnographic Temporality: Using Time-Based Data in Product Renewal [14:54]
Breathing new life into a flagging product requires a deep understanding of the rhythm of everyday life. When do customers begin to use this product? When do they stop? It is tempting to rely on the automatically collected time-data from “big data” to answer this question. But ethnography offers a unique cultural lens to understanding the temporal aspects of the product lifecycle. In this paper, I analyze several technological products using the concept of the “timescape” and its three dimensions of time to show how products succeed or fail. I then suggest how to integrate this with digital time-data.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Min Lieskovsky, Charlie Hill and Morgan Ramsey-Elliot, ReD Associates
Function and change in China: Reviving Mauss’ “total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets [21:32]
This paper attempts to revive Mauss’ concept of the total social fact as a method to establish understanding of new markets. Our case study of alcohol in China illuminates the spirit baijiu’s connections to the total social facts of guanxi and hierarchy. We outline a methodology based on using total social facts as a heuristic device, removed from the problematic assumptions of classical functionalism.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Fabian Segelström and Stefan Holmlid, Linköping University
One Case, Three Ethnographic Styles: Exploring different ethnographic approaches to the same design brief [17:51]
To inform the redesign of a Christmas market we employed three styles of ethnographic approaches. The three approaches were based on (social) anthropology, interaction design and mobile ethnography. We present the methodology chosen by each team and discuss the nature of the insights gathered by each team.

Pecha Kucha 1 (chaired by Michele Visciola, Experientia)
Renewals of Place [01:05:52] starts at 01:55
Presentations (in order):

  • Anthony Leonard (SCAD): The Resilience and Adaptation of OccupyDC
  • Jessica Grenoble (SCAD): Fading Into the Horizon: the disappearance of Appalachian hollow communities and culture
  • Arvind Venkataramani (SonicRim): Middle Perspectives: a walk through the High Line
  • Shubhangi Athalye, Stuart Henshall, Dina Mehta (Convo): Rebuilding Mumbai – Dreams and Reality
  • Chelsea Mauldin (Public Policy Lab): Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing
  • Simon Roberts (ReD Associates): Peckham, Poundland, Post its and the Peace Wall: Staging a Post-Riot Renewal

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speakers: Thomas Madsen and Laura Hammershoy, ReD Associates
Ethical dilemmas in business anthropology revisited: How a phenomenological approach to the practice of ethnography can shed new light on the topic of ethics [19:12]
Business anthropologists are caught between two ethical worlds: the ethics of the academy, and the ethics of the business community. While traditional discourses on ethical behavior are founded on universalistic ideas of morality, the paper presents an alternative ethics for our field that is contingent on the specifics of context.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Neal Patel, Google
If These Walls Could Talk: the Mental Life of the Built Environment [24:36]
This paper introduces a theory explaining why physical spaces become meaningful. Diverse modes of existence—exchange, retail experiences, lifestyles, identity—all occur in physical or virtual space. Yet ethnographers often divorce feeling at home or out of place from physical reality, as purely subjective mental forms. This paper argues the opposite, that there is a mental process which endows physical spaces with meaning. Renewing Lefebvre’s forgotten discussion of “rhythmanalysis,” I describe life in terms of overlapping, conflicting biological, cultural, and economic rhythms. I suggest human affinity with place depends on the extent that it provides refuge from such conflict, and increases relative to its restorative function.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Nicole Conand and Alicia Dornadic
The Ethnographer Unbounded: Considering Open Source in Corporate Environments [25:24]
Technological advances that enable seemingly endless information sharing, as well as various counter efforts that attempt to limit and control access to information, have prompted us to reexamine how industry-based practitioners of ethnography promulgate their research. A comparison of two distinct professional experiences reveals how varying degrees of information “openness” impact ethnographic work. One is an open source project supported by a Knight Foundation grant, and the second occurs within a large corporation in which research is proprietary and confidential. In doing so, we aim to discern which elements of open source ethnography have beneficial applications in corporate environments.

Invited Panel (curated by John Payne)
The Interaction of Ethnography and Design [01:00:44]
In keeping with the theme, EPIC has organized a panel of practitioners to reflect on how they use the combination of ethnographic and design practices to contribute to renewal in a variety of disparate areas of application, some established and some emerging. The panelists’ work sits at the intersection of ethnography and design in areas like technology, interaction design, service design, social entrepreneurship, and design of public services. They share some lessons learned and discuss the benefits and challenges they’ve encountered in bringing these two disciplines together.
The panelists are:
– Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director, Public Policy Lab
– Shelley Evenson, Executive Director of Organisational Evolution at Fjord
– Dr. John Sherry, Director of Business Innovation Research, Intel Labs

Paper Session 3 (curated by Makiko Taniguchi)
Renewing Workplaces/ Organizations (video not yet online)

Paper Session 4 (curated by Dawn Nafus)
Visions of Renewal [01:02:47]
The works in this session all participate acts of envisioning the future. These visions, however, are not mere ocularcentric handwaving. No TED-style broad proclamations here. Each piece is grounded in specific evocative materials. One takes concrete—literally, concrete–as a site of envisioning what constitutes sustainability. Another investigates paper, space and embodied action as ephemeral materials that enact collective healing after a disaster. A third resituates “the digital” in relation to populations, social fields and city space to renew notions of civic participation. Through careful attention to materials, social processes and above all context, these papers all get beyond notions of vision as brash proclamation, and render new social dynamic conceivable in contextually-sensitive ways.
Presentations (in order):

  • Stokes Jones and Christine Miller (SCAD): STAND Where You Live: Activating Civic Renewal by Engaging Social Fields
  • Aki Ishida (Virginia Tech): Role of the Ephemeral in Recovery and Renewal
  • Laura Resendez de Lozano (Rice University): Concreting Sustainability: Renewing the Cement Industry through Sustainability Implementation

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Fumiko Ichikawa, Hakuhodo, and Hiroshi Tamura, The University of Tokyo
Scaling-Out: An Ethnographic Approach to Revive Local Communities [19:35]
Between the 20th and the 21st century, what is considered innovations have changed from technologically-centered to human-centered. Taking Japan’s visions and potential recovery strategy as an example, we describe how Japan is to renew oneself and propose the power of ‘scaling-out’, where ethnography would play a central role in its success.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Colleen Heine, SCAD
Scene and Unscene: Revealing the Value of a Local Music Scene in Savannah, Georgia [20:48]
Throughout history, music has been central to the social fabric of communities, yet it is often perceived as an extraneous element in a city. “Scene and Unscene” is an ethnographic study of the local music scene in Savannah, Georgia. Interviews with key players and participant observation in local music events and venues, coupled with personal experience as a member of a Savannah-based band, provide an insider perspective on the local music scene—its current state and the collective vision for its desired future. The paper demonstrates the key roles a music scene plays in place-making, community building, and city life.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Siobhan Gregory, Wayne State University
“Detroit is a Blank Slate.” Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit [18:28]
This paper is an investigation of metaphoric language in the contemporary discourse of Detroit’s “renewal.” News articles from local and national news sources from 2009-2011 provide evidence of critical and provocative metaphoric constructions found in the gentrification discourse of Detroit. As harbingers of gentrification, the discourse communities of artists and business entrepreneurs are the focus of this review. The author argues that metaphoric language in journalism must be critically evaluated and challenged to help ensure sustainable, equitable, and historically sensitive “renewal” of the city of Detroit and similar inner-city urban communities experiencing gentrification.

Paper Session 6 (curated by Shelley Evenson)
Renewing Services (video not yet online)

Pecha Kucha 2 (chaired by Suzanne Thomas)
Renewals of Culture [01:06:49]
Presentations (in order):

  • Daniel Goddemeyer (Unitedsituation): Exploring the analogue – digital legibility of our behaviors
  • Elisa Oreglia (UC Berkeley School of Information): 5 facts, 3 lessons, and 2 rules
  • Melissa Cefkin (IBM Research): Work and the Future
  • Richard Anderson: A Call to Action Regarding The Patient Experience
  • Robin Beers (Biz is Human) and Jan Yeager (Added Value Cheskin): Open Source Family | Implications for remaking and renewing notions of family
  • Carrie Yury: Don’t clean up and lie down: Ethnography and conceptual art

> Presentation abstracts

Artifacts Session (curated by Alicia Dornadic & Heinrich Schwarz)
Artifacts Introductions [34:49]
Features:
– Report by Heinrich Schwartz on EPIC Europe in Barcelona
– Introduction on the Artifacts by Alicia Dornadic

Paper Session 7 (curated by Nimmi Rangaswamy)
Renewing Our Discipline [01:25:13]
There always comes a time to reflect, explore and renew ethnographic praxis in industry. We face a felt need to cast a new light on praxis, be it broadening its coda, certifying its practioners or pushing boundaries of what are considered contexts of consumption. This panel will focus on three aspects of renewal: revitalizing practitioner ingenuity and expertise; pushing the limits of knowing consumers by enclosing broader discourses on context laden values; finally, incorporating an accreditation process to professionalize and certify a shared body of skills, methods and knowledge.
Presentations (in order):

  • Patricia Ensworth (Harborlight Management Services): Badges, Branding, and Business Growth: The ROI of an Ethographic Praxis Professional Certification
  • Arvind Venkataramani and Christopher Avery (SonicRim): Framed by ‘Experience’: Moving from User-Centeredness to Strategic Incitement
  • Susan Squires (University of N. Texas) and Alexandra Mack (Pitney Bowes): Renewing Our Practice: Preparing the next generation of practitioners

> Presentation abstracts

Closing keynote
Speaker: Philip Delves Broughton
Cracking The Marketplace Of Ideas (video not yet online)
Philip Delves Broughton is a journalist, management writer, and best selling author of two books. Philip was a journalist with The Daily Telegraph for ten years, latterly as Paris Bureau Chief (2002-04) before he took an MBA at Harvard, which became the subject of his first book, the best selling What They Teach you at Harvard Business School. Philip writes regularly for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. From 2009-2010, he spent several months at Apple writing case studies for Apple University, its internal management program, and now works with The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Education. His most recent book The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life is an ‘insightful scholarly treatise on sales’ with a global perspective on this critical business function.

17 October 2012

UX articles and dissertations from Denmark

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Mind Design, the Design Research Webzine of the Danish Centre for Design Research, contains a wealth of information, all available in English.

Here are some highlights:

Article
Companies: Design Research Works in Practice
Design researchers are developing new, applicable knowledge together with organisations in the private and public sector. That was the clear conclusion at the mini-conference on the impact of design research that the Danish Centre for Design Research held at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen on 17 September 2012. Here, Rambøll, Bang & Olufsen and other companies shared case stories about how collaboration with researchers is creating value for their organisations.

Article
Using Experience Design to Reach a Broader Audience for Classical Music
How can we use new, digital technologies to make classical music more appealing and accessible – especially for a younger audience? A group of symphony orchestras and educational institutions in Denmark and Sweden have set out to address that question in a large-scale research collaboration that has received funding from the EU’s interregional development fund.

Dissertation
Inviting the Materials Into Co-Design Processes
Materials are important actors in co-design processes. Therefore they should be invited in and assigned roles when co-designers organise projects, workshops or events, for example in the field of service design. That is one of the key conclusions in a PhD dissertation on the role of materials in co-design which Mette Agger Eriksen defended at Malmö University on 13 June 2012.
> Download dissertation (pdf)

Dissertation
Realising the Full Potential of Drawing
Drawing is a language in its own right that holds a large potential for idea development, says Anette Højlund, who defended her PhD dissertation on drawing and creation on 13 April 2012. In the dissertation she examines what she calls the dialogue between the drawing and the person drawing. In this conversation with Mind Design she concludes that the potential of drawing could be utilised far better, for example in visualising issues that reach across disciplinary boundaries.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)

Dissertation
Hierarchies and Humour in the Design Process
Humour plays an important role in the design process, argues Mette Volf, who recently defended her PhD dissertation Når nogen ler, er der noget på spil (When someone laughs there is something at stake). In her dissertation she explores the design process as social construct. Humour is used, for example, to turn the formal hierarchies on their head.

Dissertation
PhD Dissertation Challenges Traditional Interaction Design
Interaction design can easily incorporate both a body element and an empathy element. This was demonstrated by Maiken Hillerup Fogtmann, who as part of her PhD project developed interactive exercise equipment for team handball players and computer-based play equipment for children. She defended her dissertation, Designing with the Body in Mind, on 23 January 2012 at the Aarhus School of Architecture.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)

Article
Making Active and Innovative Use of Your Customer Base
Companies are keen to get in touch with their customers and users in order to gain new ideas for products and business potentials. A project headed by the Danish Technological Institute focuses on user types that are potentially valuable for business. The conclusion is that the key lies in getting involved, identifying the company’s needs and involving the right users at the right time in the strategic processes.

Article
Design as Innovation Facilitator
Design-driven innovation in companies can result in both actual product development and the development of processes and business strategies. That was one of the points made at the workshop Design Driven Innovation – Organizing for Growth held at the Kolding School of Design in December 2011. Furthermore, the role of the position of design in relation to the individual company or organisation was emphasised.

16 October 2012

Book: Innovating for People

innovatingforpeople

Innovating for People
Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods
by LUMA Institute
2012, 86 pages

Abstract
Innovation is an economic imperative that calls for more people to be innovating, more often. This handbook equips people in various lines of work to become more innovative. It provides specific guidance for bringing new and lasting value into the world.
The key ingredient to successful innovation is the everyday practice of Human-Centered Design: the discipline of developing solutions in the service of people. Every story of a good innovation–whether it’s a new product, a new service, a new business model or a new form of governance– begins and ends with people. It starts with careful discernment of human needs, and concludes with solutions that meet or exceed personal expectations.

This handbook is your essential resource for innovation. It’s a compact reference book describing thirty-six methods of Human-Centered Design, organized by way of three key design skills:
– Looking: Methods for observing human experience
– Understanding: Methods for analyzing challenges and opportunities
– Making: Methods for envisioning future possibilities

Each featured method includes a brief description; a pictorial example; a listing of benefits; a sampling of method combinations; and a quick guide with helpful hints for initial application. The full collection of methods is small enough to digest quickly, yet large enough to address myriad challenges. This book does not prescribe a formulaic innovation process. Rather, it introduces a versatile set of methods for practicing Human-Centered Design as a daily discipline in order to be more innovative and drive sustainable growth.

LUMA Institute
LUMA Institute is a Pittsburgh-based education company that teaches people how to be more innovative. Through a hands-on curriculum, LUMA helps organizations learn and apply the discipline of Human-Centered Design to create new value and drive sustainable growth.

A personal comment
Chris Pacione and Justine Knecht sent me the booklet about a month ago, and my partner Jan-Christoph Zoels took it home immediately to read it from cover to cover. I only got it back today, and wanted to make sure that I plug it to the community before another Experientia team member runs away with it.

In short, it is an excellent and very practical resource for the UX community. Highly recommended.

LUMA has also published a deck of cards. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I am sure it must be on the same level of quality.

Chris Pacione is an old friend, whom we got to know at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, when he worked for BodyMedia. After consulting with Maya Design, he is now the Director and CEO of the LUMA Institute. Also Justin Knecht is an old Experientia friend: he used to be the driving force at the Siglo, Ireland based Centre for Design Innovation.

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

mobilemeaning

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

ariely_animate

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

observing_ux

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

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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

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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

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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.