counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'UXnet'

11 December 2009

Augmented Reality is overhyped and abused

USPS
Augmented Reality is overhyped and abused, writes Matthew Szymczyk in Advertising Age, and we’re in danger of killing off a rather useful technology.

“As web-based augmented-reality applications have exploded, it’s more important than ever to remember AR is a technology based on utility and not gimmicks.

Unfortunately, as with most new and emerging technologies, it’s quickly becoming overhyped and abused. Usability and user experience have been thrown under in the stampede of agencies and brands saying “Hey, look — me too!” Even more disturbing is that most marketers are overlooking the most unique aspect of AR itself: that it’s a technology that can create innovative and sustained engagement between a brand and its target consumer through utility.”

Read full story

11 December 2009

User-centred design for energy efficiency in buildings

TSB competition
The UK’s Technology Strategy Board is calling for individuals to take part in a five-day interactive workshop (‘sandpit’) to explore the challenge of reducing the demand for energy in non-domestic buildings, through human factors research and user-centred design.

The focus of the sandpit is to create ideas for projects that have the potential for commercial value. The five-day sandpit will be held at Bailbrook House near Bath on 15-19 March 2010.

The challenge of reducing the amount of energy used in buildings requires an innovative and multidisciplinary approach. The aim of this sandpit is to bring together a varied group of up to 30 individuals from industry and academia — in particular experts in human factors and user-centred design — to work together to develop collaborative research proposals.

The sandpit will result in the Technology Strategy Board committing funding ‘in principle’ for consortium research projects developed by the participants. The Board has allocated up to £2m to fund industry-led collaborative research arising from the sandpit.

Deadline for application: 17 December 2009

Read more

(via Dan Lockton)

10 December 2009

Microsoft social media researcher Danah Boyd in the news

Danah Boyd
Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft Research, is quite in the news these days, including a very nice profile in The Guardian:

The Guardian – 9 December 2009
Danah Boyd: ‘People looked at me like I was an alien’
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd talks about social networking, young people and how the web is more private than your home.

There’s one cliche in particular that annoys Danah Boyd: the “digital native”.

“There’s nothing native about young people’s engagement with technology,” she says, adamantly.

The Microsoft researcher, who has made a career from studying the way younger people use the web, doesn’t think much of the widely held assumption that children are innately better at coping with the web or negotiating the hurdles of digital life. Instead, she suggests, they’re pretty much like everyone else.

“Young people are learning, they’re learning about the social world around them,” she says. “The social world around them today has mediated technologies, thus in order to learn about the social world they’re learning about the mediated technologies. And they’re leveraging that to work out the shit that kids have always worked out: peer sociality, status, their first crush.”

ReadWriteWeb – 10 December 2009
Says Danah Boyd, Leverage the Web’s Most Disturbing Content
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd took a decidedly different approach when considering social networking at today’s LeWeb conference [and made] the point that negative and disturbing web content can also serve as a vehicle for change.

“Boyd explains how those who monitor online profile information, tend to have something to gain from it in a negative way. For example, oppressive governments often monitor the web for signs of criminal activity in order to enforce laws or suppress certain activities. Nevertheless, Boyd believes the visibility of violence, drug use and criminal activity can also be used by regular netizens for constructive purposes.”

On her blog, Danah links to the crib of her talk, and to the LeWeb video and the Supernova video (where she presented the same talk).

10 December 2009

Latest Donald Norman essay started a big debate

Donald Norman
Donald Norman ‘s recent essay Technology First, Needs Last, in which he argues that “design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories but essentially useless when it comes to new, innovative breakthroughs,” has started a big discussion.

Steve Portigal started the debate with a piece which intends to “to reframe rather than refute” Norman’s argument.
Read article

Nicolas Nova thinks that Norman’s piece reflects “a narrow understanding of what field research about people can convey”. Nova also takes issue with the “distinction between improvement and breakthrough (or what [Norman] calls “revolutionary innovation”).” Perhaps, Nova says,” it’s a framing issue but the notion of a “breakthrough” seems a bit weird when one think about the whole history of technologies. This terms seems more appealing to the marketing/business people than observer of how objects evolved over time.’
Read article

Todd Zaki Warfel writes he “couldn’t disagree more with the content of the [Norman] essay. He singles out both “how Don defines design research” and Norman’s claim that innovations “are invariably driven by the development of new technologies.”
Read article

Nikos Karaoulanis argues that that Norman’s essay “really lends to the argument that design research and especially design thinking is absolutely crucial, if not critical to designing in our time.”
Read article

Adam Richardson says: “I actually agree[s] with much of what he says, though I see the definition of design research he’s using as overly narrow.”
Read article

Check also the comments on each of these pieces.

5 December 2009

The dignity and courage of Donald Norman

Donald Norman
There is true dignity in the continuous engagement of Donald Norman, the Nestor of the user experience community, as well as courage is his willingness to question some of his (and our) profound beliefs. In short, Don — in defiance of his age (Don was born on Christmas day in 1935) — keeps on pushing the envelope for all of us, and we like him all the more for that.

Today, three stories landed in my inbox. A first one dealt with the search for new contributing editors for interactions magazine, that Don reacted to with considerable attention.

The second was his latest column for the same magazine. Technology First, Needs Last advocates that “design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories but essentially useless when it comes to new, innovative breakthroughs.” It goes against many things we like to believe in, is provocative, and therefore highly useful.

Finally, Don was interviewed yesterday by the Irish Times on where he thinks the next focus of design should be. “Ecosystems,” he said, “where eco means not only the product, but also the environment, the planet.”

Thank you, Don, and keep up the pace.

5 December 2009

Bill Buxton, Martin Raymond & Anna Kirah presentations – Imagine 09

Imagine09
Bill Buxton, Martin Raymond and Anna Kirah were some of the speakers at Imagine09, a conference organised by Microsoft Advertising on 28 October in London.

Living in the age of turbulence
Anna Kirah, partner, CPH Design (and former senior design anthropologist, Microsoft Corporation)
Anna explores how advertisers can flourish in the new Age of Turbulence by understanding the needs of people in their everyday and not so everyday lives. This is the age where people’s values, their needs and their desires change abruptly, and where people no longer view their ‘digital’ and ‘real’ lives as separate.
Reflecting on the impact people have on technology, as well as the impact technology has on people, Anna will introduce ‘BIG SISTER’, a concept where benevolent, caring, technology guides you through the Age of Turbulence with seamless convergence.

Dreamtelligence
Martin Raymond, co-founder, The Future Laboratory
Barack Obama describes it as the ‘audacity of hope’, innovators, planners, academics and authors are referring to it as Dreamtelligence, a new vital and visionary way to use play, fantasy, dream- thinking and innovation to kickstart ideas and stimulate consumer engagement. Martin unpacks the trends and outlines what dreamtelligence means to digital business amidst the continued growth of a content-savvy consumer.

The long nose of innovation
Bill Buxton, principal researcher, Microsoft
Hear Bill Buxton share his vision for ‘The Long Nose of Innovation’ addressing the impact of future technologies on advertisers and marketers.

Watch videos

4 December 2009

Designing the Intel Reader

Intel Reader
In a long article, the people in charge of the Intel Reader discuss the entire user-centred process of designing a new device for the blind or visually impaired which is aimed at making printed matter accessible to millions of people who find reading difficult or impossible, either because of vision problems or learning disabilities such as dyslexia [see also this Business Week article].

“When we started developing the Intel Reader we talked with end users who allowed us to gain insight into their needs, and who gave us the opportunity to hear how they use current technology in their everyday lives. To obtain a deeper understanding for end-user needs, we began with usage research. As part of this phase, we interviewed targeted users, followed them through a day in their lives, and observed their daily challenges at home and at work, and asked for their insights on the challenges of daily living. Over the course of this project, we have interviewed and tested the product at various stages with over 200 individuals.”

Read full story

2 December 2009

Smart tools to reduce our impact on the environment

UX Magazine
The latest issue of UPA’s UX Magazine is devoted to sustainable design, and one of the articles is by Experientia.

In their contribution, Experientia collaborators Michele Visciola, Erin O’Loughlin and Irene Cassarino reflect on how smart tools can help reduce our CO2 impact, and illustrate this with a case study on the company’s winning proposal (together with ARUP and Sauerbruch Hutton) for the design of a sustainable urban district in the Jätkäsaari area of Helsinki, Finland.

Some people believe that making people consume less and more carefully is not a user-centred approach because it is based on forcing people to give up things. By changing our perspective, we could see another story. We have the ability to leverage the freedom of choice of human beings to consume less to improve their health and the health of the community they belong to. They have to be provided with the right information to understand the value of their actions on their personal wealth and happiness, and tools to make such an understanding actionable. Not to have more, but to be better.

Experientia in Turin, Italy shared with ARUP in London and Sauerbruch-Hutton, in Berlin (an international agency for architecture and urbanism), an international design competition (Low2No): designing a sustainable urban district in the Jätkäsaari area of the city of Helsinki. Our responsibility was to address the delicate theme of how to initiate behavioral change to support a sustainable style of living in this completely renewed urban district.

A comprehensive strategy to facilitate behavioral change has to address the various factors that influence and constrain people’s actions, whether physical, personal, social or cultural. People must feel they have control over their consumption, with actions that have visible effect on it. Smart meters, dynamic pricing systems, and data on cost and peak usage can all address this concern.

Social behavior can also be considered as a community-regulatory process through which people assess and verify their adherence to social norms and policies. We recommended the design and implementation of a large program of design ideas and services aimed at creating social actions and customs based on green values.

Because our perception of what’s possible dictates our standards of what’s acceptable, we suggested included designing incentives to sustain behavioral change, along with sensors and monitoring installations that we expect will affect policy changes well beyond the boundaries of the renewed urban district.

Download article (pre-publication version)

1 December 2009

Four key principles of mobile user experience design

Mobile keys
In a long article on Boxes and Arrows, Dakota Reese Brown suggests an alternative view of the mobile space based on principles rather than isolated tactics.

“Prior to becoming a senior UX designer at Popular Front Interactive, I spent two years as a mobile UX researcher within the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Mobile Technologies Group – a lab tasked with both future-casting and then rapidly prototyping innovative mobile experiences.

As I transitioned from academia to industry, I discovered that while mobile UX was discussed, it wasn’t discussed from the same broad frame of reference that I was used to within the confines of a research-based institution. Although more recent mobile UX conversations I have found myself in have undoubtedly benefited from the ongoing smart phone revolution, overall I still find these conversations to be needlessly driven by tactical adoration and lacking a conscious consensus regarding the fundamental principles of the mobile-user experience.

I do not presume these following principles to be all-inclusive or ultimately authoritative; rather, it is my hope that they are received as an anecdotal summation of my findings that might then spark and contribute to the larger conversation and consensus-building process.”

Here are the principles he proposes:

  1. There is an intimate relationship between a user and their mobile device.
  2. Screen size implies a user’s state. The user’s state infers their commitment to what is on the screen.
  3. Mobile interfaces are truncated. Other interfaces are not.
  4. Design for mobile platforms — the real ones.

Read full story

1 December 2009

Designing the online shopping experience

Mind the gap
Two articles in UX Magazine look at ways of improving the retail user experience online:

Mind the gap
Which types of brands have the greatest opportunity to improve UX? A video-based look at online–offline experience gaps.
by Dave Maren

Designing superior shopping experiences
Online shopping should be a fluid, visually exciting and immersive experience. By designing great shopping experiences free from the constraints of HTML, we can fully exploit the rich audio, video, animation and user interface capabilities of modern personal computing.
by George Plesko

20 November 2009

User-driven innovation in Denmark – an update

Denmark
Some English language websites, blogs, articles and publications updating on what Denmark is doing on user-driven innovation:

Is Denmark a lead user of user driven innovation?
You might think so since the world’s first government sponsored user driven innovation program is to be found in Denmark. The program aims to strengthen the diffusion of methods for user driven innovation and to contribute to increased growth in the participating companies. It also aims to increase user satisfaction and/or increased efficiency in participating public institutions. Søren Tegen Pedersen is the Deputy Director at the administrative authority of the program.

NFBi – Network for Research-based Userdriven Innovation
The NFBi network was established with the aim of conveying knowledge of userdriven innovation. NFBi plays an active role in facilitating knowledge sharing and matchmaking between enterprises and knowledge environments with expertise in the field.

NFBi Case Study – new Product development in online communities (pdf)
By engaging user-designers and online communities in the new product development process, companies may be able to offer new value propositions, cut NPD cost and reduce the risk of market failure. This project identified the central needs, challenges and opportunities for companies and proposed an outline for a collaborative model, based on research from Copenhagen Business School, experience from Microsoft Dynamics and LEGO, and interviews with designers.

NFBi Case Study – Userdriven Innovation with the Base of the Pyramid (pdf)
What is the differ- ence between userdriven innovation in industrialised countries and in developing countries, and how to work with userdriven innovation together with the Base of the Pyramid?

Social responsibility is visible on the bottom-line (pdf)
A new study shows that companies will increase growth and profits when developing products, which target social and environmental challenges. New collaborative methods and innovation yield positive results for both Danish and international companies.
> Download case studies (pdf)

Project blog on user-driven innovation
Are you interested in how companies involve users in the innovation process? FORA is in the process of analysing how Scandinavian companies apply different methods in the area of user-driven innovation. This is carried out within the framework of the project: Concept Innovation with Users, which has been commissioned by the Nordic Innovation Center.

19 November 2009

EU ministers: accessible, interactive and customised online public services in Europe by 2015

EU eGov benchmark
EU press release (link):

EU ministers have committed to developing smarter online public services for citizens and businesses by 2015. The Commission has welcomed this step forward in making eGovernment more accessible, interactive and customised. At the fifth Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Malmö (Sweden) today, EU ministers outlined a joint vision and policy priorities on how this should be delivered. eGovernment is a key step towards boosting Europe’s competitiveness, benefiting from time and cost savings for citizens and businesses across Europe.

“Today’s declaration is another step in the right direction to further improve online public services for citizens and businesses. The commitment to shift from a “one-size-fits-all” to a customised approach is more likely to meet users’ needs and will open the path for more interactive and demand-driven public services in Europe”, said Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, added: “The Malmö declaration is an encouraging signal sent from Member States towards the achievement of more effective cross-border services and the completion of the Single Market. For such services to become a reality for most citizens there is still more to be done. Achieving government savings in the current economic climate must be a priority. Better cross-border public services must be delivered even with fewer resources available so the investment made in eGovernment must be maximised. The lives of citizens and businesses can be made increasingly easier if they can benefit from efficient public services ranging from simple registration of life events such as births and residence, business services such as company registration and information or more sophisticated applications including those relating to tax, VAT or customs declarations.”

The declaration signed last night in Malmö by the EU ministers outlines a joint forward-looking vision and defines policy priorities to be achieved by 2015. The key objectives that Member States together with the Commission aim to achieve in the next five years are:

  • to empower businesses and citizens through eGovernment services designed around users’ needs, better access to information and their active involvement in the policy making process;
  • to facilitate mobility in the single market by seamless eGovernment services for setting up business, for studying, working, residing and retiring in Europe;
  • to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of government services by reducing the administrative burden, improving organisational processes of administrations and using ICT to improve energy efficiency in public administrations which will result in a greater contribution to a sustainable low-carbon economy.

The European Commission is already working in close cooperation with Member States to set concrete targets for the eGovernment agenda in Europe and will launch an action plan in the second half of 2010 proposing concrete measures to achieve the objectives set out in the ministerial declaration.

The empowerment of citizens and businesses is already supported today by a large number of eGovernment services. Recent figures from the eighth benchmarking report ordered by the European Commission on eGovernment in Europe, released today at the fifth ministerial conference, indicate that the quality and availability of online government services have been on the rise in Europe in the last two years: 71% of the public services measured are fully available online through portals or websites, while this was only 59% in 2007. Austria, Malta, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Slovenia are leading countries in the assessment of availability of services. Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia are making important progress but differences across Europe remain significant.

The report shows also an increased degree of interaction between service providers and users, where Europe stands at 83%, compared to 76% in 2007 (see annex for table). This year’s report looks at the availability of eProcurement, which aims at improving public procurement. It is now at around 60% in the EU, still far from the 100% target for 2010 set by the i2010 eGovernment action plan.

Related information:
eGovernment Ministerial Declaration
Benchmarking documents
– eGovernment Benchmark Survey 2009 – Smarter, Faster, Better eGovernment

13 November 2009

Meet Microsoft’s antidote to Vista

India tailor
Microsoft Corp. is counting on Ms. Larson-Green, its head of Windows Experience, to deliver an operating system that delights the world’s PC users as much as its last effort, Vista, disappointed them.

“She’s in charge of a wide swath of the system, from the way buttons and menus work to getting the software out in January as scheduled.

Given Microsoft’s history, Ms. Larson-Green’s plan seems downright revolutionary: Build an operating system that doesn’t require people to take computer classes or master thick manuals.”

Read full story

13 November 2009

Nokia has designs on India

India tailor
Nokia’s senior design specialists are touring India to discover how Indians use cellphones. Leslie D’Monte reports for New Delhi’s Business Standard.

Jhanvi Madan (not her real name), who lives in Mumbai , has been talking on her cellphone. Unknown to her, a stranger on the other side of the road is observing her carefully and taking copious notes.

There’s no cause for alarm, however. The person taking those notes is one of the 320 designers from the world’s largest handset maker, Nokia. Her name is Younghee Jung, and she’s a senior design specialist who flew all the way from the London Design Studio to spend around two weeks in Mumbai and some mofussil areas to understand how Indians use cellphones.

“This is a very common practice among us,” says Nikki Barton, Head of Digital Design, Nokia Design Studio. People and their behaviour “are Nokia’s prime concern”. “We all have different views on how a phone should look and what it should do,” acknowledges Barton, adding: “Nokia has to cater to thousands of users and we have to ensure that all of them are happy.”

Read full story

(via Dexigner)

12 November 2009

Designing for a sustainable world

WUD
To celebrate World Usability Day 2009, System Concepts has put together a video podcast exploring how different stakeholders can enhance the user experience of their designs by including sustainability as a key requirement.

The interviewees include:
– Professor Ben Shneiderman – User Interface guru from the University of Maryland
John Thackara – Director, Doors of Perception and currently senior advisor on sustainability to the UK Design Council
Nicolai Peitersen – Founder and CEO of Ethical Economy
– Daniel Liden, Senior Designer at Chris Lefteri Design Ltd, who specialise in materials
– Dina Guth – Director of British design and innovation company TECAtech
– Liz Edwards, Home Editor of the UK Consumer’s Association
– Tom Stewart, President of the UK Ergonomics Society

View podcast

11 November 2009

Nokia The Way We Live Next 3.0

The Way We Live Next
The third edition of Nokia’s The Way We Live Next conference took place yesterday and today in Espoo, Finland.

Nokia’s blog, Nokia Conversations, reports on a few of the keynote presentations:

Nokia’s vision of the future
by Heikki Norta, Nokia’s Head of Corporate Strategy
Smart ecosystems sits at the centre of our mobile life five years from now. That’s what Nokia’s head of corporate strategy Heikki Norta outlined this morning when he talked about what life will be like in 2015. During a short video, we saw how a combination of devices and services worked together to de-clutter life. This comes from a background that’s seeing the relationship between consumers and brands evolve from a monologue right now through a conversation and into a continuos relationship. The idea is simply to help users manage their lives better and enable them to create, share and get the most out of life.
Read more
Watch video (RECOMMENDED)
Download presentation

The opportunities for the future
by Oskar Korkman, Nokia’s Head of Opportunity Identification in Consumer & Customer Insights
Trend research plays a key role in understanding what’s going to happen in the future. Creating an understanding of how people’s needs are changing and evolving helps create a clearer idea of where the opportunity for next generation products and services. Oskar Korkman is head of opportunity identification in consumer insights at Nokia and today he shared some of his thoughts for how we’re going to evolve. For Oskar, it’s all about relationships, with everything from strangers to plants firmly in his sights.
Read more

Some other presentation downloads:
Multiplying our efforts by Henry Tirri, SVP, Head of Nokia Research Center
Communities creating Computers – Computers connecting Communities by Peter Schneider, Head of Technology Marketing, Maemo Devices, Nokia
Communities of the Future by Purnima Kochikar, VP, Head of Forum Nokia & Developer Community
Go mobile with cash by Teppo Paavola, VP, General Manager of Mobile Financial Services, Nokia

See also a few articles in Wired UK:
Social apps and open-source research
Nokia gets intimate with haptic technology

11 November 2009

Using ethnography to improve user experience

People shopping
Bonny Colville-Hyde of CX Partners has written a good introductory article on the value of ethnographic research.

How can you ensure your service stands out from its competitors in the marketplace as the one people want to use?

One way is to uncover how your users interact with you and find new ways to support their behaviours’.

Usability research can show you how successfully users engage with your website and how you can improve it to better fit user needs, but ethnographic research can tell you about the circumstances users go through before they interact with you online, and tell you about user’s needs that you weren’t aware of.

Understanding user motivations is the key to developing your website into a service that people actively want to use.

Read full story

11 November 2009

Accenture says tech-driven approach to CE innovation outdated

Accenture
Consumer electronics companies must rethink the old technology-driven approach to innovation because industry convergence has made this model obsolete, claims a study by Accenture.

In the converging world, “high-performance businesses in the CE industry have begun to embrace a consumer-engagement-driven model of innovation,” but many CE companies have not. Even those companies embracing the new approach to innovation, however, have difficulty converting successful concepts into successful products and services, the study said. […]

Today, CE technologies have converged with “media, IT technologies, games, Internet, [and] mobile…into the same marketplace and compete against each other.” As a result, “the traditional eco-system is transformed. Technology, licensing, and content provider relationships no longer determine who dictates the rules of the game,” Accenture said. “The traditional standardization and alliance processes are becoming less effective due to competing interests, business models and strategies of ever more players and industries.”

“With so many industries competing for the consumer’s attention, the consumer has become the new focus,” the study claimed.

In this new environment, CE companies can better position themselves to accelerate growth if they “embrace a consumer-engagement-driven model of innovation,” Accenture contended. To accomplish this, “CE companies need to engage with consumers at the onset and throughout the innovation process.” […]

Such companies also conduct a lot of consumer behavior research, but their research does not always take the form of traditional market research studies, the company said. Their research tends “to more observational and ethnographic in nature.”

Read full story

11 November 2009

How to create a long-tail user experience

Andrew Maier
Andrew Maier of UXBooth reflects on how to cultivate (or dissolve) a community, or in other words how to create a long-tail user experience.

Websites are social creatures. Or rather, their users are. In turn, the websites you visit are tempered by the users that interact with them. Your experience with a website, say facebook.com, is directly linked to the people with which you interact on that website. But this introduces an interesting challenge for a user experience designer: do you design for the intial experience or the resulting experience?

Read full story

11 November 2009

User stories: a strategic design tool

User stories
Collaborative design methods play a key role in aligning team members towards a shared and strategic project vision.

In this article Penny Hagen and Michelle Gilmore describe how user stories stimulate and facilitate discussion and decision making with clients in the development of a User Experience Strategy. In our context (the development of online projects) the User Experience Strategy becomes an ‘in principle agreement’ on the shape of the project (what), its purpose (why), and provides potential implementation strategies (how). It takes into account all perspectives (e.g business, technical, marketing, brand) but privileges the intended user experience.

A collaborative approach enables clients to actively participate in the process, increasing the likelihood of achieving a collective vision for the project. This article focuses on the first step in the journey towards collaboratively developing a User Experience Strategy and is concerned specifically with how user stories are generated, themed and prioritized.

Read full story