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Putting People First

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19 February 2014

Videos of Day 1 of Interaction14 conference

interaction14-250x250

Languaging reality, dialogue and interaction [41:05]
Keynote by Klaus Krippendorff, Emeritus Professor of Communication at The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
In his keynote, Klaus distinguishes four theories from the philosophy of language and elaborate on dialogical conceptions of how reality comes to be constructed. To him, languaging – the process of conversing in language – is a creative and fundamentally socio-cultural practice. Language does not merely describe, it creates realities in conversations and actions. Dialogical conceptions raise doubts in several common epistemological assumptions. Questioning them could open possibilities of seeing interaction design in a new way.
> Full description

Food = interaction [44:04]
Bernard Lahousse, Partner at Foodpairing.com
The way we experience food is much more complex than taste only. Food is influenced through the interaction with and between our senses.
How important is our nose and how does that influence the food and combinations we like?
Can color change the way we perceive food? And what about sound, touch, the setting, do they interact with food?
In this talk, Lahousse explores modes where one will taste, smell, touch, hear food in ways never experienced before.
> Full description

Human Interactions: Physical and Virtual [37:44]
Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes, Founder at AKKA
Architecting Interaction explores designing for interaction through space. Space, a sort of physical interface, stimulates human, analog and digital interactions.
All our actions are interactions.
So how can we create the spaces for interaction to emerge? The key is in designing a context that embodies the three qualities of a human context.
> Full description

The UI of Nature: How nature’s hidden language of interfaces will impact the future of interaction [Not yet online]
Zak Brazen, Creative Director at George P. Johnson, and Wyatt Starosta, User Experience Consultant at OpenTable
> Full description

If light could fly [40:35]
Lorna Goulden, Founder, Creative Innovation Works
This presentation introduces the topic of interaction design in the context of the city as interface. With reference to an urban re-development program in the Netherlands, a range of interactive installations were presented to illustrate how a focus on the end-user experience and the application of key experience design principles has been pushing the boundaries of traditional approaches to urban re-development.
> Full description

The lost art of efficiency in interaction design [33:45]
Giles Colborne
For users, sitting home at their computers, it’s hard to judge the passage of time. That means there’s a big difference between perceived efficiency and actual efficiency. Little by little, we’ve lost our our ability to design for actual efficiency.
But perceived efficiency is no longer good enough. We need to create interfaces that people can glance at, use with a flick of the wrist or check a dozen times an hour.
> Full description

Jam session

A Model of Behavioural Design [10:33]
Steve Baty, founder and principal of Meld Studios, and president of IxDA
This talk outlines the key inputs in a model of Behavioural Design and how those inputs help designers to directly target specific behaviours. It looks at the role of interaction design, behavioural psychology, systems thinking and other tools. And it proposes that a model of design with behaviour as its focus offers a coherent and complete approach to design in a way that is consistent with the goals of client organisations.
> Full description

Design matters : Tackling poverty [11:15]
Lea Ward, Creative Director at Cnote
When families are living long term on social assistance, how can a system help them become self reliant?
How can design make a difference in a programme to help families living on social assistance become more self-reliant?
The Dutch city of The Hague started the EU funded pilot “Door-to-Door for Change” to help parents who have been out of the work for years to find work or social activities in their neighbourhood.
This talk shows how deep understanding of those involved helped design a successful programme.
> Full description

Important things about user experience design I’ve learned from my cat [10:18]
Anneli Olsen, Researcher, Tobii Technology
Do you like UX? Do you like cats? Have you ever thought about what they have in common?
Let’s face it – cats are probably the most selfish and self-absorbed creatures on the planet. Everything we’d hate in another human being, we love in our cats. So how have they succeeded in becoming one of our favorite pets? Whatever they’re doing must be a hell of a user experience.
In this talk Anneli presents some of the key things she has learned by doing a user experience evaluation of her cat.
> Full description

UX and the City [28:38]
Jonathan Rez Senior Experience Architect, Razorfish
How the built environment shapes our behaviour and how architects and urban planners design environments to shape our behaviour.
In this presentation he shares some of the lessons he has learnt along the way, while working with urban planners and architects, to create and improve human experiences in the built environment.
> Full description

Everybody Knows When You’re Talking To Your Mother [31:54]
Chris Clark, Product Designer for Fitbit
A crash course in sociolinguistics, and a challenge to find the messages hidden in your own words.
Words tell our customers what we think of them. Are we speaking to them like our elders? Like royalty? Like buddies? Or idiots?
Our language defines the product experience in more ways than we know. From labels to push notifications and support scripts, every turn of phrase hides a legacy of design decisions and company politics.
The way we compose our messages can invite or exclude, empower or admonish in different circumstances. This is a crash course in sociolinguistics, and a challenge to find and iterate on the messages hidden in our work.
> Full description

Pitching Ideas: How to sell your ideas to other people? [34:14]
Jeroen van Geel, interaction director and partner, Oak & Morrow
In this session Jeroen van Geel takes you on a journey through the world of presenting ideas. You will move through the heads of clients and your colleagues, learn what their thoughts and needs are, to the core of your idea and into the world of psychology.
> Full description

The Magic game circle as a model to design behaviorchange [26:19]
Ellis Bartholomeus, EllisinWonderland
If well designed games can be inviting and persuasive and even addictive. Game elements are like ingredients, there is an increasing amount of cooks, restaurants, kitchens, cookbooks, spices and flavours but no consensus is yet found what is play and how it is perceived. The magic game circle can help as a tool to discuss these elements and recipes in a constructive way.
> Full description

Designing your design project [36:16]
Jesmond Allen and James Chudley, both User Experience Directors at cxpartners
Designing large UX projects is a tricky business, particularly when they involve complex requirements, multiple stakeholders, ambitious deliverables and tight timescales.
It’s the part of the design process that no one seems to talk about. Which is strange, as the approach we take can make or break our projects. How do we choose the right techniques? How do we decide the order in which to do things? How do we keep true to the ideals of user centred design within the constraints of a commercial environment? How should our approach flex to accommodate new requirements? How can we keep our ideas fresh in a world of ever-evolving technologies?
> Full description

Curated experiences [37:59]
Thomas Kueber, Design Lead at Groupon, and Christian Drehkopf, Mentor at Startup Bootcamp
Today we need to talk about how we create services that not just run on any device but especially deliver experiences that create superb value for the users in their personal situation. Those services are aware of what people do, want, need, who they are with, which time and which conditions and what restrictions they have to deal with. This has to be accessed on a level far beyond just the device that calls the service.
> Full description

UX Awesomeness Through the Introvert/Extrovert Spectrum [44:47]
Angela Craven, Senior User Experience Designer at EffectiveUI, and SuAnne Hall, Senior UX Product Designer at Mapquest
Whether the idea of introversion speaks to you, or you more readily identify with more extroverted qualities, everyone can benefit from tapping into their quiet side.
The speakers set out to discover how many designers tend to be more on the introverted spectrum, and what makes them successful. We poured over findings from surveying over 100 people about the topic, 6 one-on-one interviews, and a group discussion with 20 UX’ers.
> Full description

Comics: A Medium in Transition [Not yet online]
Keynote by Scott McCloud
> Full description

15 February 2011

Documentary highlights how Programma 101 put people first

Programma 101
The upcoming documentary Programma 101 – Memory of the Future by Alessandro Bernard and Paolo Ceretto, celebrates Olivetti’s invention of the first personal desktop computer, back in 1965, and the wide implications it has had since.

Video reflections by Bruce Sterling, Massimo Banzi (of the Arduino), Mario Bellini and others are already online.

When Italian company Olivetti unveiled the Programma 101, it was more than just a technological revolution – it was a new way of thinking about people and computers. The compact, portable device revolutionised the idea of the computer, as well as how and where people really used them.

Instead of booking time on a monolithic machine guarded by experts, needing a whole room to house it, Programma 101 considered convenience, lifestyle and even aesthetics. Use it by the pool, or in the bath, convey the advertising images. It was perhaps the earliest example we have of user experience design in the computing field.

The 52 minute documentary recounting the story of this extraordinary machine and its makers will screen on Fox History Channel, Ur Sweden, SBS Australia, YLE Finland.

It describes the passage from a machine surrounded by men in “white coats”, where using it was as intimidating as being in a hospital, to a device that could be carried around wherever you were. The idea was so unbelievable at the time, that when it was first unveiled, skeptical viewers looked for the underground cable that must connect it to a larger computer.

“The Programma 101 is a real break in the history of computers,” comments American science-fiction author Bruce Sterling in a clip from the documentary. “You went from the mainframe to a thing on the desktop.”

A project that still resonates

For Experientia, the story has extra resonance, because not only is it an early example of thinking about the human side of human-computer interaction (putting people first, in other words!), but Experientia CEO Pierpaolo Perotto, is also the son of the Programma 101’s creator Pier Giorgio Perotto.

Recalling his father, Pierpaolo spoke about the three core elements – vision, planning and design – which helped his father and the small team of experts at Olivetti realise the Programma 101.

“They believed in a vision centred around people, and not around technology. My father was convinced that an electronic calculator could become a personal object. It was an act of courage. It was definitely completely counter-trend in terms of the culture surrounding technology in that moment in history. That vision characterised all the choices that followed.”

This vision was implemented by a grand level of planning, which involved both new and existing technologies. These technologies were aimed not just at creating an experimental prototype, but one that could above all be mass-produced, for an affordable price. In all, about 44,000 units were sold, for about $3,200 each.

The final element of success for the project was the integration between vision, design and technology.

“Having had the courage and the will to insist on a product design that was integrated with the vision and the technological choices made, they refused proposals that, although aesthetically interesting, would have constrained the innovative nature of the machine,” says Pierpaolo. “In that sense, it was my father who gave the job, against the wishes of his superiors, to a young designer at the start of a luminous career: Mario Bellini.”

The integration of these three elements – vision, planning and design – are also part of the way of thinking that eventually came to underpin Pierpaolo’s own work, particularly at Experientia, with its people-centred vision, and multi-disciplinary approach.

“I see these three elements as an instruction for anyone who wants to create a better future.”

A lifestyle machine

The Programma 101’s innovative approach is easily seen in its advertising: a businessman uses the calculating machine by the pool, while a woman in a bathing suit smiles at him after her swim; a woman taps away at the keypad from the comfort of a bubble-filled bath.

In a clip from the documentary, Bruce Sterling laughingly comments:

“In that advertisement you see a businessman sitting at the side of a pool, with a woman in a bathing suit, doing a little calculation. It’s a prophecy of the death of computers as something hidden away behind glass walls.”

While these images were no doubt slightly tongue-in-cheek, and seem charmingly quaint compared to the advertising images that surround us today, they are nevertheless the precursor of today’s computer as a personal assistant, and even a life partner. Pier Giorgio Perotto was able to envision a world where technology could exist in harmony with our lifestyles, which for the time was revolutionary.

Perhaps this vision comes through most clearly in the words of the father of personal computing himself. Commenting on the project later in life, Pier Giorgio Perotto said:

“I dreamed of a friendly machine, to which one could delegate all those operations that cause mental fatigue and errors; a machine that could learn, and calmly perform; that could store simple and intuitive data and instructions; that everyone could use; that cost little and fit with the dimensions of other office products that people were used to. I had to create a new language, which didn’t need interpreters in white coats.”

Perhaps this idea of a new language between people and computers, one that is simple and intuitive, and accessible to everyone, is the real inheritance of Programma 101. Pier Giorgio Perotto created a world in which you didn’t need to be an expert to operate a computer, and nearly fifty years on, his vision has been realised in ways that no one expected. In a world where technology is developing so rapidly, the challenge is to stay true to that vision, and make sure that new devices are designed with the vision of putting people first, and remembering that human-computer interaction should be designed above all for the humans.

26 April 2010

Interactions Magazine – May/June 2010 issue

Interactions
The latest issue of Interactions Magazine is about the spread of design into new areas, write editor Jon Kolko:

“The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.”

Here are the articles available for free online:

interactions: Business, Culture, and Society
Jon Kolko
The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.

Reframing health to embrace design of our own wellbeing
Rajiv Mehta, Shelley Evenson, Paul Pangaro, Hugh Dubberly
This article describes a growing trend: framing health in terms of well-being and broadening health-care to include self-management. Self-management reframes patients as designers, an example of a shift also occurring in design practice – reframing users as designers. The article concludes with thoughts on what these changes may mean when designing for health.

Depth over breadth: designing for impact locally, and for the long haul
Emily Pilloton
In the past few years, we designers have acknowledged the imperatives of sustainability and design for the greater good, and responded by launching initiatives that are often rife with widespread cheerleading rather than deep, meaningful work. [Yet] I firmly believe that lasting impact requires all three of the following: proximity (simply being there, in the place you seek to design with and for), empathic investment (a personal and emotional stake in collective prosperity), and pervasiveness (the opposite of scattershot – involvement that has impact at multiple scales).

Solving the world’s problems through design
Nadav Savio
Design Revolution is a fantastic sourcebook of inspiring designs and creative problem solving and a deeply humanistic call to arms. Pilloton wants nothing less than for designers to focus their energy, knowledge, and talent on making people’s lives better.

Natural user interfaces are not natural
Don Norman
Gestural systems are no different from any other form of interaction. They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means well-defined modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact with the system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended consequences. As a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible actions, and guides for how they are to be conducted are required.

Making face: practices and interpretations of avatars in everyday media
Liz Danzico
We’re starting to see more and more experiences that weave avatar with message, pairing the expression of intent with content. How will the mix of image and message further proliferate through everyday life? Will the image stand for the message or will face work still be work? What will be socially acceptable, and will new etiquettes emerge in segments that cross personal, professional, and mixed boundaries?

The ubiquitous and increasingly significant status message
Bernard J. Jansen, Abdur Chowdury, Geoff Cook
The status message has evolved from its lowly beginnings into a multidimensional feature and service addressing numerous social needs.

Back to the future: bleeding-edge IVR
Ahmed Bouzid, Weiye Ma
The glaring disconnect between what companies aim to achieve in deploying interactive voice response (IVR) systems (better customer service) and what they actually do achieve (customer frustration) can be squarely laid on the shoulders of shabby voice user interface (VUI) design and implementation. The vast majority of today’s IVRs are, simply put, shamefully unusable, and customers detest them.

Intentional communication: expanding our definition of user experience design
Kristina Halvorson
Design and content. Content and design. It’s impossible (and stupid) to argue over which one is more important than the other – which should come first, which is more difficult or “strategic.” They need each other to provide context, meaning, information, and instruction in any user experience (UX).

Content strategy for everybody (even you)
Karen McGrane
When done the wrong way, creating new content and managing the approval process takes longer and is more painful than anyone expects. But planning for useful, usable content is possible – and necessary. It’s time to do it right.

interactions cafe: on language and potential
Jon Kolko
The more we carefully select our words, the more comfortable we’ll be in making the wholesale shift toward the emerging role of design in healthcare – and in other arenas where social responsibility is growing, and designers are able to value the whole person.

10 May 2009

Journal of Business Strategy on design innovation

Business Strategy
A special issue of Journal of Business Strategy on ‘The practice of innovation: design in process’, is now available.

There is a great deal of energetic discussion about why design innovation has become critical for the success and growth of businesses today and experts in business management are discussing ways to think about design as a key strategic advantage. This special issue of JBS, edited by Vijay Kumar of the Illinois Institute of Design, brings together experts from many fields to discuss how design innovation can be successfully practiced through adopting formalized design processes. The papers come from innovators in fields as diverse as healthcare, digital products, software, telecommunications, space planning, web services, city planning, and education.

Table of contents

Using design thinking to improve patient experiences in Japanese hospitals: a case study
Taisuke Uehira, Carl Kay (pp. 6-12)
The paper seeks to use a case study to describe work by a Japanese qualitative research specialist with leading office furniture manufacturer to spur innovation in product development and sales strategy in a newly targeted hospital furniture market. It aims to show how qualitative research can allow product development and sales teams to accelerate learning and pace of innovation by providing a window on needs in new market segments from a customer’s point of view.

Innovating health care delivery: the design of health services
Alan K. Duncan, Margaret A. Breslin (pp. 13-20)
The structure of health care financing, the lack of vertical and horizontal integration, and the slow translation of basic research into meaningful health outcomes for the population conspire to make innovation in health service delivery a difficult task. However, health service organizations that can more effectively and systematically understand patient needs – needs that are now poorly understood and often unarticulated – have an intrinsic advantage in delivering high value care. This -paper aims to describe a program for translating those needs into health services innovations.

The call of the city: using design methods to attract families
Kristian Buschmann, Carol Coletta (pp. 21-27)
For the first time in 50 years, young people are coming back to cities. But what happens when they have children? Convention seems to dictate they move to the suburbs where they can find big houses, big yards and good schools. This paper aims to describe how CEOs for Cities and students from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design took a fresh look at how cities can better serve families.

Pirate this: breakthrough mindsets from the web
Brandon Schauer (pp. 28-39)
The recent mix of economic constraints and new capabilities has encouraged web-based businesses to explore creative new strategies and unusual innovation processes. After years of refining these practices online, a potent set of approaches are surfacing that could transform businesses beyond the web. This paper aims to extract the new business models and practices that might be transferred into other industries to create more agile organizations and engaging customer experiences.

Beyond good: great innovations through design
Steve Sato (pp. 40-49)
The purpose of this paper is to propose that high quality innovations benefit both companies and customers. Most businesses have formal systems to ensure benefit to company, and weaker, informal systems to retain or add value to customers. This paper aims to provide a way to formally apply heuristics designers use (“design thinking”) to maintain a line-of-sight to company and customer needs in all decisions from concept through production. This approach should result in offerings that are compelling to customers and are profitable to companies.

How tangible is your strategy? How design thinking can turn your strategy into reality
Matthew Holloway (pp. 50-56)
Improving your company’s ability to execute its strategy requires increase alignment, greater agility and a singular clarity regarding the desired outcomes. This paper aims to describe how the SAP Design Services Team uses design thinking and its principles to improve the organization’s ability improve its ability to execute strategy and even evolve the way SAP identifies and defines its strategic vision.

Cultural innovation in software design: the new impact of innovation planning methods
Chris Bernard (pp. 57-69)
The purpose of this paper is to describe innovation planning methods used at Microsoft.

The discipline of product discovery: identifying breakthrough business opportunities
Jooyun Melanie Joh, Matthew Mayfield (pp. 70-77)
This paper aims to cover the authors’ experience with applying the latest methodologies in identifying and articulating product opportunities within a large, global corporation and dynamic marketplace.

Embedding innovation: design thinking for small enterprises
Antonia Ward, Ellie Runcie, Lesley Morris (pp. 78-84)
This paper aims to outline the approaches used by the UK Design Council to embed design and innovation capability in small businesses.

Innovation is good, fitness is better
James P. Hackett (pp. 85-90)
Academic journals and the popular business press are filled with articles praising innovation. But innovation is not enough. This paper proposes a higher purpose – that survival of our business systems relies on achieving a new level of fitness – and aims to suggest that design thinking is one of the keys to becoming more fit.

A process for practicing design innovation
Vijay Kumar (pp. 91-100)
Companies are increasingly adopting design processes as a key driver for their innovation practice. Design processes help companies develop innovations that produce high user value as well as economic value and business value. The purpose of this paper is to describe how design processes can be effectively used in innovation projects through a good understanding design principles, tools, and frameworks.

You can buy the whole issue as one pdf for USD 45 or EUR 33.72. You can also purchase individual articles.

9 August 2008

HP Labs ponders grabbing attention in the age of social computing

HP Labs
According to the Register, HP Labs is hard at work figuring how to harvest the collective intelligence of groups arising from “web 2.0″ and turn it into a profit.

In a short article, the Register reports on an update that Bernardo Huberman, a senior fellow and director of the Social Computing Lab at HP Labs, gave to a room of journalists yesterday on what the group has been doing.

One of the topics of research was on how a web site can more effectively present its content.

“After studying about 1,000 digg.com news stories, HP said the team was able to make a mathematical model to predict how long it takes for the popularity and novelty of an article to die off and disappear from the front page. […]

Huberman said their model suggests that arranging a web site so that new and novel items are most prominently displayed is generally more effective at attracting clicks than prioritizing based on its popularity.

HP said it tried the process on its own web site to select which items are recommended to customers. Preliminary results, according to HP researchers, showed a 30 per cent increase in the attach rate of sales.”

Interestingly, the researchers also found that “user recommendations generally yield surprisingly unimpressive results”.

“As people become increasingly resistant to traditional forms of marketing, viral advertisements and recommendations are being used more often as an alternative strategy.

But the lab found that while the likelihood of someone buying a product does increase with the number of recommendations at first — it soon plateaus to a constant, but relatively low probability of purchase.”

Read full story

3 May 2008

CHI 2008: a selection on strategic issues

CHI 2008 proceedings
Here is my selection on papers on more strategic issues presented at CHI 2008.

(Papers are linked to their pdf downloads, if available.)

Empathy and experience in HCI [abstract]
Authors: Peter Wright (Sheffield Hallam University) and John McCarthy (University College Cork)
Abstract: For a decade HCI researchers and practitioners have been developing methods, practices and designs ‘for the full range of human experience’. On the one hand, a variety of approaches to design, such as aesthetic, affective, and ludic that emphasize particular qualities and contexts of experience and particular approaches to intervening in interactive experience have become focal. On the other, a variety of approaches to understanding users and user experience, based on narrative, biography, and role-play have been developed and deployed. These developments can be viewed in terms of one of the seminal commitments of HCI, ‘to know the user’. Empathy has been used as a defining characteristic of designer-user relationships when design is concerned with user experience. In this article, we use ‘empathy’ to help position some emerging design and user-experience methodologies in terms of dynamically shifting relationships between designers, users, and artefacts.

Interactional empowerment [abstract]
Authors: Kristina Höök (Mobile Life center at Stockholm University), Anna Ståhl (Swedish Institute of Computer Science), Petra Sundström (Mobile Life center at Stockholm University) and Jarmo Laaksolaahti (Swedish Institute of Computer Science)
Abstract: We propose that an interactional perspective on how emotion is constructed, shared and experienced, may be a good basis for designing affective interactional systems that do not infringe on privacy or autonomy, but instead empowers users. An interactional design perspective may make use of design elements such as open-ended, ambiguous, yet familiar, interaction surfaces that users can use as a basis to make sense of their own emotions and their communication with one-another. We describe the interactional view on design for emotional communication, and provide a set of orienting design concepts and methods for design and evaluation that help translate the interactional view into viable applications. From an embodied interaction theory perspective, we argue for a non-dualistic, non-reductionist view on affective interaction design.

Healthy technology: a metaphor that pushed user experience to new strategic heights at Intel [abstract]
Authors: Ashwini Asokan and Michael J. Payne (Intel Corporation, Digital Home Group, User Experience Group)
Abstract: One of the biggest struggles user experience teams face is breaking through traditional notions of product strategy, planning and development to bring actionable awareness to the bigger picture around delivering full experiences that people really care about. User research and design is often focused around product & feature design in a space that is defined by out-dated boundaries imposed by history or pre-existing constraints. Research is used to create new features or product direction within these walls, and many design tools are employed to ensure the experience delivered is acceptable. This paper uses a case study of a project titled “Healthy Technology” to highlight the important role that metaphors can play in shifting conversations & strategy, from executive managers to development teams, leading to new boundaries, new strategies, a fresh look at what it means to set direction that targets complete user experiences rather than consumer appreciated features. The metaphor is discussed, through example, as more than a tool for user interface design, exploring the same as a means to alter strategic thinking in upper management as well as guide design and development teams in rethinking notions of technology to create new categories, rethink the problem space and to think beyond features. This paper outlines the research processes that lead to the creation of a metaphor and the functions of the metaphor in overcoming traditional boundaries and thinking. It describes key challenges and methods in this process of moving from research to strategic initiatives that fundamentally shift thinking, providing direction for business models, services, technologies, and industry alignment that come together to provide more than just features or products.

User experience over time
Authors: Evangelos Karapanos (Eindhoven University of Technology), Marc Hassenzahl (University of Koblenz-Landau) and Jean-Bernard Martens (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Abstract: The way we experience and evaluate interactive products develops over time. An exploratory study aimed at understanding how users form evaluative judgments during the first experiences with a product as well as after four weeks of use. Goodness, an evaluative judgment related to the overall satisfaction with the product, was largely formed on the basis of pragmatic aspects (i.e. utility and usability) during the first experiences; after four weeks of use identification (i.e. what the products expresses about its owner) became a dominant aspect of how good a product is. Surprisingly, beauty judgments were largely affected by stimulation (e.g. novelty) during the first experiences. Over time stimulation lost its power to make the product beautiful in the users’ eyes.

User experience at Google – focus on the user and all else will follow [abstract]
Authors: Irene Au, Richard Boardman, Robin Jeffries, Patrick Larvie, Antonella Pavese, Jens Riegelsberger, Kerry Rodden and Molly Stevens (Google, Inc.)
Abstract: This paper presents an overview of the User Experience (UX) team at Google. We focus on four aspects of working within Google’s product development organization: (1) a bottom-up ‘ideas’ culture, (2) a data-driven engineering approach, (3) a fast, highly iterative web development cycle, and (4) a global product perspective of designing for multiple countries. Each aspect leads to challenges and opportunities for the UX team. We discuss these, and outline some of the methodological approaches we employ to deal with them, along with some examples of our work.

10 April 2008

Videos online of Potsdam interaction design conference

Videos
Last year’s conference “Innovation Forum Interaction Design” focused on all aspects of interface and interaction design: mobile telephone and media interfaces, problem solutions and product visions, web pages and virtual worlds, art and commerce, business and science.

Speakers included Gillian Crampton Smith, Anthony Dunne, Tim Edler, Frank Jacob, Gesche Joost, Bernard Kerr, Patrick Kochlik, Kristjan Kristjansson, Bill Moggridge, Dennis Paul, Mike Richter and Bruce Sterling.

The videos are now online.

(via Bruce Sterling)

12 March 2008

Art Center College opening up a global debate

Global Dialogues
The world of design and innovation has greatly changed in the last decade. The challenges are more complex, more intricate, and more systemic, and therefore require an increasingly holistic and multidisciplinary approach, especially in education.

Or in the words of Richard Koshalek, president of the Art Center College of Design:

“The educational requirements of complex fields such as design, coupled with advances in technology and communications, demand that colleges and universities deliver knowledge and experience at a global level.”

Design schools are engaged in various explorations on how to best address this new context. Some bring in new people on their faculty, others start off industry or public sector collaborations; some collaborate with other institutions, others even merge with them (as Helsinki’s art and design school is planning to do).

The renowned Art Center College of Design has done many of the above things as well, but is now going for something much more ambitious – it is breaking out of its own physical spaces (be them the Art Center itself, California or the USA in general), and are creating a series of what I would call “open innovation forums” on a global scale, all with the aim of “developing people”.

Last week Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken was invited (thank you, Rudy) to attend one of them: the Disruptive Thinking event in Barcelona.

Disclosure: Art Center paid for the trip and stay, on the condition that we would write an article. They didn’t say anything more, so we feel free to write what we think.

The Barcelona event, organised in collaboration with the prestigious ESADE business school, is the first in a series of global dialogues that Art Center is scheduling in a number of continents, as well as online. It is also the beginning of a wider initiative towards this European design city: the Art Center Barcelona Project.

The Art Center Barcelona Project is a joint platform between Art Center and ESADE for postgraduate education, research and business networking in the field of innovation and design. This time the emphasis is on content-based international collaborations, rather than conventional bricks-and mortar “branches” overseas (as Art Center tried unsuccessfully for ten years starting in 1986 in Vevey, Switzerland).

The benefits are of course obvious: a local partner has local knowledge, local networks, local staff and local facilities. The foreign partner brings in expertise and insights that will proof to be valuable to the local partner. And the investment for the Art Center is no where in the range of building a new school. Aside from that, there are also the brand implications and opportunities for recruitment and student admissions. In short, a win-win for both.

But there is more… 
 

A social engagement

Art Center has an initiative I really like: designmatters. Launched in December 2001, Designmatters at Art Center explores the social and humanitarian benefits of design and responsible business.

“We believe that design, responsibly conceived and applied, can contribute to solving such contemporary challenges as sustainable development and providing for basic needs and services, including adequate public health, safety, education, housing and transportation.”

Designmatters, which engages Art Center students, faculty and staff, focuses on four major themes: public policy, global healthcare, human sustainable development, and social entrepreneurship. In the last years Art Center has become quite active in developing countries, and thanks to its designmatters initiative, has become the first school to be designated a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It also is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) as a civil society organisation.

Designmatters is crucially part and parcel of the Barcelona Project: collaborations with educational, civic and cultural institutions particularly on social and humanitarian issues are a key focus, which is part of the reason why there was such a strong emphasis on broader social and humanitarian issues during the Disruptive Thinking event that I attended.

One of the themes the Barcelona project particularly wants to address is the role of design in cities, which “must be redefined according to wider principles of sustainability — not only in relation to the environment, but also in terms of energy production and consumption, economic prosperity, social justice and cultural development.” And that’s how it should be.
 

Trying to think disruptively

Thinking in a disruptive way is not an easy thing to do, it requires good ideas and the power to make them stick so that they can actually become disruptive, otherwise they don’t make much impact. The overall themes of the Disruptive Thinking event — climate change, geopolitics, business, science, belief, and design, have of course a history of lots of disruptive thinking.

The organisers were courageous: they sought out “‘disruptive’ thinkers and practitioners who — despite the many risks involved — bring vital energy to bear on these issues and push them in new and productive directions for society.”

The one-day event was chaired by British journalist Richard Addis, who selected primarily British or UK-based presenters (with the exception of the ESADE dean) to be in charge of each of the six sessions. These six presenters in turn selected one to three guests each, which were of course also primarily from the US (insofar they were not at SXSW) or the UK. There wasn’t much of a presence from the rest of Europe or the world (besides the one courageous Ugandan journalist), and that was frankly a serious gap. Although the guests were very insightful and by times really funny (as only Brits can be), I really wanted more diverse viewpoints than the conference in the end was able to offer.

Josh Nakaya, an Art Center product design student did a truly excellent job at blogging the conference, and later upgraded them with responses. Also the video streams are now available. So I will refer to these summaries and videos in my comments below. There is also a webpage with the full line-up of speakers.

So let me start with tackling the sessions one-by-one.
 

Climate Change [summaryresponsevideo]

In this first session, Harry Eyers of the Financial Times conversed with Peter Head of ARUP and Sara Wheeler, an environmental writer.

Harry Eyres started by asking the panellists if rediscovering our creativity could be a key to addressing climate change, or more specifically: “Can the threat and reality of climate change be an inspiration to redesign the way we live?” And that’s what they talked about, sort of. The panellists described the current status of climate change and tried their very best on imagining strategies — such as China’s eco-cities, the importance of systemic thinking, a different culture about how we relate to nature, a better land use policy, better leadership, or a renewed attention to the spiritual dimension — that could drastically reduce the total ecological impact we have on the planet.

In the end though I didn’t hear much new nor disruptive, whereas climate change itself is such a hugely disruptive development. I was expecting more insight (why not get WWF’s climate change specialist for instance?) and more innovative ways of thinking through the problem. Sara Wheeler made one strong statement that I really liked though: “Climate change is now part of the human experience, what it is to be human. That really needs to be thought about.” It also definitely set the right tone to start off the conference with this major environmental issue.
 

Geopolitics [summaryresponsevideo]

Richard Addis chaired the session on geopolitics. His selection of guests was unusual but highly defendable: Ron Haviv who is a war photo journalist (with a website worth checking out), and Bernard Tabaire, who is the courageous, thoughtful and highly articulate editor of the Ugandan newspaper The Monitor, and keeps on getting in trouble with the Ugandan authorities. I liked the idea of talking about geopolitics with people who are living the effects of these choices in their daily lives.

Both Ron and Bernard are in the business of creating awareness and holding people responsible for their actions. Yet we need leaders, and although Richard started off with the right statement (“politics is about leadership”), the discussion quickly degraded into rather (perhaps disruptive but definitely) unrealistic ideas for change, such as abolishing armies or abolishing politicians, underlined by sharp criticisms of government behaviour.

Reflecting back on it, I agree entirely with what Josh Nakaya wrote in his response, of which I quote the conclusion:

“Again, the core questions were not really addressed: Are there any political ideas so radically disruptive that they could redesign for the better the way the great powers run the world? Can political ideas solve anything? Or are we doomed to a permanent state of violent flux? I believe the answers to these are yes, yes, and no. Mr. Tabaire presented the seed of a radical idea that was left untouched: developed countries, on the whole, face less life-threatening situations than undeveloped ones. Development starts with education. What then, of any army whose primary strategy is preemptive action and whose primary tactic is education?”

To me, it was a dialogue full of promise that somehow never made the cut of impactful debate. 
 

Business [summaryresponsevideo]

This dialogue was the smallest of all: Lynda Sale, a partner of Sale Owen, a marketing consultant and artist discussed disruptive thinking in business with Alfons Sauquet, dean of the ESADE business school.

Sauquet was very much the wise academic who brought structure to it all, e.g. by his distinction between incremental and transformational innovation. He was also strong at pointing out how conservative businesses really are, and why they are often antithetical to innovation and that this also can also hamper recruitment. ESADE is doing some work for a French cosmetics company that came to realise that they couldn’t attract the best and the brightest anymore because what they were offering didn’t seem to be relevant anymore to these young people. So how would business need to change to address such a challenge? And how should businesses change to address the challenges of climate change or geopolitics?

In essence, Sauquet argues, companies need to rethink themselves so that they will provide an environment that attracts the best people so that innovation can take place. 
 

Science [summaryresponsevideo]

This was definitely the best session, and if there is one video you should watch it is this one. I very much enjoyed when theoretical physicist Fotini Markopoulou told a baffled audience, after a brief but sharp introduction, that she had come to the conclusion that “space is not really a valid concept, it doesn’t exist”. She paused to give the audience the time to digest this highly disruptive idea, and then continued with an explanation of her thinking, concluding “If you believe space exists, it leads to all kinds of problems.”

Other “experts in what we don’t understand” on this panel, chaired by science writer Robert Matthews, were astronomer David Hughes and mathematician David Orell.

Aside from some more disruptive thoughts (why shouldn’t there be a conference on disruptive thinking on a planet 400 light years away from us?), the three scientists each underlined how much less they know now than they thought they knew at the beginning of their careers. This of course implies, as astronomer David Hughes said, a deep sense of humility, which is a lesson not just for scientists.
 

Belief [summaryresponsevideo]

Bigna Pfenninger, founding editor of The Drawbridge, invited academic scientist Charles Pasternak and the endearing egyptologist Joann Fletcher.

Three main lines of thought came through from this discursive session: spirituality cannot just be pushed aside as a delusion; it’s impossible to understand large parts of our world and our history without understanding or appreciating belief systems; and belief – whether you think it is a placebo or not – is so powerful that it can affect circumstances.

The dialogue didn’t develop much, sometimes there wasn’t even much of a dialogue. My take back of it all was Joann Fletcher’s statement at the end: “I think globally there should be more respect for the individual. People should be respected for their own individual opinions within any of these ‘fundamentalist’ groups. I have every right to say what I think regardless of the religious set-up in my country. Individual voices need to be heard”.

Looking back, while I agree with Josh Nakaya’s comments on this session, I would also like to add that belief here was quite narrowly interpreted as religious belief or spirituality. Yet, we all have beliefs, convictions, assumptions, which are not justified by facts. We construct beliefs in order to manage our world. But our world often changes more rapidly than these belief systems do, which leads to all kinds of frictions, with people fighting the battles of the past, or politicians making decisions about the future with belief systems that in essence were defined by facts and experiences that go several decennia back in time. 
 

Design [summaryresponsevideo]

Finally, Stephen Bayley, who is a design commentator and founder of the Design Museum, had three guests: Blaise Agüera y Arcas, an architect at Microsoft Live Labs, architect of Seadragon, and the co-creator of Photosynth, Chris Lefteri, a materials expert and product designer, and Thom Mayne, architect and founder of Morphosis.

A lot of time was spent on the discussion of abstract concepts like beauty or permanence, whereas other ideas — the relevance of ecosystem thinking for design, concepts such as engagement or mystery, and how we are nowadays increasingly driven by the experience of the interaction — were touched upon but not further developed. In the words of Josh Nakaya:

“I felt like design—as the final dialogue and the core focus of the organization sponsoring the dialogues—should have been the capstone of the whole event. However, the dialogue was scattered, focusing primarily on whether or not beauty exists, and whether permanence or impermanence should be a focus of designers’ work. The coming disruptions in industrial design, architecture, and planning and how they would affect our lives were to be discussed, but this question was never even recognized, much less addressed.”

Stephen Bayley was apparently strongly guided by an aesthetic, product-oriented concept of design: beauty and permanence are concepts that are to some extent relevant within this context. But design has moved on, so — quit naturally — the participants built on these concepts to make their own points, which often diverged strongly from the question at the outset.

In short

The event as it happened was not ideal: some of the presenters were not leading their sessions very well, not everyone had valuable ideas to contribute, the match between the theme of disruptive thinking and what was actually being discussed was absent by times, and there was not always a clear sense of direction.

It was clear that the sessions were underrehearsed, if rehearsed at all. Too often people went off on their own tangent, with a presenter unable or unwilling to pull them back on a clear path.

I also wondered afterwards to what extent I actually had heard new things, or whether the things I had heard I couldn’t just as easily have picked up in a book or a good magazine.

The answer is probably yes. But books and magazines are monologues by their nature. This was in concept and execution a series of dialogues. In the beginning of this article I described how this Barcelona event fits into a wider strategy of open collaboration, open communications and social engagement. This is not just a valuable and laudable approach, but also one which is highly relevant and timely in contemporary society. We need more of these initiatives, not less. They have to be fine-tuned and improved, no doubt, but in essence we need dialogues and collaboration between disciplines, between different parts of society, between different regions in the world. The world has become too complex for each of us to figure things out by themselves.

And that is what to me these Global Dialogues are really about.

I also hope that Art Center will deliver on its commitment to continue the conversation online, to have a continuous dialogue. The event blog is now basically dead, and there have been no comments whatsoever on any of the posts that I could find. So probably this is not the right tool – a new one needs to be developed. 
 

What about the US?

The Art Center is an American school, its students are based in California. How can they participate in the global dialogues? In fact, many of the Art Center events are also taking place in California: the recent two-day summit on Systems, Cities & Sustainable Mobility (proceedings are already available – the next summit is in February 2009), and the upcoming Serious Play conference.

12 February 2008

Videos of Interaction 08 presentations now online

IxDA
Most of the presentations of the recent Interaction 08 conference are now online. 

Here they are in alphabetical order of the speaker’s last name:

There is also a Sunday recap video.

4 September 2007

People regularly featured on this blog

In alphabetical order:

A
Marko Ahtisaari
Ken Anderson

B
Nik Baerten
Genevieve Bell
Chris Bernard
Tim Berners-Lee
Ralf Beuker
Nina Boesch
Danah Boyd
Stefana Broadbent
Tyler Brûlé
Bill Buxton

C
Jan Chipchase
Hilary Cottam
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alistair Curtis

D
Uday Dandavate
Liz Danzico
Regine Debatty
Paul Dourish

E
Jyri Engeström
Richard Eisermann

G
Jesse James Garrett
Fabien Girardin
Anand Giridharadas
Bruno Giussani
Adam Greenfield

H
Laurent Haug

I
Mizuko Ito

J
Bob Jacobson
Matt Jones

K
Jonathan Kestenbaum
Anne Kirah
Dirk Knemeyer
Jon Kolko
Mike Kuniavsky

L
Loïc Lemeur
Dan Lockton
Victor Lombardi

M
Nico Macdonald
John Maeda
Ranjit Makkuni
Ezio Manzini
Roger Martin
Stefano Marzano
Simona Maschi
Bruce Mau
Grant McCracken
Jess McMullin
Peter Merholz
Crysta Metcalf
Bill Moggridge
Peter Morville
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen

N
Jakob Nielsen
Donald Norman
Nicolas Nova
Bruce Nussbaum

P
Steve Portigal

R
Carlo Ratti
Howard Rheingold
Louis Rosenfeld
Stephen Rustow

S
Dan Saffer
Nathan Shedroff
Jared Spool
Yaniv Steiner
Bruce Sterling

T
John Thackara

V
Marco van Hout
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Vanderbeeken
Joannes Vandermeulen
Jeffrey Veen
Timo Veikkola
Michele Visciola
Eric von Hippel

W
Tricia Wang
Luke Wroblewski

Z
Paola Zini
Jan-Christoph Zoels

25 January 2007

Another Microsoft user experience “evangelist”

The Doblin Trinity
Microsoft has hired William Tschumy as its second user experience “evangelist”, with the aim of supporting Chris Bernard “to communicate Microsoft’s position on the importance of user experience in software design”.

Bernard started his Microsoft evangelising in June 2006 on the TypePad blog Design Thinking Digest.

Tschumy, who was director of experience strategy at Scient, lead information architect at Walmart.com and director of experience at Flock, has written a nice short piece on why he has taken on that role.

Read full story

24 January 2007

Microsoft and user experience

Microsoft Expression
David Verba, director of technology at Adaptive Path, reflects – with some frustration – on how Microsoft interprets user experience.

According to Verba, “Microsoft still thinks more bells and whistles means richer experience and richer experience means better experience.”

“I attended Microsoft’s Expression Session yesterday, the launch event for their new Expression suite of products. I came away hopeful and frustrated in equal parts. Microsoft has jumped with both feet onto the User Experience bandwagon. It’s just not clear that they understand what User Experience means.

The first red flag was this quote: ‘Design is form + function + flair‘ followed up with the Mont Blanc Diamond pen as an example. Just picture a Mont Blanc pen literally encrusted with diamonds. Admittedly I’m not the target audience for such a thing but it does highlight the fact that ‘design’ is not equal to ‘good design’, nor is it something that is lathered onto a product.

More telling was this snippet. After stating ‘the experience is the product‘ (I heard that exact phrase several times), they stated ‘platform+tools+craft = UX‘. As with the design quote, they conflated user experience with good user experience. Craft was defined as ‘that thing that designers do’, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t combined with ‘designers work in Photoshop and produce tiffs’. There was no sense of design strategy, or even design on a deeper level than visual design. There is also something that seems disconnected about discussing user experience and user centered design by discussing tools and platform rather than talking about the user and their interactions with your product.

And finally, there was a graphic at the end that showed a spectrum from web applications to desktops applications, with the former labeled ‘basic user experience‘ and the latter labeled ‘best user experience‘. Microsoft still thinks more bells and whistles means richer experience and richer experience means better experience. Good user experiences can be affected by visual design or richer interfaces but its foundation needs to be the appropriate interface to what the user is trying to accomplish.”

Read full story

(See also this post by Antoine Valot and a first Microsoft reaction by Chris Bernard.)

14 December 2006

Good user experience at Microsoft

A Changing Culture
The lead article on the Microsoft design site is about changing the corporate culture through a focus on good user experiences.

The article, written by Chris Bernard, Microsoft’s user experience ‘evangelist’ (and also reproduced on his blog), doesn’t provide drastic new insights for readers of this blog.

Bernard though takes his title of ‘evangelist’ (a job title that makes me cringe, as it refers too much to the American Christian right) seriously and sings the praises of his company left and right:

“I feel empowered to be a designer at Microsoft because it’s perhaps one of the only companies that puts as much effort into making great design and development tools as it does in software for consumers and the enterprise. We’re far from seeing the best that Microsoft has to offer with some of the technology that drives Vista, digital devices and cross-platform technologies for the Web. But the tools and the hooks into our technology are there right now. Whether you develop standards based applications for the Web, rich media applications that run in the browser, or have a desire to extend your customers’ reach with next-generation technology on the desktop and in digital devices, Microsoft is creating a new paradigm for creating compelling digital experiences.”

Read full story

A more sobering article on Microsoft’s user experience efforts was written by David Pogue, the technology columnist of the New York Times. He calls Windows Vista great on looks (though in large part copied from Mac OS X), more secure, but sometimes rather inconsistent in its interface implementation. Yet on the whole Pogue gives it a pass.