25 August 2007

Jan Chipchase of Nokia on the challenges of human-centred design

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A Path, Adapted
Jan Chipchase, principal researcher at Nokia Design, recently gave a talk at User Experience Week 2007, an event organised by Adaptive Path. His summary:

That as human centered design practitioners we talk about, well, putting humans at the center of the design process. Which is all fine and dandy except that in the context of designing our ubiquitiously connected and oh-so-smart future this roughly equates to understanding the sum of all human experiences, which is clearly impossible. The joy of aiming high and failing. Or not?

That the path to a good project can start with the simplest of questions. Who are you? How can you prove it? What do you carry? Why did you do that thing you did?

That the deep pockets of a corporate research lab/design studio and buy-in from upper management make for a well resourced project, but that ultimately all it takes to get started is an inquisitive mind and a bit of positive attitude. Point in case? – the years of illiteracy research which I’ve written about previously and which is ongoing in the research lab started out as a three week scoping project with no travel budget, relied on the voluntary assistance of a friendly India based subcontractor who gave up her weekend to collect data on our behalf. The resulting report showed sufficient promise to warrant further (better resourced) investigation. And the subcontractor? Ah, she earned her place on the team in studies from Cairo to Tehran, most recently in Dharavi, Mumbai. Looking for experience? Willing to work for peanuts? Of course you are.

And that you’d be surprised at the internal credibility that comes from external reporting of the design research. By this I don’t mean peer reviewed navel gazing or at the other extreme, lite fluff pieces. But simply that when your research is what they see when they open their favourite press, in their mind’s eye you’ve arrived. For now at least a virtuous circle.”

Download presentation (PowerPoint, 4.3 mb, slides)

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