Putting People First

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16 December 2014

World Development Report 2015 explores “Mind, Society, and Behavior”

WDR 2015 Inforgraphic

WASHINGTON, December 2, 2014 — Development policies based on new insights into how people actually think and make decisions will help governments and civil society achieve development goals more effectively. A richer and more accurate understanding of human behavior can make it easier to tackle such difficult development challenges as increasing productivity, breaking the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next, and acting on climate change, finds a new World Bank report.

World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior examines early, exciting work that suggests ways of diagnosing and solving the psychological and social factors that influence development. The new approaches are complements to a host of other standard economic tools.

People do not always make deliberative, independent decisions based on careful self-interested calculations, the report finds. Rather, they tend to think quickly and to use mental shortcuts and shared mindsets. By factoring this in, governments and other actors can design programs that make it easier for individuals to cooperate in the pursuit of shared goals.

To inspire a fresh look at how development work is done, the report outlines three principles of human decision making: thinking automatically, thinking socially, and thinking with mental models. Much of human thinking is automatic and depends on whatever comes to mind most effortlessly. All people are deeply social and many will cooperate as long as others do too, and they are influenced by social networks and norms. Finally, most people do not invent new concepts; rather they use mental models drawn from their societies and shared histories to interpret their experiences.

Interventions need to take account of these insights and be designed through a ‘learning by doing’ approach. The factors and mindsets affecting decisions are local and contextual. It is hard to predict in advance which aspects of program design and implementation will drive the choices people will make.

The report applies the three principles to multiple areas, including early childhood development, productivity, household finance, health and health care, and climate change.

The report stresses that focusing more closely on correctly defining and diagnosing problems can lead to better designed interventions. Since even experts’ initial assumptions about the causes of behavior can be wrong, the implementation period should test several interventions, each based on different assumptions about choice and behavior. After adoption, the interventions’ effects should inform new rounds of definition, diagnosis, design, implementation, and testing. The process of refinement should continue as interventions are scaled up.

Full press release | Feature story | Report website | Full report download (pdf) | Infographic | Promotional video | Launch video

8 December 2014

Understanding human behaviour to improve mobile research design


Shirley Eadie, founding member and CEO of Pondering Panda, explored some of the idiosyncrasies of the human condition at last month’s MRMW Africa conference [Market Research in the Mobile World], in order to help attendees understand the impact of those idiosyncrasies on research design, to lead to quick wins for better, more accurate mobile research.

Eadie’s presentation, writes Leigh Andrews, “was very well received as she drew on the vast and varied learnings from the field of behavioural sciences to explore the inaccuracy of memory as well as how an inflated sense of self, irrationality, and our emotional nature wreak havoc when conducting research, as well as how to practically apply what we’ve learned about the human condition when researching mobile phones.”

5 December 2014

Using sensors in design research


Elliott Hedman is the founder of the design consultancy mPath, where he’s pioneering a new approach to design research. It combines stress-testing sensors with traditional observational techniques. The idea is to uncover the tiny, often imperceptible emotional moments that shape our reaction to products and experiences.

It’s an infant, imperfect technique, but it has intriguing potential. In the future, sensors like these could help designers fine-tune user experiences to an unprecedented degree. Some day, they could even make for products that do the fine-tuning themselves.

5 December 2014

How US state governments can improve customer service


A McKinsey Center for Government survey finds that Americans are often dissatisfied with state services—and identifies significant opportunities for improvement.

Deloitte measured the satisfaction of citizens by surveying approximately 17,000 people across 15 US states. This online survey included more than 100 questions asking citizens to rate their satisfaction across a range of activities, including state services overall, specific attributes of service delivery (such as speed), and specific types of services (for example, public transportation).

Several common themes emerged:

  • Speed, simplicity, and efficiency make citizens happier.
  • Satisfaction is often lower for more essential services.
  • People who don’t use a service are often more skeptical about its quality.
  • Citizens are less satisfied with government services than with private-sector services.
  • Most citizens prefer to interact with government online.

Deloitte’s analysis of the survey and their experience in the public and private sectors suggest that government leaders can take four steps to improve the customer experience in line with the private sector:

  • Put services for citizens on the leadership agenda.
  • Set priorities for innovation.
  • Focus transformation programs on service elements that matter most to the satisfaction of citizens.
  • Measure citizen satisfaction regularly.
4 December 2014

There is no such thing as UX Design


Peter Merholz argues that the entire “field” of user experience emerged for one reason — to accommodate, and overcome, poor (or non-existent) product management practices.

He now wants to retire the term:

“‘User experience design’ served a purpose when it was necessary to shine a light on a glaring gap in the ways we were working. That gap has largely been addressed, and I see no reason not to retire that term.”

I am not so sure.

3 December 2014

The politics of the sharing economy


Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor for Culture and Media at The New School in New York, writes that he “support[s] peer production and sharing practices but [he is] vexed by attempts to subsume them into the new corporate hype of “the sharing revolution” that comes with calls to make the world a better place and comparisons to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.”

“Value creation is no longer bound to corporate wage-labour. The value that is created through the collaborative economy is based on social connectedness, it is based on communities, it is based on connectivity; it is grounded in the ubiquitous use of mobile phones, collaboration, and economies of scale. Free labour may not be the problem itself but at the same time, I am not interested in being a wheel on the bandwagon of any soon-to-be billionaire incumbent.”

3 December 2014

Ericsson’s new ConsumerLab report about the smart citizen


Last month, Ericsson published its latest ConsumerLab report, entitled “Smart Citizens: How the internet facilitates smart choices in city life.”

The study covers 9 cities worldwide-Beijing, Delhi, London, New York, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Stockholm and Tokyo-and explores how as citizens become smarter, so do the cities they inhabit. The report explores different concepts that will enable people to take a more proactive and participatory role in city life, from digital health monitoring to interactive road navigation and social bike and car sharing.

Key findings (from the press release):

  • When city dwellers use the internet to make smarter, more informed choices, cities become smarter too. Smartphone owners in cities globally are now making this happen
  • Citizens want to use their smartphones to alleviate concerns with health, improve communication with authorities, and navigate urban traffic. As these changes would be retrofitted over existing structures, smart citizens want current players to internet-enable their services
27 November 2014

Why the world needs anthropologists – an update


Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower
Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano
Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00

Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, and presents opportunities for establishing long-lasting cooperation between academics and practitioners.

The symposium will feature three world-known speakers in the field of applied anthropology.

The first one is Antonio Luigi Palmisano, Professor of Social and Economic Anthropology at the University of Salento (Italy). His research has addressed, among other, the relation between customary and state law, the relationship between welfare and the state, and integration processes. He has conducted research in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and worked as an advisor on over fifty international agencies’ and states’ missions.

His presentation will be followed by a talk given by Rikke Ulk, the CEO and founder of Antropologerne, a project-based consultancy firm in Copenhagen (Denmark). Pioneering the approach of combining anthropology and design methods with co-creation, Rikke continuously strives to ensure that insight and change lead to innovation that is valuable for people, society, and the planet.

The final speech will be delivered by Michele Visciòla, President of a Turin-based user experience design company Experientia (Italy). Michele is an international expert on usability engineering, human computer interaction and user-centred innovation. He has specific interests in new interfaces, notification systems, scenario design, and the usability-aesthetics relationship.

The event will conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Dan Podjed, Coordinator of EASA Applied Anthropology Network. Guests of the discussion will be the three speakers and two other anthropologists – Desirée Pangerc, applied anthropologist and Professor at CIELS University Campus (Italy), and Peter Simonič, initiator of political change and Assistant Professor at University of Ljubljana (Slovenia).

The event is organised by Applied Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), CIELS University Campus, University of Ljubljana, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, VU University Amsterdam, and KULA Slovenian Ethnological and Anthropological Association. The symposium is supported by Slovenian Research Agency.

Download flyer

For additional information please contact Meta Gorup (EASA Applied Anthropology Network).

27 November 2014

Deep dive into drinking occasions


Five years into his role as head of strategic insights at Heineken UK, Mick Doran believes that the brewing industry is learning valuable lessons from other FMCG sectors in becoming more consumer inspired and brand led.

“Since he joined the brewer, Doran has established a shopper segmentation framework, which he says has helped his department to have more fruitful discussions with consumers, as well as internally. The ultimate aim of this segmentation is for Heineken to deliver products that meet changing consumer wants or needs – by looking at the ‘what, who, when, where, why’ – and the ‘why not’ – of shopping decisions.”

27 November 2014

Are we viewing consumers as humans?


Underneath all the shopping, online searching, and purchasing is a human being who takes a particular action for very personal reasons, writes Jure Klepic in The Huffington Post.

Those reasons maybe based on a response to advertising or a referral from a trusted influencer, but it is just as likely that there is something that is engrained in their consciousness as a member of a particular cultural group. Marketing success comes from uncovering cultural differences and comprehending how those differences impact a brand or product.

Many companies have started moving away from the numbers and statistics by utilising anthropological and ethnographic research for their marketing and management teams. These professionals provide a new method of gaining insights of consumers’ culture, allowing them to look at consumers wholistically rather than just numerically (as human beings, instead of just numbers).

Klepic concludes: “Companies which take the time to study cultures and subcultures, look for patterns and themes, and truly look at their consumers as human beings instead of just marketing statistics will increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and improve their overall consumer experience.”

27 November 2014

Intel, Tony Salvador, and design anthropology


Why would Intel need to conduct a tremendous amount of ethnographic research if all they are manufacturing are microchips?

This short essay by Ioanis Hristodoulou eexamines Intel’s role in design anthropology on a worldwide context, exploring the work of Tony Salvador, who directs research in Intel’s Experience Insights Lab.

Tony’s official role is to “identify new, strategic opportunities for technology caused on an understanding of fluctuating, global socio-cultural values” (Intel, n.d.). Through its use and support of design anthropological practices, Intel has continued to remain relevant in an extremely competitive market.

“Salvador explains that because a CPU’s development cycle lasts multiple years, “it becomes incumbent on us to think of consumers needs ahead of time” (Yoshida, 2011). Through design anthropology praxis, Intel challenges the traditional notions of consumers and transforms them into “social beings, people with desires, wishes, needs, wants – some articulated, some unrecognized” (Salvador et al, 1999).”

21 November 2014

Everyday rituals and digital tech in the families of mobile workers


Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There
Jo-Anne Richard and Paulina Yurman (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art)
David Kirk and David Chatting (Culture Lab, Newcastle University)
Paper presented at the EPIC Conference, New York, September 2014

This paper reports on current interdisciplinary design research that explores values held by individuals in their performance of everyday or ‘quotidian’ rituals in family life. The work is focused on mobile workers who may be away from home and family for extended and/or regular periods of time. During the course of the research, a key hurdle that has arisen has revolved around gaining access to families for the purpose of conducting traditional ethnographic studies. For many mobile workers who are separated from the family on a regular basis, the idea of having an ethnographic researcher present during what becomes very limited and therefore sacrosanct family time has proved difficult to negotiate. Therefore the design researchers have had to develop more designerly means of engagement with ‘the field site’ through a series of design interventions that effectively provide forms of ethnographic data when both the researcher and the researched are away from the field site, namely the family home.

21 November 2014

Health tech and the digital revolution


The London Design Museum has launched Health Tech and You – a search for the best new health tech ideas, inventions and devices.

Director Deyan Sudjic reflects on how the digital revolution is breaking down doors in the health industry – and showcases three recent life-changing innovations.

“Healthcare is perhaps among the most private and sensitive of worlds to join the digital jamboree. A sense of threat in the proliferation of personal health apps, devices and wearable technologies that gather our personal data can only be offset by a belief that we really can use this data to manage serious long term conditions and track signs and symptoms of disease.

If we do believe it, we’re about to witness a transformation of the global healthcare industry, led by an independent, consumer-led (and unregulated) health tech market. This radical change is breaking on to a community of medical practitioners whose purpose is about to be dramatically enhanced, or challenged, by the growth of patient-led healthcare.”

20 November 2014

The Banks of the Future: An Experience Design Perspective


Banks should shift their role from payment processors to trusted consumer advisors by focusing on the customer experience, argues Rob Girling in an Op-Ed piece for PSFL.

“My advice to banks is to start by looking from the outside of your organization in, in order to truly empathize with your customers. This customer-focused, experience-centric innovation can then be utilized with an innovation methodology called design thinking, a human-centered approach to design that considers the desirability, viability and feasibility of a project in order to create a preferable result. Design thinking done well is an investment that results in major improvements to core customer experience metrics.

In the age of the customer, banks can no longer afford to rely on their traditional services and approaches to consumers. They need to build strong customer relationships through experiences that make consumers think of their banks not as a utility, but as trusted advisors.”

Rob Girling is the co-founder and principal of Artefact.

20 November 2014

[Book] Design for Policy


Design for Policy
Edited by Christian Bason, Chief Executive, Danish Design Centre
Series: Design for Social Responsibility
Hardcover: 250 pages
Publisher: Gower Pub Co; December 28, 2014

Design for Policy is the first publication to chart the emergence of collaborative design approaches to innovation in public policy. Drawing on contributions from a range of the world’s leading academics, design practitioners and public managers, it provides a rich, detailed analysis of design as a tool for addressing public problems and capturing opportunities for achieving better and more efficient societal outcomes.

In his introduction, Christian Bason suggests that design may offer a fundamental reinvention of the art and craft of policy making for the twenty-first century. From challenging current problem spaces to driving the creative quest for new solutions and shaping the physical and virtual artefacts of policy implementation, design holds a significant yet largely unexplored potential.

The book is structured in three main sections, covering the global context of the rise of design for policy, in-depth case studies of the application of design to policy making, and a guide to concrete design tools for policy intent, insight, ideation and implementation. The summary chapter lays out a future agenda for design in government, suggesting how to position design more firmly on the public policy stage.

Design for Policy is intended as a resource for leaders and scholars in government departments, public service organizations and institutions, schools of design and public management, think tanks and consultancies that wish to understand and use design as a tool for public sector reform and innovation.


This book: an overview
Introduction: the design for policy nexus, Christian Bason

Section 1 Design in Context:

  • Design in policy: challenges and sources of hope for policymakers, Tom Bentley
  • Public design in global perspective: empirical trends, Christian Bason and Andrea Schneider
  • Innovating public policy: allowing for social complexity and uncertainty in the design of public outcomes, Jesper Christiansen and Laura Bunt
  • Towards policymaking as designing: policymaking beyond problem-solving and decision-making, Sabine Junginger
  • Innovating large-scale transformations, Banny Banerjee
  • Strategic design and the art of public sector innovation, Marco Steinberg

Section 2 Policy in Practice:

  • Design and policies for collaborative services, Ezio Manzini
  • Synthesizing policy and practice: the case of co-designing better outcomes for vulnerable families, Sarah Forrester and John Body
  • Using an urban design process to inform policy, Christopher T. Boyko and Rachel Cooper
  • Designing legitimacy: the case of a government innovation lab, Kit Lykketoft
  • The project: designing with purpose and across emergent organizational culture, Mariana Amatullo
  • Reflections on designing for social innovation in the public sector: a case study in New York City, Eduardo Staszowski, Scott Brown and Benjamin Winter
  • Friendly hacking into the public sector: (re)designing public policies within regional governments, François Jégou, Romain Thévenet and Stéphane Vincent

Section 3 Design Tools for Policy:

  • Tools for intent: strategic direction by design, John Body and Nina Terrey
  • Tools for insight: design research for policymaking, Andrea Siodmok
  • Tools for ideation: evocative visualization and playful modelling as drivers of the policy process, Joachim Halse
  • Tools for implementation, Simona Maschi and Jennie Winhall

The frontiers of design for policy, Christian Bason

About the Editor

Christian Bason is Chief Executive of the Danish Design Centre (DDC), which works to strengthen the value of all forms of design in society. Before joining DDC, Christian headed MindLab, a cross-governmental innovation lab, and the public organization practice of Ramboll Management, a consultancy. Christian is also a university lecturer, and has presented to and advised governments around the world. He is a regular columnist and the author of four books on leadership, innovation and design, most recently Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society. Christian holds an M.Sc. in political science from Aarhus University, executive education from Harvard Business School and the Wharton School, and is a doctoral fellow at Copenhagen Business School.

19 November 2014

Fundamental principles of great UX design


In this edition of Ask UXmatters (a series curated by Janet M. Six), an eight-person expert panel looks at the importance of considering the fundamental principles of great design — not just UX design principles, but design principles in general. The panel also discusses how great UX design takes place within organizations, looking at this topic on many different levels:

  • How can you create great designs when working with a variety of designers with different backgrounds and while working within the constraints of project-defined goals?
  • How can the presence of User Experience at the C-level and, in general, garnering support from the C-level affect our ability to implement great designs?
  • How can we produce great designs in a repeatable manner? Keep reading for the answers to all of these important questions?

The following eight experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters:

  • Leo Frishberg, Product Design Manager at Intel Corporation
  • Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Principal Consultant at Strategic UX; Publisher and Editor in Chief, UXmatters; Founding Director of Interaction Design Association (IxDA); UXmatters columnist
  • Peter Hornsby, Web Design and UX Manager at Royal London; UXmatters columnist
  • Jordan Julien, Independent Experience Strategy Consultant
  • Jim Nieters, Global Head, User Experience, of HP’s Consumer Travel Division; UXmatters columnist
  • Eryk Pastwa, Vice President of Design at Creatix
  • Daniel Szuc, Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd.
  • Jo Wong, Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
19 November 2014

A profile of Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google


As part of an on-going series profiling people, institutions and programs in the EPIC People community, Katharina Rochjadi of Swinburne University of Technology has now profiled Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google.

“Conducting ethnographic work is not an end in itself. Elizabeth believes that by being a design ethnographer we are in the ‘business of translation’. We are making observations that can be interpreted to development teams or business partners. She also thinks that there might be a scenario in which we have to accept being wrong about our assumptions.”

19 November 2014

Why wearables should be free


Companies shouldn’t just give out wearables for free; they should pay users for data, argues Hans Neubert, frog’s chief creative officer.

“Owners of wearable technology, like the upcoming Apple Watch or Microsoft Band, are the most vital part of the product ecosystem because they generate valuable information each time they wear their devices. Yet they also pay for the privilege. Brands should rethink their value proposition, make wearable devices free, and monetize the data, or risk losing out on the possibility of mass-market adoption. […]

Convincing consumers to wear a product that lacks an emotional connection, and tells them something they already know (or can easily guess), requires a nuanced strategy: incentivize the regular usage of the device and monetize the data in a way that is transparent and rewarding for everyone involved.”

8 November 2014

Society’s sandbox


Steve Daniels, director at Makeshift magazine, explains why informal economies are the world’s biggest — and most overlooked — design research opportunity.

“Informal economies are society’s sandbox, where early experimentation can take place freely. In the same way that thoughtless acts inspire us to rethink products and services, the way people conduct everyday business outside traditional legal frameworks forces us to rethink entire societies. Free from political and institutional constraints, informal entrepreneurs can respond to needs on the ground and challenge the status quo. Their patterns of innovation are particularly hard to replicate in formal organizations because they also tend to innovate out of necessity.

This is why informal economies are the world’s biggest opportunity for design research, and yet we walk right by them every day.”

7 November 2014

Technology-enabled navigation and mobility for people with sight loss


Getting around cities is a nerve-wracking experience for too many people, especially those living with sight loss. Too often it feels like public spaces and services – from parks to transport systems – are designed with insufficient consideration for the people they serve.

Cities Unlocked was created to help fix this. Guide Dogs, a UK Charity for the visually impaired, and Microsoft joined forces in 2011 to improve mobility and navigation for people with sight loss, and Future Cities Catapult, a global urban innovation centre, followed in 2013. Over the last year, the team has been working towards realising one ambition: to make cities more accessible for people with sight loss.

They have taken a holistic approach to identifying the challenges that urban environments pose for the visually impaired, and developed a demonstrator device in response. The result is a new headset (video) that allows a smartphone app to provide the wearer with 3D-soundscapes, augmenting reality to provide a richer understanding of their surroundings.

Testing demonstrated that the technology helps people feel more comfortable in their surroundings and better placed to navigate their environment. But this is just the start: the team believe that this research provides a new way of thinking about people, places and the information that flows between the two. By opening the flow of data within cities, we can help everyone move around their city with confidence.

More information:
> Blog post/essay by Dan Hill, executive director of Futures and Best Practice, Future Cities Catapult
> Articles and videos: BBC | Daily Telegraph | Dezeen | CityMetric | The Guardian