February 28, 2004

Making New Products

I gave a presentation the other night at the Design Council in London that explained the User Centred Design process we went through when designing a product for 'The Coroporation'. Afterward, I recieved a good question in an email from one of the attendees. I'm publishing it here with my thoughts.

Q: "... in this case you already knew what you wanted to create, but what would the steps be if you were going to be very innovative trying to create a new service that has never been implemented before?"

A: Market research is able to flesh out a lot more about where there may be gaps in the marketplace for a particular type of product. However, this can be quite trend based. After you have considered this you need to focus on ethnographic research and structure it in such a way that it exposes where people are ‘getting around a problem(s)’ that illustrates to the aforementioned gap in the market.

Aside from these structured approaches, there’s no substitute for a flash of inspiration. The research above is a good way to feed the mind in order to get to that point of a great idea. Present it to a multidisciplinary group of creative people and run a structured brainstorming session around it (that whittles down really good ‘out there’ ideas into a few well defined concepts).

And occasionally, a flash of inspiration can come in the form on an idea from one mind and it spreads like a virus (memes). When they spread like that, it’s a pretty good sign there’s something to it and user research then serves to validate rather than inspire.

Once you’ve arrived at an idea, try and boil down as many different permutations/manifestations of it as possible into sketch form and test for feasibility and user acceptance. Beware! Testing for user acceptance of an idea is a tricky business because the facilitation of any session will heavily influence the outcome. From this you will be left with a smaller number of options which you develop to the next stage and iterate this validation process until your left with one model you decide to develop.

An alternative to the ‘creative people in a room’ method is to run a series of participatory design workshops with your target market, to work toward creating something that will be useful for them. This is not for the faint hearted, and is still a fledgling method. It can be very informative, it can also be pretty useless depending on how it is run. In my experience, it’s best to have small groups of lay people working with a user experience designer to help them realise ideas.

Posted by Ant at 02:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

Nice Information Design

This is a nice peice of information design using flash to morph between 3 views of the same map. This is what I would catagorise as really appropriate use of this authoring tool (i.e. doing something that can't be done using html or an equally standard delivery language).

Dynamap – This Flash-based demo attempts to capture elements of the Dynamap technology. Multiple layers of information become viewable as the substrate is rotated across the viewing angle. By scrolling the mouse vertically, users are able to mimic this effect.

Posted by Ant at 05:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Screen Reader Simulator

I happened upon this site/app which can simulate how your website is interpreted by a screen reader for the visually impaired.

Screen Reader Simulation

Very useful!

Posted by Ant at 05:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack