Running contextual design research for service strategy

Service design discovers other established design research fields, like contextual inquiry.

“One of the first places to start when you want to improve your service is to look to your customer feedback and data. But what do you do when no one in the room understands how people are using your service, and the data you have is limited to high-level usage analytics? This is the perfect time to introduce ethnographic research into the mix to better understand how your service is perceived, used, and experienced. (…) In this post, I wanted to share my process for running this research—how I went from one step to the next, what tools I used and why, and the realities of what the day-to-day looks like running a research project of this kind—in the hopes that it might be helpful for those considering running similar research.”

Megan Erin Miller a.k.a. /meganerinmiller | @meganerinmiller ~ Practical Service Design

How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design

Some really deep and historical thinking on design and systems.

“Beginning in the decade before World War II and accelerating through the war and after, scientists designed increasingly sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that acted as if they had a purpose. This work intersected other work on cognition in animals as well as early work on computing. What emerged was a new way of looking at systems – not just mechanical and electrical systems, but also biological and social systems: a unifying theory of systems and their relation to their environment. This turn toward ‘whole systems’ and ‘systems thinking’ became known as cybernetics. Cybernetics frames the world in terms of systems and their goals. This approach led to unexpected outcomes.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly ~ Dubberly Design Office

Reality check: High-fidelity content enhances the design process

Professional UX organizations have discovered content and content strategy. Phew!

“As devices have proliferated, design patterns have matured, and user interfaces have evolved, user experience designers have kept pace with high fidelity prototypes. By employing high fidelity content, content strategists can keep pace too. We can evaluate, ideate, and gather feedback about our content approach much sooner than we ever could before. High fidelity content also affords a unique way to instill content strategy rigor in projects that might not think they need it. And last, but by no means least, high fidelity content helps everyone involved in the digital design process deliver flexible, meaningful content capable of creating relevant, engaging user experiences. Now that’s a reality worth embracing.”

Lisa Moore a.k.a. @writebyteUK ~ The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association 16.1

User Experience Librarians: User Advocates, User Researchers, Usability Evaluators, or All of the Above? (.pdf)

Libraries and UX, a perfect match for information architects.

“User Experience (UX) is gaining momentum as a critical success factor across all industries and sectors, including libraries. While usability studies of library websites and related digital interfaces are commonplace, UX is becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion in the community and is emerging as a new specialization for library professionals. To better understand this phenomenon, this paper reports the results of a qualitative study involving interviews with 16 librarians who have ‘User Experience’ in their official job titles. The results show that UX Librarians share a user-centered mindset and many common responsibilities, including user research, usability testing, and space/service assessments, but each individual UX Librarian is also somewhat unique in how they approach and describe their work. As a whole, the research sheds light on an emerging library specialization and provides a valuable snapshot of the current state of UX Librarianship.”

Craig M. MacDonald a.k.a. @CraigMMacDonald ~ Proceedings of the 78th ASIS&T Annual Meeting, vol. 51

A forgotten prophet: Paul Otlet (1868-1944) and the quest for an Universal Book

Paul is gaining recognition from all over the world. Slowly, but still.

“Paul Otlet openly admitted in his Traité de documentation that his quest to create a Universal Book was a radical assumption. He was driven in his bibliographical interests by the ever-expanding volume of printed matter that began to accumulate globally from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Its sheer size frustrated Otlet, as did the possibility of all this information, unnecessarily duplicating itself and thereby stalling the inevitable march of progress across wide areas of knowledge and research.”

Bun ós coinn

Replacing personas with characters: Resolving the destructive effects of personas

We used to call these kinds of personas Living Personas.

“Over the years, many people have recognized that Personas can cause more problems than they solve. To fix this, designers began making Personas bigger and more rich. Some Personas can be 1-2 typed pages which meticulously describe attributes of these imaginary customers. Yet, no amount of colorful attributes can fill the gaps our brains will automatically fill when reading Personas. These missing gaps are the causalities which drove the customer to consume a particular product.”

Alan Klement a.k.a. @alanklement | /aklement (courtesy of vanderbeeken)

Top 6 predictions for Service Design in 2016

We also have to invent it, the future of service design.

“The service design movement is gaining a tremendous amount of inertia. New conferences are popping up each month, existing conferences are adding service design to their speaker and workshop schedules, new books books are being published, and whole global communities being spun up. For better or worse, it’s becoming the latest buzzword and practice that many companies want to talk about, but are still grasping at how to integrate. I’m going to share my top 6 predictions for what we can expect from service design over the next 18 months. This is a combination of what I’ve experienced, what I’ve seen, what others have shared with me, and aspirations that I want to put into people’s minds as a seed.”

Erik Flowers a.k.a. @erik_flowers ~ HelloErik

White space isn’t just a UX fad

White space, silence and other ‘moments-in-between’.

“All good visual artists understand the importance of negative space, the empty area that draws attention to, and accentuates, the actual subject. Negative space (the artistic equivalent of a designer’s white space) is like the supporting cast whose duty is to make the star of the show stand out more by not standing out so much themselves.”

Jerry Cao, Kamil Zieba, and Matt Ellis ~ AIGA

How to design killer micro-content

Micro, nano or pico content.

“Micro-content is small. In fact, it can be some of the tiniest bits of a framework and when it is done well, it’s often pretty invisible. The definition of micro-content has expanded in recent years and what was just a term used to describe labeling and calls to action is much more in today’s landscape.”

Carrie Cousins a.k.a./carriecousins1 | @carriecousins ~ design shack

Leading change through adaptive design

Design thinking, the scientific method of our century. Design doing?

“Change is fun. Change is hard. Between those truths, there yawns a large gap that poses a challenge for would-be change makers. Yet by integrating two widely influential practices – design thinking and adaptive leadership – social innovators can manage transformative projects in a way that’s both creatively confident and relentlessly realistic.”

Maya Bernstein and Marty Linsky ~ Stanford Social Innovation Review Winter 2016 (courtesy of @jimkalbach)

Temporal form in interaction design

Or how to integrate computation into interaction design.

“In this paper, we show the power of working explicitly with temporal form in designing computational things. We give a nuanced account of what temporal form is in interaction design, and we look at related work synthesizing what we already know of the temporal concerns in interaction design and HCI. In the second part we present a design experiment through which we explore the experiential qualities of a set of 11 simple temporal forms by letting a series of expert designers reflect upon them. We borrow a framework from Boorstin’s film theory in which he distinguishes between the voyeuristic, the vicarious, and the visceral experience. We show how to use rhythms, complexity, gentle or forceful behavior, etc., to create experiences of ‘being alive’, being entertained, or being something that we empathize with. We end the paper by arguing how the temporal form in computational things enables richer experiences than static objects do.”

Anna Vallgårda, Morten Winther, Nina Mørch, and Edit E. Vizer ~ International Journal of Design Vol. 9(3) Dec. 2015

Why desktop UX still has something to teach mobile

The more reflective the designer is, the more it doesn’t matter how big the screen is. Only context then drives design.

“Mobile isn’t killing desktop in the way most of us expected it to. It is clearly the future growth platform of computing (at least, until the next thing comes along) but we have over-hyped the New Market Effect, focusing on “the shiny” and not paying attention to critical microinteractions that make a difference. We are so in love with flashy UX features that we ignore the deep impact of the proven and the mundane. The directions listed here are too easily ignored. They are actually the core building blocks of powerful UX experiences and need to be improved. It’s just a bit surprising that so much mobile inspiration can come from its inferior predecessor, the desktop UX.”

Scott Jenson a.k.a. /scottjenson | @scottjenson ~ FastCo.Design

What is the technical writer’s role in content marketing?

Switching labels or is technical communication now finally addressing a general audience?

“Technical writers should repurpose their information-rich content into content marketing deliverables that can be used to build relationships with potential audiences in the market. This content can help establish thought leadership, visibility, and trust with your audience so that when you start releasing and mentioning your 1.0 product, your audience adopts it.”

Tom Johnson a.k.a. @tomjohnson ~ I’d rather be writing

How to determine the right number of participants for usability studies

Have we left N=5?

“UX researchers and other project stakeholders often fervently debate the number of participants that are necessary for usability studies. At the core of this debate is often the tension between the usability professional’s desire for the best possible study and the business team’s desire to reduce time and expense.”

Janet M. Six a.k.a. /janetmsix | @JanetMSix and Ritch Macefield a.k.a. /dr-ritch-macefield | @Ax_Stream ~ UXmatters

Complete beginner’s guide to Information Architecture

But how complete can it be?

“Information architecture is a task often shared by designers, developers, and content strategists. But regardless of who takes on the task, IA is a field of its own, with influences, tools, and resources that are worth investigation. In this article we’ll discuss what information architecture really is, and why it’s a valuable aspect of the user experience process.”

UX Booth

Tracing the Dynabook: A study of technocultural transformations

Know thy history!

“This work is a historical study of the Dynabook project and vision, which began as a blue-sky project to define personal and educational computing at Xerox PARC in the 1970s. It traces the idea through the three intervening decades, noting the transformations which occur as the vision and its artifacts meet varying contexts. The dissertation was for a PhD in education; the focus of this work is mostly educational, though I’ve tried to do justice to the technology throughout. I defended it successfully before a committee of profs from education and compsci on Halloween 2006.”

John W. Maxwell a.k.a. @jmaxsfu (courtesy of @worrydream)