Object Oriented User Experience Design
On the first day, I signed-up for a full day workshop with Sophia Voychehovski from rewiredUX, a UX consultancy based in Atlanta, on object oriented UX, a design language model organised around real world objects rather than 'actions' and data rather than logic. I had read about her approach on A List Apart and was curious to know more about it.
The approach starts with user's mental model of a particular problem (e.g. tourism in Lisbon) and uses a card sorting approach where participants are requested to write down objects (e.g accommodation), core content (e.g. hotel name), metadata (e.g. hotel ranking), actions (e.g. book) and sort them in rows so each object has a group of core content, metadata, nested objects and actions attach to it the reorder them by priority of information. The result provides the UX practionner with an organisation of objects and instances that can be easily prioritised and sketched on different layout starting from small module to detail page and list view but always on the mobile resolution first. Once you get all the elements in the right order on small resolution, it's easy to adjust your layout to the larger resolution.
This is definitely a good approach to complement your user experience research and it can easily be done in a workshop with the project main stakeholders but I would limit the participants to 5 in order to keep it collaborative enough.
You may have heard before from Anthropologist Amber Case and her famous Ted's speech, "We're all cyborgs". This half a day workshop on my second day was a insightful exploration of Ambers' design principles for calm technology. Much of Case’s approach focuses on moving technology away from being the centre of our attention to the periphery. Her design patterns to make technology non intrusive are fascinating and bring so much optimism in the IoT world we live in. My favourite is that technology should always respect social norms. "Technology might be ready for humans, but humans are not always ready for tech" as Amber says. Take the Google glass example and compare it with the iPhone launch, Google glass product failed on the market because it included too many features and was not aligned to our social norms. As opposed to the iPhone, Google glass's process of “cultural metabolization” never happened, the product never became the norm because the product launch didn't allow for people to play with it, it brought some confusion and fear about its usage in society. A good tool is an invisible tool, it's when it allows people to accomplish their goals with the least amount of mental cost, so they can focus on the task not the tool itself.
The Physical Web
The number of devices is exploding and the assumption that each device needs its app isn't realistic. The Physical Web is an open-source technology initiated by Google that enables quick and seamless interactions with physical objects and locations so everything is a tap away. Stephanie Rieger facilitated half-day workshop on PW. Any smart (or dumb) object around us can have the ability to broadcast URLs with information. How does it work? It has three parts: the beacon, the scanner/browser and the proxy. The beacon transmits a signal that other devices can see when equipped with Bluetooth. How can it be applied? For example, an underground station could create a queuing application to alert travelers when traffic is disrupted. Users can open the queuing web application, take a “digital spot” in line, and get a notification how much longer they have to wait for the next train. Another example could be a parking meter broadcasting a URL to directly connect to the parking meter. From anywhere, the user can fulfill a payment transaction to add additional time to the meter.
PW can be modestly useful for pure discovery (much smarter QR code), to interact with smart objects or to control an object but taken as a whole they imply a vast long tail.
How can anyone survive a day made of 12 super inspiring talks? Thanks to Denise Jacobs for making us stand up and do silly talk with my UX colleague Tania! It was a great entertaining opening on co-creation! Thanks to Stephanie Rieger too for her insightful presentation on some of the innovative services that are re-shaping the internet in emerging economies, it was a real eye-opener for me and most relevant for my work at The Gavi Alliance!
Thanks for the very fresh yummy Portuguese tarts that really made me carry on for the rest of the day! Melissa Perri's talk about lean design and MVP (Minimum Viable Products) gave me so many ideas on how to get things done in a seamless way!
After another handful of great talks, the day ended-up with the greatest speech ever from our most beloved UX super star from the Silicon Valley - Alan Cooper - the person behind the creation of Persona, a UX approach helping us to better understand the attitudes and behaviours of our user segments and align with customer expectations and needs! His speech about his experience at the farm he bought and the battle he's facing everyday for a new engaged and sustainable way of living wasn't something I expected but it was so relevant to my beliefs and it made me proud to be part of the UX community!