Portigal Consulting year in review, 2011
December 12th, 2011
Another year is speeding towards its conclusion and we wanted to share our highlights for 2011.
- We are joined by inveterate sing-talker, Tamara Christensen! Hooray!
- Steve is writing The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing: Diving Deep for Insight to be published by Rosenfeld Media in 2012.
- Julie and Steve wrote several columns for interactions magazine: What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting It, Elevator Pitch, and Kilroy Was Here.
- We got our umbrage on about a Braun customer survey, Newegg’s gobbledygook customer communications, HP’s TouchPad advertising, Kimpton’s attempts at personalization, Facebook’s anti-empathetic approach to redesigns, Netflix’s user-blindness, web security questions, breast cancer memes, and irrelevant and badly executed cross branding.
- We kicked off the Omni project, examined how people completed everyday tasks in previous eras of technology, gained mucho insight from Nicolas Nova and Adrian Hon, and completed an extensive secondary research slash cultural audit.
- We drew inspiration from Haruki Murakami and Neil Peart.
- Steve was interviewed about the future of reading and digital books for Digital Book World and about interviewing users for the User Experience podcast.
- We reflected on consumption in general and information specifically, flow states in user research, muffin signifiers, hearing protection and customer service, nerds, recycling, gendered design and marketing, silliness at 76 stations, and MacWorld.
- Steve spoke about Discovering and Acting on New Insights at Lift11 (video and slides), Improv in Brainstorming at APDF, Successful Collaboration (slides) at Frontiers of Interaction, Best Practices For Interviewing Users at SXSW (slides and audio), Culture, User Research and Design at OCAD (slides and audio), We’ve done all this research, now what? at UCB and CHI2011 (slides), Uncovering Innovation From The Outside In at the UIE Web Apps Masters Tour, and User Research Analysis in a UIE Virtual Seminar (buy). He also taught full-day workshops including Spinning Data Into Gold (slides) with Rosenfeld Media, and Immersive Field Research Techniques (podcast) at UI16, and We’ve Done All This Research, Now What? at Unfinished Business (slides) and UX Hong Kong (slides).
Julie presented Finding the Right People for the Center for Design Research at the University of Kansas (slides);
Tamara co-presented Big Ideas, Focused Action, Problem Solved at the Oklahoma Creativity Forum (slides)
- We offered a design and experience critique about the One Day For Design experiment.
- Steve shared photographic observations from Geneva, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Florence and Lucca.
- Julie and Steve were out and about in New York (Julie, Steve), Boston, and Portland.
- Our blog (the place for debating/defending the design of really really nichey products, it would seem) turned 10 (yes, 10!)
We redesigned our business cards around the theme of What’s Your Story and started a blog series to explain the stories behind the new designs (collect all six!)
- Steve began co-chairing the IxDA12 Student Challenge
- We doubled our office space, taking over an adjacent space that opened up in our complex. Kitchen! Couch! We’re living large!
Not to mention like a bajillion quickies!
Really nostalgic? Check out summaries from 2010, 2009 and 2008.
Out and About: Julie in New York
July 11th, 2011
My aimless wanderings between meetings and meals in Manhattan last week led to observing these collisions of order and chaos.
Cupcakes at Dean and Deluca (Greenwich Village) bear a resemblance to the tiered visuals and colors of the crowd (Times Square).
Impact emerges from the pattern of repetitive elements in street/sidewalk art (SoHo) and tagged signage (Chinatown).
Portigal Consulting year in review, 2010
December 20th, 2010
2010 has been an amazing year for us. While we can’t talk about many of the incredible experiences we had doing fieldwork and working with clients, below are some of the highlights that we can share:
- New faces! Our team is ably enhanced by Julie Norvaisas and Wyatt Starosta (also see a conversation with Julie here)
- Steve shared observations of Austin/SXSW, SXSW again, Austin again, Munich, Rome, and gleaners at the Munich airport
- We noted symbols and meaning, branding in the details, the need for authenticity in marketing (and in jeans), and the need for something we’re calling anticipatory design,
- We took umbrage over ridiculous user experiences from United Airlines, airplanes and elevators, hotel elevators, conference badge design, a cupcake store, Lenovo, and a shaver out-of-the-box experience
- We mused about packaging and branding, conceptual collisions, neighborhood erosion, Harley branding dissonance, uncomsumption, localized stereotypes, super-immediate gratification, global norms for question asking, how research informs design, and this thing we call user “needs”
- We tracked provocative, charming and curious messaging, designs and user experiences from a cupcake store (by Steve; by Julie), a parking lot, toilets, Vodafone’s retail outline in Munich, building painters, JetBlue, what’s in the garage, foreign groceries, Devo, and the Savannah police
- We prototyped the ideal research study for Netflix (sadly, we never got the gig)
- We drew inspiration from Eminem, Will.i.am, Jack White, photographer Michael Schmidt, James Toback, fiction in the New Yorker, Douglas Coupland, and Neal Stephenson
- Steve assessed the human impact, micro and macro, of technology and design for interactions, extracted innovation principles from an discomfort-inducing ad for menstruation products for Core77, considered Homer Simpson and global culture for Core77, and interviewed Eric Ludlum (of Core77) for Ambidextrous
Steve was interviewed for a book about innovation in design for emerging markets and in a podcast with Jared Spool about user interviewing best practices
- We interviewed ourselves for the premiere of Core77’s Wiretap feature
- Steve presented When Not To Follow User-Centered Design Techniques at HFES, Ethnography as a Cultural Practice at PARC, Skill Building for Design Innovators at CHIFOO, Culture, You’re Soaking In it at UPA 2010 in Munich, Integrating User Insight (with Aviva Rosenstein) at SXSW, and Deep-Dive Interviewing Secrets at a UIE Virtual Seminar
- Steve also lectured on improv and creativity for Seattle’s CHI group, Reading Ahead for Adobe and SCAD, innovation skills for Amazon, and synthesizing user research at the Austin Center for Design, Formation Design Group, CHI2010, University of Oregon, PDX IxDA, SF IxDA, and Interaction 10
- We attended November’s User Research Friday 10 and reflected on what we learned; we also led a Thursday workshop for User Research Friday and reflected on what we learned. We also attended last February’s User Research Friday 10 and reflected on what we learned
You can also see previous summaries from 2009 and 2008.
Land of the Lost
July 23rd, 2010
Lost Turtle, El Granada, CA
Beanie Baby Puppy, Santa Cruz, CA
Sometimes, even things that move very slowly – or not at all – can get away from us…
Portigal Consulting year in review, 2009
December 22nd, 2009
It’s been a busy year and as we head into the home stretch, looking forward to 2010 (supposedly the year we make contact), we wanted to take a look back at the past 12 months and call out some of the highlights.
- Our blog, All This ChittahChattah, turned 8
- We conducted our own study (Reading Ahead) about the future of the book and digital reading, blogged at length about our process, posted an in-depth narrated presentation of findings and opportunities, tracked the cultural progression of the digital books issue, presented at the UC Berkeley Digital Futures speaker series (and subsequently at Blurb), conducted a design contest with Core77, and selected a handful of exciting winners
- We helped to launch REACH, a global network of small “design research” consultancies that can better serve clients across multiple markets
- We found good (or at least interesting) design exemplars in/at/from/by information-rich street signs, David Lee Roth and Runnin’ With the Devil, sour cream, NPR, the Forestry Service, real-life interfaces (and again), a farmer’s market, and a drink menu
- We were disappointed by user experiences that fell short, from AT&T, Yahoo!, car dashboards, and Land’s End
- We noticed workarounds for hotel rooms, parking lots, shopping carts, input devices, and loud guns
- We found some curious branding, storytelling, and other customer-facing strategies by Starbucks, M&Ms, Papa Murphy’s, parking garages, The Griddle Cafe, a range of business names (and again), the Santa Barbara Zoo, Verizon’s Hub, YouTube, municipal garbage, Old Navy, Columbus Foods after a devastating fire, KISS (and again), and Jewish delis
- We revisited themes, findings, or product launches from previous projects about IT professionals, safety gear, digital cameras, mobile telephones and saw our client MediaMaster shut down their service
- We bemoaned bad approaches to product development with personas (and again), surveys, and a shallow view of user-centeredness
- We continued to explore where, when, why, and how to use customer information in product development, including a provocative article by Don Norman, and a thoughtful piece by Robert Fabricant
- We found surprise and amusement in gendered home territories, grocery stores, pillows that preserve the shape of a baby’s head, retailing dead formats, license plates, and grassroots product development
- In the face of tremendous growth for Twitter, we considered some of the barriers to adoption as well as the opportunities still to be addressed
- Steve was invited backstage to designer-vibrator-purveyor JimmyJane and found their brand not fulfilling its cultural change (and world domination) business opportunity, a perspective later taken up by the New York Times
- We posited how the electric car industry can create a better story around their optimal use cases
Steve led his workshop “Well, We’ve Done All This Research…Now What?” for sold-out groups at Interaction|09 and EPIC, as well as abbreviated versions at IxDA-SF, BayCHI (slides and audio here), Web 2.0, and Nokia
- Steve spoke to students from Pratt, SVA, Istanbul Technical University, and CCA’s Design MBA Innovation Studio
- Steve spoke about user research, design and innovation to the MEDEA Collaborative Media Initiative, the Istanbul Industrial Design Summit; about culture to the Chicago IxDA, the Amsterdam UX Cocktail Hour, and HFI; and about improv and creativity at the IDSA and the IxDA-NYC (see slides here and video here)
- Steve gave a webinar about Creating Authentic Product Experiences to the University of Oregon’s Contemporary Design class; we’re looking for future opportunities to give this webinar and even put together a trailer
- World travels lead to a comparison of election posters as well an an examination of toilet paper sizes
- Steve took pictures in Vancouver, LA, Santa Barbara, Amsterdam (some highlights here, here, here, here, and here), Belgium (some highlights here), Miami, London (highlights here), Istanbul (highlights here), and New York
- All This ChittahChattah is now on Twitter and portigal.com is available in a mobile version
- Steve’s chapter, Listen, Do You Want To Know A Secret? was published in Age of Conversation 2
- Steve wrote Take It from Consumers: Simpler Is Better (PDF here) for Photo Reporter Magazine, Let’s Embrace Open-Mindedness for Johnny Holland, The Cultures of Design for DMI Connect, Organizational Empathy, from Top to Bottom for Appliance Magazine, and on video, offered some quick advice to aspiring designers
- Steve was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, in an article about the adoption of e-book readers (thoughts, from the cutting-room floor, here)
- Steve contributed to William Lidwell and Gerry Manacsa’s book Deconstructing Product Design
- Steve published a second year of True Tales columns for interactions: Poets, Priests, and Politicians, Interacting With Advertising, Ships in the Night (Part I): Design Without Research?, Ships in the Night (Part II): Research Without Design?, We Are Living in a Sci-Fi World, and On Authenticity
Previously: Our 2008 review
All This ChittahChattah 2008, a look back
December 23rd, 2008
In 2008 All This ChittahChattah hit our seventh anniversary. Here are some highlights from the past year.
- We found a toilet flusher that comes with a memo, I investigate the bathroom for Core77, and Dan gets trapped in the bathroom.
- I consider the culture of financial traders and then what happens when you don’t take that into account
- In world travels, Die Hard is globalized, appetizingness is culturally constructed, the revolutionary IDEO shopping card is old hat in Japan, I am saluted by a bear, Crocs make an appearance, friction never sleeps, some pictures from Japan here, here, and here, the world tour of donuts, how to say maybe, and Tokyo enjoyment
- I publish a year of my column, True Tales, for interactions: Persona Non Grata, Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me, The Journey Is The Reward, Hold Your Horses, Living In The Overlap, and Some Different Approaches to Making Stuff
- My flickr photos were lost forever and I wrote the obituary
- The nature of art
- Only-in-LA fading kitsch
- Tracking the process of observing cultural artifacts: 1. Bottom Biting Bug and 2. Ayumi Hamasaki
- Dan critiqued an AIGA Gain article about design research
- I’m not the only one who has a mythical mental model for how Netflix processes envelopes
- I’m interviewed by Influx Insights, profiled in a Japanese technology magazine, the Institute of Design student blog, and included in What Insight Does Ethnography Deliver?
- We celebrated Groundhog Day
- Dan reviews talks by Alan Cooper and Stefan Sagmeister
- Body image norms around the world and in Miami
- I notice bananas in London
- A visit to Celebration, Florida
- UPS shoehorns personas into a website user registration and I’m interviewed for a Forrester report on personas.
- A couple of examples of how seemingly simple problems are actually much more complex when it turns that people don’t simply adopt the solutions we’ve decided are best for them: school lunches and banking services
- Tattoos for children as a safety measure
- Advertising imitates art and advertising imitates advertising
- Observational ephemera: the series
- The creative processes of sound designer Ben Burtt and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Untouchable touchscreens, non-interactive kiosks, and advertising forcing functions
- The end of free cookies at Safeway
- The fallacy of measuring innovation
- My keynote from the Design Research Society conference, and my talk Research and Design: Ships in the Night? from User Research Friday
- Dan encounters Cloud Gate
- My workshop on noticing at the Design Research Conference; happiness and noticing; Dan and Steve write about the power of noticing for AIGA Gain
- We contribute to the Stone Cellars wine packaging redesign, new product innovations for BIC, and a new digital recording product for Belkin.
- My chapter was published in Age of Conversation 2
- I’m a guest for Lextant’s Design 40 weekly dialog and featured in a Lunar Design podcast about the speed of innovation and the pace of creativity
- We unearth some old correspondence with Malcolm Gladwell about, well, outliers.
August 29th, 2008
In our recent AIGA Gain article about noticing, we relate how the process of noticing once and then noticing again is a way to find patterns and uncover themes.
During my recent trip to the UK, I took this picture of a discarded banana peel.
I didn’t notice other bananas, but someone else did and they’ve started the London Bananas Project, a fantastic archive of banana peels in the London public space.
When I arrived I noticed something straight away: there’s a lot of banana skins around.
I see them everywhere. They’re languishing on doorsteps, hanging out in the middle of the road, dangling off street signs, peeking out of piles of garbage, reclining in the middle of the sidewalk, riding the bus for free. A great number of them are bright yellow as if they’re fresh and have just been dropped, although they appear in all states of decay. I don’t know how or why they caught my attention, but within a week of being in London I couldn’t get my mind off these banana skins. Where were they coming from? Who was eating all these bananas and leaving the skins around? Why was it always bananas I was seeing, and not, say, oranges? Was it a sign? Was there something sinister going on? Apparently these little hazards were a covert operation going completely unnoticed; everyone I asked about it said that they had never noticed anything of the sort and looked at me as if I was nuts.
That’s a great description of the power of noticing (even if it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s still a great set of muscles to keep flexing).
Here’s bananas in Bangalore:
See also: Street Mattress