Posts tagged “navigation”

Survey or Proselytizing?

This religious pamphlet appeared on our doorstep, asking a difficult question – Can the dead really live again? – and giving the prospective convert three choice

  • yes?
  • no?
  • maybe?

I couldn’t help but think of a survey that would ask you to force your thoughts about a complex issue into some easily-summable categories. Sadly, the rest of the pamphlet did not include any skip logic, where religious content was presented differently, depending on how one responded to this provocative lede.

thedead

ChittahChattah Quickies

Multi-platform rapport [The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing] – A little story (on my book blog) about an amusing challenge in leading an interview just the other day.

And this is where I caught myself flicking my eye contact between the two, as a way to (I guess – it was an automatic gesture) demonstrate interest and maintain engagement. Except one person was on the phone. Yes, I was looking back and forth between the guy in the room and the phone. I was projecting all of my rapport building onto a device, using eye contact only. Needless to say this wasn’t very effective!

Microsoft Patents ‘Avoid Ghetto’ Feature For GPS Devices [CBS Seattle] – Oh, media. How you love to incite and to create a crisis where there isn’t one. Ghetto must be a hot-button word, so even though it’s not exactly accurate, let’s go for it. The fact is we are continually adding more context to our digital interactions (only yesterday, Google announced its plans to include your social network in your searchers), and these are obviously creating new challenges around privacy, but this isn’t much less inflammatory than the Siri won’t find abortion clinics non-story.

A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.” Created for mobile phones, the technology uses the latest crime statistics and weather data and includes them when calculating a route.

For some consumers, surveys breed feedback fatigue [AP] – Ironically, an article about quantitative data collecting that suggests we’re experiencing more of something, without any actual numbers to back up their claim. This is an area we’ve done some user research in, and while we didn’t necessarily see fatigue, we did observe a consistent presence of review mechanisms (both creating and consuming) in daily consumption.

While market-research polls have been conducted for decades, customer-satisfaction surveys have proliferated in recent years because of technology, a growing emphasis on getting data to shape decisions and measure results, and a drive to hold onto customers in a difficult economy, experts say. “People care much more about what the customers think today,” said Brian Koma, VP of research at Vovici, firm that conducts surveys and helps businesses integrate the results with views customers express online, in phone calls and elsewhere. There’s no scientific measure of the number of customer-feedback requests, but questionnaires have percolated into such professional settings as law firms and doctor’s offices and become de rigeur for even everyday purchases.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The multitouch backlash begins? – CNET's explains "Another unique feature of the Backflip is the trackpad, which Moto calls Backtrack, located on the back of the display (when the phone is open)." And from Motorola's full-page newspaper ad today "Its new BACKTRACK navigation tool on the rear of the phone lets you intuitively navigate, scroll and select, all without ever having to fumble with the screen." Fumble with the screen? Indeed.
  • Different theater configurations led to different post-production "mixes" for Avatar – [Hollywood Reporter] – More than 100 different delivery versions of "Avatar" were created for the Dec. 18 day-and-date release in 102 countries. DLP digital cinema and non-DLP digital cinema required separate versions. In total, there were 18 different versions of "Avatar" created for the domestic market, plus an additional 92 for international markets, which were released in 47 languages. The international versions included more than 52 subtitled and 18 dubbed versions on film, 58 subtitled and 36 dubbed versions in digital 3D, nine subtitled and eight dubbed versions in digital 2D, and 23 subtitled and 15 dubbed versions for Imax. To optimize the experience for different screens sizes, Cameron made the decision to complete the movie in three aspect ratios: Scope (2:39:1), flat (1:85:1) and Imax (1:43:1).<br />
    (via Kottke)

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Google Maps India describes user research and design process for culturally useful navigation – We knew from previous studies in several countries that most people rely on landmarks — visual cues along the way — for successful navigation. But we needed to understand how people use those visual cues, and what makes a good landmark, in order to make our instructions more human and improve route descriptions. To get answers to these questions, we ran a user research study that focused specifically on how people give and get directions. We called businesses and asked how to get to their store; we recruited people to keep track of directions they gave or received and later interviewed them about their experiences; we asked people to draw us diagrams of routes to places unfamiliar to us; we even followed people around as they tried to find their way.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • From a New Yorker profile of wine-in-China enterpreneurs, the St. Pierre family – [The "these are not our customers" reaction is something we see a lot when we take our clients, with their naturally aspirational views of who should be using their products, out into the 'real world']
    The Bordelais have never quite acclimated to the embrace of distant customers. “In the very beginning of the eighties, there was a huge demand from Texas, and in France we were saying, ‘These Texan people–they don’t know how to drink our wines. They are like barbarians,’ ” Engerer told me. “Then there were the Japanese at the end of the eighties, beginning of the nineties, and they were not even drinking it; they were giving it as gifts. That made us laugh also. Now there are the Chinese.” But today, Engerer said, France cannot afford to be arrogant. “We should be a little more calm about this and say, ‘Thank you for buying something that might not be in your culture,’ ” he said.
  • Google Maps India describes user research and design process for culturally useful navigation – We knew from previous studies in several countries that most people rely on landmarks — visual cues along the way — for successful navigation. But we needed to understand how people use those visual cues, and what makes a good landmark, in order to make our instructions more human and improve route descriptions. To get answers to these questions, we ran a user research study that focused specifically on how people give and get directions. We called businesses and asked how to get to their store; we recruited people to keep track of directions they gave or received and later interviewed them about their experiences; we asked people to draw us diagrams of routes to places unfamiliar to us; we even followed people around as they tried to find their way.

Localized Wayfinding

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drawbridge
Airport Wayfinding, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, May 2009

The first time I ever encountered localized parking designation was my childhood visit to Disney World; the tram drivers reminded us we were parked in Goofy 7 or Mickey 7 or something. Of course, I still enjoy taking note of it (see a recent post here). The highly-localized version above was entertaining and both confusing and educational (the herring icon makes no sense until one discovers that the Dutch really love their herring). Now, this confusion is inevitable when traveling and (as I’ve written about before) can be a great opportunity for learning. And practically, most people that park at the airport are locals, not incoming tourists, so there is little impact on the experience from not understanding the reference. Indeed, since nothing about the icon is meant to convey its function, serving only to label a particular region, visitors can still make use of the bird-on-a-post (?) icon perfectly well, without any understanding of its meaning.

Reading Ahead: Fieldwork highlights – Chris

Reading ahead logo with space above

During the fieldwork cycle, we write quick summaries of each interview session and send these immediately to our clients so they can start to circulate stories. At this point in the process we strive to stay descriptive; our goal is just to get stories about the people we’re meeting out to the extended team (us, our direct clients, and their stakeholders).


Chris (not his real name) is a software engineer in his early thirties. He lives in an apartment in Mountain View with his wife and their small dog. They moved here a couple of months ago, after returning from an extended stay in Europe.

When they left the US for Europe, the couple got rid of many of their possessions, including their books. Now that they’ve settled in again, Chris says he’s still trying to keep from accumulating too much stuff, and has been buying fewer books and using the library more.

Reading-Ahead_Chris1

Chris says he used to focus more than he does now on finishing books as a form of accomplishment. He described how he used to line up the books he had finished in a row, so he could see a physical record of his reading.

Chris reads a lot of technical books. Since he uses many of these as reference materials, often annotating and bookmarking them, he generally finds it useful to own them in print, rather than borrowing them from the library or using PDF versions.

Reading-Ahead_Chris-2
One of Chris’ bookmarked reference books

Chris showed us the various ways he navigates through printed books, including “flipping” and going back and forth between non-sequential pages.

In the following clip, he talks about the flexible navigation afforded by printed books:

Mapping for change

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The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is an amazing experience for San Francisco locals and visitors alike. In front of the Ferry Building they have an information booth that features a large photograph of the building on a metallic surface, with magnets representing the different booths. Obviously, as businesses come and go, or don’t show up on weekend, or are moved, it’s easy to update the map. And the use of the building itself as a backdrop reduces the abstraction typically found in a floor plan.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Lou Rosenfeld revisits an old engagement where the client sought to dissuade usage – What they told me was that they didn't really want to make it easy for veterans—those people risking their lives for their country—to learn about the health benefits that they were entitled to. And that taxpayers had committed to funding. All to save money—and for what??

    IT issue? Not. It was an issue of business model design, and this particular business model was shrouded in a sick morality emanating from the top levels of the VA's management structure. Absolutely immorally, shamefully, and horribly sick.

    [With the theme of persuasion, manipulation, and user-centeredness floating around lately, good to consider an example where the organization goals are 180 degrees from the user's supposed goals]

  • Citations for California drivers not using hands-free are on the rise – Seems like there was good compliance when the law was first passed but the numbers are climbing back up. One might think the best way to drive adoption of a product/service/behavior is to make it legally mandated but people are citing the poor user experience with Bluetooth headsets as a reason/rationalization for ignoring the law. "Sometimes, it can be more dangerous to figure out your Bluetooth than just to pick up the phone."

Aesthetics of interactivity

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Carnaby Street kiosk, London, July 2008

In a previous post I described an interactive display that looked like a static display. Here’s a static display that looks like an interactive display, through the color palette, the type of graphics, and the use of touchable materials (such as the black rubber) from consumer electronic devices.

See more of my London and Sheffield pictures here.

Florida Faux, part 1

While in Florida last week I had the chance to learn a bit of history and realized that the manufactured experiences intended to evoke another time/place go back to the earliest days of Florida land booms.

In Orlando, I stayed at the Lowes Portofino Bay, meant to evoke a resort on the Italian Riviera.
porto.jpg

Some faux touches included the scooters parked – well, installed, actually – around the grounds…
vespa.jpg

…and the made-to-look Old Country stair details.
stairs.jpg

But getting around the place was a nightmare.
signage.jpg

In order to convey some sense of authenticity, the architects echoed bits of a townscape, with limited ability to see what was ahead. Although what you could see was devoid of any actual real details – no people, no commerce, no mess, nothing that would help you located yourself or make a decision about what direction you might want to go into. It felt like a rendered videogame background before the branding, characters, and gameplay was added. I just found it frustrating trying to get around, with a very small amount of triumph when I succeeded or found an alternative; but I wasn’t there to work on getting un-lost and I wanted the hotel’s precious Portofino-ness to get out of my way so I could perform basic wayfinding tasks.

arch.jpg
street.jpg

Previously:

Also: Orlando pictures; Miami pictures.

Perspectives on Navigation

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Quote from Learning from Las Vegas

A driver 30 years ago [written in 1977] could maintain a sense of orientation in space. At the simple crossroad a little sign with an arrow confirmed what was obvious. One knew where one was. When the crossroads becomes a cloverleaf, one must turn right to left…But the driver has no time to ponder paradoxical subtleties within a dangerous, sinuous maze. He or she relies on signs for guidance – enormous signs in vast spaces at high speeds.

traffic-cloverleaf.jpg

Signs to Override Human Nature?

We see these in small retail all the time – handwritten signs exhorting the customer to follow some non-natural path of behavior in order to simplify the merchant-centered purchase process. Here’s a fun one, where the experience is pretty cool anyway, and the creativity and ineffectiveness of the signs is something to smile about, rather than grimace.
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The setting certainly helps. In the town of Waimea, on Kauai, on your way to getting a sweet and cold treat – shave ice.

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The cash register sits underneath the most awesomely diverse and interesting list of flavors. You approach the guy at the cash and of course you want to say how many you want, and what sizes, and (after having gaped open-mouthed at the display for a few minutes) the flavors.

The signs attempt to warn you off from doing that, but it’s human nature. And with each person that tries to ask for a flavor, the cash guy tells them ‘I don’t care about flavors. I just need to know what size you want.”

They are so dogged with their insistence, but they’ve designed an experience where it’s entirely natural to ask for the flavors right then. Nope.

He’ll go and get the plain shave ice (with ice cream, if you want it) and then at another counter they take your flavor order. It may end up being the same guy working the other counter, or someone else. But they don’t care about flavors, until you get to the flavor counter.

It’s not so terrible that they go through the same thing over and over again, it’s just a great example of design and human nature and the ever-present sign which purports to fix the whole thing by simply warning people what not to do!

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This sign is posted behind the cashier.
1. How many Shaved would you like (ice)?
2. What are the sizes you would like?
3. Would you like ice cream on the bottom?
4. Would you like our tasty creams on the top of your ice We have Vannilla Cream And also Haupia cream (which is coconut)
5. We do also sale extras so this would be the time to ask for them
Mahalo (thank you)

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The cutaway detail of the Halo Halo Shave Ice is pretty neat. Nice combination of 2D and 3D presentation of the details:
Haupia cream topping
cocohut
Shave Ice
Haupia cream topping
Halo Halo
Ice cream opsional [sic] with Halo Halo

Series

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