Posts tagged “user experience”

Out and About: Steve in Lisbon (1 of 2)

Last week I went to Lisbon to speak at UX Lx (you can see my presentations and more here). We had a great time exploring the city on our own, and courtesy of our kindly hosts. I’ve got some images and observations here, and some more to come tomorrow.


This sign is advertising one of those small bright yellow cars that tourists drive around while a recording guides them from place to place. But here the promotional message is rather ribald. Is this reflective of the local culture and how English is used, or is it an attempt to adapt to visitor norms? My other triangulation point was the frequent t-shirts with rather forward sayings in English, worn by people that maybe didn’t know what they meant? I saw a slender woman jogging with a “Chubby Girls Cuddle Better.” A late-middle-aged man on the subway wore a shirt reading “Rock Out With Your Cock Out.” There was just something off about the wearer and the message, seeing my own culture coming back at me in a completely different way. Was this like Engrish, or something else?


Same idea. This is an advertisement for learning English, from the prestigious-sounding “Wall Street Institute” presumably targeting people who want to improve their careers. But FUCK (and the other side, SHIT) are the reference points for learning English. For sure, these are important words in business 🙂


The reliefs in the base of the statue of St. Anthony.


Friendly key dudes.


Do they sell each of those animals as meat?


Is this frog flashing a gang sign, or suggesting his availability for romance?


Funiculars traverse the steep hills.



Stunning architecture of the Oriente train station.


Nothing says sexy like toilet paper.


At the Vasco de Gama mall, this staircase used the same handrail as the escalator. As you approached it, you’d assume you were about to get on an escalator. But no, it’s stairs. Did some architect insist on symmetry with the design of the adjacent escalator?


Rossio train station.

Back from UX Lisbon

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Lisbon and presenting at UX Lx.

I gave an updated version of “Well, We’ve Done All This Research, Now What?” where we did a brief observation of the area around the venue and then developed concepts that spoke to the needs we uncovered. Among the concepts the teams played with was a giant robotic sheep that would provide shade.

The slide deck:

Per Axbom took a series sketchnotes during the session and kindly posted all of them here.

I gave a short presentation on the final day of the conference, exploring the power of user research not only to uncover data that drives product development but to change the way an organization thinks about it’s customers and itself.

The slide deck:

Sketchnotes from LiveSketching.com, Per Axbom, and Francis Rowland. Click on any of them to see the larger original.

(Side note: amusing to see the consistent use of the presenter caricature. The organizers of the conference may have contributed to this; in each attendee packet was a poster showing a funny if awkward scene with cartoon representations of all the different speakers, as well as a set of cards for one of the speakers. Attendees were supposed to trade cards until they got a complete set.)

This Week @ Portigal

The Portigal team is on the road and in the air this week. We have lots happening on the home front, stateside and abroad!

  • Steve is already in Lisbon and gearing up for his sold-out workshop (as well as a short talk) for User Experience Lisbon.
  • Tamara is digging into the results of a co-analysis session we hosted with our clients last week and preparing the final deliverable for our research with gamers.
  • Tamara is heading to Phoenix later this week to facilitate for social good at the Phoenix Design Summit.
  • We shared ours, will you share yours? We have launched the War Stories series and are now accepting your submissions about the not-so-glorious side of fieldwork!

What we are consuming: Risk!, Sagres, The Universal Traveller, La Damiana

This Week @ Portigal

It’s a gorgeous sunny Monday here in Pacifica (stay away fog, stay away!) and we’re on our way into another interesting week.

  • Later this week we’re taking our clients and their prototype out into the field to meet users. We’re also exploring how people are using a brand new product, something no one on our client team has any idea about, so we’re expecting a very cool experience. Meanwhile, Tamara is printing out materials, putting incentives in envelopes, charging batteries, picking meetup and debrief locations and other organizing the hell out of the whole process.
  • We’ll be launching a new feature here devoted to war stories from field work.
  • Steve gets his revising on, hopefully wrapping up the next iteration of the book manuscript.
  • We’ve put away all the leftover snacks from our event last week and Tamara will be posting some of the highlights (of the discussion, not necessarily the snacks).
  • Out and about: Look for us at the inauguration of the new Orange Silicon Valley office, at SF Service Design Drinks, or the Tangible UX Happy Hour.
  • Steve will be heading over to Mozilla to speak with UX researchers and designers about how to synthesize user research data.
  • We’ll be making at least one announcement about an upcoming conference presentation, and in a wonderful location!
  • While it’s not quite American Idol level of tension and suspense, we’ll be chatting with more people this week about collaborating with and even joining our team.
  • What we’re consuming: Roadie, head rubs, margaritas.

Listen to Steve on the User Experience podcast

I was interviewed by Gerry Gaffney for his User Experience podcast. The topic of the interview was, recursively, interviewing. You can listen to the interview below, and read the transcript here.

To download the audio Right-Click and Save As… (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac).

Steve: Yeah there’s something about interviewing. It is such an individual and it’s such a human activity that we can talk best practices, you know, all day. I think there’s something really great that happens when people make it their own. I think this is one of those “find your own style” things. I like to be dictatorial about best practices but I also have to acknowledge very strongly that what people bring is very interesting and different. Along those lines think about introverts versus extroverts and what’s easier or different for introverts or extroverts in these kinds of situations. Extroverts of course get energy from other people, introverts get energy kind of on their own and so that starts to manifest itself in interesting ways or in silence. But also just how much of yourself do you bring to it? And so I’ve seen extroverts be very successful at establishing rapport by talking about themselves, by being very open and genuine and giving.

My tactic as an introvert is to remove a lot of myself from it and really focus on them, express my interest in them, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, ask follow-up questions, really drive everything towards my focus on them. So my long answer there is I think there’s a personal style thing that kind of comes out. I think if you reveal things about yourself, regardless of your style, I think it needs to be very deliberate. It’s a great tactic to give somebody permission.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Who benefits when New York upgrades its ‘user experience’? [Capital New York] – [Somewhat rambling but interesting piece that – I think – compares the gentrification of the web to an app UX with the types of city changes New York is seeking to improve its user experience.] Try navigating most news sites and you’ll be dodging all kinds of digital equivalents to roadblocks, tourists and construction. Reading an article can sometimes require a mastery of mouse acrobatics, requiring you to steer from funny-looking links that, with just a graze over a photo, will awaken a sleeping giant ad that pop-ups up and takes over your screen, blocking the very words you were simply trying to read. Or a video will start playing, unprompted, somewhere in that digital box, and, although its sounds are blaring from your speakers, you can’t find it. You have to scroll and maneuver to figure out where the dang thing is and find that tiny pause button before your coworkers groan and tsk.
  • [from steve_portigal] VW Camper Van Tent [Firebox.com] – [File this one as another entry under things-that-look-like-other-things. While the design approach here is more of a gimmick, it reveals itself as a powerful way to play with meaning and irony.] If you love music, mud and Mother Nature you’re probably heading to a camp site at some point this summer. But why take shelter in some dull, conventional tent when you can recreate the Summer of Love in the hippie-tastic VW Camper Van Tent. Officially licensed, this stunning four-man (or lady, natch) tent is a luxe, full-size replica of the iconic 1965 VW Camper Van synonymous with 60s counterculture. It’s so evocative you can almost hear the Mamas and the Papas singing California Dreamin’ every time you feast your eyes on its beautifully breadloaf-ish form. Indeed we half expected Mama Cass to tumble out when we first saw this groovy Vee-Dub. You’ll be the envy of the campsite! [Thanks, Jeff Fox!]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] My Notes on Steve Portigal’s presentation – Design Fieldwork: Uncovering Innovation from the Outside In [The Pam] – [Pam pulls out the key points from my UIE WAMT presentation that most resonated with her.] The knowledge “You’re not your user” creates empathy, but going out to the field makes you listen and understand what your users are going through. Through fieldwork you can detect unmet business goals. Doing fieldwork can accomplish many research goals at the same time, not only about the users but also about your organizational goals.
  • [from steve_portigal] Web App Masters: Uncovering Innovation with Fieldwork [LukeW] – [Luke's summary notes from my 75-minute talk.] Be a methods-polygamist. Choose, mash-up, or create a methodology based on the problem you are trying to solve. Integrate with other methods. Create a library of methods and artifacts that you can call on and modify as needed. Different methodologies tell you different things. It’s not an either or.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Let’s Be Frank: Divisadero Public Discussion Board [The Bold Italic] – [Building on yesterday's quickie – here's a local example of the use of public space as a form for gathering thoughts of residents.] I think it's cool that people can participate after the event by writing their thoughts on the chalkboards. This neighborhood has evolved so much in the last few years, and I'm sure everyone who lives here has thoughts about the transformation, good and bad. I'm personally worried that the changes will leave out members of the old neighborhood, but I'm hopeful when I see the community come together on projects like these. However you feel about the change, I think it's a positive step when people are asked to voice their opinions in the process. So neighbors of Divisadero, don't be shy, what do you think the community needs?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] This Tech Bubble Is Different [BusinessWeek] – [Mathematicians are behind the ad-driven business-models defined in this article as the next bubble. They're tremendously successful in predicting behavior; a fact I find both intriguing and terrifying.] On Wall Street, math geeks are known as quants. They're the ones who create sophisticated trading algorithms that can ingest vast amounts of market data and then form buy and sell decisions in milliseconds. Hammerbacher was a quant. After about 10 months, he got back in touch with Zuckerberg, who offered him the Facebook job. That's when Hammerbacher redirected his quant proclivities toward consumer technology. He became, as it were, a Want. At social networking companies, Wants may sit among the computer scientists and engineers, but theirs is the central mission: to poke around in data, hunt for trends, figure out formulas that will put the right ad in front of the right person. "The most coveted employee in Silicon Valley today is not a software engineer. It is a mathematician."
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal – You’ve Done All This Research… Now What? [UIE Podcast] – [A 24-minute podcast for your listening pleasure and edification] Conducting research and gathering data are crucial parts in the process of creating great design. But once you have all of the data, what do you do with it? How do you know you’re extracting the right conclusions and not leaving anything important on the table? Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting uses the methods of synthesis and ideation to approach this crucial next step. During his virtual seminar, Steve explains that synthesis is the process of turning field data into insights and then how you move to ideation to turn insights into solutions. So many questions came up during the seminar that Steve ran out of time to answer them all. He tackles the remaining questions in this podcast.

Unfinished Business lecture: Culture, User Research & Design

I was recently in Toronto to speak at OCAD (Yes, we were in this awesome building) as part of the Unfinished Business lecture series. My talk looked at the notion of culture and it’s importance for user research, and design.

Culture is everywhere we look, and (perhaps more importantly) everywhere we don’t look. It informs our work, our purchases, our usage, our expectations, our comfort, and our communications. In this presentation, Steve will explore the ways we can experience, observe, and understand diverse cultures to foster successful collaborations, usable products, and desirable experiences.

Slides



Audio

I’ve split out the presentation itself from the Q&A, which was fun, challenging, and filled with big-picture type questions.

Presentation (1 hour, including a quick intro by host Michael Dila):

Q&A (40 minutes):

To download the presentation audio Right-Click and Save As… (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac). For the Q&A audio, Right-Click and Save As… (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac)

Note: In the talk (and the Q&A) I refer to my interactions article, Persona Non Grata. You can find that article here.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software [HeraldTribune.com] – [Spin in this article is that using computers to manage super-human levels of complex data will have employment consequences.] When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” ­ providing documents relevant to a lawsuit ­ the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for lawyers and paralegals who worked for months. But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time and cost. In January, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000. Some programs can extract relevant concepts ­ like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East ­ even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.
  • [from steve_portigal] PG&E launches huge paper chase for pipeline data [SF Chronicle] – [You think you have a lot of data to process? Obviously their record-keeping incompetence is just now being surfaced and they have taken on a data task that is beyond human scale. We can create systems that we can't manage!] For the past couple of days, forklifts have been carting pallets loaded with 30 boxes each into 3 warehouses outside the 70-year-old Cow Palace arena in Daly City. Friday afternoon, there were still more than 100 pallets stacked outside the warehouses waiting to go in. "There are 100,000 boxes in there, and you can't believe the papers spread everywhere," one PG&E employee said …"There are records in there going back to the 1920s. "We're looking at all kinds of parameters, and our data validation efforts are going on throughout the service area,…We're doing a 24-7 records search involving at least 300 employees and contractors, and we're working to confirm the quality of our data through collecting and validating our gas transmission pipeline records."
  • [from steve_portigal] Hong Kong, 2011 [Flickr] – [My pictures from our recent trip to Hong Kong for the UXHK Conference]
  • [from steve_portigal] Understanding Culture, User Research and Design with Steve Portigal – [Reserve your tickets now for either Toronto event: a lecture on March 8 and a workshop on March 9. The lecture will focus on culture, insights, and design while the workshop will be a hands-on opportunity to practice synthesizing user research data into opportunities and concepts. Hope to see you there!]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Hong Kong’s Couples Invited to Wed at McDonald’s [NYTimes.com] – [We did visit a McDonald's in Hong Kong the other week but we didn't see anything like this!] McWedding starts at $1,280, which includes food and drinks for 50 people. The package includes a budget version of the usual trappings: a “cake” made of stacked apple pies, gifts for the guests and invitation cards, each with a wedding photo of the couple. (Hong Kong wedding photos are taken in advance, with the couple in rented finery.) McDonald’s employees dressed in black suits mimic the actions of hostesses at upscale hotels. They greet guests at the entrance, usher them to the signature book and deliver food, even if it is just a Big Mac and fries. McWeddings were devised in line with local customs, particularly Chinese numerology beliefs that determine the best dates for weddings or other important events. The engaged couple was given a photo frame shaped like Ronald McDonald, marked with the “limited edition number” 138, an auspicious figure.
  • [from steve_portigal] Stalking insights with Steve Portigal [Foolproof] – [Lovely concise report from our UX Hong Kong workshop. Thanks, Tom!] Even a novice UX researcher knows the dangers of moving too swiftly to draw conclusions from fieldwork. It’s important to maintain a state of openness and observation. Leaping to solutions and recommendations can bias your view. This could cause you to miss something really revealing or valuable simply because it doesn’t fit with the way your view is developing. It shouldn’t be true, but in fact the older and more experienced you get the more danger there is that you’ll fall into this trap. Firstly you’re instinctively calling on experiences and patterns in user behaviour that you may have seen before. Secondly, the more senior you are, the more impact your (wrong-headed) views may have on the situation. The antidote? Spend some time with Steve.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea [Co.Design] – [This old saw again! As if user insights and strong vision are incompatible? Shame on FastCo for this hyperbolic crap.] We asked friends on the Apple design team about user-centric design. “It’s all bullshit and hot air created to sell consulting projects and give insecure managers a false sense of security. We don't waste our time asking users, we build our brand through creating great products we believe people will love." IKEA designers don’t use user studies or user insights to create their products. “We tried and it didn’t work..”Of course, neither will say this publicly since both are extremely closed companies and would risk offending users (and the design community) by speaking out against user-centeredness. Since no one will speak up, the false value of the user-as-leader has spread. The best brands are guided by a clear vision for the world, a unique set of values, and a culture that makes them truly unique and that no user insights could ever change.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Japan’s Smokestacks Draw Industrial-Strength Sightseers [WSJ.com] – [This sub-culture is exerting economic influence. I'm looking for the American equivalent.] What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or "factory infatuation," is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. It's the Japanese equivalent of going sightseeing at industrial stretches along the New Jersey Turnpike. Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam. [A book on the topic] lists 19 questions to test one's kojo moe credentials, including "Do you like Blade Runner?" and "Can you stare at a factory you like all day long?" Now, industrial regions across Japan are working to create factory sightseeing tours.
  • [from steve_portigal] Stop Blaming Your Culture [Strategy + Business] – [A must-read. This could become the article on the topic, a companion to Porter's classic What is Strategy? REad it and pass it along.] Fortunately, there is an effective, accessible way to deal with cultural challenges. Don’t blame your culture; use it purposefully. View it as an asset: a source of energy, pride, and motivation. Learn to work with it and within it. Discern the elements of the culture that are congruent with your strategy. Figure out which of the old constructive behaviors embedded in your culture can be applied to accelerate the changes that you want. Find ways to counterbalance and diminish other elements of the culture that hinder you. In this way, you can initiate, accelerate, and sustain truly beneficial change — with far less effort, time, and expense, and with better results, than many executives expect.
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal to write book on interviewing users [Rosenfeld Media] – Interviewing users is fundamental to user experience work but, as Steve Portigal cautions, we tend to take it for granted. Because it's based on talking and listening, skills we think we have, we often wing it. Sadly, we miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities our interviews should reveal. So we're thrilled that Steve, who's contributed regular columns to interactions and Core77, has signed on to write a new Rosenfeld Media book, The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing, to help UX practitioners really succeed with interviewing. Steve's book will focus on helping practitioners to better understand users' perspectives, and to rely upon rapport as the main ingredient in successful user interviews.
  • [from steve_portigal] Intel Teams with will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas Front Man [Intel] – [Is there a nomenclature convention emerging? If your corporate title is surrounded by quote marks, you may not receive the same HR benefits as others. Although it looks like he's got a badge? See you at Friday's Beer Bust!] He’s best known for being a multi-platinum music artist, producer and front man for The Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am is also an innovator, technology fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist. With today’s announcement at the Anaheim Convention Center, the seven-time Grammy winner has added another title to his multi-faceted resume: “director of creative innovation.” As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge, which he proudly showed off at a news conference in Anaheim, where Intel is holding an internal sales and marketing conference.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Radio Johnny: Steve Portigal on UX Hong Kong [Johnny Holland – It’s all about interaction] – [Very excited about UX Hong Kong, coming up in February] Steve discusses the need for all designers to take more time to understand the mountains of data we are forced to sift through before starting into our various processes and methodologies, including the implications of learning about the value of this data in the context of not just the user, but also our respective teammates. Steve also articulates the need for people to become comfortable with ambiguity and how a workshop setting provides a “new lens for looking at these tools”. "The more mature I feel I become as a professional, the more I feel I need to embrace certain kinds of ambiguity and go towards that; not knowing what the answer is. I think there is a lot of pressure on us in our professional lives to say, we’ve got some data, we did the process, and now we’ve got the answer…it can be very threatening to say, I don’t know what’s going to happen…"

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