Monday, October 27, 2008

"How is designing a service different than designing a product?"

Good question - what are we talking about? See Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction interview with Shelley Evenson:

Shelley Evenson is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design.

"When designing a product, much of the focus is on mediating the interaction between the person and the artifact. Great product designers consider more of the context in their design. In service design, designers must create resources that connect people to people, people to machines, and machines to machines. You must consider the environment, the channel, the touchpoint. Designing for service becomes a systems problem and often even a system of systems challenge. The elements or resources that designers need to create to mediate the interactions must work on all these levels and at the same time facilitate connections that are deeply personal, open to participation and change, and drop-dead stunning."

Don't you love that? Person to person interactions to gather the information you need, not just looking through tons of Web sites and pages to get what you need? And here's a non-typical answer from an academic - she is talking about real business interaction needs and uses the term "drop-dead stunning" - don't you love it?

And from the images available by querying her name on Google - Ms. Evenson has a sense of humor ... as posted on ahn.sang-soo's site -

Also check out - Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design site -

Monday, October 13, 2008

Revisiting the 2008 Intranet Design Awards

A couple of things stand out about Dr. Jakob Nielsen's 2008 Intranet Design Awards that are worth revisiting, as 2008 draws to a close.

Here is his summary:
"Consistent design and integrated IA are becoming standard on good intranets. This year's winners focused on productivity tools, employee self-service, access to knowledgeable people (as opposed to "knowledge management"), and better-presented company news."

The Award Winners for the top 10 best-designed 2008 intranets are:

"1. Bank of America, US
2. Bankinter S.A., Spain
3. Barnes & Noble, US
4. British Airways, UK
5. Campbell Soup Company, US
6. Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation, US
7. IKEA North America Service, LLC, US
8. Ministry of Transport, New Zealand
9. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Australia
10. SAP AG, Germany"

First, the technologies Dr. Nielson mentions are best in class:

"The most-used products were SharePoint and the Google Search Appliance.[emphasis mine- Ed.] Other frequently used products were Red Hat Linux, Lotus Notes and Domino, and Oracle databases.

No single product made the list of most-used products for all of the four most recent Design Annuals (2005-2008). This simple fact reinforces the point that intranet platforms still have a long way to go. That said, the following products made the most-used lists more than once during this four-year period:

3 of 4 years: Google Search Appliance, Microsoft SQL Server
2 of 4 years: Apache, Documentum, IBM WebSphere, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), Lotus Notes and Domino, Oracle databases, SharePoint"

Winners of the International 2008 Information Style Award

The second item that Dr. Nielsen points out is the use of Microsoft's Silverlight for interactivity:

"In addition to these widely used intranet technologies, we constantly see new ones applied. For example, the Ministry of Transport is already using Microsoft's Silverlight technology to add interactivity to one of its intranet areas."

For 2009 expect to see more Sharepoint, Microsoft SQL Server, Google Appliance, and Microsoft Silverlight in use on intranets, in addition to the other things Dr. Nielsen mentioned.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Five Planes of User Experience

When working with a user interface designer, or a ui designer is working with a client, there are 5 levels of looking at the ui design:

• 5: Surface Plane: web pages made up of images and text.
• 4: Skeleton Plane: the placement of buttons, tabs, images, and blocks of text.
• 3: Structure Plane: abstract structure of the site.
• 2: Scope Plane: features and functionality.
• 1: Strategy Plane: what the owners and users of the site want to achieve.

The five planes build from bottom to top.

The planes have slight nuances, depending on whether the (part of the) web site under design is task- oriented or information-oriented.

Parabolic Window and Reflection, Bellevue, Washington, USA
Stagger Work on Planes
Do not wait for work on one plane to finish before starting on the next. There must be some degree of
iteration (feedback loop).
Work on a particular plane cannot finish before work on lower planes has finished.

Prof. Dr. Keith Andrews
Information Architecture and Web Usability
706.041 Information Architecture and Web Usability WS 2007/2008 3VU
Graz University of Technology
Inffeldgasse Austria

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Raising the F.D.I.C

These people on Wall Street are moving fast. Trying to push legislation that, they say, will save the world. Today's plan is to raise the Federal Governments insurance coverage of bank deposits. The present level of coverage is $100,000 per account. Lots of people, businesses have several accounts as it is.

Really! Who is being saved, here? How many people do you know that have over a $100,000 in the bank? How many people do you know that are surviving month to month? How many people do you know that are just not making it? Hungry kids. Homeless families. America?

Why should the people of the United States endorse or support a Congress that is being lullied by Wall St., and the Treasury, into insuring the cash of the rich -- while watching the public – the citizens of our country -- go under?

This is NOT America, not the land of democracy and freedom.

The issue all of us are facing, I think, is that our money has become so dependent on the credit system, most of the money we think we have simply doesn't exist. Numbers in machines transferred and traded globally, without any backing except blind trust. People are starting to see. We see our country and our world being hoodwinked by lawless entities that don't care whether we live or die.

The thing governments must do, at this point, is to take care of their people. The false overvaluation of all things commercial must normalize into a real value system, one where the price of the thing is actually based on what it's worth -- not an elaborate scheme to maintain unethical practices.

Insurance, basically, encourages its customers to gamble on their fears. The omnipresence of fear, and the "security" afforded by insurance, along with bad lending practices and god knows what other banning problems, seem to have brought our people into a forced decision to insure the failures, promise them a bail out,. These entities failed because they were not sound. Does the citizen have any guarantee that they will be bailed out? I doesn't look like it. Why should we pay our blood and sweat, everything we and our forefathers and mothers ever worked for to help out a bunch of losers?

Chris Wilkinson

Image: Tony the Misfit
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