- Curation & Search — (Twitter) All curation grows until it requires search. All search grows until it requires curation.—Benedict Evans. (via Lists are the New Search)
- Average Developer Tenure (Seattle Times) — The average tenure of a developer in Silicon Valley is nine months at a single company. In Seattle, that length is closer to two years. (via Rands)
- An Interview with John Markoff (Robohub) — the interview will give you a flavour of his book, Machines of Loving Grace, a sweet history of AI told through the stories of the people who pioneered and now shape the field.
- Catapult Drone Launch (YouTube) — utterly nuts. That’s an SUV off its rear wheels! (via IEEE)
The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Product development, user research, and identifying blindspots.
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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Chrissie Brodigan, manager of user experience research at GitHub. Brodigan will be be speaking at OReilly’s inaugural Design Conference. In this episode, we talk about user research and product development at Github, and the blindspots in product development and organizational development.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
Our internal philosophy around research is about when we make our design decisions, we come up with hypotheses about how that design change will impact behavior as well as user experience. We may need to add a particular control to the workflow, but if it has a negative consequence on the overall experience of our users, we may decide that that’s not the right decision for us. Even if it’s helpful in one area, it causes unhappiness in another. We measure impact with controlled experiments, which a lot of people would refer to as ‘AB testing.’ We do do some variance testing, which is short term, but we also do longitudinal analysis, which is to study a cohort over a longer period of time. Internally, we’re always asking ourselves ‘Why?’
The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: The Internet of Things ecosystem, predictive machine learning superpowers, and deep-seated love for appliances and furniture.
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In this week’s episode of the Radar Podcast, O’Reilly’s Mary Treseler chats with Mike Kuniavsky, a principal scientist in the Innovation Services Group at PARC. Kuniavsky talks about designing for the Internet of Things ecosystem and why the most interesting thing about the IoT isn’t the “things” but the sensors. He also talks about his deep-seated love for appliances and furniture, and how intelligence will affect those industries.
Here are some highlights from their conversation:
Wearables as a class is really weird. It describes where the thing is, not what it is. It’s like referring to kitchenables. ‘Oh, I’m making a kitchenable.’ What does that mean? What does it do for you?
There’s this slippery slope between service design and UX design. I think UX design is more digital and service design allows itself to include things like a poster that’s on a wall in a lobby, or a little card that gets mailed to people, or a human being that they can talk to. … Service design takes a slightly broader view, whereas UX design is — and I think usefully — still focused largely on the digital aspect of it.
Great UX for IoT requires cross-discipline collaboration between design, technology, and business.
Download a free copy of our new report “User Experience Design for the Internet of Things,” by Claire Rowland, to learn about a framework for understanding the UX of consumer IoT products. Note: this post is an excerpt from the report.
When we think of design for connected products, we tend to focus on the most visible and tangible elements. These are the industrial design of connected devices, and the user interfaces (UIs) found in mobile and Web apps and on the devices themselves.
They are important concerns, which have a major impact on the end user’s experience of the product. But they’re only part of the picture. You could create a beautiful UI, and a stunning piece of hardware, and users could still have a poor experience of the product as a whole.
Designing for IoT is inherently more complex than Web service design. Some of this is to do with the current state of the technology. Some of this reflects our as-yet immature understanding of compelling consumer IoT value propositions. Some of this stems from the fact that there are more aspects of design to consider. Tackling them independently creates an incoherent user experience (UX).
Designing a great connected product requires a holistic approach to user experience. It spans many layers of design, not all them immediately visible. More than ever, it requires cross-discipline collaboration between design, technology, and business. Great UX may start with understanding users. But the designer’s ability to meet those users’ needs depends on the technology enablers, business models, and wider service ecosystem. Read more…
The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Cindy Alvarez on emotion, user research, and why Craigslist is great design.
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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Cindy Alvarez, a designer at Microsoft, author of Lean Customer Development, and member of our program committee for O’Reilly’s first design conference.
Alvarez talks about how design is changing, how the approach to design at Microsoft is changing, and user research misperceptions and challenges. She also offers advice to those who are insisting all designers should code.
Here are a few highlights from our chat:
Steve Jobs has said that, “Design is not how it looks, it’s how it works.” I would go one step further and say, “Design is how you work.” When you’re using something, how do you feel … How are you feeling more capable — do you feel smarter? Do you feel stronger? Do you feel stupider? Design is how you feel when you are using things or having experiences.
The ‘butt-brush’ effect comes from the wonderful Paco Underhill book Why We Buy. … Specifically, the butt-brush phenomenon is people looking at products that they really wanted to buy, but the store layout made it so people were bumping into them. That was such a strong push to get them to abandon what they were doing … that they’d just get up and walk away. He theorized about people feeling vulnerable, and undoubtedly there’s some sort of evolutionary thing about woolly mammoths sneaking up on us or something. I think it’s just, on a more base level, people feel clumsy. They feel fat, they feel clumsy and awkward, and we don’t like that at all.
Personas are a useful tool, almost always used badly.
Register for the UX Design for Growth — Improving User Conversion training session with Laura Klein. In this online, interactive training workshop, Klein, author of “UX for Lean Startups,” will teach you to design for product growth.
Personas have always struck me as a potentially useful tool that is almost always used badly. In theory, they’re great. Who doesn’t love a deliverable that is designed to get everybody on the team more familiar with the ideal user? Why wouldn’t we create something to help us focus our design and engineering efforts around the real people using our products?
Unfortunately, the reality rarely lives up to the hype. Personas, as they are created in many organizations, aren’t nearly as useful as they could be. They’re rarely based on real user insights developed during research. They tend to be overly broad and generalized. They’re descriptive, rather than predictive. And that’s just a few of the things people get wrong. Read more…
:focus'ing on users.
Editor’s note: The author would like to acknowledge her co-author, Brian Kardell, who contributed many insights to the ideas presented here, along with a substantial number of the words.
Web developers and web standards authors alike strive to live up to the promise of “universality” — the idea that the web should be available to all. This concept drives many innovations in web technology, as well as being fundamentally built in to the philosophy of the open standards on which the web is based.
In order to achieve this, we frequently find that having some carefully chosen information about how the user intends to view the content (a concept we’ll refer to in this article as “user context”) allows web developers to create more flexible and useful user experiences. In this post, we’ll lay out a case that it’s time to expand our view of user context to include the concept of modality (how the user is interacting with the page), but before we flesh that out, let’s take a look at “user context”.