No Lecture – Meeting the Users

This week we are to meet our targeted users to gather information about their needs and wants. Meet them, use data gathering instruments like questionnaires or conduct interviews to identify the needs and requirements of the targeted users.

Transmin Rockbreaker’s remote operators are my users, but I cannot meet them. I have created a semi-structured questionnaire with both open-ended and pre-determined questions to identify the needs and wants of the users.

This is rather difficult I am not actually meeting the users and observing them. Testing them remotely does involve some assumptions which might not prove right for decision making.

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My Approach to Creating Product Requirements

Veronique provided a template for creating a product requirements document. She provided a systematic approach towards writing the product requirements document in a quick and iterative development process. Her template included:

  • Background and Goals: This section clearly outlines the users’ needs and/problem  and the plan on how to solve it.
  • Audience: Who is this for, who is more likely to use it. This will help in prioritising the needs.
  • Use Cases: Outline the main ways users are going to use the product, in a story telling style. If story is too long, the product is complicated.
  • Functional/User Experience Requirements: The best way is to have a meeting (or series of meetings) with the key stakeholders, i.e. you (the product manager), your engineering lead and design lead. In those meetings, explain the users’ needs, and how you perceive to address that need, and get everyone to participate and add their share. Work on the end-to-end flow rather than on a particular web page or aspect alone. Goal is to build an experience that rocks. Draw very rough wireframes of each page or step the user would go through.
  • Success Metrics and Data Instrumentation: Your engineers need to know what you’ll want to track ahead of time so they can instrument the product accordingly.
  • WOW factor: Point out which area needs to be perfected

A good checklist or template to write the product requirements section of a design document.

Porter, J. (2010, December 8). My approach to creating product requirements  [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://veroniquep.typepad.com/pm/2010/04/my-template-for-product-requirements-.html

Lecture – Identifying Needs and Establishing Requirements

Identifying needs and establishing requirements is the core task in a product design. It forms the basis for the conceptualisation and design decisions. Identifying needs is about who the users are, what is their work and their context of work, why is it they behave in that manner, gather data in this context, analyse and interpret it.  The diagram below shows how things can go wrong when users’ needs and product requirements are not communicated or understood properly by each party.

Understanding needs

Understanding user needs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requirements on the contrary are how the product with function and perform. They must be very specific, unambiguous and clear. Requirements can be either functional or non-functional. The functional requirements are about what a product does; these can be in the form of data requirements, environmental requirements, user characteristics and usability and user experience goals. The data requirements include volatile, information architecture, size, etc. Environmental requirements include the physical notions of light, noise, dust, etc.; social notions of sharing between people, viewers, synchronisation, etc.; organisational notions such as help features, site map, live chat, etc. and technical notions such as technology compatibility, cross platform compatibility, etc. User characteristics are described as novice, professionals, skilled, experts or beginners, group of potential users or individual users. Usability and user experience includes the six aspects  of efficiency, effectiveness, safety, utility, learnability and memorability.

Identification of requirements is a sequential process of gathering data, analysing  and interpreting it and presenting it. Data gathering involves collection of suffiecient, relevant and appropriate data that identifies the users’ tasks, users’ goals associated with the tasks and their context, along with the rationale for the situation. There are different types of data gathering techniques like interviews that can be unstructured or open-ended, structured or semi-structured, focus groups or group interviews, survey or observation of users in their natural environment. Unstructure interviews allow indepth and rich information gathering but are time consuming. Structure interviews are a set of predetermined questions and can be used if the goals are pretty much clear and fast to conduct. Semi-structured interviews are a combination of structured and unstructured interviews and are more effective. Focus groups are good for acquiring a consensus view of the target population. Direct observation of the participants in their natural setting or indirect observation of the participants give an idea about the behavioural traits of the participants in different settings. There are various instruments available for data recording like notes, audio recordings, still cameras or video cameras. Data analysis and interpretation can either be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative analysis will have data in average or percentage values which can be collated in analysable data sets. Qualitative analysis will identify the recurring patterns and themes, categorising the data and critical incidents. The analysed data can be interpreted and presented in the form of graphs, tables, textual descriptions, story or summarising the findings.

This lecture was very informative for the gathering the users’ needs and requirements in the next week. I selected a semi structure questionnaire as I cannot meet my target audience that is the Transmin Rockbreaker remote operator.

People Are From Earth, Machines Are From Outer Space.

Donald Norman, a renowned cognitive psychologist, talks about machines and human behaviour.  He talks about the need to develop sociable technology in a very amusing way. He writes in a more of sarcastic tone and critique tone about the machines we use and how unsociable are they. Norman feels that it is time to socialize our interactions with technology. Sociable machines that have basic lessons in communication skills. “Machines need to show empathy with the people with whom they interact, understand their point of view, and above all,  communicate so everyone understands what is happening.”

Sociable technology should have four themes of communication, presentation, support for groups, and troubleshooting. He advocates the fact the machines have to have social skills designed into them. This can be correlated with services, where even though we are interacting with people, the service activities are dictated by formal rule books of procedures and processes, and the people we interact with can be as frustrated and confused as we are. This too is a design issue.

Design of both machines and services should be considered a social activity. All products have a social component, which needs to be obvious.

This article certainly makes me think about what and how I design and surely remember to consider the social aspect of the design.

Norman, D. A. (2009). People Are From Earth, Machines Are From Outer Space. Interactions, 16, 39‐41.

The Washing Machine That Ate My Sari—Mistakes in Cross-Cultural Design

“The Washing Machine That Ate My Sari—Mistakes in Cross-Cultural Design” is very informative article discussing about the common mistakes in designing for a global market. It clearly states the concept of identifying the users’ needs by studying the physical, psychological, social and emotional aspects.

Some good examples of Kelloggs corn flakes and Whirlpool washing machine are used to explain the fact that it is the core need to understand the users and the targeted market. Kelloggs corn flakes did not work for the Indian market as in India people prefer hot and filling breakfast rather than a cold breakfast. They believe it is a healthy notion to eat a good, heavy and hot breakfast at the start of the day to keep you going. In the case of Whirlpool, Indians washed clothes like saris, lungis made of fine cotton and silk which got entangled in the gap in the machine and tore off. So, the title of the article correctly says that ‘the washing machine that ate my sari’.

Designing for a global market is much more challenging that designing for a local market, as the consumer behaviour is different for different regions. As far as there are differences in the consumer behaviour, there will always be a need to design differently for each regional market in the world.

The writers of the article rightly advise to learn from mistakes to go into a new era in design, unlearning what they have been doing for decades and learning to design new solutions for new users in new markets across a changing globe.

Chavan, A. L., Gorney, D., Prabhu, B., & Arora, S. (2009). The Washing Machine That Are My Sari ‐ Mistakes in Cross‐Cultural Design. Interactions, 16, 26‐31.

Lecture – Understanding Users

A lecture that gave me insights in to identifying the users and understanding user behaviours. Prior to this lecture, I had an understanding that users are everyone that is present in this world. Today, the world is a small place with global exposure over Internet, users are everyone who have access to the product, even though the might not come in contact with the product. This notion of mine, proved wrong. I learnt that users are the people who directly interact with the product to perform or achieve a task. They are classified into:

  1. Primary users who use the product frequently;
  2. Secondary users who use the product occasionally;
  3. Tertiary users who are indirect users.

Furthermore, even though I am using the product or fit into the user group, I as a designer am not the user. Each product is designed keeping in mind a specific or targeted user group. There is no one-size-fit-all design. So, we need to identify the potential users based on the age group, gender, cultural background, users’ work and environment, cognitive, behavioural, anthropomorphic and attitudinal characteristics. Users are the base for designing a solution by an iterative development process. We need to understand the

  • Cognitive aspects such as the attention, perception, memory, learning, reading, speaking, listening, problem-solving, planning, reasoning and decision-making;
  • Social aspects such as interaction of the users in their social environment, emotions like compassion, sympathy and consideration;
  • Affective aspects such as how users see, feel, understand and experience.

All these aspects are to be considered while designing for users so that we can clearly identify their problems and provide apt solutions.

While designing for the users, we need to consider Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs as well as the hierarchy of design needs as shown in the figures below.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Hierarchy of design needs

Hierarchy of design needs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Users like functional and emotionally engaging products. They interpret products based upon the social, cultural, intellectual aspects. User centred design is more of a scenario based design as stories are a natural way to explain human activities and tasks that easily relate to the users.  Scenario based story boards serve as a communication tool to obtain proper feedback from users and colleagues and provides key insight into the design for the design team. These boards enable to focus on the actual product and the experience of using the product. Best approach to understand users is to observe them doing the prescribed tasks for the proposed product and involve them in the design and development.

This lecture gave me proper insight into understanding the requirements of the users with respect to product design and really helped me identifying the user requirements and taking informed decisions for the first assignment.

 

 

Understanding the Seductive Experience

“Understanding the Seductive Experience”, a really good paper by Khaslavsky and Shedroff defining the seduction theory in the field of captology or the use of persuasive technology. According to this paper, seduction has always been a part of product design, whether graphic, industrial, environmental, or electronic. Seduction involves a deep connection with the audience or user’s goals and emotions. Examples of everyday objects, like French industrial designer Phillipe Starck’s juicer (see Figure 1) and Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake’s fashions, go beyond mere visual innovation to engage human emotions such as curiosity, surprise, and imagination. These objects go beyond the obvious and are more than what they need to be.

The basic steps toward seduction are:

  • Enticement. Grab attention and make an emotional promise;
  • Relationship. Make progress with small fulfillments and more promises, a step that can continue almost indefinitely; and
  • Fulfillment. Fulfill the final promises, and end the experience in a memorable way.

The first step is to get the audience’s attention, then to make an emotional promise.This can be done only by going to an extreme of some kind. The next and most important step is to reward for the attention given and create a relationship that lures the user to come back. This step is where the quality of interaction design is more important such that the product is fulfilling based on the function and feel. The longer it captivates the user, the more successful it will be. The final step is to end it, leaving the customer with a good feeling.

A seductive experience gives users richer experiences at every level from initial exposure to more advanced use, and make users/customers more likely to stick around and grow with the product.

The six steps for seductive experience in software development involved: knowing what the users wish to buy and experience, look ofr aspects that build meaning and emotional relationship between users and the software, correlate these aspects with the users’ aspects and consider it your priority, understand the examples of seductive design to use as inspiration, get help from a visionary designer or developer and make quality and amazing characteristics priorities among development team members.

Thus, seductive theory, tells us how we can make the user want the product and keep on using it without getting tired or bored of it over a period of time.

“You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it” (in Bartlett [1919] 2000).

Khaslavsky, J., & Shedroff, N. (1999). Understanding the Seductive Experience. Communications of the ACM, 42(5), 45-49.

Can “WOW” Be a Design Goal?

“Can ‘Wow’ Be a Design Goal?” asserts that a wow product is one that customers strongly desire because it creates unexpected needs and promotes a greater sense of control over the external world. Wow is a user experience that exceeds users’ expectations, an experience which awes the users and makes them blurt out “wow”. An experience, an user falls in love with. Many instances of Paypal interface design and user testing are to discuss the actual meaning of “Wow” in designing.

Designing products which make users go “Wow” is about creating  products that meet the needs of the users and make them unacknowledged or unexpected needs. It makes them feel want to have it, like the example of keyless entry to cars, where users wanted to go back to using keys. Wow products give the users control or make them feel in control over what is happening around them. The example of parents getting access to their children’s paypal accounts and knowing their spendings. The children were excited about it and didn’t think of it as intrusive as it was a way of gaining their parents’ trust. Furthermore, design factors like providing proper feedback, alluring or inviting the users to play around and creating novel interactions that were never imagined earlier.

Wow product or wow experience is one that the user has not perceived earlier and makes the user want the product like a precious possession.

 

Hudson, J. M., & Viswanadha, K. K. (2009). Can “Wow” Be a Design Goal? Interactions, 16, 58‐61.

Lecture – Design documentation

The lecture  provided a clear understanding of the core aspects about creating a design document for a project. Design document serves as the bible for any project, providing the analytical and design functions of a project to the stakeholders, designers and clients. A design document clearly identifies needs and establishes the requirements, the conceptual and physical design specifications. It outlines the systematic approach for design and development of a project. It tells the story about the physical and conceptual development of the product.

The first step in designing a product to identify the needs and wants of the users. Then, prioritise the needs and consider the wants. The whole design process is iterative in which the requirements are established, prototype is created and evaluated, problem areas in the design are identified, revised prototype is created and again evaluated, again redesign is done if problems identified and finally the final product is created which is free from errors or issues. The first step or the base of designing a product is identifying the needs of the users, this creates a strong base for the project and decreases the chances of failure in the design.

Jo showed many examples good design that were functional, fun and awesome. The EXO Reaction Housing solution was the best of it all, that gave a very practical and important option for housing needs during natural disasters. It solves the housing problem plus, the storage and use is very easy and apt. Then, there was the chair example which made learning a less of a drab and more fun and focus. I learnt how classic designs became solutions, designers being inspired by classic objects to create innovative and practical solutions. Designing is about identifying the problems and learning from mistakes. It is about learning from mistakes and existing solutions, evaluating and designing and re-evaluation and designing to get an ultimate solution.

I learnt about the various types of design documents such as style guides, storyboards, flowcharts, style boards and scripts. Design document is a systematic and organised approach to all the aspects of a product. A design document outlines how your product will look and how valuable it is conceptually.

How to Identify the Best Design Problems

“How to Identify the Best Design Problems” is a part of a 52 weeks discourse on user interface design by Joshua Porter. Porter (2010) states that the most practical approach in user interface design is to solve the existing problems which people are already struggling with. This saves you the trouble of explaining the value and appropriateness of the design. The best approach to identify an existing problem is to listen to complaints and understand the frustrations of the people around us. Observe the people around us and try to find if they are already trying to solve the problem or doing something to solve it. Their actions will help you to design an effective solution for the problem. If people action to solve a problem, means that it is a core problem. But taking action does not mean that the problem is great enough to be solved, check out if people are spending money to solve it. In short, frustrations, actions and spending money habits will help us to identify and prioritise the core problem and in turn, help us to give a valuable design to the community.

A very simple article but tells you the basic steps for creating a design that is problem solving for the community or the people around us. A design that will make a difference in their every day life.

 

Porter, J. (2010, December 8). How to Identify the Best Design Problems  [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://52weeksofux.com/post/6069568681/how-to-identify-the-best-design-problems