It’s a cool, sunny late Autumn Sunday morning. You live in the countryside; the nearest village is a mile away. It’s been a while since you bought a Sunday paper. But for some reason, you want one.
Instead of getting in your car, as you normally might to do to drive the mile to the village to buy milk or go to the pub, you decide to walk. There are paths through the fields behind your house that take you to the top of a hill and then down to the village – which is actually less than a mile to walk.
You pull on some wellies and a jacket to keep warm and you set out. Along the journey you encounter several people out walking – some walking their dogs. One of them is a neighbour you haven’t seen or said hello to in over a year. You stop and talk, and find out that there is a developer planning to build several houses on a strip of land just down the road from you. Thirty houses.
A couple of weeks ago I ran a panel at the Mobile Cloud Summit on Evolution of the Mobile Cloud, which looked at the impact of Mobile Cloud on User Experience. I really enjoyed the panel and its participants, which included Windahl Finnigan from Cap Gemini, James Clarke of Thin Martian, and Jules Ehrhardt of ustwo.
Apart from the fact I quite obviously need to go on a diet and get to the gym, the panel was engaging and the participants engaged and quite obviously experienced.
And now I see what people mean about my accent. Doesn’t sound quite American… oh well.
I hope you enjoy watching the panel: http://vimeopro.com/quadriga/mobile-cloud-summit-in-tech-city/video/30120511
When car manufacturers design a new automobile, they develop requirements, conduct research, draw designs, make scale models, test scale models in wind tunnels, computer model their ideas, build full-scale prototypes, test them, and iterate the designs – all of this before putting them into production.
What they don’t do is go right from drawing them on a piece of paper or having some ideas to putting them into production.
So they don’t base their decisions on a paper prototype or a list of words. Why? Because a car is a 3 dimensional experience. It is an experience of the senses. It is an interactive experience. You really need to understand it before you put it into production. Mistakes would be costly.
As individuals, we have many user experiences over the course of a day. Certainly over the course of a week, month, year… indeed a lifetime. In a sense, we become experienced users over time of many things, and remain inexperienced users of many other things. In some instances we feel we can extrapolate the experience by comparing it to ‘like’ experiences.
When it comes to designing apps for use on the internet, software, or web, everyone is an experienced user. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten over the years in dealing with clients and colleagues.
Let’s take clients. They are often made up of many constituents: a business owner, stakeholders, marketers, project managers, IT geeks, editors, business analysts, and possibly even cobbled together components of a web team. Each of them has an opinion. Each of them view digital projects in terms of their own interests, experience, discipline and exposure (or lack thereof) to similar types of projects. They also have their own agendas – which are a double edged sword – that guide their actions.
So, I feel caught in a language loop recently. I talk about (and practice) User Experience. I do these things in the digital/mobile space. And really, I’m mostly focusing on good, strategic paths to design.
But all of it is an illusion.
User experience is pervasive. It is ubiquitous. Like air. And I don’t design air… I breathe it, I need it to live, I experience it, it’s all around me. It’s ubiquitous too.
User experience is about more than just digital experiences. If we accept that it is pervasive, ubiquitous, we have to accept that it extends well beyond our digital boundaries. But we most often hear about “UX” in relation to developing digital experiences.
On 21 September, 2011 the Mobile Cloud Summit will take place in Hoxton.
It is a one-day event that will focus on how cloud-based applications delivered via smart mobile devices are transforming business and society. It will also focus on the Mobile Cloud investment opportunity and will be an opportunity for leading IT companies, investors, entrepreneurs, and the tech media to get together and discuss.
I will be moderating a brand new session at Mobile Cloud Summit called The Evolution of the Mobile Cloud.
For more information on the event, visit the Mobile Cloud Summit website.
You can also track the event on Lanyrd.
I came across this again the other day. I’d forgotten about it – which in its own way is one of the lessons of the video. Every time we stop to play, and allow ourselves to be creative in our thinking, we all too quickly become adults in implementing it. This is a reminder not to stop playing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘edges’ of user experience lately. Most projects demand tactical UX – a bit of research, some wireframes, perhaps a prototype, and some annotation.
It slots neatly into place in a project process.
But ‘User’ experience isn’t quite so tidy. Actual user experience is ubiquitous, pervasive. It doesn’t have neat edges or clear boundaries.
I’ve been talking a lot about pervasive UX recently. In the sense of brand, to me it encompasses all of the potential touch-points encountered by a user on journey.
A few weeks before it launched, Tom Loosemore kindly invited me over for a preview of the Alphagov prototype. I was given a whirlwind tour of their agile process and some of the thinking behind their work. Not to mention a very dark – and thick – cup of coffee. Hey, I’m not complaining. I like it that way.
I met a few of the team (some of whom I already knew), and watched as a group of Government Communication types were taken through the same whirlwind tour – a mix of curious and skeptical faces making up the lot.
On the whole, it was a pleasant visit.
Over the last year or so I’ve come across quite a few people – technologists mostly – who keep asking the question – why can’t Agile be used as a methodology for both UX and development? Having spent some time considering it, I’ve put down a few thoughts below. Apologies in advance for the use of overused clichés.
So to begin, if you think about the differences between what we do as the differences between Architects and Construction teams working on buildings it might help.
Additions and renovations
Analogy: Think of this as modifying the interior of your home or building a small addition to an existing home.