User Insight Management

Art About Ideas
August 17, 2006, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Point Of View, Quotes

Art Ain't About Paint

I like this quote. Reading it makes me feel empowered to figure out what my ideas are, then figure out how to make them known. The picture is from Ed Batista‘s trip to the National Portrait Gallery / Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC.


User-Centered Ideation
August 15, 2006, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Point Of View, Quotes, Thought, User Insight

Don Norman in the July/August ’06 issue of Interactions magazine wrote a good article about HCI coming in at the wrong phase of the development process. Where this is definitely true for interactive development, this premise is insightful for any industry with a consumer facing product.

“…once a project is announced, it is too late to study what it should be – that’s what the announcement was about. If you want to do creative study, you have to do it before the launching of the project. You have to be on the team that decides what projects to do in the first place…”

Now, this is the exact intention of User Insight Management – being able to apply a user-centered design approach to the idea phase of the [insert domain] process.

UIM = User-Centered Ideation

Relevant Story
August 15, 2006, 1:32 pm
Filed under: User Insight

James Archer wrote an interesting post on the Forty Media blog about Alltel’s recently-flopped viral “People Against My Circle” campaign. There he brought up several points that seem relevant to any viral campaign:

  • Three-dimensional characters
  • Engaging plotline
  • Foreshadowing
  • Conflict and tension
  • Willing suspension of disbelief
  • Action, not explanation (“Show, don’t tell”)

“In order to succeed with a viral campaign, you have to find that sweet spot where readers will have a hunch that they’re participating in a publicity stunt (so that they don’t feel stupid once the truth is revealed), but where they will also be so drawn in by the fictional situation that they’ll temporarily set aside their suspicions and become an active participant in the story.”

Managing Insight
August 6, 2006, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Point Of View, Quotes, Thought, User Insight

Rather then taking the time to become a domain expert, dedicate yourself to the comprehension of the landscape of that domain. Then when faced with future challenges, you may not know every current trend, but understand how to find the experts, then utilize their expertise in your innovation.

Innovation Power Laws
August 6, 2006, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Convergence

Doors of Perception posted these Power Laws of Innovation:

  • 1: Don’t think “new product” – think social value.
  • 2: Think social value before “tech”.
  • 3: Enable human agency. Design people into situations, not out of them.
  • 4: Use, not own. Possession is old paradigm.
  • 5: Think P2P, not point-to-mass.
  • 6: Don’t think faster, think closer.
  • 7: Don’t start from zero. Re-mix what’s already out there.
  • 8: Connect the big and the small.
  • 9: Think whole systems (and new business models, too).
  • 10: Think open systems, not closed ones.

Brand Image
August 6, 2006, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Convergence, Design Examples, Diagrams


MGM Grand just redesigned their site, and the new look is sleek and hip with an alternative navigation titled “Maximum Vegas”

Through this continuous video interface, they depict key elements of the MGM experience, highlighting what could be happening to you, if you came and stayed at their hotel. They are not trying to recreate Las Vegas online, but instead priming you to their take on Vegas. So when you get there, you already have a snapshot in your mind for what to expect.

Bring forward PlayLast year, I was working on a project for a client, trying to discover, "the next phase of their online experience." Now, this client is a revolutionary innovator of their in-store experience. They have won numerous awards and have changed the niche of their industry. Yet their web site, which they called “the thirteenth store,” was treated like a dumping ground for their less interesting information.

Now, the web can be a great place to warehouse all that, but for the 1% of your population that wants it, make it easy enough to find, but hide it well enough so the other 99% never notice it.

So we didn’t want to change their business model for the site (focusing on shopping, reserving a party, playing online and learning about the company), we just wanted to make the “Play” section, the primary staging ground for their consumer’s online experience.

The web can be a dynamic medium, that if by knowing your audience, you can provide a hierarchy for the information they experience. Putting your best foot forward, make the most interesting part of your organization the first thing people notice – establishing in your consumers’ minds, that you’re an exciting company and you do amazing things!

Then everything else they encounter while on your web site or with your products, is framed by that positive brand image.

Get There Faster
July 12, 2006, 7:28 am
Filed under: Convergence, Point Of View, Stories, User Insight

This post is about a coincidental experience, but begins with a story:

So, I just started working a contract for a larger company, and had my first experience with one of their many parking garages. As I looked for a spot, winding upward, looping around, trying to peer through the columns and see if anything is open on the downward side, I think, “Man, there could be a better way…”

A few cars later, I was struck with an idea and a vision for the interface. There should be a way that the parking spots know when occupied. On your phone/pda or in-car display, there would be a map-view of the parking’s landscape, like a seating chart on an airplane, where you can pick your seat. The system would recognize your car’s proximity, along with the other approaching vehicles, and whoever was closest to an open spot, would get “dibs” on that space.

Once selected, the space would display “occupied” to the other motorists, then send an updated list with the next closest recommendations for them to select. (Now if you doddled, and another person became closer to your spot, then they could get an option to take it from you – “Hey this spot just popped open – want it?” Granted this would tick you off, but get over it, look to see what’s next and take someone else’s spot.)

Coincidentally, when I sat down to read tonight, I was surprised when the first article I saw was about a mobile parking interface! I gasped thinking, didn’t I just think of that!

Be it different then my idea, you can read about the SpotScout through Popgadget. From that post, I then found Wired had highlighted other parking systems that are starting to apply my idea! I again thought to myself, “the nerve of them taking my good idea!” But this goes to show, that lots of people have similar experiences. If you don’t use insight from your audience soon, someone else will put your good idea to market.