Jan 4, 2012

User Experiences that engage Human senses and their impact on the future of design

As technology advances and devices have become responsive to touch, it boggles the mind to think what opportunities human senses present to future technology advances.

Gaming has become all pervasive in the last few years. In my view touch screen user interface is one of the reasons that gaming has become very popular. I believe that humans are more responsive to tactile / sensory experiences, experiences that help us interact in a way that seems more “human”. Touch gestures on phones or tablets are a more natural way of interaction than the ones (keyboard/ monitor) we have been using since the time computers have been invented. A “flip, a “pinch” or a ‘swipe” gives a user an immediate response and engages the visual, tactile, and auditory senses. This involvement becomes truly engaging at an interaction level.

I recently bought a touch screen Phone and downloaded a few apps. I have been observing my 5 year old son engaging with the device and have noticed a vast difference in the emotions that he displayed compared to when he uses laptop/ desktop with a mouse. From a circumspect moving of the mouse and a tedious pointing to the controls on a laptop and a response of delight, the response to a touch screen UI has been that of wonder, oneness with the device, and joyous delight. It’s almost like moving from a string pulled car to a remote control car with front, back, and circular navigation.

One can only wonder the immersiveness when devices start becoming more engaging. For example, engaging the olfaction (smell) and gustatory (taste) might create possibilities that could be quite exciting and ultimately commercially exploitable

Impact on future generations
Our attention spans have been reducing since the onslaught of distractions that we face from the digital environments, social networking and the humongous amount of information overload. Today’s kids who are growing up in an environment where they are exposed to such sensory rich experiences will face a hard time if enterprise applications do not re invent themselves and offer the same boring “tasks” that need to be done . A fine balance will need to be created for providing enterprise experiences that do not degenerate into crude inappropriate experiences.

This leads me to ask the following questions

Should Designers create game like environments in enterprise applications? Will it dilute the “seriousness” of the work environment?

Will fun increase the acceptance quotient of serious applications? For e.g. a Health awareness app for a pre teen that uses their favorite cartoon in a game that advises the right kind of nutrition for a certain health condition.

Designers in the future will have to think about future interactions that encompass all known human senses. One should only include appropriate senses for interactions and not go overboard. Usability will be as critical as the user experience because users will have less attention space or patience to “tolerate” bad or confusing experiences. Usability research and testing will be more taxing and the observers need to be skilled enough to explore the nuances of human behavior and capture the “felt” and the “unsaid”

Mar 10, 2011

Personas and their cats and Dogs

Many a time a Persona is created & relegated to the “fairy tale documents” project archive and laid to rest till it crumbles to the nothingness of digital dust. Usually the focus is more about cats and dogs that the persona has, what his or her children do and how much he would like to improve his or her sad life.

A persona should really be used to create empathy about the needs of the actual user of the system. It is a mind set change that is required from all the stakeholders of your project/product. Only when the team/stakeholder's start talking in terms of what “Jill’s” really needs, tasks, and goals are, would your persona make an actual difference.

Ive often noticed this about the "good/apt persona's that we develop:

  • In due course of our discussions with the business folks we find that asking questions on behalf of the persona lead's to a design decision that created a complete paradigm shift in our solution.
  • We come up with solution's that address hitherto neglected business areas and reduces many a redundant step that poor users would otherwise have had to do
  • The focus is really on What is really critical, the user experience Goal

Moral of the story: The next time you are describing how Nadia really loves her dog’s fur and really hates how the dog craps all over the new hardwood floor that she installed, think what needs to be really articulated to make an informed design decision.

Of course, this post is not valid if you are designing a site for pet dogs.

Mar 7, 2011

The need to sell User Experience

Anyone who has been in the field of User experience for a long time realizes the need for being a good salesman. In this post, I have tried to articulate the need for every User Experience professional to be a "salesman" for his domain.

UX, as a discipline sadly suffers from a lot of misconception, Confusion about methodologies, what we do, etc. Even if you are not contributing to RFP's or sales presentation, you still need to sell UX to your Colleagues whether they are business analysts, development folks, or Senior management. Not doing this means that you and your team are relegated to the fringes and are not contributing to the full extent of what you or your team as UX professionals can contribute to the initiative/ project or Program

Some of the scenarios mentioned below describe the situation where a usability professional needs to sell

  • Getting involved at a strategic rather than at a tactical level. ( i.e What should a product
    offer, why is a feature needed..)
  • You get to know about initiatives where a product is being developed without the involvement of a usability team and you try to make a business case as to how usability is essential and can be a differentiator
  • You/ team are called in to Work as the UX team but are limited to mock ups, Wire frames, or visual design options. You know as a usability professional the need to follow the User centered design process and try to educate you clients/ Colleagues of how usability should be inculcated into the project / Program
  • Stakeholders who have some awareness of usability and make assumptions of what is needed from their perspective. You have to make sure that you educate the stakeholders about the correct way in a very diplomatic way. Remember, they are experts most of the time, and most of the time, how you put the point across is equally as important as what is put across

Apr 26, 2008

Apr 16, 2008

Apr 15, 2008

ShakeChilly Cricket Tournament: News (Sneak preview)

The ShakeChilly team of Kazim, Venkat, and Ranga organised a six-a-side cricket tournament at the MCHground in Hyderabad on 13 April 2008 as part of the nation-wide launch plan of the portal. It was an unusual scene for the regular onlookers of proceedings at the MCH ground as there was a lot of colour and intensity this time. A total of 8 teams participated in the tournament and all 8 teams were given ShakeChilly T-shirts of different colours to wear. The winner of the tournament was awarded a cash prize and there were consolation prizes for the runner up
The response to the tournament was so good that Masood Nasser, the ShakeChilly founder, promised to make it a monthly feature. No sooner did he say that, enthusiasts began coming up with suggestions for improvement. One of the more important suggestions was to increase the number of players per team as that would make the matches more interesting. Masood showed appreciation for the suggestions but he must have surely considered that more players per team mean longer matches and a tournament that could stretch over a couple of days. However, ShakeChilly being what it is, a portal for the man on the street, as well as the suits in Manhattan, a longer event will be a winner.
The fitness-crazy Masood himself took part in the game in between shuttling to and fro from his painting exhibition, causing some spectacular saves and horrible misses as a keeper. The occasion was also made special by the participation of Mr hari, a very well respected name in Hyderabad cricket. A man who guided V.V.S laxman in his formative years. Venkat’s knock was the highlight of the tournament, a spectacular 42 in a failing cause that was a treat to watch.

If the idea of taking ShakeChilly to the grassroots was the intention then there is no doubt that this cricket tournament delivered the goods. It is also a trendsetter in the sense that a decision has already been taken about making the ShakeChilly cricket tournament a monthly feature. In fact Kazim, Masood, Venkat, and Abdul are so impressed with the outcome of the tournament that they are considering organising other backyard game tournaments as well. Update: A Gilli danda tournament in Charminar and a Mixed team cricket tournament at the Gymkhana have already been initiated.
The primary objective of arousing curiosity about ShakeChilly has been achieved quite satisfactorily. Already there are questions like "what is ShakeChilly all about?" and "what is the meaning of ShakeChilly?" Masood’s answer to the first query is that ShakeChilly is a site that the man on the street can earn from, and the suit in Manhattan can identify with. To the second query his answer was, anybody who knew the meaning of Google and Yahoo would invariably know the meaning of ShakeChilly. There were approving smiles of understanding from the knowledgeable participants comprising a wide age spectrum. From the 50+ sportsman to the 14 plus enthusiast

Apr 8, 2008

Ten Commandments for the brand "manager"

started at 6.01 am

  1. Thou shall not scream. Screaming is for the needy
  2. Thou shall proliferate and evangelize
  3. Thou shall be a fanatical user of your product. If not, please leave and seek greener pastures
  4. Thou shall be as truthful as they get
  5. Thou shall let your kids know what they do. Whaaat. they do..? you are good buddy
  6. ...........

Well, this is enough for now


complete at 6.03 am

Ten Commandments

Mar 31, 2008

The future of web businesses

The future of web businesses
Warning: nothing new for the wise

Marketing is dead. Long live marketing
Enough has been done and said about marketing campaigns and TV spots et al. Money, and tons of it is being spent in the wrong direction. We do not need to entice or woo users, or attract. That is so 2002. We need to go where they are. They are on Google, face book, my space,
and tons of other sites. Why are we creating barriers to entry? Why not go where they already are? Why spend money on advertising when we can do something for the community. plant trees, save the girl child?

Products are dead. Long live Products
It is very simple actually. The focus should be on your products. They should be designed by your customers. CEO's ,Designers, marketeers, get out of office. Play, live, and let the thoughts flow. And do not design products, read Adaptive path, please

Social networking is dead. long live social networking
Why compete. Competition is for the needy. Collaboration is for the wise. Think about it. The who's who of the social networking world collaborate.

Watch this space for a detailed paper on the The future of web businesses

Mar 30, 2008

Mar 29, 2008

Why does one blog

The reasons that I blog are unlike the reason many do it for ( there..:-my english professor is already angry:-))
  • Clarity
  • overcoming inertia
  • get going
  • letting a 100 flowers bloom (read art of the start by guy Kawasiki)

So, when are you starting?


Mar 28, 2008

How Linkedin is changing the world

How Linkedin is changing the world

Once upon a time in the not too distant past when monsters were rampant, dices rolled, jobs were ahead and naukris were scarce, the world was a very different place.
this was a world were the seeker hid his work from the wise ones. The seekers were so afraid that it actually became difficult to get the right wisdom.
paranoia ruled and secrecy made tons of gold.
Then came the knight in shining armor, sir linked; upon the steed he came and then a Kawasaki. All hell broke lose. The council gathered, discussed, and then it was decided that
sir transparency is the order of the day. Well, they are working on it:-)
The person to give the best comment will get a painting from me, which is something that will give you immense joy and add to your networth (albeit in a small wayfor now)

Mar 24, 2008

Marketing Communications "guidelines"

  • Less is more
  • No "concepts" please
  • Do it already!
  • Meditate
  • Read this blog
  • Hang out with a usability "guru"
  • Read don't make me think" by Steve Krug
  • Don't sell.........
  • Reach out, don't advise
  • Don't create emotional guilt, make them happy

Marketing "Mantra's"

  • Spend less time on marketing. Improve your product. It's a no brainer \
  • Get out of your office. Now. Please:-) Visit Ramu makhija, Ray jones....
  • Stop smoking
  • Print less, pitch more
  • Internalize Guy Kawasaki and Jagdish Sheth
  • Write more and work less. Blog.
  • Join Linked. What, you haven't?
  • Comment Here:-)

Mar 21, 2008

Leadership Grooming: part one

Being groomed in leadership by exceptionally good teachers. My son rayhaan, neices raahat, Aisha, and nephews Armaan and Zara.

What do leaders require? ( among other things)

  • Clarity: Absolute must. for everyone, more for leaders. Sadly lacking in many
  • Naivete: Will encourage wishful thinking. Absolute msut for growth
  • Positive Intluence: enough said
  • Focus: nothing can be done without it
  • Command Attention: must have. Most people fear and follow, sadly this should never be the case
  • Love: A leader has people who love, respect, and would do anything..well almost.

Please wait for the 2dn part of the article. Will pen my thoughts in detail. and please comment. pleeaaze. :-0

"New" "Guidelines" for Information Architects

  1. Thou shall cut back work and start reading
  2. Thou shall cut back work and start writing
  3. Thou shall start owning content management systems
  4. Thou shall help rosenfeld media in testing books
  5. Thou shall read "Dont make me think" till it is internalized
  6. Thou shall explain to management the difference between wurman and the polar bear
  7. Thou shall not make fun of any "usability guru"
  8. Thou shall realize that there is enough work for 2 lifetimes and be choosy