Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Feelings over function?

As user-centered designers, we value the functionality of something highly: it has to deliver on being useful and understandable.  We know that we need also to value the aesthetic and its contribution to our feelings of well-being.  But perhaps sometimes it is harder to tap into those other little parts of the experience of using a product or moving through an environment.

On the BBC website this week there is a piece about a new wine cork that screws into the bottle.  Experts tell us that the modern screw cap is the best way to keep our wine tasting at its best for when we open it.  But as drinkers we miss the action of opening a bottle with an old fashioned cork - the squeaking sound followed by the satisfying pop.   As the BBC article points out, this triggers positive associations in our mind that go far beyond the utility of opening a bottle and having a drink.

The world that CCD works in is more about the design of work spaces and public environments.  The question for us is how do we capture these little moments in the user experience and keep them? A challenge!

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Signage for me - personal navigation

A design firm in the US has produced a new signage product called Points which is connected to the internet and is a dynamic and flexible display.  It can take data from various sources including social media and then change the sign display and the direction it is pointing in response.

On the surface this seems like a bit of fun.  At the moment you can tweet the sign and shortly after your tweet appears and it will even point in the direction where you tweeted from.

However it got us thinking more about individualisation and personalisation of information. The value that we are all getting from pulling data on to our own mobile devices is that it is personalised to us and what we are doing.  Navigation information is about our route only; status updates on public transport concern only the trains or buses we are using; we can get restaurant recommendations for those that are near to our location; the list is prettty endless.

In contrast signage, by its static nature, has always been something different.  Pointing to known desinations that that majority are likely to want or points of interest determined by the local authority.

The concept of Points perhaps takes us a step closer to something in the environment that is more dynamic and responds to each of us as we approach the sign.  One could imagine having a route plugged into to Google Maps on our own device; near field technology allows the sign to detect that route and then adapts to show us the direction we want to be travelling in at that point.  There are probably a bunch of barriers to this such as how it would work in a crowded space like a railway concourse but let’s not worry to much about that for now.

Have a look.  Tweet the sign...we did...

But also think about where this could take us and what we want to support future wayfinding.

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