Monday, 28 April 2014

Materials, feelings and personalisation

Great piece on the Engadget website about the choice of materials for the new Samsung Galaxy S5.

Now we are going to stay away from any arguments of Samsung vs Apple.

But we thought the piece was interesting to see a view on the choice of materials and how it relates to your feelings about a product.  The metallic iPhone feels strong and robust but is perhaps less inviting. Plastics in the past have felt more flimsy but the new polycarbonates are tough and warm.

Which do you prefer?

The issue around personalisation of smartphones and other devices also suggested the driver for where we are seeing this followed through into other areas of our lives. Much of our work is in transport and we are there are very strong trends towards personalisation of experience, service and environments. This is being reflected in some of our projects looking at designing strategies for passenger experience and customer service. It's what we want, maybe the phone & tech companies started it, and it's now for other organisations to step up to the challenge.

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Friday, 25 April 2014

Overtaking lanes in public spaces?

We've all experienced it in public spaces such as shopping centres, airports, stations're in a rush but it's crowded and you're stuck behind people wandering along or moving slowly with piles of luggage or shopping.

According to a trial at Sheffield Meadowhall shopping centre maybe the answer is segregation or at least trying to remind people they are sharing a space with people who might have different needs.

The best bit...the idea wasn't from any clever design agency but a 10 year old!  See the full story and video on the ITV website (

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Making us happy in public places

In a recent meeting on a transport project we were talking about the things that enhance our travel experience as passengers.  There was all the usual stuff there about service, facilities etc. But for a moment we talked about those little extra things that make us smile on our journey and we remember.

We all thought back to the street pianos that were around during the Olympics and are still in St Pancras station.

Then today we came across this lovely example of a public installation in Montreal.  It's a series of swings that are one enormous musical instrument.  Each swing creates its own sound and people having a go discover how, with a little collaboration, they can produce melody together. If that doesn't put a smile on your face then we're not sure what will!

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Human Behaviour and Innovation

There was a great feature published on the Design Council website recently about the potential for behavioural design to join up research and practice and to be used to have real impact on a range of social issues.

It recognised that many of the issues faced are governed by human behaviour.  Therefore understanding that behaviour better must be key to finding solutions.  In particular linking behavioural understanding with design thinking could provide new insights and new ideas.

We recommend you have a read...

We identified a number of key messages for our work. The first being the importance of understanding real people's needs. The critical factor being in understanding the range of needs of our users. To provide structure in a design process, the temptation is to simplify this and use crude stereotypes or user groups.  These have their place but are often not rich enough to see the variety and can therefore design out the needs of lots of people.

The other key point for us is in understanding how people make decisions. For lots of our work, in particular around wayfinding and navigation, it is critical that we understand the different ways in which people make decisions at points in their journey.  Without this understanding how we can hope to influence them with information, signage, guidance, etc.

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