How to Look Beyond What Users Say They Want

How to Look Beyond What Users Say They Want
Younghee Jung, Akseli Anttila

This group used location-information from mobile devices to inform the scenarios they created for design. They are designing mobile devices.

User study: “Exploration tasks” To trigger insights through ‘doing’.  (with professional designers?)
E.g. draw a map of your city to introduce it to a stranger.
E.g. list your favorite zones.
E.g. given an old photography of yours, describe everything you remember about it.
E.g. take pictures of yourself and others often (every X ?) for a day.
E.g. photodocument a path from A to B for a stranger

Note: Given so many tasks, they encouraged participants to complete the tasks by formating it like a workbook or homework checklist.

Next: In-depth Interviews (with normal users?)
Here, they were looking for needs and wishes that can be addressed by location-based mobile devices.
E.g. Confusing trainstation systems.
E.g. Trust issues in depending on drivers
– These seemed to be different insights from different countries.
Next: Creative exercises (These appear to be an extension of the prior exploration tasks).
E.g. given the photo-trail, traverse it and make amendments?
– All materials were collected and analyzed for major concepts.
E.g. the group was interested in “spicing up the daily routine”

Now, they developed use-scenarios to appeal to these themes.
E.g. “Serendipity” is movie describing a location-based awareness tool of nearby friends.

Questions:
44 interviews, 4 hours each. Was that too much, in retrospect?
Due to the number of cities (6, multi-national) in which we wanted to conduct these interviews, it gave us more confidence. Our concern was to be able to explore across 6 different places (countries?).

Note: Their position in the company was to inspire design and to push designers in Nokia to explore different possibilities for location-based technology.
 My overall impression? This work’s strengths included: their exercise-driven approach and their multi-national approach and their fairly large number of interviewees (~12 per city?). Their weakest points are (1) choosing designers as study participants (As normal and mundane as they may be it doesn’t help that they, in the end, are *not* end-users). and (2) the emphasis they made in seeking unusual forms of design. They stated clearly that they wanted to explore possibilities in design. This makes for an interesting set of discoveries, but it also means they were more interested in “creativity” rather than “success”, which may well be the mundane. Augmenting life certainly sounds interesting, but to whom?

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Filed under CHI, CHI2007, Design, Ethnography

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