Sunday, November 30, 2008

HiTech Dressing Rooms

Before I post this, I have to mention that it has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to figure out how to get months of photos off of my phone to my computer. Now that I have, I can catch up on posts. 
This is a great idea, a button in a fitting room at The Gap in downtown Portland. No more standing half dressed wondering if they have a different size or color. No more getting completely undressed and dressed again to find the right color/size. The push of a button gets the help you need. Ahhhh...
More information and vision pieces on cool new dressing room technology:


As humans, we learn to adapt to our surroundings. This poster was created to adapt to it's surroundings. Was there really no other surface in the airport on which to stick this poster?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


urf08 002 by steve.portigal.
Thanks to Steve Portigal for Aviva's Pic

On Friday, November 7, I travelled to San Francisco, CA to check out a 1/2 day conference put on by Nate Bolt and Bolt | Peters. This event, dubbed User Research Friday, brought together design research and user experience professionals for education and conversation. The big conferences can be great - CHI, IDSA, IXDA - but there was something great and very tangible about this short and fairly small gathering. 150 people gathered for 5 hours to learn and network - then it was gone. But it was good! The limited amount of speakers meant you only saw great speakers, not 5 so-so and 1 great one in a day. The topics were right on target for things that UX and design research professionals deal with every day. 

A brief overview: 
Steve Portigal of Portigal Design
Focused on the symbiotic relationship between research and design. We are indeed co-dependents. He shared a reminder that prototypes are just that, they are development tools and don't always have to be usable. He put into words something most of us do naturally, but reminded us that should not talk to people in our language, but in theirs - that is the language of the user, not the language of your client. 

Indi Young now independent, but a founder of Adaptive Path
Indi's claim to fame is the development and refinement of mental models. Though her talk jumped in head first with nary an explanation of what exactly a mental model is and isn't, she brought up interesting ideas for segmentation and analysis. She suggests segmenting by behaviors, beliefs and actions rather than the traditional market research strategy of age and gender. A chat with Indi afterwards clarified mental models for me. If you want even more information and her new book, check this link: Mental Models

Aviva Rosenfeld of
Nate Bolt, event host, asked Aviva to particularly address the ethnography debate between designers and anthropologists. She queried why it was difficult to see ourselves as ethnographers. After a life altering experience at EPIC a few years back, I've been afraid to use the word myself! The conclusion was that it's important to do good research. Whether or not it's "ethnography" is fairly irrelevant. My two cents: It is almost impossible to do "true ethnography" on the product development timeline. 

Kris Mihalic of Yahoo! Mobile research
This was a very brief presentation - I can't say I have any relevant commentary. 

Dan Saffer of Kicker Studio
A great way to end the afternoon! Dan took all of the practical advice of the day and spun it on it's head. He talked through every way possible of tweaking your research to make it show exactly what you want to show. Though we've all been tempted, I do hope it was all tongue in cheek! 

Core 77 Post with video links to full presentations

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The tragedies of war

When you hear about them, older men, a few women, those who served their country in past battles, it all seems far away. Romantic to some, scary to others. The ravages of war touch some, but not many these days. 

I had the occassion to go to the Veteran's Hospital in Portland this week and have to say I think I may have audibly gasped upon walking into the waiting room. This VA center has a very active waiting area. As soon as the doors opened I was faced with a sea of walkers, oxygen tanks and men who had clearly seen better days. What was difficult for me in the moment, was difficult for them for the rest of their lives. 

Why don't they show these men when they show ads for "be all you can be." If all you want to be is aging with war wounds and potentially unknown substances poisoning you from years on foreign soil, then yes, by all means, "be all you can be." 

After processing this sea of infirmity, I pressed on to talk to the good folks who are using research and technology to help their fellow citizens deal with their ailments, medications, and ongoing healthcare issues. There is great research going on in these institutions, and my hope is that these war veterans can gain some value from it. 

I'm also going to advocate for putting VA hospitals next to recruitment centers, just to make it fair and be sure you know what you are getting into. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

To friend or not to friend? That is the question.

As social networking creeps up from the teens and twenty somethings to my generation of forty-somethings and above, more and more people join who I didn't expect to see in this space. Not surprisingly, many hi-tech colleagues are also in this space. 

There is often a line each of us draws at work. I just work and go home, preferring to keep work and socializing separate; I work and sometimes hang out with colleagues; or my workplace is all of the socialization and hang out time I get because I work too much! 

This morning, I went online and decided to see who of my tech-laggard friends had joined Facebook based on a search of my email account. Wow! 84 contacts now had a Facebook account. 

As I scrolled, I had a decision to make. Many of these people are past colleagues and future clients. How much do we want to and should we know about each others daily lives? Is it good to "friend" your recruiter so she sees all of the posts that say "working"...or dangerous because she sees you put up a post at 1am that says "just got home from the bars?" (sadly, rarely the case for me) Should I be privy to photos of their kids in the pumpkin patch or their wild weekend in Bermuda? 

The workplace has definitely gotten more casual in recent years. It's interesting and curious to see if social networking will cause a backlash and have people opting out for privacy or if we will all be virtually connected and know far too much about each other's lives. Seems as if we are leaning towards the latter. 

I'm really curious to hear what others do or think. Please leave a comment about how YOU manage your online social networking for business and pleasure.