Archive for May, 2009

User research underway!

May 12, 2009

Since last Thursday i have been conducting user research sessions with a variety of people…some students, some couples and some families. I have even spoken to some extreme users and am conducting some experiments remotely!!  At the moment i am trying to keep my mind open to what i  might find, but it is also daunting how much information i get on a single research session. Some recurring areas that have come out so far are, wanting to make more time to speak to or see friends and family’s and having time to do things that really satisfy you and help you work towards your goals! Another insight which is been re occurring which i have found interesting it the fear people have in future and not ‘making it’ professionally! I still have a few more interviews to do and a lot of diaries to get back, so any thoughts at the moment could change hugely!

P1030911Eric mapping his priorities

P1030922Martin drawing how his life in balance has changed since he left home

DSC05111Rune deciding on his priorities on a daily basis

P1030925Martins new and old planner!

P1030942Starting to map out user research

Social Innovation Camp call for ideas!

May 7, 2009

“The Social Innovation Camp is an experiment in creating social innovations for the digital age.  We think the web and related technologies hold huge potential to change some pretty fundamental stuff: how people hold those in positions of power accountable; who they rely on to provide the services they need to live healthy, happy lives; or how they make a difference to something that affects them”

This morning i received a press release from Katherine at the Social Innovation camp….spreading the word that the prizes have been announced for this years competition that is being hosted from Scotland for a change! So get thinking and enter!


More info……….

“There are just four weeks to go until our call for ideas closes for Social Innovation Camp Scotland.

You’ve got until Friday 22nd May 2009 to send us your idea that uses the web to create social change and you could be joining 100 other participants to try and make it a reality.

And this week, we’re really pleased to be able to announce some of our prizes for the weekend.

At the end of each Social Innovation Camp, we run a Show and Tell where everyone pitches what they’ve built in the weekend.

We’ll be awarding some prizes to the ideas we think have shown most promise. And this time around, we’re lucky enough to be supported by our partners Firstport, IfLooksCouldKill and O Street

And here’s what they’re giving away:

Firstport supports new and emerging social entrepreneurs across Scotland. They provide free business support, advice and start-up awards and work to identify, advise, connect, encourage and seed-fund new start social entrepreneurs. Their awards programme is run in partnership with Scotland UnLtd.

A Level 1 award of up to £5,000 is being made available for a Scottish based winner at the Social Innovation Camp weekend. After the weekend, Firstport will be working with our winners to provide advice and support to answer the all-important question: ‘What next?’ and looking at how to work with the award winner to maximise the opportunities and ideas they wish to take forwards.

IfLooksCouldKill are a team of forward thinking web designers and developers. Working together from idea conception through to launch, they’re passionate about interface design, usability, simplicity and beautiful code. The team of five, headed up by Colin Hewitt bring together a unique balance of quirky design and innovative coding.

ILCK will be offering three days of interface design time looking at design, layout and usability of a site or application to either the Social Innovation Camp runner-up or winner.

O Street is a concept led design agency based in Glasgow and London (in that order). Though sleek and nimble in size, their international experience and impressive client list – including BAFTA, Edinburgh International Film Festival and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP – has helped them become one of Scotland’s most exciting creative agencies. Their work includes various mediums including print, online, exhibition, animation and ceramic bathroom tiles, but they tell us their true passion is for Ping Pong….

O Street are offering either the winning or runner-up Social Innovation Camp idea a tailored half-day branding workshop; helping ideas figure out their brand, audience and competition.

Remember: your idea must be really early stage and you don’t need your own team. Find out how it works here and check out all the details of how to enter your idea over on our dedicated Social Innovation Camp Scotland site here.

Research tools…

May 7, 2009

For the past few days i have been working away designing tools for my research sessions i have also been planning. So far i have 7 sessions in place, and three remote Skype interviews planned. For the research sessions i have designed the tools to help facilitate the session and provoke conversation. I also have a set of questions on more specific areas. From my research my main objective is to understand what it means to have a balanced life at different stages of their lives? What are people’s priorities and how do they juggle them. I am also very interested in gaining a better understanding of those things that give people a”feel good factor” and provide meaning to them, but they just don’t seem to have the time to fit it in their lives.

For my research i am splitting into three target user groups, these are students, couples that work and families. In my mind these are three important transitions in your life, so it will be interesting to see how people’s priorities change within the different user groups. I am also interviewing a few extreme users, such as people that are traveling a lot because of their work and people that have a medical condition they always have to monitor.  This afternoon i also did a test run of one of my research sessions with a class mate for a little practice!


Card sorting activity, where people choose from a list of things they do either on a daily, weekly or random basis. This is a warm up activity that will hopefully start to get people thinking about what they do prioritize in daily life.


I have also designed a mapping tool to get people to them think about more specific priorities to them , what really brings them meaning in life, and makes them feel comfortable. I have also left a place to add reasons for picking them, and any tools they use to help acheive them.

…..and if people are willing i will give them a diary to keep for a few days to gain insight into their routines, sleeping, eating habits etc.


Wish me good luck tonight!

Research Prep….

May 6, 2009

Today i have been preparing for my first research session tomorrow. I have been making diaries, card sorting activities and mapping tools to use during my interviews.  Once they are all ready i will add them here. So far…..


Service Design interview with Jeff Howard

May 6, 2009


During the Easter holidays  Interaction Designer Jeff Howard interviewed me on our past Service Design course at CIID, taught by Simona maschi and Brian Rink.  For me this was really exciting as the Design for Service website that Jeff writes for has been a great reference for me while i have been exploring the world of service design! The interview got published here today.

Another great video by thinkpublic…

May 5, 2009

Earlier in the year i posted a lovely video that thinkpublic had made to explain what “co-design” was they have now just made another film showing what they do as a company. Its informative, fun and beautifully filmed and edited. Great inspiration!

Objective, research, assumptions

May 5, 2009

End Statement
I want to help people feel in control and have a more balanced lifestyle, yet still meet their own personal priorities that brings  them meaning to their lives.

Research Objective
Find out what does it mean for people to have a balanced life. What do people need to do to feel in control. How does this vary at different stages of their lives and how do their priorities change.

Currently there are a number of personal informatics tools on the market to help people balance their lives. These tools generally are designed to help very generic areas of peoples lives for example, health, finances and energy consumption. Some of these tools have been a great success but other are just a waste of time, i am very skeptical that any bar chart on a screen will actually motivate anyone to change their behaviour.

I believe that there are other more specialized and interesting areas that could be addressed to help people feel more balanced. These could be very subjective to each person, but there may be some interesting patterns. Some of these assumptions could be:

People need to..

  • Check there emails repetitively throughout the day
  • Speak to parents/grandparents each weak so they don’t feel guilty
  • Read Newspapers to make them feel they are up to date with current knowledge
  • Do some sort of exercise each week
  • Keep in contact with friends that live in other cities/countires
  • Buy organic or fair-trade food to make them feel like they are being healthy or ethically conscious
  • Recycle their paper and bottles.
  • Shower every morning and evening
  • Wear unwashed clothes everyday
  • Make sure there mobile phone is fully charged at all times
  • Know where their ‘significant other’ is at all times

Even writing this short list of assumptions of the top of my head has really made me realize how big this area is i am trying to tackle, but also very interesting! Lets see if any of these assumptions come true!

Getting organised…

May 4, 2009

Trying to plan my time frame for the next four months….lets see how it goes!




Research kick off!

May 4, 2009



Today we started the research phase of our thesis projects with a great talk from Christine Truc, the founder of the Design Strategy Lab. Christine in an expert in User Research and gave us an overview of how to plan and implement our research. As i mentioned before i am looking into what it means for people to live a balanced life, what are people’s personal values they need to meet to feel comfortable in their lifestyle. I am also especially interested to see if personal informatics can play a role in helping people achieve this. If you can access more information about your day  to day actions that is currently hard to access or invisible would this help. For my research i am going to work with three user groups; students, couples who live together and work, and couples that live together with a family. By working with these user groups i hope to see how people’s priorities change through a change in age and their lifestyle? What do people need to do to live a meaningful life, and do they use any tools or strategies to achieve this. This week i will be working on preparing different tools to use for during my interviews, these may include diaries, mapping tools or card sorting activities. I will post about them here as i define and create them! At the end of last week i also did some initial research on what tools are currently available and did a quick email question asking people “what information about their lives that is currently limited would they like to have better access to?” Some of the reply were:

“A system that tells me how my personal actions and lifestyle (i.e. flying, cycling, recycling, energy consumption, food consumption etc.) contribute to my personal lifestyle picture and how this affects the larger global picture. Information is currently there but they all seem so separate as systems and isolated. I would like them to be more integrated so I can get an overview of myself and others (maybe my local community, or my social circle of friends etc. – peer support system)”

“I’d like to know more about spending my money, so I could manage my finances    more effectively. I generally am decent with my money, but I can let it slide easily when I’m busy on other things. I’ve looked at things like budgeting software but always seemed like too much work to set up”

“I’d also like to know more about my shopping habits, so that I could make more ethical choices by buying good things and not bad things”

“I really don’t know if I want to know anything about my actions. I’d rather get unexpected information about my life, that could trigger a change in behaviour or make me reflect upon certain aspects of my life”

Although this exercise was slightly random, i found it very interested to here such a wide range of responses. It helped me see that the area i am dealing with is very subjective to the user. Different people can have such a wide range of personal values.