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February 12 2014

Contextual Knowledge in Design

Everytime that I sit down to design or review a product or service presentation, I often ask what what do we know about our users? I don’t mean their profiles, but rather what bits of knowledge or behaviour do we know about them? I force myself and the people around me to know as much as possible about their users and most importantly about the context that surrounds them and where the actions will take place or the products and services will be used. Still today I struggle how such simple questions raise so many doubts.

I have from my experience, that the majority of the problems come not from a misfit user profile, but rather from some unexpected context problem that wasn’t considered during the design phase of that project. Knowing what our customers think is important, but the sweet spot between a good experience and a great experience is to have the knowledge to his or hers outskirts: where might the user bem, what are his expectations, what actions is he trying to accomplish? what else is going on around him? What distractions, noises and messages are competing for his attention?

Last Christmas, while returning from Lisbon, I came across a good example of good service design, subtle, but a very well thought use case. Once you’ve completed your check-in and baggage drop off process, it’s time to head into the international area of the airport, once there, we’re faced with the typical security processes, liquids out, laptop and electronics, etc. but even after so many flights, some times it does happen that you missed something within your hand luggage, which is not permit to carry on the flight! Solution? Well until now I’ve seen many airports offering their passengers to… dump the unauthorised items in the trash! May they be liquids or any other form of objects, it’s a strange process, but what options are there when all the check-in was completed and your big luggages somewhere already inside the airport or plane?

Aeroporto de Lisboa - Partidas

Seems that someone in Lisbon, thought a bit about it and they now have at the security area, vending machines that allow passengers to buy padded envelops and boxes allowing them to post the items to themselves via a mail dropbox post. Clever? Maybe, but in many circumstances, more than convenience it allows you to save that awful lot of money in a item that you just can’t carry into the plane.
I found this not just a great product placement idea, I believe that it was only possible because someone looked at all those passengers and realised the difficulties and decided to improve the experience of the airport service.

With all the sensors and information we can access today from our users, what’s stopping us to deliver ever more smart and aware products and services? How are we using all the information we have about them?

A second great example of context awareness in this case to help push commercially a new product, is to think carefully about how not just the typical product placement activities, but go beyond them and understand where the new product might make sense to be and how to better communicate the added value it carries:

I could write lines and lines of great example, but I close this post with some of the key pointers to help uncover users context information. A starting point about using technology and sensors is Robert Scoble and Shel Israel “Age of Context” book, describing a not so far future where Data & Sensors will help deliver a highly anticipatory and predictively intelligent world in terms of products and services.

Context will not only affect every product and service, its already helping deliver contextual aware products and services, finally putting an end to all the product and service context agnostic development.

January 28 2014

June 11 2013

June 10 2013

What do you want people to feel?

Apple WWDC 2013 keynote intro video was an ode to technological achievement, a company vision of perfection, a celebration of proper engineering and design. In video, each phrase is an ode to the growth and impact of proper user centered design. An ode for a paranoid attention to every little detail, something Apple meticulously, but it’s also an ode to experience design, to those outthere like myself who think from the end towards the beggining, overlooking the effect, overlooking how one feels upon interaction, and then designing backwards to ensure a curated and designed experience, consistent, repeatable and delighful.

Apple is in many senses unique, for there are those that do inovation by brute force differentiation and those who generate differentiation by design, in particular experience design. I work along the last.

Me happy.

May 21 2013

Simplicity sells – David Pogue (2006)

Oldy and yet so couldn’t be more timely today…

April 03 2012

March 26 2012

March 09 2012


Webcam Eye Tracking - Ad Testing and Optimization

January 16 2012

July 05 2011


wi-GO is a project aimed to building a barrier-free society, it’s a robot system based on Microsoft sensor technology Kinect, enabling anyone (from disabled person, to elderly and pregnant women) to carry objects without difficulty, comfortably and safely. The automatic cart follows it’s owner, promoting mobility and reducing these personal temporary or permanent inabilities.

via wi-GO Project on Vimeo.

July 04 2011

February 21 2011

January 24 2011

Things of yesterday…

After seeing this, can’t help but to wonder how things will be in 10 years (heck even just in 5). But at the same time it’s a crude example of how much knowledge we lose in between generations at this pace…

December 06 2010

December 03 2010

November 24 2010

November 22 2010

November 11 2010

World Usability Day 2010

The day is almost over but I’ve hardly close to finish my post about this year’s topic – Communication, so instead I’d like to just share a very simple video introducing HCI to those who might not be so familiar with:

Why buttons go bad

If this got you curious and you still haven’t clicked away, follow along with to Dave Kelley on a tour on how much is actually in stake about human computer or human centered design:

November 08 2010

October 19 2010

I ♥ wireframes

The ultimate source of inspiration and collection of resources for wireframes
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