Broadband/HD Innovation Lab – day 2

On: November 24, 2006
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About Esther Weltevrede
Esther Weltevrede is a second year Media Studies Research Master student at the University of Amsterdam. Before studying New Media she attended the School of Arts in Breda where she received a Bachelor degree in Graphic Design. She is involved as researcher and coordinator in the recently founded Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam. DMI is dedicated to developing tools and methods for researching the ‘natively digital.’ Since this summer she is a member of GovComOrg, a foundation dedicated to creating and hosting political tools on the Web. Currently she is a part-time teacher Information Visualization at Master Editorial Design, Utrecht School of Art, and part-time teacher Public Design at Interactive Media, Hogeschool van Amsterdam.


Day 2 is about users. More specifically today is about understanding and applying user centered design methods. Tracy Currer is leading today’s session. Tracy Currer is an interaction design consultant and is an experienced guide in innovative processes.

The purpose of today is two-folded. The first aim is to get into the mind and shoes of the target users; the second is to pitch it in 5 minutes at the end of the day. To get into the mind of the target users, it is important to define who they are, how the project is going to fit into their lives, and how it is going to enhance the user’s life.

In this user context it is important to keep in mind the NABC: What user need does the project address? Why is the project appropriate for the target users? What are the user benefits? And why is the project better for the target user than competing projects?

On the one hand users function as a validation for the project. In the end the user determines how successful the project is. On the other hand users can function as inspiration for the project. It is important to let users get deep into the project. Through observation and communication the target users themselves inform the process.

Making use of one of the three methods of user scenario’s, or user journeys, is a good way of getting into the mind and shoes of the target user. The first type can be done by defining 1 or 2 prototypical users and imagining and describing how 1 day in the life of that user (online, offline, hobbies, social) would look like. The second type has a larger time scale and defines and describes an evolvement over years with a focus on growing user sophistication. The third type focuses on micro needs; this means breaking macro needs up and a focus on small instances. In other words: what is the user’s ‘call to action’? The focus in all three scenarios should be on the following key features: activity, environment, interaction, object, and user.

Looking into user modes can further sharpen the projects proposal. User modes are about the ‘snacking’ behavior of users and how your product fits into that snacking process. User modes are an activity or behavior based categorization and transcends the specific user. It is about abstracting out patterns of behavior. This method creates a better focus and opportunity for the project.

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