Tag Archives: users

Design is in the details

Yesterday, I had posted about a video from Charles Leadbetter about how users through crowdsourcing and open-innovation are contributing innovation of products/services through collaborative and interactive channels.  Today’s discussion is about design, and how the users are able to design products/services that do not necessarily need to solve big issues but may solve smaller ones, which are very important.

This talk was from Paul Bennett, creative director of IDEO.  He has given multiple examples throughout this talk about solving tiny solutions that delivered impact from hospitals to Ikea’s children storage unit to water pumps in Kenya. 

In the case of the hospital in Minnesota, solving tiny solutions was able to deliver a big impact.  The hospital was interested in the ameliorating the patients’ experience.  When IDEO investigated the users’ experiences, the changes that needed to be made were not big systemic ones, but smaller ones. Some ideas included attaching mirrors to the gurneys, to enable the patients’ to see the nurse or doctor when they were being transported around.  They involved hospital staff in their input to make the patient’s experience more enriching. A nurse suggested installing a whiteboard in the patient’s room so that notes, drawings, messages from the doctor/nurses/family/friends can be showcased and brighten an otherwise mundane room.  

Other examples of design innovations that incorporated thinking small and delivered a big impact came from the inventor of velcro.  He was walking through a field and was covered with burrs and that became his inspiration for velcro.

View objects peripherally to find opportunity. For example, notice on the street when there is a yellow line, people inadvertently follow it without any instructions.  Another example is if people put their empty cups (garbage) in one place, everyone else puts there cups there too.  Companies should pay attention to how people come up with their own design experiences and adapt their designs to improve this experience.

Start from scratch, the mind should be fresh. Throw out any pre-conceived notions.  When Ikea had to design a children’s bookcase, the designer understood that the idea of storage to children was quite different than grown-ups, children play on top and below big objects.  The designer was able to design a storage unit underneath tables, where children can place their toys. 

Pick battles big enough to matter, but small enough to win. For example, in Kenya, IDEO was sought to design a water pump that can be used by villagers.  It had to be compact enough to fit on a bicycle.  This pump had to be cost effective.  It incorporated both effective form and function mechanisms to enhance the lives of the villagers.

I believe that being able to think and feel from the user’s perspective is paramount to designing user-friendly products/services.  This certainly extends to so many different facets in life including communicating with people.  Much too often, the message and body language can be disparaging and derisive to the intended audience, and by empathizing with the intended audience, communication becomes much easier.


Innovation from users/consumers

Who invented the mountain bike?  A big bike company? No, it was invented by a group of bicycle users (consumers) that were frustrated with the existing road bikes.  Charles Leadbetter speaks about how ordinary people, rather than large companies can innovate in this video.   

Mr. Leadbetter mentioned that often consumers are ahead of the producers in developing innovations because: 1) There is much uncertainty that exists when radical innovations affect many people.  There is a greater need for innovation for this uncertainty, and consumers/users are quicker and more adept to identify and find methods to deal with this uncertainty. 2) Users are the source of big disruptive innovations.  Large companies rely too much on past success. I had posted earlier, this will create the downfall for many big companies.  His example of rap music clearly illustrates that form of music would have been difficult as an invention by large companies.  3) Many of the users are passionate about their product/service and are willing to work on developing new innovative product/service during their leisure time and completing this to a high standard.  These people possibly feel bored at work, and focus their energy on their passion.  

As I had posted earlier here and here, there is a battle between open-source innovation (usually crowd-sourced, grassroots) versus closed-source innovation (traditionally large companies). Many of the large companies have tried to stifle the open-source innovators that engage in interactive and collaborative activities.  Mr. Leadbetter thinks that an emerging trend will dissolve the differences between closed-source and open-source innovation, as it will no longer be clearly defined. For example, as I had posted earlier about the use of developer tools on existing websites such as Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, where the users are able to develop their own tools and widgets with resources and platforms such as a developers’ kits (API) that are provided from these sites.

This video corroborates the findings in my posting about the eight emerging trends for businesses.  Crowdsourcing and collaboration are all future trends in innovation.  It turns users into producers, and consumers into designers. Being able to have a mix between the traditional and emerging sources of innovation enables a structure to be in place, but also dynamic in identifying and designing products/services to improve the lives of the consumer.

50 uses for Twitter for business applications


How does a business listen to its customers? Is it through the customer service department?  Call center operations? This is an interesting article about how businesses can incorporate Twitter as a web 2.0 tool.  I had discussed in an earlier post about the benefits of Twitter to enhance friendships, but this post will be about using Twitter to enhance business to customer relationships.  

Chris Brogan has listed fifty uses of using Twitter for businesses.  It is quite the insightful read.  Mostly, it is used for connecting business to its customers through its interests, its insights, customer service and customer opinions.