Comments on experience presentations

General observations

First, thanks to all of you for all the good work and thinking that has gone into the projects. We are really looking forward to seeing how they develop.

In the discussion after the class, several things came up that apply to all the groups. Please take a look and discuss them in your group.

The role of computers

One of Kristian's "I wish" comments after class was that he wished so many of the ideas didn't immediately take the form of interacting with a computer screen. He described consulting his group at IDEO had done for Kaiser, in which the solution ended up being a new paper form, rather than using computers at all. Our class is a bit funny in the pantheon of classes, in that it focuses on user-centered design, but in the end is also about software, so a non-software solution is hard to fit in. Given the rather broad starting points you had, and our general prejudices about the utility of information systems, we hope you can find a project that deals with a real need, has an innovative solution, and does use computers. But don't shoehorn. If your idea leads you down a non-computer path, let's talk about it. Maybe there is a related idea that is closer, or maybe some of the development methods can be adapted.

Going beyond existing solutions

Christi, from Kaiser, asked if she should tell the medication-reminder group about companies that are already out there with similar solutions. Our attitude for this class is that you are capable of coming up with new directions and solutions, and that is the goal. You shouldn't avoid finding out that some of your ideas have already been done. It's a confirmation that you are thinking in good directions! Use what is already there as a springboard for your further thinking. Fortunately, in this era, you don't need to invest a lot of shoe leather to go around and find experts who know what's out there. A quick Google search with keywords like "medication reminder service", "community event kiosk," "career guidance" etc. can turn up a lot. A bit of creativity with key words can help sort out the irrelevant stuff, and of course you should talk to your coaches and to your site contacts who are likely to have a lot of relevant knowledge.

Iterating the project scope and goals

This means that you probably need to do another round of defining your project, based on seeing what has already been done. A few tips:

What you should have for Monday

The assignment as given out in class was to bring a plan for the scope, architecture, and some interactive features. This should be done in light of your revision, and we understand this may mean you don't have time to develop it as fully. In addition, we would like you to have:

We'll start class with a look at these before moving on to experiencing some of the prototyping techniques.

My comments on Wednesday's presentations

These are not intended as telling you what your design should be, but are in the spirit of raising questions and possibilities. It's my own personal version and you have comments from others in the teaching staff and should get them from your client contacts as well. All grist for the mill.

Kaiser - Nurse scheduling

Your skit was closely focused on a technical need, while being empathetic with the participants (you did a good job of getting the feeling there) it feels like there is more to the picture. For the nursing group, the problem is unhappiness, resentment, and squabbling (even yelling!). It is almost certain that this is not just a result of the way patients are assigned, but are part of a bigger picture of how they are treated by management, who has power, how they feel about each other (competitive for the best deal vs. collaborative to best serve the patients), etc. Maybe there are solutions that go beyond the mechanics of scheduling that could address some of these larger issues. They probably aren't primarily information system issues, but maybe computing can be part of the picture. What could be done to improve the sense of community?

Where are the patients and family members in this? They are also stakeholders, and as we said in class, you need to be careful not to set expectations that can't be met. But are there other avenues of input and/or satisfaction that make sense?

Kaiser - Medication alerts

As Christi pointed out after class, there are a variety of solutions in this space already on the market. Talk to her about what they are, what they do and don't do, and where you see opportunities. Maybe for a particular kind of patient, a particular kind of treatment (not just pills), a particular kind of patient setting, etc. Or maybe just ways of being more effective than nagging phone calls, either at getting patients to take meds, or getting accurate information back on what they have actually done. In the end, your user need isn't "reminders" but "getting people to do what the medical providers want them to." What point of view can you take that gets beyond the obvious systems that are being provided now? One thing you might want to look at is the work on mobile persuasive technologies. See Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives of the Future of Behavior Change, edited by Fogg and Eckles (both around Stanford). It has papers from a conference on that topic that was held here a couple of years ago, including various reminder systems.

Palo Alto - Energy Home Improvements

This is a great general goal and has the elements of clearly workable idea. Are other cities already doing anything similar? What are they missing? I mentioned my daughter's company, Virgance, which has a program called One Block Off the Grid, , which has a different starting point but overlaps in issues..

You brought up a number of good issues - finding out about possibilities, having social pressure (or competition) with your neighbors, easing the contractor/permit process, outreach to get people to pay attention, etc. Which one do you want to run with to generate new iseas, and how does that affect the overall structure? What's the "teaser" that gets people to engage?

Palo Alto - Community Kiosk

In your various of your discussions I heard a lot of potentially interesting directions. Most of them don't match Lalo's original need statement about involvement in city government, and you have basically decided to go with the needs you hear from general citizen users. Some of the more interesting ideas in earlier discussions came from observtions with particular kinds of users (e.g., non-English-speaking immigrants). My feeling is that to make the project rise above the conventional public bulletin board, you need to pick some relatively specific subset of people, needs, settings, etc. The idea of a physical meeting place with large display might prompt interesting possibilities. What kind of unique usages would it support that differ from the standard web portal or bulletin board? Imagine people really standing together in front of it. How would they interact, about what? What kind of space should it be in - a transport station? In front of city hall? on a busy University Avenue corner? What inspirations about use come from concretely visualizing the setting? Try to put yourself in the shoes of people who are actually there.

Linked In - Reputation management

The need seems real. You are bringing together the promotion of things about you (how does this differ from Facebook besides being on a more "serious" platform?) and dealing with negative effects of information on the web (as is done by services like IRM Consultants - ). How do these aspects really fit together for users at what level of personal involvement in doing it? What are you doing new about the social element that differs in an interesting way from LinkedIn's current endorsements, Facebook's fans, etc.? Your skit suggested some interesting potentials in getting feedback and help from friends with the negative stuff.

Linked In - College career counseling

The basic premise here seems very relevant to LinkedIn goals. By providing a broader career counselling service from early in the college career, you build loyalty as well as helping people and tracking them in to other LinkedIn activiites. There is a lot of open space for design in deciding on what aspects of counselling you want to emphasize - course and major choices, portfolio building, starting to get a network, mentorship, etc. If you can't implement a humanoid wizard, (which was a great way to get the basic idea across in the experience prototype), what would it take to make the process engaging - draw people in and be "sticky". How does this affect the user interaction structure?