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Testing the release early: the "Release often" mantra

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A presentation for the 2010 Participatory Design Conference held in Sydney. This presentation focusses on the "Reduce Your Footprint" project and how we used agile and participatory design throughout …

A presentation for the 2010 Participatory Design Conference held in Sydney. This presentation focusses on the "Reduce Your Footprint" project and how we used agile and participatory design throughout the course of the project.


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  • Introduce myself!\nBrief overview:\nOutline of our process\nOverview of project\nFocus on the value we gained from follwing a "release often" mantra\n\nWe're going to whip through - a copy of the presentation with notes will be available at..... (are there any relevant references/links we want to provide them?)\nHopefully have time for questions at the end\n
  • we have developed a toolkit which draws together methodologies \nand process from a \nrange of disciplines\n
  • We have developed an approach which we call “Considered Design”\nThis is an evolving process, a toolkit, and it’s our mantra for how we approach projects\nWe consider the people who will use the end product or service\nWe investigate and research the context in which they interact with what we’re designing\nWe challenge assumptions, and ask questions\nWe design with the community, engaging them as much as possible\nWe believe breaking up problems into smaller ones allows us to focus on it’s detail ensuring we design things of quality rather than quantity\nOur approach allows for and takes time for discovery, so that we may uncover previously hidden opportunities\nWe believe part of uncovering opportunities is to take risks, and that we can learn valuable insights from our mistakes\n \n
  • The influence of those diciplines are new and emerging, \nwe find we are constantly experimenting with our approach. \nBut our mantra is grounded, it’s about designing with people, so that we may co-design responses to messy situations and contexts ...\n
  • that improve the lives of the people that will use it (and the broader community.)\n
  • A recent project that allowed us to incorporate many different methods from our toolkit was:\nReduce Your Footprint\n\nA collaboration between - Waverley, Randwick, and Woollahra Councils\nto help reduce the community-wide Ecological Footprint of residents\n
  • The project had been running for a year before we were engaged to help them with their website and communications\nThat was a year’s worth of knowledge and experience the project team had gathered\n\nLike many project we like to immerse ourselves in the project context and learn as much as possible early on from those closest to the project\n
  • Immersion workshops form the foundation of nearly every project we do.\n\nThe beginning of the Immersion process, it helps us understand motivations and objectives of the organisation, allows us to bring ideas to the surface.\n\nWorkshop attendees work together and present to each other\nWe ran a number of co-design activities\nHelps us to begin to collaborate with key stakeholders\nFacilitates healthy discussion in groups\nUnderstand characteristics and needs of the people who will interact with the project.\nStart getting people to think from the user perspective.\n\n
  • Continuing to collaborate with the project team\nWe followed this up by synthesizing and feeding back workshop outcomes\nReviewing previous research undertaken by the councils and state government\nAnd relevant case studies from Australia and abroad\n
  • The release often mantra is something we apply to project documentation\nContinuing to collaborate with the project team\nWe followed this up by synthesizing and feeding back workshop outcomes\n
  • Reviewing previous research undertaken by the councils and state government\nAnd relevant case studies from Australia and abroad\n\n
  • We followed up the initial workshop with interviews with key project stakeholders\nAttended and observed workshops run with the community\n\n
  • And ran a smaller workshop with the communications team from across the 3 councils\n
  • It became clear during the scoping/immersion phase that \nwe needed to gain a deeper understanding of the three\ncommunities’ feelings towards sustainability\n
  • So we conducted some qualitative research with a small group local residents.\n\nWe sent out some research packs \nand gave them a week in which to record their daily rituals, opinions (frustrations and positive), and \ntheir personal responses to climate change and other issues of sustainability. \n\nThe packs included video cameras, manuals and paper based diaries \n\nThese were then sent back to the project team for review.\n
  • So we conducted some qualitative research with a small group local residents.\n\nWe sent out some research packs \nand gave them a week in which to record their daily rituals, opinions (frustrations and positive), and \ntheir personal responses to climate change and other issues of sustainability. \n\nThe packs included video cameras, manuals and paper based diaries \n\nThese were then sent back to the project team for review.\n
  • We followed this up with a workshop, this included some individual, group, and co-design activities in small groups.\n\nWe learnt from the workshop that people like to inspire others\nAnd were inspired from people ‘like them’\n- rather than from an authority or organisation\n\nDiscussion during the workshop between the residents was buzzing and we could see many of them were enjoying the face-to-face opportunity to discuss and share ideas and experiences.\n\n\n
  • The research with residents, and the former immersion phase highly influenced, \nand gave us focus and priorities which\nhelped us to start to design an experience the met the needs of the community\n\nHaving the research with residents gave the council project team confidence to go with an approach that would mean a large amount of content would be user generated, not heavily moderated, but open and allowing residents to share tips and tricks on how they were over coming barriers of every day living to reduce their impact.\n\n\n\n
  • Having the research with residents gave the council project team confidence to go with an approach \nthat would mean a large amount of content would be user generated, \nnot heavily moderated, \nbut open and allowing residents to share tips and tricks on how they were over coming barriers of every day living to reduce their impact.\n\nNew territory for local government.\n\n\n
  • One of the hardest phases of any project is to take this information and \nlet it inform the features you build\n\n\n\n
  • We help keep what we build focussed on the needs of users by using a variety of methods in our approach\n\n\n\n
  • Keeping a focus on the user is essential to our process\n\nRight at the start of the scoping phase we start to develop personas that represent the key stakeholder groups\nThis is of course backed the further research we undertake\n\nWe carry these personas right through whole project cycle,\n and continue to use in our production phase\n
  • Personas gives teams an effective, accessible way to describe \nuser needs in a common language.\n\nOnce you’ve identified common needs\nyou can use personas to develop stories\nthat describe the functionality of the website\n\nWe call them user stories.\n
  • Once we’ve identified common needs\nwe can use personas to develop stories\nthat describe the functionality of the website\n\nWe call them user stories.\n\nSarah needs this because...\nrather thank “I think...”\nhelps prevent arguements\n
  • An iterative approach to the production phase of the project \nallowed us to focus on building small chunks of functionality\nrelease them to users\nsee how they use the site\nand gain feedback from them and the administrators\n\n
  • We iterate on our development\nThis allows us to break the production phase into small chunks\nso that we may focus on detail\nand deliver small parts of working features for use and review\nby project stakeholders\nand a sample of end users\n\nHelped the project team feel comfortable (new territory for the councils)\n\n
  • As well as iterating on development, we iterated on design\n\n\n
  • In retrospect, maybe this didn’t need to be built\nPotentially it could have been tested with flat designs\nOr some more forward thinking about how the site would grow\n\nFeedback was more useful on the functionality than the design and branding\nThough most people we found leaned towards the textured paper brown design\nThe clean white and bright design grew on people\nIt was also a style that was nice and simple and less likely to outdate\nAnd as we knew the site would grow to have more photographic content on there we \nwent with the simple design that would not compete with content\n\nSo whilst it wasn’t really AB testing, or just feedback from users\nIt was useful to iterate on the design and have time to reflect on it’s use\nAnd consider how it might grow for the second iteration\n
  • In the end we felt we had to stick with the name\nIt had been established for a year\nBudget didn’t really cover brand development/exploration\n\n\n
  • instead of changing the name we focussed on changing the brand personality\nand created a fun and friendly foot logo and word mark that alludes to a speech bubble\nits been very well received giving the site a relaxed optimistic feel\nand has proven flexible for multiple uses\n\n
  • Seeding content was key to building a community site\nkey to representing the brand (a site where people are, community not council voice)\n\nIt meant when we released the second iteration to the general public\nthat it already had a growing community of user on there\n
  • user feedback survey\ninvestment in the site\n\nhelped guide the priorities for development\n
  • reviewing use of the site through stats\n\nExpedia example:\noptional field on the site under 'Name', which was 'Company'\n"It confused some customers who filled out the 'Company' field with their bank name."\n$12m of profit a year, simply by deleting a field.\n\nCombining the results of the survey and feedback from stakeholders, with site statistics gave us a good picture of how people were using the site\n
  • As more features were added, first Q&A, then blogs and projects, and finally events\nthe architecture and interface design had to accommodate these new features\nall the content on the site was connected through tags to allow exploring via topical content\nwith 1 or 2 content types this was simple, but with 4 it added complexity\nby adding features bit by bit we were able to grow the architecture and the design\n
  • As more features were added, first Q&A, then blogs and projects, and finally events\nthe architecture and interface design had to accommodate these new features\nall the content on the site was connected through tags to allow exploring via topical content\nwith 1 or 2 content types this was simple, but with 4 it added complexity\nby adding features bit by bit we were able to grow the architecture and the design\n
  • while this was a challenge, it provided benefit\nby adding features bit by bit it\nIt gave us a chance to evolve the design \nmaking sure it was appropriate as features were added...\n\n\n
  • Agile and participatory approaches work well together\n\nBringing the stakeholders on the journey with us has taught them a new approach--->expand\n\n\n
  • Releasing chunks of functionality bit by bit\nrather than trying to predict too far ahead what user needs may be\n\n
  • Allows you to incorporate feedback\nObserve how people use it\nBuilds relationship with the audience\nGreat approach for cautious clients\nGive us a better chance of building something people value and want to use\n\n
  • Client very pleased with results\nyet to market it heavily but already well over a hundred questions and answers\n\n
  • fantastic q&a in the worm farm area\nmany of these users were involved in the early testing phase\ngood to see some of them continue to participate\n\n\n
  • council is enjoying having a new platform for communicating their progress and events\n\n\n
  • challenge of iterating on design is that you have to \naccept you may essentially throw away work on the UI\n\nabout to begin an online tutorial site (or feature within this site) for one of the RYF projects\nas well as designing a suite of design collateral to support the promotion of the project in multiple channels throughout 2011.\n\nand hopefully looking at how site content can easily be shared through social media\n\n\n
  • If you want to continue the conversation you can find us on twitter\nor check out our internal “participatory” tumble log at...\n\nquestions?\n\n
  • \n
  • questions?\n\n
  • Transcript

    • 1. Reduce Your FootprintTesting the release early:the “Release often”Diana MounterNovember 2010
    • 2. Considered design: our toolkit Human centred design Participatory design Agile methodologies Ethnographic researchReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 3. Considered design: our principles Design for people Always design in context Ask questions, reject assumptions Design with your community Break up problems into smaller ones Discover hidden opportunities Encourage risk taking and celebrate mistakesReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 4. It’s how we unravel a world of messy situations ...Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 5. It’s how we unravel a world of messy situations ...Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 6. ... to design something that works.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 7. ... to design something that works.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 8. Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 9. ImmersionA year of knowledge, experience, and insights to unravel.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 10. ImmersionA year of knowledge, experience, and insights to unravel.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 11. Immersion Scope workshopReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 12. Immersion Scope workshop Synthesizing outcomes to define scopeReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 13. Immersion Scope workshop Synthesizing outcomes to define scope Desk researchReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 14. Immersion Scope workshop Synthesizing outcomes to define scope Desk research Observational research and interviewsReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 15. Immersion Scope workshop Synthesizing outcomes to define scope Desk research Observational research and interviews Workshopping ideas with the communications teamReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 16. ResearchGaining insights into behaviours in the home.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 17. ResearchGaining insights into behaviours in the home.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 18. ResearchGaining insights into behaviours in the home.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 19. ResearchMeeting residents, gaining insights through co-design activitiesReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 20. User Experience StrategyReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 21. User Experience Strategy“...my biggest fear is that it willbe a huge success” - media officerReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 22. User Experience StrategyReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 23. User Experience StrategyReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 24. User Experience StrategyArchitecting the experience, a human-centered approachReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 25. Keeping focus on the userReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 26. Keeping focus on the userSarah, the new mum.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 27. Keeping focus on the userSarah, the new mum.“I can explore questions and associatedanswers from residents filtered by atopic...”Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 28. Student Life JourneysIterative UNSW Student Life - UserReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra Experience Strategy
    • 29. Student Life JourneysIterative UNSW Student Life - UserReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra Experience Strategy
    • 30. Branding was a challenge“Please simplify the term - it is simply about reducing ourimpact...”Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 31. a/b testingReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 32. Branding workshopReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 33. Seeding contentReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 34. SurveyAmbassador“It would be great if we could get an emailwhen a new question is posted on thesite”Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 35. StatsReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 36. Iterating on design/architectureReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 37. Iterating on design/architectureReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 38. Iterating on design/architectureReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 39. Agile + participatoryTransparency to the client and to the communityFrequent inspection, feedback and reviewAllowed adaptionHelped ensure we are and keep building the rightthing.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 40. Release oftenRelease, review, get feedback, improve.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 41. Release oftenRelease, review, get feedback, improve.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 42. ResultsClient very happy, yet to market heavily.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 43. ResultsLots of ! on composting and worm farmsReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 44. ResultsCouncil enjoying new platform to promote progress and eventsReduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 45. Looking aheadImproving design, marketing, making it social.Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 46. digitaleskimo.netdigitaleskimo.tumblr.comslideshare.net/diana.mounterDiana is @broccolini
    • 47. Reduce Your Footprint - Release often mantra
    • 48. Thanks!

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