Designing for Context


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  • Hello. Thank you for sticking around to hear what I have to say. It’s been a great day and I’m happy to be here. My name is Glennette Clark. I started my design career in elementary school. While others were playing with Barbie dolls, I was the person they came to design her dream house. I used to design scaled models of my dream house, too.

    In high school, I was bitten by journalism bug, changed courses, and graduated from Howard University with a degree in Journalism. Soon after graduation, I started putting the communications and design skills learned in J school to work on the web. And as luck would have it, I started my web design career at the American Institute of Architects.

    Now, I am a Senior UX Consultant at Aquilent and Founded UXCamp DC in 2010 and MobileUX Camp DC in 2011. I am also a Strategic Design MBA student at Philadelphia University.
  • UX is people. User experience design is about people. Sometimes, we forget that people use our product and lump them all into one generic group of users.

    For that reason, we must activate our sense of empathy to understand that we design for people and that they live in the context of place, time, and technology.

    How well do you know the people who use your products? This is Angie, how well do you know her?
  • And if you dig even deeper, you will find that it’s all about how it solves a problem. People buy and use products with the expectation that it will solve a problem for them. They expect the product to solve their problem at a specific place and time. How do will your product solve Angie’s problem?
  • Location as a catalyst for creativity and design. The first UXCamp was held in a school for Art and Architecture because every room was filled with design inspirations. The beige rooms of a hotel conference room never would have sparked the same conversations about design and collaboration.

    Location is a point of context to be aware of. Is your product for work, play or somewhere in between? Would Angie love or hate your product simply because of where she is using it?
  • Where is Angie? Is she standing in line at the bank? at Starbucks? What about when you’re sitting in front of her computer? Does she have two free hands?

    If you take into account time, place and technology, how does your product stack up when it comes to living up to your value proposition?

    Can Angie use your product in a way that you haven’t thought about? Will she discard your product because she can’t? More importantly, do you have the systems set up in place to find out?
  • In this space, livability is enhanced by a combination of daylighting, finely tuned acoustics, and clear sight lines. This is a Gaulludet University DeafSpace project designed around the experiences of the deaf and hard of hearing and how they navigate through the space. In this space, all manner of sensory abilities are taken into account.

    Are your products accessible? Is it by accident or on purpose? In this space, what’s the best device to solve the problem? Mobile, tablet, desktop or something else.
  • Paying for parking is a hassle because you need change for the meter, especially when it’s raining. Park mobile is my most used app. It’s easy to set up, I don’t have to search for change, I can use it from inside my car, and I don’t have to run out to feed the meter every two hours. And I can use while holding an umbrella. The whole transaction takes less than 20 seconds.

    If you take into account the time and place someone needs how long it takes someone to complete person may be standing in line and where they might be while interactions for different lengths of time and location can affect standing in line, typing with one hand, games and distractions. My favorite game, PLease Stay Calm on iPhone. Can play standing up with one hand.

    Park mobile. Solving problem of no change for parking. Easy to set up. Able to use with one hand.
  • Time and place effect a person’s reaction to your product as well as its use.

    Please Stay Calm is my favorite boredom buster when I’m standing in line. It’s great because the action happens in 20 second spurts making it easy to start and stop without losing my place. I can save the world from zombies with one hand tied behind my back.
  • Do your research. Get to know the people using your products. You will discover opportunities to improve your product or opportunities to create new products. You can’t solve a problem if you can’t define the problem. Research will help you do it.
  • So, how do you design for context? Become a people watcher. Get a good grip ethnographic observations. Unlike usability testing, ethnographic observations get to the heart of getting to know where and how people use your product in their every day lives. It is only through this type of research that you can truly practice the art of designing for context.
  • Thank you again for your time. My name is Glennette Clark and I hope to see you in January at uxcampdc 2014.
  • Designing for Context

    1. 1. UX & DESIGNING FOR CONTEXT Considering place and environment in design
    2. 2. Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. Steve Jobs, Businessman
    3. 3. All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts or stimulates the persons in that space. Philip Johnson, Architect
    4. 4. "Architecture’s First Full-Fledged Experiment in DeafSpace Design." ArchDaily. N.p., 25 July 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
    5. 5. What is design? It’s where you stand with a foot in two worlds - the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes - and you try to bring the two together. Mitchell Kapor, Businessman
    6. 6. Designs of purely arbitrary nature cannot be expected to last long. Kenzo Tange, Architect
    7. 7. Designing for Context • Observe People Where They Will Use Your Products • Ask Questions While They Use Your Products • Listen Intently as They Describe Using Your Products • Record Everything • Analyze Data • Ask More Questions "Toolkit: Ethnography Field Guide." Toolkit: Ethnography Field Guide : Publications : Wevolve. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
    8. 8. THANK YOU Glennette Clark @glennette 202-683-9508