Bottom Line Design Awards

7 Apr 2005 - 6:59am
9 years ago
11 replies
513 reads
Manu Sharma
2003

>From Business 2.0:

"Good design is nice to look at, but great design exhibits beauty
that's more than skin-deep -- it integrates form, function, and market
need. The best place to see the latter, of course, is the bottom line,
which is why we created the first industrial design awards to honor
products not just for their beauty but also for their commercial
success."

http://tinyurl.com/5h35h

(no subscription needed)

Comments

7 Apr 2005 - 9:39am
Pradyot Rai
2004

Manu Sharma <manu at orangehues.com> wrote:
> "Good design ...integrates form, function, and market need..."

On the same line, I want to throw this to get some reaction --

In 2001, Segway came with this idea which was said to be as big a deal
as Internet, or PC in recent history. It was great engineering marvel
and had blessings of everyone in industry. John Doerr, one of the VC
of the project "Ginger" said it will get them 500 Millions back within
3-5 years. Since then sales have dropped, executives have left,
product is recalled, and no body is talking about it anymore.

What happened?
For the sake of discussion let's focus on all three things Form,
Function and Market needs. You can comment about design, marketing or
overall strategy.

Will you call it a failure -- Why? or Why not?
Is there something they completely missed?

Thanks in advance,

Prady

7 Apr 2005 - 3:14pm
George Olsen
2004

On 4/7/05 7:39 AM, "Pradyot Rai" <pradyotrai at gmail.com> wrote:
> In 2001, Segway came with this idea which was said to be as big a deal
> as Internet,

> Will you call it a failure -- Why? or Why not?
> Is there something they completely missed?

What they missed was a real user need -- which also meant they missed a
market need. Which meant it was a commercial failure despite it's elegant
form and functionality.

It might've been a commercial success if they had focused on niche markets
where it could solve a real need -- postal carriers?-- but it's questionable
whether those markets are large enough to pay back the development costs.

Actually the Segway is something I've been thinking about lately as it
related to the issue of vision-driven design vs. user-centered design. As I
argued in a Boxes & Arrows piece awhile back, there's certain kinds of
products that user-centered design just isn't the most appropriate approach
-- for example fashion.

But it's also dubious that user-centered design would've created the
Internet. People know their pain, but they often don't know the real source
of their problems, let alone the solutions. That's where the designer -- who
knows the possibilities -- can add value.

To my mind, there's three levels to this:

1) Problems people can articulate -- Generally results low-risk incremental
improvements. Most businesses tend to focus here because it's easy to get
feedback. But if they can tell you, they can tell your competitor too...

2) Observed latent problems -- This is where field research can be
invaluable because you're solving real problems -- but ones people usually
don't articulate for various reasons. (Usually they've learned to live with
it, or they can't imagine that there's an alternative.) You can create
break-through products here. While it's serving a real need, the main risk
is there can be difficulty in getting people to understand the new product,
and it's value, depending on how far it is from their current situation. In
this situation, UCD is useful both in finding the need and validating the
solution, but certain "first-look" methods, such as typical usability
testing, may be problematic.

3) Visionary solutions -- The most far-reaching, with both the highest risks
and rewards. The inventor sees that the product will change the way things
are done. It does solve a need -- but it's often not a need that's widely
observable. Which is why most visionary ideas are destined to fail -- the
need they solve exists only in the inventor's head. And often it may evolve
in ways beyond the inventor's original conception, just as the Internet is
far different than what Berners-Lee originally intended it for.

Both Post-It notes and the Internet fall into this category. Now that
they're here, we can't imagine life without them, but prior to their
conception, it's doubtful you could've imagined them, nor pointed to the
needs they fulfill. (The inventor of Post-Its actually had great trouble
persuading 3M to develop it -- after all, who who want a non-sticky glue...)

UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea generation --
since the solution often uncovers the problem -- but UCD can be useful in
separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e. the Internet and Post-Its from the
Segways. The great difficulty is that its often hard for people to
comprehend the idea at first-look, so it's really hard to gauge the
appropriate mental model, the usability, etc. This was a huge problem during
one of my past jobs. (Sorry, can't discuss the particulars, since it
involves things not yet -- if ever -- to market.)

Anyway, my $0.02...

7 Apr 2005 - 5:35pm
Robert Reimann
2003

George makes a lot of great points.

> What they missed was a real user need -- which also meant they missed
a market need.
> Which meant it was a commercial failure despite it's elegant form and
functionality.

Here are some specific issues I see with Segway as a personal
transportation device:

1. Cost/performance
Compared vs. bicycles and mopeds, Segway is heavier (5x),
slower, has shorter range per fueling, is more expensive (5x),
and is more difficult to maintain in event of failure. The
added maneuverability and stability Segway offers doesn't
seem to outweigh these issues for the general public.

2. Difficult to secure
Although heavy, it isn't heavy enough for a determined thief
not to make off with it. It's not clear what sort of security
it supports from the literature I can find. Where do you leave
it when you get where you're going?

3. Battery power
Range is short, and when you're out of charge, you're stuck,
unlike with bicycles and mopeds.

4. Sidewalk use
Segway was clearly designed/marketed with sidewalk use in mind, but
its developers did not anticipate social reactions. Several
cities have banned (or tried to ban) their use on pedestrian
walkways.

All this said, it does seem that Segway is finding a niche with
some government and private organizations where solid construction and
stability is important and cost/performance and security issues
are less critical. I wouldn't call it a failure, but if they had
a clear idea of who their customers were at the beginning,
they might have had more of a success.

> 3) Visionary solutions -- The most far-reaching, with both the highest
risks and rewards.
> The inventor sees that the product will change the way things are
done. It does solve a need --
> but it's often not a need that's widely observable.

I agree... sort of. I guess I'm not sure I'd call this category
"visionary solutions" because more often than not, the actual solutions
come only after a lot of tinkering, evolution, and luck. In any case,
this category seems much more about technology than people, or even
products. That isn't a bad thing, btw, but I think generative user
research (not usability evaluation) still has a role to play in finding
useful domains and contexts for revolutionary technology.

> UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea
generation

I'm not quite ready to agree with this statement. I believe it's
possible
to start with people and their needs within a domain/context, and use
this information to drive technology development as well as product
design
(or, more accurately, drive technology development *as a part of*
product
design). But again, and perhaps to your point, "traditional" evaluative
UCD methods are not useful here.

> The great difficulty is that its often hard for people to comprehend
the
> idea at first-look, so it's really hard to gauge the appropriate
mental model

I assume you're talking about revolutionary ideas, and I agree that it's
an issue. But even this kind of user information may be useful in
recasting
the solution in a manner that allows users to comprehend them more
easily.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of George Olsen
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 4:15 PM
To: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Bottom Line Design Awards

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

On 4/7/05 7:39 AM, "Pradyot Rai" <pradyotrai at gmail.com> wrote: > In
2001, Segway came with this idea which was said to be as big a deal
> as Internet,

> Will you call it a failure -- Why? or Why not?
> Is there something they completely missed?

What they missed was a real user need -- which also meant they missed a
market need. Which meant it was a commercial failure despite it's
elegant form and functionality.

It might've been a commercial success if they had focused on niche
markets where it could solve a real need -- postal carriers?-- but it's
questionable whether those markets are large enough to pay back the
development costs.

Actually the Segway is something I've been thinking about lately as it
related to the issue of vision-driven design vs. user-centered design.
As I argued in a Boxes & Arrows piece awhile back, there's certain kinds
of products that user-centered design just isn't the most appropriate
approach
-- for example fashion.

But it's also dubious that user-centered design would've created the
Internet. People know their pain, but they often don't know the real
source of their problems, let alone the solutions. That's where the
designer -- who knows the possibilities -- can add value.

To my mind, there's three levels to this:

1) Problems people can articulate -- Generally results low-risk
incremental improvements. Most businesses tend to focus here because
it's easy to get feedback. But if they can tell you, they can tell your
competitor too...

2) Observed latent problems -- This is where field research can be
invaluable because you're solving real problems -- but ones people
usually don't articulate for various reasons. (Usually they've learned
to live with it, or they can't imagine that there's an alternative.) You
can create break-through products here. While it's serving a real need,
the main risk is there can be difficulty in getting people to understand
the new product, and it's value, depending on how far it is from their
current situation. In this situation, UCD is useful both in finding the
need and validating the solution, but certain "first-look" methods, such
as typical usability testing, may be problematic.

3) Visionary solutions -- The most far-reaching, with both the highest
risks and rewards. The inventor sees that the product will change the
way things are done. It does solve a need -- but it's often not a need
that's widely observable. Which is why most visionary ideas are destined
to fail -- the need they solve exists only in the inventor's head. And
often it may evolve in ways beyond the inventor's original conception,
just as the Internet is far different than what Berners-Lee originally
intended it for.

Both Post-It notes and the Internet fall into this category. Now that
they're here, we can't imagine life without them, but prior to their
conception, it's doubtful you could've imagined them, nor pointed to the
needs they fulfill. (The inventor of Post-Its actually had great trouble
persuading 3M to develop it -- after all, who who want a non-sticky
glue...)

UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea generation
-- since the solution often uncovers the problem -- but UCD can be
useful in separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e. the Internet and
Post-Its from the Segways. The great difficulty is that its often hard
for people to comprehend the idea at first-look, so it's really hard to
gauge the appropriate mental model, the usability, etc. This was a huge
problem during one of my past jobs. (Sorry, can't discuss the
particulars, since it involves things not yet -- if ever -- to market.)

Anyway, my $0.02...

7 Apr 2005 - 6:11pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Reimann, Robert wrote:

>>UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea generation
>
> I'm not quite ready to agree with this statement. I believe it's
> possible
> to start with people and their needs within a domain/context, and use
> this information to drive technology development as well as product
> design
> (or, more accurately, drive technology development *as a part of*
> product

I think if you were to replace the word "drive" with "inform" you'd
solve the problem.

"It's possible to start with people and their needs within a
domain/context and use this information to INFORM technology development
as well as product design." (Emphasis mine.)

UCD should never attempt to drive anything, imho. That people try to use
it to do so I think is the Achilles heel of the entire design approach.
UCD simply cannot be the driver of the design process as it lacks a
completeness to what capital "D" design is in practice.

I believe if UCD methods are used to inform the team, provide the
background context for a product's existence or design philosophy, that
creates a win/win for everyone involved and can lead to much higher
levels of successful design practices.

Andrei

7 Apr 2005 - 6:29pm
George Olsen
2004

On 4/7/05 3:35 PM, "Reimann, Robert" <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:
> I agree... sort of. I guess I'm not sure I'd call this category
> "visionary solutions" because more often than not, the actual solutions
> come only after a lot of tinkering, evolution, and luck.

Yeah, I'm still struggling for a good name for it. However, what's different
is the idea for a solution often illuminates the problem. In the case of
Post-Its, the unsticky glue was created (accidentally) first. Then came the
aha that it would be great for keeping bookmarks in place -- a personal
problem that the inventor had.

There's a different dynamic that occurs in the fields of entertainment,
fashion, etc. that Garrick discussed, where someone's vision pulls people
along after it. As Don Norman has talked about, these sorts of
aesthetic/emotional issues work in a different way than behavioral issues
and often don't lend themselves well to "user research" and "user testing"
-- even though Hollywood loves to try to do this. So this should really be
considered a different type of "visionary design."

>In any case,
> this category seems much more about technology than people, or even
> products. That isn't a bad thing, btw, but I think generative user
> research (not usability evaluation) still has a role to play in finding
> useful domains and contexts for revolutionary technology.

Agreed. In this case, our role is more often likely to be reality-checking a
cool technology. But as you said, we can also be the spring-board the helps
launch innovative conceptual leaps. It's just that there's -- at least in my
experience -- a far less obvious connection to observed needs, because the
solution reinvents how people do things. (Which is why these sorts of
innovations are uncommon.) So much as I value upfront user research, I'm
dubious it would've uncovered the needs solved by Post-Its. This is not to
devalue user research, just acknowledging that it sometimes has limits.

>> UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea
>
> But again, and perhaps to your point, "traditional" evaluative
> UCD methods are not useful here.

My bad, typo on my part. It should have said "have _as_ much to offer." In
general I agree about UCD as a point of view and overall approach.

The problem is more in the specific techniques. Without going into NDA
details, I can say we were looking some very different ways of doing a
familiar task. We did rapid prototyping with traditional evaluation methods.
The problem was that it was hard to figure out what was the most appropriate
mental model when we weren't sure people really fully comprehended the
concept. Likewise, were some usability/usefulness issues the result of
design flaws, or that the entire concept was too much to digest in an hour
lab session (especially since users were used to doing it an existing way)?

Of course, you could argue that these results meant we hadn't made the
solution comprehendible enough, and you're probably right. But it was also a
case that it was unrealistic to change people's ingrained way of thinking
about a familiar task in a matter of minutes, whereas in the real world
they'd have more time to get familiar with it before actually interacting
with the product. For example, the hype around the Segway educated people to
the basic idea involved. If you just walked up to one knowing nothing, it
probably wouldn't be that obvious what to do.

George

8 Apr 2005 - 8:50am
Robert Reimann
2003

Andrei,

> I think if you were to replace the word "drive" with "inform" you'd
> solve the problem.

I think we're trying to say much the same thing. My main
point was that technology development could be a part of
a product design/development process that starts with an
understanding of people and context. I agree with
you that "inform" may be the better word, as there
are many additional requirements beyond user-centered ones
that must inevitably be taken into account to create a
successful product.

> I believe if UCD methods are used to inform the team, provide the
> background context for a product's existence or design philosophy,
that
> creates a win/win for everyone involved and can lead to much higher
> levels of successful design practices.

No argument there. It's really in this sense that I used the
word "drive" -- to give shape or impulse to (thanks webster.com),
-- not in its more forceful, coercive sense (e.g., to press or force
into an activity, course, or direction)... no matter how tempting
that may sometimes be. :^)

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 7:12 PM
To: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Bottom Line Design Awards

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Reimann, Robert wrote:

>>UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea
>>generation
>
> I'm not quite ready to agree with this statement. I believe it's
> possible to start with people and their needs within a domain/context,

> and use this information to drive technology development as well as
> product design
> (or, more accurately, drive technology development *as a part of*
> product

I think if you were to replace the word "drive" with "inform" you'd
solve the problem.

"It's possible to start with people and their needs within a
domain/context and use this information to INFORM technology development

as well as product design." (Emphasis mine.)

UCD should never attempt to drive anything, imho. That people try to use

it to do so I think is the Achilles heel of the entire design approach.
UCD simply cannot be the driver of the design process as it lacks a
completeness to what capital "D" design is in practice.

I believe if UCD methods are used to inform the team, provide the
background context for a product's existence or design philosophy, that
creates a win/win for everyone involved and can lead to much higher
levels of successful design practices.

Andrei

8 Apr 2005 - 9:58am
Robert Reimann
2003

George said:

> As Don Norman has talked about, these sorts of aesthetic/emotional
issues
> work in a different way than behavioral issues and often don't lend
themselves
> well to "user research" and "user testing"

I agree they don't lend themselves well to user testing. However,
I disagree that (generative) user research can't yield insight here,
at least as far as issues of reflective design are concerned. The
"life goals" described in AF 2.0 correspond closely to reflective
design concerns. I have long felt that there was more that could be
mined from field research and cultural models to understand these goals.

> This is not to devalue user research, just acknowledging that it
sometimes has limits.

Agreed. Observing current behaviors can't easily predict social changes
due
to disruptive technologies (though researching reactions to analogous
past situations might -- see _The Victorian Internet_ by Tom Standage,
for example).

I do sometimes wonder if technologies could be made less disruptive
while
retaining equal (or greater) utility were people and social structures
taken more into account during their development.

> ... we were looking some very
> different ways of doing a familiar task. We did rapid prototyping with

> traditional evaluation methods. The problem was that it was hard to
figure
> out what was the most appropriate mental model when we weren't sure
people
> really fully comprehended the concept. Likewise, were some
usability/usefulness
> issues the result of design flaws, or that the entire concept was too
much to
> digest in an hour lab session (especially since users were used to
doing it an
> existing way)?

One way to address these kinds of issues is to take a more longitudinal
approach, assuming you actually have the time to do so. Let people live
with the new concept long enough that they are able to build mental
models and patterns of use around it, and then analyze those and see
where misconceptions and misunderstandings lie. This is best done in
a field setting (the user's environment). Obviously some products
lend themselves to this better than others.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of George Olsen
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 7:30 PM
To: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Bottom Line Design Awards

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

On 4/7/05 3:35 PM, "Reimann, Robert" <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:
> I agree... sort of. I guess I'm not sure I'd call this category
> "visionary solutions" because more often than not, the actual
> solutions come only after a lot of tinkering, evolution, and luck.

Yeah, I'm still struggling for a good name for it. However, what's
different is the idea for a solution often illuminates the problem. In
the case of Post-Its, the unsticky glue was created (accidentally)
first. Then came the aha that it would be great for keeping bookmarks in
place -- a personal problem that the inventor had.

There's a different dynamic that occurs in the fields of entertainment,
fashion, etc. that Garrick discussed, where someone's vision pulls
people along after it. As Don Norman has talked about, these sorts of
aesthetic/emotional issues work in a different way than behavioral
issues and often don't lend themselves well to "user research" and "user
testing"
-- even though Hollywood loves to try to do this. So this should really
be considered a different type of "visionary design."

>In any case,
> this category seems much more about technology than people, or even
>products. That isn't a bad thing, btw, but I think generative user
>research (not usability evaluation) still has a role to play in finding

>useful domains and contexts for revolutionary technology.

Agreed. In this case, our role is more often likely to be
reality-checking a cool technology. But as you said, we can also be the
spring-board the helps launch innovative conceptual leaps. It's just
that there's -- at least in my experience -- a far less obvious
connection to observed needs, because the solution reinvents how people
do things. (Which is why these sorts of innovations are uncommon.) So
much as I value upfront user research, I'm dubious it would've
uncovered the needs solved by Post-Its. This is not to devalue user
research, just acknowledging that it sometimes has limits.

>> UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea
>
> But again, and perhaps to your point, "traditional" evaluative UCD
> methods are not useful here.

My bad, typo on my part. It should have said "have _as_ much to offer."
In general I agree about UCD as a point of view and overall approach.

The problem is more in the specific techniques. Without going into NDA
details, I can say we were looking some very different ways of doing a
familiar task. We did rapid prototyping with traditional evaluation
methods. The problem was that it was hard to figure out what was the
most appropriate mental model when we weren't sure people really fully
comprehended the concept. Likewise, were some usability/usefulness
issues the result of design flaws, or that the entire concept was too
much to digest in an hour lab session (especially since users were used
to doing it an existing way)?

Of course, you could argue that these results meant we hadn't made the
solution comprehendible enough, and you're probably right. But it was
also a case that it was unrealistic to change people's ingrained way of
thinking about a familiar task in a matter of minutes, whereas in the
real world they'd have more time to get familiar with it before actually
interacting with the product. For example, the hype around the Segway
educated people to the basic idea involved. If you just walked up to one
knowing nothing, it probably wouldn't be that obvious what to do.

George

8 Apr 2005 - 10:52am
Pradyot Rai
2004

Reimann, Robert <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:

> One way to address these kinds of issues is to take a more longitudinal
> approach, assuming you actually have the time to do so. Let people live
> with the new concept long enough that they are able to build mental
> models and patterns of use around it, and then analyze those and see
> where misconceptions and misunderstandings lie...

I think Robert is pointing to another possibility, which even Dean
Kamen accepted in his interview, "… (Segway) can take a generation to
catch on" [1]. That makes the point that it is not a completely
written off idea yet. It may comeback and be used as it is after, say,
15 years or so. I think there was mistake made in projecting the
immediate success of the idea. This is often the case with disruptive
ideas/technology/event. For example, Bill Gates couldn't saw the use
of PC, or Hard Disc as it is in use today. IBM, Apple, AT&T all are
full of these examples.

I think too, User Reseach/UCD has done good job in designing this
product. Engineering was successful too, with all the
battary/maintenace issues considered. The problem went in overall
strategy. They didn't know upfront that it may take 15 years to get
adopted from the community. They didn't know it was such a disruptive
idea for the society. What could have prevented them from burning out?

Karl Ulrich of Wharton has said few things about how to take these
ideas and how it can be protected from immediate assaults. Any
thouhgts?

Pradyot Rai

[1] http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4021/is_2002_June_1/ai_88679060

8 Apr 2005 - 2:57pm
George Olsen
2004

On 4/8/05 7:58 AM, "Reimann, Robert" <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:
> I agree they don't lend themselves well to user testing. However,
> I disagree that (generative) user research can't yield insight here,
> at least as far as issues of reflective design are concerned.

As far as reflective goals, I don't necessary disagree. But for more
visceral goals, while understanding cultural backgrounds is extremely
useful, it ultimately requires a creative spark to come up with something
that resonates.

For example, one of the fashion designers created a dress out of newspaper
that was a hit in the fashion shows. Obviously, they couldn't sell an actual
replica, but one made out of a newsprint-fabric blew off the shelves. That's
just not the sort of thing I see user research driving or even informing --
at least at a conscious level. Nobody knew they wanted one until they saw
it. Which is one reason fashion and entertainment are very hit and miss
despite numerous attempts by their respective industries to made a "science"
of it.

For products, the equivalent is the "lust factor" found in things like the
iPod. Yeah, Apple got a lot of things right in the UI and form factors, but
there's intangibles that makes it sexy in a way that competing products are.

> One way to address these kinds of issues is to take a more longitudinal
> approach, assuming you actually have the time to do so.

Actually we ended up doing that, albeit probably for too short a time
period. OTOH, while this technique has been talked about in the literature,
it's pretty rare that it actually gets done -- for me it was my first
experience doing so.

On 4/8/05 8:52 AM, "Pradyot Rai" <pradyotrai at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think there was mistake made in projecting the
> immediate success of the idea. This is often the case with disruptive
> ideas/technology/event.

Good point. This goes to the heart of the issue of people needing time to
understand a new paradigm. This is an area where evaluations by users can be
really helpful. The value of the disruptive technology is often obvious to
its creators. But if trial users don't get it, that should at least send up
some warning flares. It may be the specific execution, it may be more time
is needed for people to grasp the concept, or it may be that there's not a
widespread value after all....

But not all users need get it -- as long as there's a reasonable number who
do, especially if they really love the product, then you've got reasonable
odds of success. There's plenty of examples of highly successful traditional
products where a majority of people focus groups were apathetic or even
hated the product, but there was a minority that loved it, really loved it.

George

8 Apr 2005 - 3:35pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Pradyot Rai wrote:

> I think Robert is pointing to another possibility, which even Dean
> Kamen accepted in his interview, "… (Segway) can take a generation to
> catch on" [1]. That makes the point that it is not a completely
> written off idea yet. It may comeback and be used as it is after, say,
> 15 years or so.

> IBM, Apple, AT&T all are full of these examples.

Indeed, especially if one looks at Apple computer and some of its
products and ideas. The Newton? A bit ahead of its time, but it was the
precursor to the Palm and PDAs in general. The move towards 3.5
floppies? Balloon help? GUI best standards and practices?

What about something like online dating? Something like Match.com was a
ridiculous idea in 1996 due to social awkwardness. Now, I've personally
met at least 3 people who have gotten *married* via meeting on a service
like Match.com. That turn around has happened in much less than 15 years.

The list goes on and on, indeed. Lots and lots of examples here.

> I think too, User Reseach/UCD has done good job in designing this
> product.

As an aside, I'm going to have to cry foul on this line. What about the
designers? Do they not get credit -- heck even the majority of the
credit -- for doing a good job in the *design*?

I know a lot of you out there think I nit-pick with this kind of talking
point, but honestly, what am I supposed to do, as a designer? User
Research combined with a *process* (the "UCD" part) designed the
product? What,they didn't need any designers?

I guess I should hang up my hat. First usability designers and now this.
Heck, I've been replaced by a process in no less than 2 days.

Have a great weekend.

Andrei

8 Apr 2005 - 4:17pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Pradyot Rai wrote:

> (Segway) can take a generation to catch on

Well, I was talking about something like 1-6 months for
longitudinal research. :^)

I think the Segway (or something like it) may indeed be used
15 years from now, but with a less costly form-factor and
a better battery. I don't see it replacing bicycles (or feet)
any time soon. I don't think it currently meets the cost/performance
parameters that the general public expects, and don't see those
changing much over time. So it will have to be the product that
changes.

That said, I agree in general with the idea that innovative
products can (for various reasons) be ahead of their time,
and also that some adoption curves are longer than others.

TiVo is a great product that has had a longer than anticipated
adoption curve, possibly because the true value of the product
is hard to fully grasp... until you've actually used it. Adoption
of PVR/DVR technology is now being driven by bundled distribution
in Cable/Sat boxes; adoption is in essence being forced.

The electric typewriter was first brought to market in 1902,
by Blickensderfer (long defunct, but a very successful manufacturer
of early portable typewriters). In many respects its functionality
matched that of the Selectric introduced 60 years later by IBM - one
of the most successful business products ever. The 1902 Blick
Electric, however, was a total flop; there was literally zero interest
from the business world. Why? In 1902, most of the world still lived
by gaslight (the total world generating capacity was less than one
typical power plant today), the pace of life was still slow, labor
was cheap, and manual typewriters did the job just fine.

> What could have prevented them from burning out?

Understanding that their product had/has immediate potential
in niche markets, and building/evolving from there, rather than
trying to start with a product for "everyone". Perhaps there's
still an opportunity for them to do so.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Pradyot Rai [mailto:pradyotrai at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 11:52 AM
To: Reimann, Robert
Cc: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Bottom Line Design Awards

Reimann, Robert <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:

> One way to address these kinds of issues is to take a more
> longitudinal approach, assuming you actually have the time to do so.
> Let people live with the new concept long enough that they are able to

> build mental models and patterns of use around it, and then analyze
> those and see where misconceptions and misunderstandings lie...

I think Robert is pointing to another possibility, which even Dean Kamen
accepted in his interview, "... (Segway) can take a generation to catch
on" [1]. That makes the point that it is not a completely written off
idea yet. It may comeback and be used as it is after, say, 15 years or
so. I think there was mistake made in projecting the immediate success
of the idea. This is often the case with disruptive
ideas/technology/event. For example, Bill Gates couldn't saw the use of
PC, or Hard Disc as it is in use today. IBM, Apple, AT&T all are full of
these examples.

I think too, User Reseach/UCD has done good job in designing this
product. Engineering was successful too, with all the battary/maintenace
issues considered. The problem went in overall strategy. They didn't
know upfront that it may take 15 years to get adopted from the
community. They didn't know it was such a disruptive idea for the
society. What could have prevented them from burning out?

Karl Ulrich of Wharton has said few things about how to take these ideas
and how it can be protected from immediate assaults. Any thouhgts?

Pradyot Rai

[1]
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4021/is_2002_June_1/ai_886790
60

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