The Joy of Cooking Methods

I was quite inspired by a talk by Ron Wakkary of Simon Fraser University. Although his comment was about tutorials for DIY projects such as Instructables, I found it useful to see my user research methods from that perspective as well.

A cookbook is an integral part of cooking. Recipes follow a clear structure which has evolved over years and years of practice, giving it quality. DIY tutorials have not gone through that evolution yet, and there are no clear guidelines on how a tutorial is set up. This makes them sometimes very hard to follow and impossible to compare – Ron Wakkary, October 22 2013, Eindhoven

So I asked him afterwards, if their research had produced some criteria that make a recipe ‘good quality’, and if these criteria could be applied to tutorials. Of course I am also thinking that if there is a set of rules to follow that produces easy-to-follow recipes and DIY tutorials, they must have some positive impact on the description of user research methods. Ron said:

The best structure of a recipe is perhaps shown in ‘The Joy of Cooking‘ cookbook. It starts with the ingredients. You need to know how much output will be generated. The ingredients are ordered in such a way, that by just reading that list you can almost know how you should make it. The recipe mentions how much time each part will take. What the sequence of actions is, how to source materials. It is almost like programming. It also has to do with understanding what tools are available in a standard kitchen. For example, old cookbooks often start with a chapter on what utensils should be in your kitchen – Ron Wakkary, October 22 2013, Eindhoven

Naturally I am going to use these insights to improve the way the methods in my toolbox are structured. And my idea of a ‘user research cookbook’ also popped back up. But perhaps the biggest impact of these ‘rules’ will be to guide the users of the toolbox, when they add their own new methods, in such a way that they are easy to follow for others.

And of course now I will have to buy the The Joy of Cooking!

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Social Systems at the Co-Design Grand Café

Say that at a certain point in time, the Inclusive Design Toolbox will be a finished, working product. Then how do companies find it, and if they do, will they be inclined to use it? I have been thinking about this problem for a while, but it became urgent again last Friday. At my midterm presentation, Joris van Gelderen told me specifically to do something about it.

Some things came together to form the start of a plan. Fenne van Doorn’s research, where she worked with children who then interviewed their grandparents to collect qualitative data. A presentation by Sara Sitton at the PROUD Co-Design Grand Café at Capital-D yesterday, who talked about a project where she co-designed a strategy with 40 key people, and they went out to influence the business culture of 5000 people. A the same Café, Boukje of Am I A Designer, citing an African proverb: Teach the cheetah, they will teach the others. Tupperware parties.

They all have something in common: social leverage. If you can reach 10 people who sign up, and they all find 10 new people also, the number of users will grow exponentially. As always, this brings a new question: How to give people an incentive to invite new contacts?

The toolbox has a feature where companies can add their own methods, and they can also be paid methods. In order to make some money, it is in their interest to invite new customers to the toolbox. Another way that companies can use the toolbox to grow their business, is to showcase their work, as other toolbox users may be looking to hire expertise.

Social_network_feature

Keynotopia Toolbox Mockup

Keynotopia Toolbox Mockup

Have a look and follow the green buttons to see it all!

The Sports Class that Became a Family

user research impression

Once upon a time, there was a group of people, who lived in a small town in an industrialised part of the Netherlands. They were all older than 60 years, some of them even in their 80’s. They told a story about how they were going to sports clubs and classes, and how the people there became their close friends, sometimes as close as family. They spoke about the difficulty they could sometimes have in getting to the class, or how they would forget. Then these people told us about this magic box, that would alert the sports club of members who wanted to come but could not, and that friends would then call them or pick them up. That the magic box would arrange for carpools and shopping to be done by their sports friends, all at times when these friends were going anyway. And how they were happy with the possibility to do the same thing for someone else another time. Continue reading

Paradigm Theory

par·a·digm

[par-uh-dahym]
noun

  1. a set of forms all of which contain a particular element, especially the set of all inflected forms based on a single stem or theme.
  2. a display in fixed arrangement of such a set, as boy, boy’s, boys, boys’.
  3. an example serving as a model; pattern. Synonyms: mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone.
  4. a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.
  5. such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

I got on the trail of researching paradigms when I watched a lecture by Philips Design VP Paul Gardien. They have a paper out about how changing paradigms in business, change basic assumptions and business models. From a commodity model in the industrial era, to the experience economy today, which is already shifting to a new paradigm: the knowledge economy, where people network with their peers to come to decisions about their life, instead of relying on brand promises. Continue reading

New Website Online!

Check out my new ‘bookshelf’ site, which connects all my online content! What do you think?

Decision Makers

An interesting new direction for the next toolbox prototype could be the development of a decision aid, instead of dishing out a ready-made path as some of my previous iterations. After all, the main problem is not the ability or capability of new user researchers, nor is it the quality of the available user research methods. The problem is the sheer amount and lack of transparency and overview of existing methods. A decision aid could be just what is needed. Continue reading