mind+machine book release

Earlier this year we were fortunate to be invited to contribute to a new book called mind+machine™ published by Wiley. We wrote a section about user experience and how it’s critical to place users at the centre of your thinking when designing products.

mindmachine_book

Here’s an excerpt: “If you invest millions in a product no one can use because you developed it in isolation, using internal assumptions and lead by a technically minded team without involving the people who will ultimately use it then it’s doomed to fail. Any part of the experience can turn people off if it’s not well considered — and drive them to your competitors. If you take a user centric approach you get early adoption and the impact can be significant in uptake, cost saving and profit. Early user research may even prove that your idea is doomed and you shouldn’t take it any further.”

Written for the non-techy reader, the book also aims to demystify some complex data topics.

“This book takes a close look at the reality and future of analytics in a straightforward manner. It debunks the most common fallacies about data analytics, looking at the reality of big and small data, artificial intelligence and data lakes.”

The premise of the book is that in a world of increased data, it is a combination of computer automation and human validation which can deliver improved quality, quicker.

It’s author is Marc Vollenweider a former McKinsey partner, and the founder of EvalueServe a leading provider of proprietary solutions and specialist services for research, analytics and data management. For the last 3 years we have been working on a spin-off company for Evaluseserve called InsightBee. InsightBee delivers EvalueServe’s services to a wider audience via a self serve pay-as-you-go platform making use of their 3,200+ team of research analysts.

In the background reports are compiled using InsightBee’s proprietary software dubbed K-Hive (K for Knowledge). The software takes a predefined report format for say a company report which might include; financials, key developments, industry analysis, SWOT, company strategy etc… It then draws data from selected data sources and populates a draft of the report with content — tables as well as the prosaic paragraphs of copy. The report is then reviewed, validated and edited by an expert analyst. The result is a high quality, up-to-date report delivered in less than half the time it would take an analyst starting from scratch. This is mind + machine in action.

The book argues that in an increasingly data-led world the human mind is still critical to get the best results. At least for now anyway!

The book can be purchased on Amazon.

Read more about mind+machine™ on the InsightBee website

Technology December 13th 2016

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A call to action is a marketing term that refers to a prompt that invokes a response leading to a sale. When referring to a call to action (CTA) in the digital design world we usually mean the interactive element that leads to the next step in the experience - something that needs to be clicked or tapped.

User testing

User testing refers to a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users. There are several reasons why you might want to undergo usability testing, the most common is that it allows the design team to identify friction in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed.

WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". It helps identify an an interface that allows user input resulting in an output that is rendered in a similar way. For example; a word processor application interface might resemble a piece of paper,so when printed the user can see how the output will appear.

Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is an tool that allows a website editor/administrator to manage the content that is displayed. Websites are made of HTML and CSS to create pages. Pages can be hard-coded but would require technical development skills to make changes. A CMS usually allows a person without coding knowledge to amend existing and add new content to a website using a WYSIWYG interface.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.

User Stories

User stories allow the functionality of a product or service to be expressed as written descriptions of an experience as seen from the users perspective. The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.

User Interface

A user interface (UI) is a conduit between human and computer interaction - the space where a user will interact with a computer or machine to complete tasks. The purpose of a UI is to enable a user to effectively control a computer or machine they are interacting with, and for feedback to be received in order to communicate effective completion of tasks.

Personas

A persona in UX Design is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience.

Card sorting

A great, reliable, inexpensive method for discovering patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.

Brainstorming

A technique used to generate ideas around a specific topic. Often done in groups, but can be done individuals. The process usually involves writing down all ideas around a topic onto paper, a whiteboard or stickies often implying some kind of association.

Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.

Sitemap

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User journey

A user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. A user journey can be mapped or designed to show the steps and choices presented as interactions, and the resulting actions.

Prototype

A prototype is draft representation built to test ideas for layout, behaviour and flow in a system. Prototypes are an indispensable tool for resolving a large number of potential issues in a concept or business before too many resources are deployed to put a design into production.

Wireframes

A Wireframe is a visual schematic that conveys a basic level of communication, structure and behaviour during the design of a system. Wireframes are low-fidelity designs that bypass including a detailed user interface or visual design, conveying just enough to get across the core idea.

Usability

To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use. The usability of a system or product is a key factor in determining whether the user experience is a good one.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is the design and organisation of content, pages and data into a structure that aids users understanding of a system. A more organised system enables users to more easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the discipline of designing software interfaces for devices, ideally with a focus on maximising efficiency, responsiveness and aesthetics to foster a good user experience.

UX Design

The practice of User Experience (UX) Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service.

User Experience

A general term that covers all aspects of a user's participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.

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