Category Archives: New Zealand

Full Code Press. 24 hrs to build a great web experience

Next week I’ll be part of an NZ team competing in Sydney against the Aussies to build a website for a charity at CeBIT’09

We’ll have just 24 hours from initial briefing to completion so we’ll cover the full journey from paper through to pixels, against the clock.

My role as User Experience guy is to play the user advocate. Making sure the Information Architecture maps well with the goals and needs of both the audience and the charity.

I’m thinking along the lines of ‘Le Mans’ UX design race;

  • standing start
  • all nighter
  • …but only one set of tyres
  • and no change of driver

Formal User Research and Usability methods are out, number eight wire is in …It’s time to improvise.

The event is called Full Code Press and our team are the Code Blacks.

Australia vs New Zealand, live at the CeBIT 09 conference in Sydney, 12-13 May.

Kiwi teacher’s User Centered Design approach wins over students (and Microsoft)

A geography teacher from an Auckland school is hailed as the ‘most innovative teacher in the world’. Delivering lessons via students mobile phones.

Nathan’s approach:

  • Understanding his audience
  • Observing their behavior
  • Building empathy with their needs
  • Harnessing their input

…and ultimately innovating learner experiences in an education system stymied by tradition.

Here are some cues from the article as to how a User Centered Design approach helped him reach this great outcome:

“No matter how much technology advances, high-quality teaching will always be linked to having a good relationship with students”

‘learning through information technology and student involvement. Students helped – by telling him what they felt was most appropriate or interesting’

There’s a video on MSN charged with Nathans enthusiasm for the way he’s been able to respond to the needs and behaviours of the students, by the power of observation.

He says the students who inspired the new method have embraced the technology and experience.
Pass rates have risen from 50-60% up to 80-90%.  Hard to argue with that sort of result.

Customer experience pilgrims: Experience economy brings a new kind of tourist to NZ

Some Kiwi brands are attracting their global customers back to the source of their product, creating new customer experience touch-points as well as fuelling tourism.

Companies exporting products ‘made from NZ’ are seeing their customers make pilgrimages to experience NZ brands at the source, connecting with the origins of the product.

Tourists have journeyed to previously ignored parts of our landscape thanks to Lord of the Rings. Now they are visiting high country sheep stations to come face to face with the sheep whose fleece they have been wearing. More than 10,000 people worldwide have traced their merino garment right back to the sheep station here in NZ where the wool was sourced using Icebreaker’s ‘baacode’ trace-ability technology.

Last week an American man whose leg was saved from amputation by a Manuka Honey dressing  has been to visit the apiary here to ‘meet the people who changed his life’.

With an increasing number of global NZ brands trading on the unique geography and natural resources of our country we could see more tourism based on these brand pilgrimages.

Blinded by mass production, availability, and homogenous strip mall shopping, today’s discerning consumers seek authenticity of products and experiences. Providing a traceable origin and conveying the authentic root of the product seems to be winning Icebreaker wearers over, so will 42below vodka devotees visit glacial springs where the magic brew is sourced, virtually, then in person?

What sort of experience are people expecting when they arrive, traditional retail or a gumboots-and-Hilux adventure into the depths of our countryside, both, or something completely different?

In an experience economy, opportunity awaits those who seek to understand their customers motivations, then define and create the types of experiences and touch points these ‘authenticity seeking’ visitors are drawn to.

Those who adapt, survive.

When it comes to adapting, we Kiwis are experts.

Our ‘Number 8 wire’ attitude sees us modify, improve and invent products out of necessity, or just to ‘make do’. This Wellington cyclist shows Kiwis are not afraid of some prototyping to find a solution, and stay safe on the road.

Businesses wanting to survive in times of change can learn from how people behave and adapt to and interact with their environment.

  • Which coping strategies do people employ when a product is not up to the job intended?
  • How could the product be improved to provide a more rewarding experience for the user?
  • Do customer’s habits reveal a latent need for a new product to serve emerging behaviours?

Observing customer behaviour in the context of use, getting out there amongst your customers, building empathy with their needs and watching for these habits is an insightful way to answer these questions   …and a core user research technique.

…but if you are  a bicycle accessories company, this may find you hanging out behind the bike shed after dark. …hmm.

Is User Experience ‘The New Black’ in NZ ?

I’m visiting the main cities in NZ to find out ‘who’s doing what?’ in the area of User Experience and User Centred Design …I’ve met couple of dozen people so far…

So, what lies below the surface of the words User Experience? And is it more than just a buzzword?

  • Agencies practising User Centred Design methodologies have been evangelistic, raising its profile in NZ
  • NZ design agencies have a strong belief in the philosophy behind User Centred Design and research
  • User Experience as a brand differentiator is gaining traction amongst clients
  • Larger organisations as well as product and service providers are starting to build internal UX teams or hire dedicated UX staff
  • Usability Testing methodologies are merging with User Centred Design to shape the overall experience of online in particular
  • Insights gained from UCD methodologies are informing and shaping products and services prior to as well as during development

These are all positive things, but almost everyone I spoke to felt they still had to ‘fight their corner’ within their team, and in particular with their clients.

Keep fighting …your clients will thank you, and ‘the new black’ will endure.