What is Human Experience in Design?

Excerpt from Designing for Human Experience, republished by permission of Polymath Knowledge 25th Nov 2020

designing for

TDP – the design process

IA – information architecture

CA – content author

PD – product design

ID – instructional design

U – usability

A – accessibility

CHI/HCI – computer human interaction

UX – user experience

UXS – user experience strategy

CX – customer experience

UCD – user centered design

HCD – human centred design

SD – service design

DT – design thinking

ST – systems thinking

PX – pervasive experience

IoT – internet of things

DT – digital transformation

AT – agile transformation

OD – organisational design

SA – scaled agile

BA – business agility

human experience

This is a short glossary to cover the now myriad of terminology related to designing for humans. I expect there to be more as time goes on humans do seem to love reinventing the wheel and then renaming it.

TDP – the design process

The design process goes back hundreds of years and really goes back to how humans solve problems. The first annotated materials I can see regarding a process are from Leonardo de Davinci in 1452 – 1519. Personally, I utilise the materials from the Bauhaus from 1919 to 1933 which is incidentally also responsible for the structure of all modern University and College modular learning. It is a fallacy of the human condition that people will constantly rewrap the design process as their design process, this is noted later a few times. The most common components of the design process involve defining the problem, carrying out research (who are the users, how do they think, what is the market, etc.), creating a few solutions, testing those solutions with users, refining the solutions, selecting what gets built (with why and due diligence), build a model, test the model, refine the model, build the product or service, deliver, get feedback, upgrade then start again.

IA – information architecture

Wikipedia describes “Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design, architecture and information science to the digital landscape. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development”. However, this description misses out some essential facts and complexities around the use of the term information architecture.

The Wikipedia description is the European description in the USA until fairly recently an IA was in fact a UX person, confusing I know but an important part of the evolutionary history of the field. A while back I was a member of the Information Architecture Institute in the USA, its focus was information science while the US job market was looking for UX skills.

In my work IA has been focused on Taxonomies and Ontologies to support the creation of context focused navigation including government standards, narratives, search engine optomisation and information schema for content design.

CA – content author

Content authors are professional writers who produce engaging content for use online. One of my friends used to call this work being a Word Smith which is quite accurate given they must reshape words and narrative for each use. Examples would be the use of common English for a general information location or technical English for specific subject audiences. This is also the area where content object models should be created to support the objectives of different personas and outcomes. Certainly, I have created multidimensional content objects to facilitate golden source data systems for six primary audiences in 114 countries for global enterprises. At this sort of scale, the content authors role will be critical to ensure that the content is engaging for each specific audience. This role is often not filled by a professional and dramatically reduces the customer engagement and experience.

PD – product design

Product design is the process the businesses use to blend user needs with business goals to help brands make consistently successful products. Product designers work to optimise the user experience in the solutions they make for their users and they support their brands by making establishing the features and capabilities that are communicated though marketing communications, analyst communities and shareholder engagement.

ID – instructional design

Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional materials using a focus on how people learn and instructional theory to ensure the effectiveness of instruction. It combines the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It is commonly associated with enabling the completion of complex tasks by humans including anything from white goods installation to rocket systems and everything in between. It requires the ability to think like the intended users and to test the instructional materials with the intended audiences. I will often include the need for an engagement with a content author to set the tone of voice in documentation and create writing guides.

U – usability

The earliest reference I can find to usability is from passenger liner design from the 1940’s describing the usability of corridors for infirmed passengers who may need the use of a wheeled chair. I suspect usability is considerably older than that as a way of thinking about designing for human use. The adoption of this way of working into software solutions is still sadly ongoing, User Experience is the solution side of Usability though many seem unaware of this close connection.

I was a member of Usability Professionals Association UPA which was not at that time interested in the design aspect (solutions to usability problems). As a member I suggested adopting Experience Solutions and that if it did not move forward, I would start a separate organisation to cover that area, thankfully they saw sense and became the UXPA.

A – accessibility

Accessibility is the practice of making pretty much everything accessible though often associated with building, transport or technology access and usage usable by as many people as possible. Often it is associated with a narrow view of people with disabilities, however common things like 50% of all men are colour blind to some degree make the affected group cover most of humanity in some way. Accessibility is therefore more about inclusion and creating pathways to access features, capabilities and opportunities. Accessibility is a Human Right not a nice to have and should be a starting point for all solutions, it also creates benefits to other ways of working by enabling the adoption of mobile devices and people affected by the digital divide with costly access or slow access due to network connectivity.

HCI / CHI – human computer interaction

So there are two terms for the same thing here Human Computer Interaction, the British Computer Society term and Computer Human Interaction, the Association for Computing Machinery (USA), they mean the exact same thing being focused on the Academic and Engineering end of User Experience.

UX – user experience

User experience (UX) is about how a person feels, appropriates, attributes and generally thinks about using a product, system or service. A person’s experience is based in their mind and their emotions and can be established by both actual interaction and reflective (biographical experience) inputs. The current approach to UX is that it is the practical implementation of audience drivers, cognitive acuity, usability standards and accessibility laws with ergonomics (physical, contextual use) and anthropometric (digital behaviours analytics) measures. Creating an integration of business context into user context, to facilitate alignment, transactions and communications. User experience has four core components;

• Research from quantitative data to find out what is the problem or meet a demand
• Research from qualitative data to find out why it’s a problem or meet a demand
• Multiple solutions that may solve the problem or meet a demand
• Validation that it does solve the problem or meet a demand, from users (target audience) business that its sustainable (meeting business strategy and cost/benefits) and technology its possible (often within legacy and technical debt constraints).

There is more about this in the rest of the book.

UXS – user experience strategy

A user experience strategy is the plan and approach for a product or service. UX strategies are focused on mapping the whole user experience both withing the intended product or service ecosystem but also prior to entry and on leaving also. It maps human thinking, choices, impacts and the imposition of technology, policies, legal constraints, financial constraints and in fact anything that either directly or indirectly impacts customers, users, patients or any other term used to define the audience. UX strategies help businesses translate their intended user experience to every touchpoint where people interact with or experience its products or services. User experience strategy has become superseded by Systems Thinking and Service Design which has adopted customer journey mapping often to the exclusion of the wider and more insightful parameters of user experience strategy.

CX – customer experience

In commerce, customer experience is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. It has shaved part of User Experience related to quantitative data to make decisions, unfortunately quantitative based decision making is highly risky as it does not properly define the problem statement and is open to manipulation and bias by the exclusion of outlier data.

UCD – user centered design

User-Centered Design is a framework of processes in which usability goals, user characteristics, environment, tasks and workflow of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.

HCD – human centred design

Human-centered design (ISO standards) is an approach to problem solving (superseding User Centred Design in an attempt to focus on all users not just customers), commonly used in design and management frameworks that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process.

SD – service design

Service Design has superseded User Experience Strategy which has adopted customer journey mapping often to the exclusion of the wider and more insightful parameters of user experience strategy. Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its users.

DT – design thinking

Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed. It is not in fact a design process it is an ideas elicitation and prioritisation process for executive management to properly focus the efforts of their organisations. The double diamond created by the United Kingdom Design Council, unsurprisingly others claim to have invented it and they themselves are extending it as an innovation process. It’s worth noting though that design thinking is not much different from the design process (though often excluding UX) it just has a nice graphic.

ST – systems thinking

Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. A system is a cohesive conglomeration of interrelated and interdependent parts which can be natural or human-made. Systems thinking is another divergence from User Experience Strategy a lesser part like Service Design that is reinventing the wheel for a new generation of beginners.

PX – pervasive experience

Pervasive is an evolutionary UX that enables ubiquitous Open IoT Ecosystems through Human Centered Design HCD. Hands in the air I’ve done the same thing of defining by output a different focus for user experience strategy. Pervasive experience is essentially user experience strategy that involves IoT, AI and blockchain. Regardless of the marketing around these technologies they have major adoption issues, helpful like a hammer but not a humans first choice for activity, interaction or transactions, at least not yet.

IoT – internet of things

The Internet of things describes the network of physical objects “things” that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet. While machine to machine and automation are the driving force the human benefits have yet to be adopted and without pervasive experience they will forever just be seen as job takers rather evolving human living bringing us all into Smart Living.

DT – digital transformation

Digital transformation is the adoption of a new engagement philosophy with customer at the centre, a new way to communicate and get responses. It is often incorrectly focused on the adoption of digital technology that transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes. When it should be the point of change to abandon unnecessary, overly complex and damaging customer (staff, vendor, clients) experiences. For example, when the United Kingdom Government first adopted digital technologies like the world wide web to allow citizens to do their taxes, they mandated that the online experience should be an exact copy of the paper forms and that there should be no additional support provided through calculators or guidance. This has now thankfully changed yet the moving of pointless and unnecessarily complex experiences online or into software is still common in commercial companies and many countries governments, for example the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is truly horrific.

AT – agile transformation

Agile transformation is an extension of the Agile Manifesto https://agilemanifesto.org/ beyond teams, into teams of teams or slices of organisations it relates to designing the flow of work that support both customer and business values, through organisational design and for me is a natural progression of user experience strategy. I have certainly been involved in the application of agile in transformations since 2004 and it was my impetus for adopting agile.

OD – organisational design

Organisational design is finally moving on from the four standard structures into far more dynamic ways of working where staff are not just a resource but an impetus for new directions and opportunities. Classically organizational structure defines how activities such as task allocation, coordination, and supervision are directed toward the achievement of organizational aims. In my work organisational design is focused in agile transformation or the building of new capability, divisions or entire global companies, a slice at a time.

SA – scaled agile

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a set of organization and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. It was developed by and for practitioners, by leveraging three primary bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking. It has become a catch all for frameworks and transformation, it is not proven to work in its entirety although many components work really well.

BA – business agility

Business agility refers to the capability of a business or its components to rapidly respond to a change by adapting to maintain stability. It is linked to Agile Transformation, Organisational Design but is more holistic than many Agile Transformations which until 2018 mainly focused on changing how Technology worked, it now includes every aspect and skillset that impacts customer and business outcomes and is focused on adding value not completing work.

So when reading the book and you read any of the job titles above please just swap them out for “designing for human experience”.

Designing for Human Experience Paperback on Amazon

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1838237011
Japan https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1838237011
Italy https://www.amazon.it/dp/1838237011
Spain https://www.amazon.es/dp/1838237011
France https://www.amazon.fr/Designing-Human-Experience-Karl-Smith/dp/1838237011
Germany https://www.amazon.de/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Band/dp/1838237011
USA https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Smith/dp/1838237011
UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1838237011/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_zGXMFbME0P72Q

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Designing for Human Experience Paperback on Amazon

This book about what I have done for a living since 1989 in Designing for Human Experience. Here have put together an anthology of my life and my passion for designing for human experience. I describe what I do as designing for human experience because you can’t design experience as it resides in the emotions of others. But you can design environments and psychological cues that trigger emotional responses and appropriation by attribution of past experience on the current one.

Thank you, Robert Powell and Patrick Neeman, for framing this conversation, Designing for Humans remains for me the most fantastic amalgamation of the complex to create the simple, useable and nascent components and artefacts that support human experiences. I’ll apologise in advance while I try to use simple English I often fail because someone came up with a word that covers off the complexity I’m trying to express. I use dictionary’s often when writing, not least because I’m dyslexic and can’t see letters, I was taught to read the gaps between them in primary school by a special teacher, so my perspective is often quite different from others.

Fundamental to my work in designing for human experience is my early experiences of human augmentation in supporting what the world describes as disability. When I was eight (1970’s) my father was involved in setting up a respite centre for the families of disabled children. It was the first time I’d seen technologies that support people in doing what I take for granted and it changed my perspective on technology and what it means to be human. Looking back, it was clear from an early age that I accepted all people, recognised individuals and gained the realisation that everyone had strengths and limitations. Through my design training at school, college and then university I was able to frame questions about; what does it mean to be human? Ergonomics and Anthropometrics is what started me on questioning why technologies were not measurable against who uses them and their physical, emotional and intelligence limitations. If that’s offensive think about it, everyone has limitations they also have strengths, certainly I have benefited by having to work harder with reading and writing than others through being able to make connections others cannot see, I’m not special just different.

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1838237011
Japan https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1838237011
Italy https://www.amazon.it/dp/1838237011
Spain https://www.amazon.es/dp/1838237011
France https://www.amazon.fr/Designing-Human-Experience-Karl-Smith/dp/1838237011
Germany https://www.amazon.de/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Band/dp/1838237011
USA https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Smith/dp/1838237011
UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1838237011/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_zGXMFbME0P72Q

Karl Smith has been named in the Top 100 Thought Leaders and Influencers to follow in 2020 by The Awards Magazine and is currently ranked number One Globally by Thinkers360 as the Thought Leaders and Influencer for Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Big Data, Predictive Analytics and second in The Future of Work and Agile. LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlsmith2/ Twitter https://twitter.com/UserExperienceU

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Designing for Human Experience Book

Designing for Human Experience

Forewords by Robert Powell and Patrick Neeman. Designing for Humans remains for me the most fantastic amalgamation of the complex to create the simple, useable and nascent components and artefacts that support human experiences. I’ll apologise in advance while I try to use simple English I often fail because someone came up with a word that covers off the complexity I’m trying to express. I use dictionary’s often when writing, not least because I’m dyslexic and can’t see letters, I was taught to read the gaps between them in primary school by a special teacher, so my perspective is often quite different from others.

Fundamental to my work in designing for human experience is my early experiences of human augmentation in supporting what the world describes as disability. When I was eight (1970’s) my father was involved in setting up a respite centre for the families disabled children. It was the first time I’d seen technologies that support people in doing what I take for granted and it changed my perspective on technology and what it means to be human.

“I’m not interested in Technology; I’m interested how Technology evolves our human experiences”

Looking back, it was clear from an early age that I accepted all people, recognised individuals and gained the realisation that everyone had strengths and limitations. Through my design training at school, college and then university I was able to frame questions about; what does it mean to be human? Ergonomics and Anthropometrics is what started me on questioning why technologies were not measurable against who uses them and their physical, emotional and intelligence limitations. If that’s offensive think about it, everyone has limitations they also have strengths, certainly I have benefited by having to work harder with reading and writing than others through being able to make connections others cannot see, I’m not special just different.

Authored by Karl Smith
Published by Polymath Knowledge, Polymaths Series, Book 1
Distributed by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Due out November 2020
E-Book: ISBN 978-1-8382370-0-4
Buy Online US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, NL, JP, BR, CA, MX, AU, IN
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-8382370-1-1
Buy Online US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, JP, CA

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The Autonomous Hot Tub and other moving Rooms

Humanity continues to make the same innovation errors in every generation, instead of finding out “how technology could evolve our human experience” they focus on how to upgrade or change our existing experience. This is most evident in autonomous vehicles and it has missed the essential point the if there is no human driver autonomous vehicles are moving space with humans inside them. If we considered travelling instead of driving, then using the time in a different way is understandable. It also perhaps changes what the purpose of travel from being destination focused to being movement focused.

Trusting Technology Autonomous or Not

It is startling that few people understand how much of their travel already relies on computers and automation. Autopilot on planes is the standard and they fly through three dimensions unlike ground vehicles in just two dimensions. It may simply be the psychology of control, few people currently control airplanes but many control cars and that loss of control may be the bases of fear regarding autonomous vehicles. Certainly mistrust of technology is pervasive yet abandoned when need overrules such concerns. It is common for people to give away their personal data in order to gain a service as is seen in social media and many service applications. It’s also worth noting that trust in technology is generational there are currently people in their 70’s and 80’s who don’t trust credit cards in online ecommerce, even though all transactions even in physical shops are online.

Autonomous Hot Tub

I have to admit that this is my prefered option, since we don’t all have jetpacks I’ll settle for hot tub vehicles, I will certainly arrive rested. And this is the point of autonomous vehicles they change the meaning of travel the options become endless.

Autonomous Hotel Room

What if our means of travel also became our meaning of staying. The vast expense of building static hotels would be removed and replaced with parking bays for hotel rooms, that are styled for the owner or renter. Parts of peoples homes could travel with them and their view and location will change but personal comfort won’t. I would be nice if hotel rooms could meet us at the airport and then take us on a tour of a country.

This may seem all too far fetched but consider that entire music or book collections now exist in subscriptions, how about autonomous meeting rooms that collect the participants, autonomous restaurants or bars. Perhaps we need to move away from reframing our existing world in new technologies and just change how the world works. We all need to let technology be the servant of humanity rather than its drug and get rid of pointless things so humanity can be inventive and creative.

About the Author

Karl Smith is a futurist and inventor with creative design, engineering and scientific backgrounds focused on how human life is evolved by technology. Karl Smith is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a member by invitation of BCS ELITE (Effective Leadership in IT) the CIO & CTO group and European CIO Association. He mainly works as an interim consultant, CIO, CTO or CXO but also joins companies on a permanent bases to deliver the change they are seeking.

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Founder and Thought Leader

Karl Smith is a Founder and Director of The Human-Centered Design Society which is directly involved in central government policy in The House of Commons and The House of Lords through a number of committees including Associate Parliamentary Group for Design and Innovation. The British Computer Society has acknowledged him for his contribution to User Experience as a discipline with a Fellowship – FBCS.

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