#Strategic and #lean #thinking in private investment and asset portfolio management, part 1

This article is intended to review the current process problems that many investment and wealth management companies are attempting to solve. For many years these businesses have been wreathed in secrecy regarding how they do, what they do, often this has not been by choice but merely a by product of business processes that have not fundamentally changed in fifty years and in environments where technology is not considered as an enabler.

The creation and management of investments have evolved into a complex time consuming and inefficient practice due to many complexities not only within financial advisory companies and people but also management services, financial product offerings and regulatory structures and the various platforms they use. However by mapping the basic interactions between these groups and investors it is possible to not only determine quick wins but also radical time and cost saving leading to increased transactions with existing clients deeper market penetration and capture with new clients.

There are five basic interactions I will be mapping as part of this paper;

  • On boarding (including Fact Find, AML etc.)
  • Financial Review
  • Advised Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction
  • Self Service Financial Modelling / Portfolio Construction (including Self Service Trading)
  • Regulatory Reporting

There is a lot to pull together to do this, it is very insightful if you have not been involved in financial services or you are involved but have not kicked off your financial services transformation project yet.

Author Links

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

#User #Experience #UX #Process

Process thinking in User Experience (UX)

The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.

In effect there is no quick fix or single standard method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method without flexibility should be asked to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.

Karl Smith User Experience Research Testing 200711

Offering user experience services is a bit like dungeons and dragons in that you role your 12 sided dice and hope the business does not throw some trolls at you.

I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and solutions as they focus on the solutions component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users.Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, most importantly users change over time, in what they want and mean by their actions.

Some process steps for user experience

This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how much they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.

Understand the problem (concurrent with 2.)

  1. Do research
  2. Analyse research
  3. Get validation of what has been discovered by Target Users and Stakeholders

Define the audience (actors) this is the detail level the Target Users

  1. Create personas a tool used by the entire project team BA’s, PM’s and Developers to be acquainted with who will use the systemResearch persona types, activities, attitudes etc.
  2. Define critical tasks Research tasks ecosystem and review engagement strategy
  3. Define key pathways Main pathway
  4. Alternative pathways
  5. Failure pathways

Compose concepts

  1. Create buy-in with Stakeholders

Set the tone of voice

  1. Type of language
  2. Level of formality
  3. Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
  4. Content style
  5. Meta standards
  6. Content object model
  7. SEO if web based

Wireframes

  1. Selection of type & method
  2. Wireframe Concepts
  3. User testing of Wireframe Concepts
  4. Wireframe sketches

Client sign off

Wireframe prototypes

  1. User testing of Wireframe prototypes

Client review

Wireframe & Visual design integration (prior to this point the use of high fidelity images are counter productive)

Functional specification & analytics specification

  1. Instruct development
  2. Usability Test plan
  3. Accessibility Test plan
  4. Functional & Content Test plan

Testing with participant screening document

  1. Review testing results
  2. Modify labels, interactions & structure in line with findings

Done, until …..

Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing

Offer enhancements to clients

Some people will look at this list and think it takes years, depending on the project complexity it can take days or weeks for simple web or mobile applications and only months on complex software systems.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Supporting #Users with #HCD principals

Human Centered design (HCD)

Human centered design (HCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users (audience) of a product or piece of technology at the centre of its research, design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the product or piece of technology will deliver upon their perceived requirements and align the client with their users or consumers.

Supporting general interactive behaviours

New systems must comply with but not limited to the following provisions;

Provide context and orientation information

Provide context and orientation information to help users understand;

  • Where they are
  • What it’s for
  • How to use

the complex pages or elements that they are viewing.

Provide location indication that consistent across all interfaces, which is not part of navigation. This is to help users know explicitly where they are and what data is shown so that they can be confident about their activities.

Grouping elements and providing contextual information about the relationships between elements can be useful for all users. Complex relationships between parts of a page may be difficult for people with any type of cognitive disability and people with visual disabilities to interpret.  Regardless of the working environment no two people think exactly the same way this divergence is based upon the various inputs and experience they have. Recognising variance and synergy in knowledge is a key finding from pilot studies that support the creation of personas and user scenarios.

Provide clear navigation mechanisms

Provide clear and consistent navigation mechanisms;

  • Orientation information
  • Navigation schema
    • Sub navigation
    • In app/widget controls
  • Site map
  • Help
    • Glossaries
  • Comparable experiences (to their other business or outside work experiences)

Interactive behaviours to increase the likelihood that a person will find what they are looking for and be able to interact with it.

Clear and consistent navigation mechanisms are important to people with cognitive disabilities or blindness, but fundamentally benefit all users and enable rapid adoption, reuse and buy-in.

Provide explicit interactive behaviours

Users require an absolute learning environment in order to quickly review and adopt new technologies.

The interactive behaviours of any system they use should make logical and emotional sense.

Interactive logic is driven by expectation, in that if a user clicks on text that is underlined they expect to go to another page related to that text (a hyperlink) therefore if text is blue and underlined but does not take the user to a new page, a user will doubt the technology and themselves as it creates insecurities. Other considerations related to interactive logic are about an expectation of delivery in that if a user clicks on a chart they expect to see the data behind it.

Interactive emotion was touched on in the previous point and is related to confusion, insecurities, doubt and conflicting emotions driven by unexpected interactions. Users when arriving at the wrong location in software expect the back button (if web service) to take them to the previous screen. In software they expect a link or return to last page. If the developer had locked pages or not considered a user wanting to go backwards or sideways in a planned pathway, the user will feel trapped, this is an interactive emotion. The users invested (time, knowledge) activity (purpose, task) has been trapped (voided, considered worthless) in a process and their perception is that they are unimportant.

The more users’ expectations prove right, the more users will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it. And the more the system breaks users’ expectations, the more they will feel insecure.

Ensure that text is clear and simple

Ensure that text is clear and simple so they may be more easily understood. Consistent title location, page layout, recognisable icons and easy to understand language benefit all users. However where users require subject specific language based upon their activities a glossary is advised to support the constant churn in user involvement.

Opening New Windows

Opening up new window is like a polluting a user screen it creates a loss of focus and no matter how great a mind a user has they will still lose their place when checking where they are in a process or task across multiple partially visible or hidden screens.

Designers open new windows on the theory that it keeps users focused on their system or it delineates separate activity. This creates a user hostile message and is self defeating since it breaks any trust in the delivery of technology that make users life better.

Non-Standard use of GUI Widgets

Consistency is one of the most powerful best practice principles. When things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen base upon their earlier experience.

The worst consistency violations in technology are found in the use of GUI widgets such as radio buttons and checkboxes. The appropriate behaviour of these design elements is defined in the Windows Vista User Experience standard, the Macintosh human interface standard, and the Java UI standard. Which of these standards to follow depends on the platform used by the majority of your users, but it hardly matters for the most basic widgets since all the standards have close-to-identical rules.

Slow Server Response Times

Slow response times are the worst offender against user expectations.

Users don’t care why response times are slow. All they know is that the technology doesn’t offer good service. Slow response times often translate directly into a reduced level of trust and they always cause a loss of use and adoption as users find a work around.

Use of colour

Ensure that text and graphics are understandable when viewed without colour. If colour alone is used to convey information, people who cannot differentiate between certain colours and users with devices that have non-colour or non-visual displays will not receive the information.

When foreground and background colours are too close to the same hue, they may not provide sufficient contrast when viewed using monochrome displays or by people with different types of colour deficits.

Ensure user control of time sensitive content changes

Ensure that content that changes does so in a manner that is obvious or had a secondary advisory so that users are made aware of that change.

Design for device independence

Use features that enable activation of page elements via a variety of input devices.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Usability and Accessibility Standards

United States of America

The American National Standard Institute (NSSN, http://www.nssn.org ) provides a national resource for national and international standards. ANSI/HFES-200 is focused on design requirements and recommendations to increase effective usability of software interfaces.

International

International Standards Organisation (http://www.iso.ch/) ISO/TS 16071:2003, Ergonomics of human-system interaction covers issues associated with designing accessible software for people with the widest range of visual, hearing, motor and cognitive abilities, including those who are elderly and temporarily disabled.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) documents explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a Web page or Web application, including text, images, forms, sounds, and such http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / /

#Lies damn lies and #user #experience

User experience has in recent years become the greatest area of fraud and theft in business. Because the output documents appear simple huge numbers of people without any formal knowledge of what goes into them are having a go.

Be careful of Fakes

Avoid designers, look for Architects and Consultants, with an MSc and good client references (but not a portfolio) which can be viewed on LinkedIn.

The most common request for people involved in user experience is to produce wireframes (low fidelity pictures) a task that a child could do.

Wireframes should be the container document for standards, insights into target audience expectations, business KPI’s and brand values.

Ignorance in UX can be costly

The real problem is that recruiters and clients don’t know what they should be getting for their money.

A good indicator that someone is ignorant is a request for a portfolio. A portfolio is a set of images that express the capability of a designer involved in architecture, graphics, fashion design etc, but it is not relevant for UX. The reason it’s not relevant is that the complex ideas within wireframes need an expert to review and validate them against standards.

People who want to see a Portfolio are incompetent

If the interviewer does not know the standards, frankly they deserve to be fleeced, it’s like employing a plumber to represent your interests in court instead of a solicitor because they can make a good argument. The action of the argument is not important, even if there are lots of buzz words included because legal matters like usability matters are complex interrelated sets of rules and dependencies.

So unless an expert does the review the activity is pointless, a secondary but probably more damaging problem is ownership, rights and breach of contract.

Wireframes contain information on “How it Works” not “How it Looks”

How something works is the inventive element and belongs to the client. If clients are not protecting their Intellectual Property in UX, they really should be quite aggressive about it, but all contracts have a provision for this protection asking to see UX work from clients is a breach of contract and breach of IP.

Asking people to show a UX portfolio is asking people to breach their contracts.

If you or your team require training on interviewing UX people please contact me.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

#Converting #browsers to #buyers, exploring what drives #consumer #choice in internet e-commerce 2005

The following is a paper I wrote in 2005. From WWW/Internet 2005 Proceedings

Converting browsers to buyers: exploring what drives consumer choice in internet e-commerce

Why do internet users behave as they do, are their activities solely determined by website design? Or do they create their own pathways as a response to designated systems. For many, internet design is about the imposition of schemas, predetermined flows and consumer motifs, allowing the shepherding of an understood and mapped user towards buying products and services. However if this were true then every browser would also be a buyer. The underlying concepts of current website design rely on a number of pretexts which, when reviewed in relation to human activity and interaction, become questionable in their veracity.

1.       INTRODUCTION

There is recognition [16] that there is limited information in the understanding of the reciprocity of attitudes and behaviour constituting the relationship between internet shoppers and e-commerce websites. This is in contrast to commercially driven usability and web metrics companies who assert their findings based upon activity patterns often using statistically small samples [15]. Developing an understanding of the relationship between users and websites is key to determining patterns of interaction. Patterns of interaction are currently under investigation in two distinct ways, by using reflective and diagnostic methodologies. Reflection upon measurable activity, clicks, information foraging [5] and sales provide compelling insights for business metrics, can be limited by their subjective constituents. In turn diagnosis based on reviewers or heuristic interpretations with little user involvement [15] produce contentious results. This study will attempt to combine both forms of investigation with a large participant group study producing empirical data to be reviewed using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

1.1         Research aims

The aims and objectives of the research can be summarised as follows:

  • Why do internet users behave as they do, are their activities solely determined by website design? Or do they create their own pathways as a response to designated systems.
  • List common behaviours and attributes to discern if there is a pattern that can be mapped and predicted.

These present some added details in comparison to the original project aims and objectives, described in the project proposal (appendix 6). Differences and the reasons for them are discussed in the final conclusions (chapter 6).

1.2      Conceptual investigation

  • Technological Determinism
  • How it came about
  • Engineering to computing rather than social science to computing
  • Boudieur absolutes – linking social theory with technology
  • Statistical absolutes taken by industry
  • Conclusion
  • Dialectic Computing
  • Social Computing
  • Tavistock Institute
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Cultural Cognition
  • Embodied Interaction
  • Organic Systems
  • Commodities
  • Biography
  • Conclusion
  • Shopping
  • Consumption
  • Dialectic Interaction
  • Tensions
  • Dynamic
  • Conventions
  • Mediation
  • Trust
  • Conclusion
  • Investigation Methodologies
  • Reflective methodologies
  • Information Scent
  • Internet Statistics
  • Diagnostic methodologies
  • Observational
  • Active Narrative
  • Goals
  • Adaptations
  • Conventions
  • Conclusion
  • Lexical Distribution of Activity
  • Activity as a language
  • Conclusion

2.       E-COMMERCE THEORETICAL UNDERPINNING

The main area of this research is to gain an understanding of how people use technology as an extension of their world [10], specifically in the mode of consumer e-commerce. This world view is augmented by a representation of social constructs by an evolutionary process of active agents of transformation [4] in technology and specifically the creation of an electronic media habitus. This constituency maintains its own cultural capital and produces a parallel distinctive counterpoint to popular and consumer cultures. The nature of human computer interactivity, it’s cultural, educational and gender attributes has a key influence on the unification of money, knowledge and technological aspiration. These factors are also represented in technological deprivation and the personalised safety of internalised ignorance.

To relate instances of electronic media habitus a combination of activity biography [1], [12] and negotiated conventions [7] enable the development of an activity definition index. The cultural disposition of technology, interactions and resultant pathways remain difficult to interpret without recourse to such a framework.

3.       REFLECTIVE METHODOLOGY

Existing methodologies produce results that use complex mathematics to create algorithms [6], create subjective rules of design [15] or usability inspection tools [3]. Which are normally only used with existing websites, only reflecting upon current interactions.

2.1 Information Scent

The cognitive walkthrough of the web has evolved based upon the notion that users decide on their course of action based upon cues, which derive behavioural patterns of interaction then form guide routes of information scent [3]. Information scent has also been developed using aspects of information foraging both structured and unstructured [6]. The Bloodhound project seeks to establish a clear method showing consistent, measurable elements that provide benefit in the design of websites. However there is contention in the effectiveness of this methodology [14] by commercially driven consultants.

2.2 Internet Statistics

There remains a problem with accessing “actionable statistics” [8] for businesses, and while their credibility and measurability remains opaque there will be a question regarding their veracity [18].

4.       DIAGNOSTIC METHODOLOGY

The general interpretation of an open and untamed [2] source of information like the World Wide Web (WWW) requires a systematic review of actions. Actions and user activity [11] in relation to an observable world require a common representation to determine navigation and related target acquisition. Ethnographic studies related by an in-series testing system can reduce the anomalous results associated with subjective reflective data. Ultimately a lexical definition of activity is needed; in the interim the term narrative enables an interpolative review of data which will provide a clearer definition of activity.

3.1 Narrative

The understanding of human interaction can be viewed as participation in the creation of personal historical elements, which allow dispersion in potential trajectories [10] evolving of a self imposed narrative. This narrative can be observed in linguistic and engendered functions which require definition and contextualisation. However to effectively map these functions a lexicon approach [9] as associated with endangered languages, would allow the use of rational linguistic dimensions including orthography, morphology, syntax and semantics. The creation of a lexical basis [17] makes individual actions communicable aspects of communities of actions with related compound, processed and adaptive meanings.

Several hypothetical goals, adaptations and conventions can be derived from this research which will further refine and delineate additional aspects of narrative behavior to produce foundational lexical and activity indices.

3.1.1 Goals

Goals can be a descriptor of predetermined final destinations which can subsequently be reduced to a form of knowledge morpheme. These inter-related sub-rationale units while distinct and finite offer an activity based response to catalytic impositions by addition and adaptation.

3.1.2 Adaptations

Adaptation allows the extension of narratives [13] creating alternative perspectives on the same object or situation. Further modifications can be made in a process of engagement, by determining the user’s perceptions or discernment of active adversity which produces redirection.

3.1.3 Conventions

Conventions allow the use of avatars [7] to create nodes within lexical frameworks, providing index points in a narrative activity. Agreement of conventions in social, emotional and commercial arenas for completion, enable a measurable resolution to tasks.

5.       PROPOSED RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Data for this paper is being gathered through a three tiered research process. The target group for this research is consumers who purchase online, non-experienced WWW users based in the United Kingdom.

An initial pilot survey link has been introduced onto a number of United Kingdom based online shopping directories. Control questions have been used to define the target group and acquire basic demographic information. The survey consists of open ended questions with text areas to allow user to express their opinions on their online purchase experiences.

The main survey will be derived from the pilot by asking detailed questions related to the pilot results. This survey will use menu and dropdown tools with text areas to create both quantitative and qualitative primary data.

The final counterpoint survey will involve twelve participants (six consumers and six heuristic users) working on a series of scenario based activities derived from the main survey results. This ethnographic study will allow interactive testing and appraisal of user preferences, requirements and actual activity.

6.       CONCLUSION

While this paper seeks to review and define the boundaries of an ongoing associated data gathering exercise it has also produced a number of testable hypotheses to be reviewed after data acquisition.

The linking of action cues with ethnographics has the potential to define activity components, constituents, usage and compound derivatives which will allow measurable patterns of formation and defendable narrative component interpretation.

The use of lexical representations will provide a framework for the indexing of interconnected activity components which currently operate under diverse notations.

The ability to interpret interaction will form the basis of other studies to better understand and design e-commerce sites based on human interpretive activity.

REFERENCES

[1]   Appadurai, A. (1988) The social life of things. Commodities in cultural perspective, pp. 64–91. Cambridge:   Cambridge University Press.

[2]   Benyon, D., Turner, P., Turner, S. (2005). Designing Interactive Systems.

[3]   Blackmon, M., H., Polson, P., G., Kitajima, M., Lewis, C. (April 2002) Cognitive walkthrough of the Web. Conference on Human factors in Computing Systems: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems: Changing our World, changing ourselves. ACM Press: Minnesota, USA.

[4]   Bourdieu, P. (1990). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Harvard University Press.

[5]   Chi, H., Pirollie, P., Pitkow, J. (2000) The Scent of a Site: A System for Analyzing and Predicting Information Scent, Usage and Usability of a Web Site. Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre.

[6]   Chi, H., Rosien, A., Supattanasiri, G., Williams, A., Royer, C., Chow, C., Robles, E., Dalal, B., Chen, J., Cousins, S.  (April 2003). Web usability: The bloodhound project: Automating discovery of web usability issues using the InfoScent™ simulator. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. Pages: 505 – 512. ACM Press: New York, NY, USA.

[7]  Clanton, C., Marks, H., Murray, J., Flanagan, M., Arble, F. (1998). Interactive narrative: stepping into our own stories. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: CHI 98 conference summary on Human factors in computing systems. Pages: 88 – 89.  ACM Press: New York, NY, USA

[8]   Foley, P. (2001) Internet and e-commerce statistics. European Business Review. Vol 13, No. 2. Published: Emerald Fulltext.

[9]   Gulrajani, G. (August 2003) SHAWEL: Sharable and interactive Web-Lexicons. Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics. Max-Planck-Institute: Nijmegen

[10]   Jennings, P. (2005). Constructed Narratives a Tangible Social Interface. Creativity and Cognition: Proceedings of   the 5th conference on Creativity & cognition. Pages: 263 – 266. ACM Press: New York, NY, USA.

[11]   Jul, S., and Furnas, G., W. (1997) Navigation in Electronic Worlds: A CHI 97 Workshop. SIGCHI Bulletin Vol 29, No 4 October.

[12]   Kopytoff, I. (1988) The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.) The social life of things. Commodities in cultural perspective, pp. 64–91. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[13]   Nakhimovsky, A. (June 1988) Special issue on tense and aspect: Aspect, aspectual class, and the temporal structure of narrative. Computational Linguistics, Volume 14 Issue 2 Pages: 29 – 43. MIT Press:   Cambridge, MA, USA

[14]   Nielsen, J. (August 2, 2004). Deceivingly Strong Information Scent Costs Sales. Alertbox from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040802.html

[15]   Nielsen, J. (March 19, 2000). Why You Only Need to Test With 5 Users. Alertbox from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000319.html

[16]   Perea y Monsuwe, T., Dellaert, B., G., C., Ruyter, K. (2004). What drives consumers to shop online? A literature review. International Journal of Service Industry Management. Vol 12, No 1, Pages 102-121. Emerald Fulltext.

[17]   Pustejovsky, J. (December 1991). The Generative Lexicon. Computational Linguistics. Volume 17 Issue 4 Pages: 409 – 441. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

[18]   Rosenfield, J. R., (November 2001). Lies damned lies, and internet statistics. Direct Marketing. Published: Garden City. Vol 64, Iss 7 pg 61 – 64.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /