SxSW: Designing for Context

02 Apr

It’s been almost a month so I thought I would finish doing write-ups about the sessions I attended, going in chronological order and following Luke Wroblewski’s bullet point method to simplify it.

Presenters: Ben Fullerton – Method (@benfu), Leah Buley – Intuit (@ugleah), Nate Bolt – Bolt|Peters (@boltron), Ryan Freitas – AOL/ (@ryanchris), Andrew Crow – GE (@AndrewCrew)

Hashtag: #DforC

In 1995, the Decision Theory and Adaptive Design Group at Microsoft studied the ultimate frustration point for users, which resulted in “Clippy”

  1. Clippy was diseigned for a single context – today there are far more contexts to design for.
  2. Ways to design for diff locations, environments, relationships and product ecosystems
  3. Weirdest contexts?
    • ??: couldn’t talk to the users at all
    • NB: astronauts in space (apps in space and shuttle): had to deal with zero-G, cosmic rays require frequent replacements of tablets
    • LB: checking finances on the toilet
    • LB: take a browser-based context into mobile context: advantage of having data of desktop usage to inform mobile
      • reject 1:1 context mapping
      • add contextual elements (location)

What should we be aware of when designing for context?

  1. Time (length or instances of time)
    • LB: thought of linear time w/o interruption – but people get distracted AND multitask
    • NB: working with NYT on news contexts – intercepting users to understand time-based contexts, resulting in NOW as an important time.
      • BF: need to understand longer tasks but also microtasks
      • AC: worst idea is that it must be the same design for beginner and advanced user
  2. Ecosystem: how devices interact with other apps, devices and even competitors
    • RF: TeachingChannel – understand time issues teachers have and solve for those
    • LB: Mint – how to bring from desktop to mobile, or those who are coming directly from mobile (using app) so may not have previous experience to leverage.
  3. Location – frame of reference of external factors
    • a) Victoria’s Secret made unique experiences for iPhone and iPad: iPad was browsing, picking at home; iPhone: don’t bring iPad with them but gave way to photograph tag to get more information on product
    • think of location in a radiating circle instead of absolute position
    • LB: if designing for use outside, make sure you can actually SEE them outside
  4. Form & Technology
    • Often start at lowest common denominator (Mobile First) – good in general principle but lowest common denominator is not always a mobile phone.
    • LB: likes to do opp. thinking of of devices’ extra capabilities first – location, camera : leads to other opportunities.
  5. Brand & Relationships
    • BF: brand is usually viewed with suspicion when they try to establish a relationship
    • Bedsider example: contraception tool that goes beyond simple info and lists – did fact or fiction videos “Douche and Dont’s”

What have we learned?

  1. If you’re going to extend, figure out which pieces are most important at each contextual point
  2. Adopt a service mentality to figure out points of synergy between contexts
  3. Expose and understand he metrics you have to find intersections
  4. Find ways to truly get into real users’ context
  5. If you try to design FOR users outside of knowing context, you will miss something

Dealing with User Frustration

  1. Messaging within context – but can be rude to tell the truth
  2. Can turn it into a design aspect -ex. show what you can do, then interrupt when absolutely necessary; people respond to clarity and honesty

Users/Contexts on the edge -how to move between contexts

  1. Where experiences break down most
  2. Clarity and directness is best policy (guided transition vs. forced)
  3. Add personality to cushion the transition

My Tweets During Session

  • Think of location in a radiating circle instead of absolute position (city, store) #DforC
  • 5 aspects of designing for context: time, ecosystem, location, form & technology, brand & relationship #DforC


Official page:

Lanyrd logo Designing for Context on Lanyrd

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