ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘user experience’

Cannoli – Designing a Great Experience

Posted by Plish on February 3, 2015

A cannolo (singular of cannoli) Courtesy of Wikipedia

Today I was savoring one of the two cannoli I bought (it looked just like the picture above.) It suddenly dawned on me that this food perfectly represents the ideal product experience.

Bite one: Chocolate chips (or pistachios) creamy filling and crunchy roll.

Bite two and three: More creamy goodness and crunch.  An occasional chocolate chip.

Bite Four: Abundant chocolate chips, creamy filling and more crunch.

Cannoli, like a good song, a good show, a good product, starts strong, has a middle that is enjoyable and then ends on a high note with a bang!

It’s important to remember that even if the middle was empty, (an unfortunate problem with rookie cannoli makers), the fact that the experience ends with crunch, chocolate chips and creamy filling, helps redeem the experience.

What happens if a cannolo falls apart before someone is done eating?

While it’s a pleasant experience, the fact that the crunchy parts can’t really be eaten with a fork means that a person has to use his/her fingers to eat the rest of the parts.  While not quite a game breaker, part of the appeal of intact cannoli is that the entire eating experience is clean and yet delectable!

So what are the key takeaways?

Flavors aren’t everything. Color, aroma, crunch, all key.  And paramount?? Making sure the shell is crunchy enough to give a great culinary experience, but not so crunchy that it crumbles into a mess that prevents it from being eaten using one’s fingers.

Next time you’re designing a product or service, think cannoli.  Better yet, eat a cannoli and experience great design! 🙂

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Posted in Design, Experience, Food | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Going to Work With a KOL? Don’t Forget the Intangibles

Posted by Plish on June 2, 2014

Over the past couple of decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s) during the course of developing medical products***.  KOL’s can be a vital part of a product development team.  In my experience, some were a pleasure to work with, others, quite frankly, were a pain.

There’s a good summary on selecting KOL’s here.   It’s not the whole story, but it’s worth checking out.

He mentions some great tips to sift out the KOL’s from the ‘regular’ folks (it’s important to remember that a person doesn’t have to be a physician to be a KOL):

  1. Regularly sought out by their colleagues for opinions or advice
  2. Speak often at regional or national conferences
  3. Have published articles in a major journal during the past two years
  4. Consider themselves early adopters of new treatments or procedures
  5. Help establish protocols for patient care

Also look at:

  1. The Associations to which the key decision makers belong, as well as the Research Groups that they work with
  2. The places they deem to be the key referral Treatment Centers
  3. The Treatment Guidelines/patterns employed by the various physician KOLs, as well as the general protocols that they follow
  4. The Clinical Trials they have participated in

I would add the following that get at the “intangibles”, and may cause you grief:

1. Does the clinician always seem to talk about money and/or royalties?  If so, you may have your hands full.  As I once heard a KOL say, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

2. Is the KOL talking about other ventures, or possibly products he/she wants to develop?  This could create friction about product concepts being developed in the future. There could also be ulterior motives to working with you.

3. Is the KOL personable?  Does he/she get along with people?  There’s enough stress in a product development process without a KOL adding more.

4. Does the KOL act like part of the team or like someone hired for an opinion? Even though laws seem to push you towards the latter, you want the former.  The latter knows and often acts like he/she is being paid for opinions.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  See #5.

5.  Make sure time commitments are spelled out and understood by all parties involved.  Yes, KOL’s have their practices, but if they are truly committed to improving healthcare, they’ll understand that getting a new product to market is not clean-cut and predictable.  Everyone is short on time.

6. Because KOL’s are usually well published, they are great resources for helping to understand strategic landscapes.   That can often be more important to overall success than input on specific product attributes.

7. There are ethical and legal ramifications of using medical doctors as part of a product development process.  Be diligent about following the law.  You don’t need those types of stresses in your life.

With regards to KOL’s in general, it’s important to realize that designing a product based solely on KOL input is generally not a good idea.

Yes, a KOL may do 1000 procedures a year, but that person won’t use a product the same way as someone who does a 100 procedures, or for that matter, 10 procedures.   The majority of people who will use your products are not KOL’s.  Most KOL’s work at prestigious institutions and have resources available to them that most people don’t.  It’s important to know what the non-KOL’s have available to them.  If you design something to accommodate the majority, odds are it’ll work for the KOL.

Remember too that KOL’s are often laser sharp in their focus.  If they are great surgeons, don’t ask them about something that a surgical tech is doing during the procedure.  Ask the tech.

Better yet, don’t just ask.

Watch.

Observe what is going on before, during, and after the time when a product is being used.  Don’t just trust what people say they do.  People (even KOL’s!) often think they are performing an action, and even will tell you they are doing it if you ask them afterwards.  If you watch them, they may never do it or do it in a different manner.

Working with KOL’s can be exciting and insightful for all involved parties.  Keep these points in mind and it won’t be a drag on time, money and patience.

I’d love to hear your experiences with KOL’s.

***While this is written specifically for medical product development, these guidelines can apply to other industries.

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, Healthcare, innovation, Medical Devices | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts and Images from FUSE14

Posted by Plish on April 11, 2014

The FUSE conference has come and gone.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed the last day, but the first two days were pretty amazing.  It was a conference of great insights into the power of Design in creating powerful, memorable experiences of products/services/brands.

I made concept maps of all the presentations I sat in on.  You can check them out on SlideShare.

Day 1

Day 2

There’s a mashup from Twitter here and here.

If you can make this conference in the future, it’s well worth it. The speakers are top-notch, the facility is beautiful, and the food was excellent as well.

Some of my pics are below:

The conference was not just about the past and present.  It was about the future as well.   There are challenges presented by technology and human nature, challenges that could demean instead of elevate people if not addressed.

The conference was exciting, precisely because it acknowledged the multifaceted challenges that await those who seek to design better experiences, better products, a better, more human, sustainable future.

Posted in Best Practices, Brands, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainable Technology, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Never Underestimate the Power of Beauty

Posted by Plish on September 15, 2013

Think about this, next time you’re designing a product, a service – an experience…

Looks Like Cow Poop to Me

If a fly lands on your food, or your hand:

Wave your hand,

chase it away,

try to kill it!

flies are dirty

they land on manure and waste…
King of the Hill

If a butterfly lands on your food, or your hand:

pause,

don’t move,

gaze in wonder

it’s a sign…

it doesn’t matter where it’s been

it’s here now

and that’s all that matters…

Posted in Arts, Design, Experience, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Small Changes in Design Can Positively Impact Customer Experience – Thoughts After the Storm…

Posted by Plish on July 16, 2011

I don’t know what chord the wind was playing, I only know it wasn’t that “shoosh’ sound that a breeze, even a strong one, makes.  The haunting drone of 75+mph winds was punctuated by the snapping sounds of tree trunks and shuddering thuds as 30 foot  tree  segments slammed onto, or rather, bounced off the roof and then landed in front of the window. The lake, usually filled with whitecaps during storms, instead was flattened and swirling, looking as if it were going to part.  Given the apocalyptic combination of noise and wind, it wouldn’t have surprised us to see ghost’s of Pharoah’s army riding on chariots through the waters.

The onslaught lasted only minutes while we frantically grabbed cats, flashlights, phones and water and tunneled into the closet in the center of the house.

Winds subsided and water started dripping through the bedroom ceiling…

As if the entire block was cued by an off-stage director, people walked out of their homes and into the street, drizzle falling and cracks of lightning still flashing in the distance.  One by one we evaluated each other’s property and looked at the damage. Maple trees that have faced battles for over 50 years lost this one.  Trunks over a foot in diameter snapped and splintered. Our fascia was ripped off in one place, a tree branch pierced into the attic in another, and a dent in a ridge turned out to be a broken beam.  Small holes randomly pocked the shingles.  Shattered trunk lay on top of bushes and small trees.  Their forced bends seem to be screaming, “Get off my back!”

The lack of power and the holes in the roof are main concerns.  Those will get patched by roofers that were kind enough to end their gruellingly long day with a trip to our house to seal them off.  The power?  We had that covered with a generator, albeit 24 hours after the power was lost. 

I prepared the generator for its run.  I took a quart of oil and tried to verify how much oil would be needed.  The instructions said .6 liters.  I looked on the side of the plastic bottle to see if I could gauge how much to pour. 

Sweaty, with a headlamp on my head and mosquitoes beginning their evening feast, I looked in disbelief.  The bottle is filled with 1.419 liters of oil.

Seriously – four significant digits? (This is actually 48 ounces but I’m not about to convert .6 liters to ounces)

The markings on the container start with 1.3 and go down in 0.1 liter increments.  So, as if the situation isn’t bad enough, I now have to actually think.  I subtract .6 from 1.417, that’s 0.817.  I begin pouring.  Nope, not enough…pour more…I’m close…pour again…too much…augh, oil is dripping out of the fill port.  I pour some oil out and recheck…I add more again….perfect.  

Add gasoline, flip switches, pull cable, it starts.  We have power to fridge, freezer and a fan. 

I look at the oil slick on the concrete and do damage control to keep it out of the grass and flower bed.

I look again at the bottle.

Seriously?

As I listen to the generator humming in the darkness and mosquitoes in my ears, it strikes me how the simplest products can be made so much more helpful with a minimum amount of effort.  All it takes is a little empathy and understanding.  The manufacturer provided a clear stripe of plastic and gradation marks so that the contents could be measured as it was dispensed.   It wouldn’t have been any more difficult to reverse the sequence of the numbers so that they could actually be useful to the pourer.

Click for Full Size

Click for Full Size

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, Experience, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Innovation and Music – The “Space Palette” Paints Possibilities with Kinect

Posted by Plish on June 22, 2011

Tim Thompson has developed an amazing tool for making music….and more.

Using the Kinect system by Microsoft, Tim’s “Multi Multi Touch Touch” device (The Space Palette) is an awe-inspiring piece of work.

It:

  • Is fun
  • Appears simple
  • Makes one scream, “I WANT ONE!”
  • Can be used alone but it’s better when used with others
  • Makes one ponder what else it could be used for

Can you think of any other innovations that have these traits?

Posted in creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, Innovation Tools, invention, Musical Creativity, Research, User Interface | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stuck Coming up With Ideas? Try the Brian Eno Technique!

Posted by Plish on February 4, 2011

Was reading this article on using flashcards as prompts for ideas regarding design.  Some great resources are in that article.  One that was particularly striking was the Oblique Strategies card deck by Brian Eno.  (For those of you who don’t know about him, he was with the band Roxy Music, and since has been an ‘ambient’ music pioneer.  He’s also the one responsible for the few second musical intro to Windows 95 and beyond).  He (and Peter Schmidt) developed this Oblique Strategy card stack as a way to get creatively unstuck in the studio.  You can purchase the actual cards here, but there are other ways to benefit from the content of these cards.

Text versions and other links to the various versions of the decks are here, and if you want a quick fix, click here to go to a web based version.

I just clicked it myself and the message was:

Courage!

What a great bit of inspiration.  Because we all know that sometimes, in the midst of projects, when trying to get the best solution and the most creative innovation, having the courage to be embarrassed, to say what everyone else may have been thinking but didn’t want to say, to try something that’s already been done because you have a slightly different way of making it happen, to stand up for something or someone else’s idea – sometimes courage is the essential ingredient in innovation.

I can see I’m going to like this…

Thanks Brian (And Peter Schmidt)!

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When Designers Don’t Really Pay Attention to the Customer – A Case Study of a Humidifier

Posted by Plish on December 15, 2010

I recently bought a Sunbeam room humidifier.  Over all I like it’s look and the various displays.  Then I went to fill up the tank… 

I exaggerated slightly to make my point, but  I think you can see what the problem is.  The fill hole for the tank is placed away from the edges.  As a result, I can’t set the tank down in the tub as it’s filling.  (I can, but 50+% of the water splashes off and goes down the drain.) Instead, I have to hold the tank at an uncomfortable angle while it’s filling and getting heavier.  On top of that, it’s hard to know if I’ve filled it enough since everything is tipped.

Before I got too angry, I looked at the instruction booklet to see what they recommended and  it clearly said the tank could be refilled in  the sink or tub.    Now, to be fair, I did check to see if it fit in my kitchen sink and it did – barely.    But, sinks often have things in them and they don’t deliver a good volume of water – it takes forever to fill up a tank.  

 Tubs, on the other hand,  give nice large volumes of water.   Without doing a study, I couldn’t say that more people use the tub than the sink, but I’d be willing to bet they do.

So what does this all mean?

It probably means that the designers of this product didn’t take the time to actually watch people in their homes filling their humidifiers.   If they did, they would have noticed the contortioning that people do while filling up their humidifier tanks.  To be fair, maybe this was done on purpose so that  people wouldn’t overfill the tanks.  Or, maybe they didn’t go to people’s homes because they measured 100 different faucets and designed for the average and it turns out that mine is an outlier – 99% of all faucets fit but mine doesn’t.  

Regardless, this all comes down to the simple question,

“Why does this even have to happen?” 

Moving the fill hole an inch closer to the closest straight edge would enable this to be used in all types of tubs. 

People could just walk into the bathroom, plunk the tank down, watch the water gush through the hole with minimal splashing (and thus not require major wiping afterwards), turn off the water, screw the lid on and pick up the tank.  It would’ve made for a simple, stress free, tank filling process. 

Is the current situation a huge dealbreaker?  Probably not.  I already bought it and it’s not worth taking it back to the store.  But, in the end, if someone asks me about a room humidifier, while I’d probably still recommend this model, I would share the info on filling because it’s an inconvenience and mess that I’d want to be upfront about.  It’s a shame really because it wouldn’t have taken much to make this product rock solid…

It’s a simple lesson really:   A better customer experience doesn’t necessarily come from flashy numbers, cool dials, smooth, beautiful lines.    Sometimes it comes from just paying attention to what the customer does.

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, Market Assessment, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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