Zai jien Shanghai!

在基恩 上海

It is time to say zai jien!

Dear Friends, I have to go, but I will be back….

“If there is a single way that my understanding has changed … or at least become fuller and more complicated, it is appreciating in a new way how big, varied, contradictory, sprawling, and impossible to describe in any simple terms ‘China’ is…”
James Fallows, The Atlantic’s foreign correspondent, Talk Shanghai August 2009

This guy put into words what I am thinking…

Well, ok, there are a couple of things I would never fully understand. I am still annoyed when it comes to

… spitting and body noises, pushing the close button first in the elevator, taxi driver stops in the middle of nowhere and admits that he don’t know where to go, people rush to get in, when you are still getting out … (either: … of a restaurant, of an elevator, of a taxi, …), people don’t say hello in the elevator, the enormous noise in typical Chinese restaurants…
This things might be funny, not so funny are topics like air-pollution and human rights… people got fined or even tortured for asking why so many village members have cancer (in a polluted area) or get the death-sentence for corruption. And unwanted female babies got thrown into the river…
Unfortunately, these awful things are preferably seen and reported in the West, a phenomenon known as “China bashing”. Of course there is no excuse for mistreating or killing people. In no country in the world! Sadly enough, I’ve heard it more than once that Chinese excuse deeds like that with similiar occurences in the U.S.

But there is another side aswell…

People are surprising friendly to Westerners. They try to make your life as nice as possible especially fellow co-workers or new friends you sure going to find here very quickly rush to your side to offer help and assistance. Chinese are good humored, funny, they love to laugh and sing (not only karaoke but in the open as well…).
Chinese are curious and mostly optimistic. Life in Shanghai is intense and fast pacing. There is always something to do… a new exhibition, a party, a new restaurant. Speaking of which: if you like to go out you will find a  myriad of restaurants, bars, clubs that suit your taste (and age group). If you love food and wine and going out, this is the place to be. I’ve been in dozens of places and there are still a lot I would like to try. And when you still feel a bit hungry after a long night there is always a street BBQ around the corner with delicious meat skewers for those in need. Friends call you in the middle of the night asking you which place you headed at. Or you meet them anyway in one of those many favourite places you visit a couple of almost every night. Taxi driving is very cheap, massage and beauty parlors are all over the place, strolling around the neighbourhoods is a delight… You can get a lot of nice hand-craftet stuff which is enormously cheap like clothes or glasses or for example.

Westerners I met here told me, that they don’t want to stay for ever, but after a while in Shanghai they got hooked and don’t want to leave either… because the question is: where to go next??? There are not that many cities in the world so intrigiung and captivating as Shanghai…


Design 4 Disadvantaged

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D was recently launched in Shanghai, a project to help those most in need by taking the collective knowledge and skills of designers.

Design for the Disadvantaged

Who are the Disadvantaged? No, these are not (only) disabled people but all those which don’t belong to the world’s fortunate 10% … Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted; in fact, nearly half do not have regular access to food, clean water, electricity or shelter. Other problems are illiteracy, homelessness, lack of education.

Universal design aims for supporting those people in need.

Universal design is a relatively new paradigm that emerged from “barrier-free” or “accessible design” and “assistive technology.” Universal design strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that produces buildings, products and environments that are usable and effective for everyone, not just people with disabilities. Moreover, it recognizes the importance of how things look. For example, while built up handles are a way to make utensils more usable for people with gripping limitations, some companies introduced larger, easy to grip and attractive handles as feature of mass produced utensils. They appeal to a wide range of consumers.


Principles of Universal Design

  1. Principle One: Equitable UseThe design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
  2. Principle Two: Flexibility in UseThe design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Principle Three: simple and intuitiveUse of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Principle Four: Perceptible InformationThe design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. Principle Five: Tolerance for ErrorThe design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Principle Six: Low Physical EffortThe design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and UseAppropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

Source: The Center for Universal Design

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D in Shanghai was conceived by Douglas Wang from AutoDesk, to bring together the design community to create tools, services, and objects of everyday life to help those around us most in need, financially and physically disabled local Chinese.  D4D has gone from idea to organization in just under two months, and has brought on lead designers and executives from Frog, Microsoft, AutoDesk, and others.

The design profession has much more to offer our society than just basic aesthetics, functions and usability. Design can solve problems creatively and effectively, raise social awareness, improve the quality of life, and promote social interaction.

Project’s goal: support street vendors

Project’s goal will be to develop tools, services, products for street vendors in Shanghai. Though for example thousands of people enjoy their noudle soups and BBQ skewers from street vendors each night or others get cheap watches or DVDs from peddlers, street vendors are a disadvantaged group. In recent years conflicts between street vendors and the police forces chengguans have frequently went out of control, with officers and vendors both resorting to violence.

The development process

The project’s development process follows the approach of User Centered Design.

Student works opportunities

To my students at Hochschule Esslingen: contact me for oppurtunities (thesis work, internships) to take part in this project.


still Morakot…

I can not sleep, to loud…. to windy outside

Temperature: 79°F / 26°C | Humidity: 94% | Pressure: 29.44in / 997hPa | Conditions: Rain Showers | Wind Direction: ENE | Wind Speed: 13mph / 22km/h | Updated: 2:00 AM CST


Morakot at Hangzhou, one hour from Shanghai

Product localization

Localize contents and design

Introducing products and software to different regions and to different customers and users require to adapt to local needs and environments.

Example: Wal-Mart supermarket in China

Wal-Mart’s strategy has been to adapt their marketing methods to meet the needs of locals.

… Wal-Mart has catered to the Chinese market in two noticeable ways. First, Wal-Mart has listened to the consumer. They offer more perishable products, such as live seafood, to compete with the wet markets. Items are tailored for people with lower disposable income. Labels are printed with the local language and products are adjusted for smaller quantities per visit. In the US, customers typically drive to Wal-Mart and purchase in bulk for the week. In China, customers typically walk or bike to Wal-Mart and purchase just enough for the day. After all, Chinese apartments tend to be much smaller than American homes. …

Source: METAN Development Group, August 2009 newsletter

Example: Nokia mobile phones

The population of 600 million Chinese mobile users has grown very demanding, the Chinese have high expectations about how their services should look and function.

In China, Nokia sees two opposing aspects of culture for mobile design and services:

  • In the popular culture, bigger, louder, and brighter often does better. On a symbolic and emotional level, abundant, dense, and lavish designs evoke images of popularity and success. On a practical level, low-level users of services simply appreciate the fact that they can find everything they need in one place.
  • In high society, the situation is reversed, and the design aesthetic is geared towards minimalism and the individual.

More often than not, products and services are designed to attract the largest possible base of users and market share, so visual design in China tends towards the popular: abundant and dense.

Compared to most Western users who still appear to use their devices mainly for voice and messaging purposes, those in China more often play with and use the newest device features.

Source: Nokia Design update: China


Introducing products and software to different regions and to different customers and users result in following requirements and product localization strategies:

  • Concentrate on user’s expectations and demands.
  • Use language of end users, adapt software to regional differences and users’ preferences.
  • Colours, symbols and grafic should reflect visual language and emotions of the users.
  • Test your product and services with local users on-site.

Even though many Chinese are interested in Western ideas, products aimed at the Chinese market should be designed in the local style.


10 Tips for International User Interfaces


Taifun season…

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) — Typhoon Morakot smashed into Taiwan, causing at least one death and disrupting power supplies while dumping more than 1,000 millimeters (39.4 inches) of rain. China evacuated 20,000 people in the southeastern province of Fujian, about 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Taiwan.

It is really windy here since Friday night. Monsoon season brings a lot of wind and heavy rain falls. But rigth now its sunny again… Morakot, which means emerald in Thai, doesn’t come to Shanghai though, forecast changed.