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.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

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.

Links

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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

Conclusions

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.

Links

10 Tips for International User Interfaces

10 Tips: International UI

10 Tips for Building International User Interfaces

1. Use a user centred approach

Contact real users, not only your customer, watch and interview users in their natural working environment. Do task and context analysis. Analyse requirements of users. Identify the people who will use the product, what they will use it for, and under what conditions they will use it.
Test milestones with your users: document review, paper mock-up test, usability test, eyetracking test.

There is an international standard (ISO 13407: Human-centred design process) that defines a general process for including human-centered activities throughout a development life-cycle.

If you can not meet all your users personally, develop personas, who will replace real users with archeatypes of users. A persona has a (fake) name, a picture and a description of typical user characteristics.

see What is User-Centered Design?

2. Overcome ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important and that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Since within this ideology, individuals will judge other groups in relation to their own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity.
from: Wikipedia

Dont assume that what you’ve learned and what you’ve experienced is also true for users of other countries and cultures. There are other beliefs and ideas, which you might not see as right or best but work perfectly for others.

3. Be aware of cultural differences
Beliefs, culture, customs, opinions, politics, gender issues, jokes, family issues – all topics which might be discussed differently in different parts of the world.
Be sensitive, try to avoid these topics in your design as best as possible. Concentrate on your target group.
Keep in mind that Western languages differ from Asian languages: they have different lengths, different character sets and will be read from diefferent directions.
Colours, signs, signals, symbols, icons, gestures can have different meanings – even if they seem to be the same.

4. Act interculturally competent
A person who is interculturally competent captures and understands, in interaction with people from foreign cultures, their specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling and acting.
Show interest in your users. Be tolerant, open, empathetic, hold back your own opinions, dont act (and design) on your first instinct.

5. Compare with competitors
Competitor analysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of competing products and services. It does not mean that you should copy or imitate what the others do but that you know what’s going on on international markets and where your customer stands.
Identify key competitors and analyse weaknesses and strengths.
Avoid making the same mistakes and aim at doing better.
see Competitor Analysis

6. Localize contents and design
Concentrate on user’s expectations. Use language of end users, adapt software to regional differences and users’ preferences. Test with “real” users on-site.
Example: Chinese are attracted by foreign brands but prefer to have Chinese characters on products and product descriptions.
see Product Localization

7. Design colours and icons the right way
Colour and colour schemes might not work for all in the same way. Icons, pictures, metaphers might be misunderstood.
see Color Meanings Around the World

8. Don’t use body parts to represent interaction elements
Think about how you show ok-sign, number one or victory-sign with your fingers… These can have totally different even sometimes offending meanings in other countries.

9. Don’t think that users are so different
Don’t underestimate customers and users.
You dont like to read manuals? Neither do your users.
You don’t like to read long messages or long text on the screen? You don’t like to fill out long forms and enter all your personal data? Neither do your users…
You are annoyed by pop-ups, splash screens, not-welcomed sounds and long loading pages? Well… your users are as well!

10. Relax! Embrace this new challenge and feel competent
Now you know better how to approach your international users… Stay cool, there are always options in everything that you are doing, try to find the best in accordance with your users.
Much success!!
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Workshop questions:
What is User-Centered Design?
What is Ethnocentrism?
Give examples for the meaning of colours in different cultures.
What is intercultural competence?
Give examples for adresses in different countries.
Give different representations for “One Hundred Thousand”.
Give examples for gestures and meanings in different cultures.
What are common prejudices? Give examples.
What is different in other countries? Give personal examples.
What is the difference between a Western and an Asian website?
Give examples for different time and date specifictions.
Give examples for product names which don’t work globally.
What are personas? What do you use them for?
What are special considerations for a Chinese web site?
What are special considerations for a German web site?
.

Chat at Second Life

This week I attended a meeting with some of my colleagues of Hochschule Esslingen and experts for University enrollment from other institutions presented by ZEIT ONLINE. Prospective students where offered the oppportunity to discuss tips and tricks in order to find the right University and study programme. I attended as a virtual person, a so called avatar (Marja McMillan, you might recognize her on the picture 😉 …Marja turns her head to the guy in the back).

Marja at Seond Life (SL)

We had some interesting chat about the pros and cons of Second Life, and funny enough… nobody of the younger people – the adressed audience of this talk – showed up. Not one!
Why was that so? May be this event was not promoted enough, but I already recognized lacking of Second Life interest at my students two years ago. SL is difficult to enter, the application is still quite unstable and interaction in SL is not very user-friendly. But sure enough, it is more fun to talk to some avatars then having a group conference via phone or Skype! You can “see” who the active speaker is. But is this attractive enough?

Second Life is for sure not hyped anymore. I have a clue that at the moment Twitter is the application which seems to be most hot and sexy (have a look at the right-most column on my blog btw)
What do you think? Do you use SL? Or do use any social platforms online? For what reasons? And what are your experiences? Leave a comment if you like…

Links
detailed information about SL in wikipedia Second_Life
Marjas night out… Live -Chat auf ZEIT Online und in Second Life
a virtual world in China HiPiHi
still funny Get a First Life

Haibao

One more year and World Expo 2010 Shanghai will open it’s doors to the public. ‘Better city, better life’ is the official claim and almost 200 countries are expected to make their contributions (Germany sends Hamburg, partner city of Shanghai and Bremen. US is not confirmed yet.).
Such a major event needs not only a visual and a claim but also – a mascot!
And mascot for Expo 2010 is… : Haibao! a blue grinning creature with some retarded Elvis-bad-hair-a-do.

Design Desaster? Funny Fake? Cute Creature?

Design Desaster? Funny Fake? Cute Creature?


Haibao

The picture shows Haibao at the offical Expo store (Nanying Xi Lu) in it’s spring attire. If you think Haibao looks like a Father Christmas going berserk you are wrong: this is Haibao in traditional China costume with fire crackers (fire works is what Chinese REALLY love!).

So why is it that a bunch of old guys chose this childish, somewhat-80ties, trivial and not at all future-headed creature for such a remarkable event? I don’t no either. But note that lots of Chinese love puppets with hudge Betty-Boop-innocent-eyes and big-headed-Hello-Kitties or baby-ape-Monchichis. And Haibao has it all. And hey, like it or not – city streets are massively cluttered with Haibao… you better get used to it….

Others point out the stunning resemblance to Gumby, an American Kid-TV character of the 50ties. Blue big-eyed Izzy Olympic mascot might also been an inspiration… Or is it just a funny blue dancing condom? May be a dollop of spit?

Wu Yongjian, a professor at the College of Digital Arts with Shanghai University, is the creator of Haibao, which literally means the treasure of the sea (hai). According to Shanghai Daily, the professor wanted something new… “A large number of mascot designs to express Chinese culture were inspired by images of pandas, monkeys and dragons, etc,” says Wu. “What I did was try to find another way to interpret China, a more abstract way.” It says he draw the Chinese character 大 dà (big) on a napkin in his favorite café… and basically put some eyes on it… Later, the story was changed and the character 人 ren (person or people) is mentioned from than on.

Haibao at a street corner

Links
World Expo 2010 Shanghai
World Expo year-long countdown starts today!
Gumby
Olympic Mascots Atlanta 1996 Izzy
Haibao idea born in a cafe

Haibao everywhere