A Whole New Mind

I recently finished reading a book: A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink. The book tries to answer the question below:

Why right brainers will rule the future?

He took us back to a day and age when industrial revolution started a transition from hand production methods to machines. And then later on, we had the digital revolution, which marked the onset of information age.

So what’s next after the information age?

He coined the term Conceptual Age. You may ask yourself what is the big fuss with conceptual economy. Well, it’s not. It’s the inevitable transition of our digital economy to an economy that demands a new set of skills.

What kind of skills? Right-brained skills such as creative thinking, innovation, intuition, empathy and design will play a major part in the conceptual economy.

In other words, the new economy will rely less and less on left-brained skills such as logic and mathematics (which were relied heavily in the information economy).

Image 1 demonstrates the progress of our economy from agriculture to conceptual.


The writer predicts the transition out of the information economy from the 3 A’s:

  1. Abundance
  2. Asia
  3. Automation

In the world of Abundance, it is no longer enough to create a product that is cheap and functional. It needs to be beautiful and conjures emotion in you and I. A good example, if lightbulbs are cheap, why would anyone need candles anymore? Candles are still an over billion-a-year business for reason that transcends the need for luminosity. People simply desire beauty and meaning.

Jobs have been outsourced to Asia. With the advancement in software technology and cheap telephone calls, the same call centre job can be carried out by anyone in Asia such as The Philippines where wages are much lower than in a developed country.

As patients are able to self-diagnose and tap on the benefit of Automation, these technology advancements are changing the emphasis of many medical practices—away from routine, analytical, and information-based work and toward empathy, narrative medicine, and holistic care.


What is Product Design?

I came across this article trying to explain why every company next hire should be a Product Designer.

What is Product Designer? Is it just a new or latest trend? Or is it a role that will stick around?

I can’t answer you that. But after reading this article, I notice that Product Designer is just a new role name with attributes currently required from existing roles such as Product Manager, Business Analyst, User Experience Designer and User Interface Designer.


Make Good UX by using Fewer Words

A few years ago, I got my company to sponsor me in a technical writing course. I don’t remember a lot of the course content now. However, there was 1 lesson I will always remember, the teacher used a lot of writing examples from Ernest Hemingway. She described his writing as:

Clear, concise and Ernest has the ability to describe (or tell a story) in the least no. of words possible without losing the message.

It’s stuck with me. Even til Today.

And then I came across an article about making better user experience by using fewer words. It gave 3 examples of how he reduced the no. of words without losing it’s message. One such good example is Fewer words 101: In the classroom. He reduced the original sentence from 16 words to 2 words. And it was all the reader needed to know!

In the context of this article, he described the objective of using fewer words as:

It’s how UX writers reduce the text to create experiences that let people to do more of what they want to do — not waste their time reading explanations of how to do it.

Not that different from the lesson I learn many years go?

Scuba Diving

Just like to share this with you.

This is another example I found from the same article I read from a professor at MIT.

A Scuba Diving shop has been dropping flyers in the neighbourhood and targeting people who subscribe to Diving magazine, it struggled to succeed.

After spending time at the lesson, they found most of their students are couples.

They started asking the students questions and found out that they are mostly honeymooners who wants to learn scuba diving together.

No Constraints.

So when they asked why they want to learn scuba diving, they said they are going on honeymoon and wanted to do something together in a tropical climate.

It became very clear that they shouldn’t drop flyers in random neighbourhood. And they should just buy the mailing lists from Bride magazine rather than Dive magazine.

It is really easy to assume that if the shop is located in a neighbourhood, people living there will want to learn scuba diving. It says a lot that we can’t target a product base on customers geographic location. It needs to go deeper and understand why they wanted to do it: Couples who wanted to learn something together on honeymoon!

The same principle should apply to us when we design a new product I reckon.

The Make-Up of a Good Design

We have so many products around us. Some works well for us but some don’t. I have read numerous articles explaining what makes a good product design. However, I find this particular one interesting because the Writer doesn’t try to explain what a good product design is. She just thinks of random products around her and how people use them. And then draw a chart on what makes a product useful (e.g. a forklift), enjoyable (e.g. baking cookies with Kylie Minogue in person J), easy to access (e.g. A blunt eyebrow pencil).

You can make a product both enjoyable and easy to access e.g. Watching Kylie Minogue concert on TV.

You can also make a product both useful and easy to access e.g. A telephone.

Or you can make a product both useful and enjoyable e.g. A private jet.

The trick is to make a product with all 3 qualities above: Useful, Enjoyable and Easy to Access e.g. Smartphone. I call it the sweet spot of good design! Or rather the writer calls it The Holy Grail of Good Design.

So if you start thinking in the context of a software product, you would want the same thing too:

1.       A good user experience (Enjoyable)
2.       It solves a problem (Useful)
3.       User can access from any device with Internet connection (Easy to Access)

The writer goes on to give “art” and “design” a very simplistic definition: “art’s primary intention is to elicit emotion, design’s is to solve a problem.” With the combination of art (Enjoyable user experience) and design (Useful). And if the price is right (Easy to Access). You will end up with a product that is loved by your users.

User Experience Design is not what you think

This is kind of what I expected. Basically it’s saying that user experience design is not just about the app or user interface. It’s the user experience that comes first.

One example that I like is ‘Making Returns Painless’. Every time you order something online and you want to return for refund. It requires you to walk to post office and pay for postage and no way of knowing if money will come through after posting the item in mail. However, there’s a company that refunds to customers as soon as they requested. And then ask their customers the best time to pick up the item. All customer had to do is request for refund. Money transferred into their account immediately. And then wait for them to pick up.

Great user experience without having to design an app!

You are the best user researcher ever!

I like this article because it’s saying that you don’t need a dedicated resource to do user research. Anyone can do it as long as they know how to frame the question and a few other things.

One I really like e.g. is probe behaviour not intention: It’s not useful to ask how many times you intend to go to gym. It’s better to ask how many times have you been to gym in the last 2 weeks. It’s about finding out what your users are doing today.

Nice read for you when you’re traveling or whatever you’re doing at the time!

What I got out of this article:

  • Ask open ended question without leading user. Basically, do not put words into user’s mouth.
  • Get user to be specific. It’s not much point when they say it’s very helpful. It can be because the app gives them ability to track delivery real time or it can be because it’s easy to order a product.
  • Ask about behaviour not intention. As described above.
  • Keep user on focus so they don’t start going on about a topic they have a lot of opinion about. This distract you from answering the question that must be answered.

In short, you are the best user researcher every!