February 23, 2006

Design of Service

Yesterday, in between job-oriented chats with CMU design students, I attended a session that Shelley Evenson gave on service design.

Shelley herself made clear that there's not yet a single definition of service design. Dan wrote about this a year and a half ago, and his take is pretty much the same as mine:

Service design, in contrast, has multiple touchpoints (environments, processes, people) and is about these touchpoints interacting with users over time. Users can be exposed to multiple experiences via repeated exposure to the service, and it requires multiple stakeholders to make a service come alive, usually through complex choreography. Moreover, there are multiple pathways through a service; it's usually bigger than any one pathway, so you can't design the service in a controlling way.

During Shelley's talk, I realized that I had, in part, been practicing service design, though not calling it that. And then I realized when you utilize exploratory research methods (ethnography, contextual inquiry, and the like), you pretty much end up with a service design mindset, because you inevitably recognize that it's not about any one thing or product, but how a host of interactions contribute to a larger experience. It ties directly to a post I wrote about dining with anthropologists, and how they are wedded to particular domains.

Anyway, I think Shelley is onto something with her pursuit of service design, and I look forward to the work of her and her students help bring some shape to this idea.

Speaking of which -- I really dug meeting the CMU students. Such a bright and engaged bunch of folks!

Posted by peterme at 09:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

Adaptive Path Turns 5!

Yep. It was on March 2, 2001 (scroll down) that Adaptive Path launched. It's been a great 5 years, and to celebrate the occasion, on March 2, 2006, we're having a party, and you're all invited!

Posted by peterme at 09:24 PM | TrackBack

Samsung - Talking Design isn't Doing Design

Luke comments on Samsung's Design Vision, which spurs me to rant. Because Samsung has gotten a lot of press lately about how they've embraced design.

Yet, if my experience with the P777 is any indicator, all those designers in their employ aren't doing squat. Investing in design, talking up design, even engaging in thoughtful design processes isn't enough if the end result is poor.

I don't see Samsung's "design vision." I see "design as PR."

Posted by peterme at 09:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"Elite Design Agencies" and "Web 2.0"

A few weeks ago (I've been behind in my feedreading), Niti posted an email she got that from Douglass Turner, where he marvels at how the "elite design agencies" don't seem to get "Internet 2.0." Take a moment to read it, and her responses.

Okay. You back? So, I feel obliged to join this discussion, because it revealed to me a lack of awareness of some of the basic issues. The primary fallacy that Niti makes is to equate "blogging" with "Web 2.0." The second fallacy is to state that it's okay for design agencies to remain ignorant of such Web 2.0 things, because it's only for the online engagements. If design agencies behaved that way, they'd be doing their clients a huge disservice.

Douglass was right to wonder, "How can companies so talented in other domains so completely miss the fundamental transformative and disruptive power of Internet 2.0?" A blog or a podcast does not Web 2.0 make. Web 2.0 is fundamentally about relinquishing control, putting creative power in the hands of your users, and developing systems that benefit from such communal use. Such concepts are anathema to the thought, philosophy, and practice of "elite design agencies."

Such design agencies, and the folks that work there, tend to believe their role is to *control* the user's experience. They have no greater fear than other, non-designers, contributing to the design of the product. I don't mean "user-centered" design here -- the elite agencies have by and large come around to that. I mean, going many steps further, placing the control of the product in the hands and minds of the users.

The people and firms that Niti lists as "Web 2.0" designers don't ring true to me. Pretty much the only one that I buy is the Management Innovation Group (and that's because I know them, and I know they get it, and they publish stuff like this).

I don't know what "Interface Innovation" is, but Web 2.0 has actually very little to do with interface, and everything to do with the systems underlying them, and how best to take advantage of those systems.

Niti then makes the claim that it isn't a problem if these design agencies don't embrace these tenets because they are "creating customer experiences and enabling users around products and processes that reach far beyond the web." This doesn't make sense to me, because there's hardly a business on earth for whom their online strategy isn't a key component. Because, and this is the thing a lot of people still don't get, "Web 2.0" isn't about the web. The web is where it most obviously plays out, but web 2.0 is about relinquishing control, embracing openness and transparency, demonstrating actual authenticity, and empowering your customers to create, and leveraging that creativity to make better experiences for everyone. As the LEGO Mindstorms article in Wired discussed, this isn't simply about web sites -- it's about introducing new paradigms to improve businesses' chance of success.

In short, I agree with Douglass that it's something of a travesty that "elite design agencies" remain so ignorant of the social, cultural, economic, and business shifts at play that they aren't engaging with what is *really* happening when we say "web 2.0."

Posted by peterme at 08:59 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Ticket Purchased - Heading to the IA Summit

In the interest of managing some of the outstanding details of my life, I've also booked my ticket to Vancouver for the IA Summit.

Year in and year out, the IA Summit is my favorite conference. The content is consistently good and the people are great. This is the one event that all other obligations must be planned around.

This year I'm honored to be giving the closing plenary. Honored, and terrified. And hopeful.

Here's my cheeky bio for the conference:

At the first IA Summit, in 2000, Peter Merholz was nearly booed off the stage for suggesting librarians were responsible for the tyranny of hierarchy demonstrated on most websites. He has attended every summit since, unexpectedly becoming an evangelist of information science thinking to the broader community.

In 2002, Peter publicly lambasted the announcement of the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture. Three years later, he became president of the rechristened IA Institute, which reminds him of the Vulcan proverb, "Only Nixon could go to China."

Professionally, Peter is the director of practice development at Adaptive Path.

See you in Vancouver!

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Posted by peterme at 02:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tickets purchased: Heading to SxSW!

For the first time since 2002, I will be attending the South by Southwest Interactive conference (as I like to think of it: the best web conference with the worst web site!).

I am moderating a panel on Sunday morning, currently titled What's Hot in Web Applications. It currently features folks from three companies--Meebo, Zimbra, and YackPack (when I mentioned this to my girlfriend, she thought I suffered glossolalia.) Unlike Jeff's similarly-themed "Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps", I'm focusing on companies that are still pre-acquired and mighty small. I've also decided to take a focus on communication/collaboration, which each of my panelist products displays. I've also also decided to focus on the whole business -- so expect discussions of product design, technology development, and business strategy.

I'm on the lookout for one more product/company, and ideas are welcome. Preferably: companies not in the Bay Area.

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Posted by peterme at 02:00 PM | TrackBack


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Design of Service
Adaptive Path Turns 5!
Samsung - Talking Design isn't Doing Design
"Elite Design Agencies" and "Web 2.0"
Ticket Purchased - Heading to the IA Summit
Tickets purchased: Heading to SxSW!
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