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  • and working in a foreign country should bear in mind Make sure you re covered The worst thing that may ever happen to you working abroad may be a stubbed toe or a minor bit of sunburn but just in case something more dramatic happens it s essential to ensure that you have sufficient health cover for all eventualities either through a corporate scheme or your own personal cover Do your homework Check out Wikipedia the Foreign Office website and the CIA World Factbook to find out about the country that you re visiting What s the currency Do you need a Visa and where do you get it from Do you need any specific jabs How are the country and the city you re visiting performing economically Are there any places you should avoid and why Cultural differences Are there any simple things to avoid that might otherwise cause offence to those around you Sticking your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice or buying the wrong colour flowers for your hostess may cause upset in China even though there was no intention to do so Certain hand signals or the sight of the soles of your feet may offend in other cultures All of this can easily be avoided by taking a little time to better understand the culture you will be working within Talk to people Ensure that you always take the opportunity to talk to those around you The hotel receptionist the translator the client or the third party contractors you will be working with will all have invaluable information and tips Great places to eat and drink sites to visit and the places to avoid just to be on the safe side Know how to get home Always carry the hotel business card with you with the address written in the native language This will always simplify any negotiation with a cab driver or when asking a police officer for directions Get to know the public transport system The majority of metropolitan cities have an underground or with Bangkok and KL an over ground train system Cabs may be hard to come by at certain times of the day so knowing what the underground logo is how to buy a ticket and which station is closest to your hotel could prove to be invaluable knowledge Be aware of your surroundings Look around you and see what others are doing There could be good reason why nobody else on the train is using an iPad It may be because there is no Wi Fi available in the transit system Alternatively it may be that no one wants to attract attention to themselves in this environment by using an expensive and easily stolen piece of technology Currency Always have a range of note denominations and coins in your pocket You could be faced with some lively and inconvenient conversations with the cab driver if the smallest note you have is the equivalent of a local day s

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/travelling-safely-for-user-research-overseas/ (2016-02-14)
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  • thanks to the fact that the best Mongolian barbeque in town was on a street that was not as uniquely named as I had initially supposed However geographical cock ups such as this often prove to be beneficial in the long term On this particular occasion I accidently discovered how easy it was to get to Bangkok s Thai boxing arena and ended up attending a sporting event I would otherwise have missed This allowed me to witness first hand the number of spectators that took part in illegal gambling during fights and how these illicit transactions took place It was quite an eye opener and helped inform valuable insight on the study I was working on My general state of being misplaced in a city is only accentuated by the fact that I hate using taxis They are often cheap and convenient but they isolate you transporting you within a protective bubble from point A to point B without exposing you to all the interesting elements in between All major cities have a public transport network of one sort or another most offer a subway system usually far superior to that found in London which allows quick and easy access to all areas of the metropolis This and the local bus services are most likely to be how the average Joe gets around on a daily basis so for me it s important to do the same Of course finding the subway entry and exit points is only the first challenge once there everything that the locals take for granted has to be learnt for the first time Does the system use tickets or tokens How do you purchase these from the automated machines Is there an Oyster or Octopus card and what are the benefits of buying into such a scheme How do you get through the barriers and get on the platforms What do all the different coloured lines mean Where do I stand to get on the train this one s easy in Asia as transit companies tend to paint lines on the floor illustrating where to wait It s journeys such as this that much of a city s population take to and from work school shops which in some small way influences many day to day decisions from the schools their children attend to where they work and the products they buy Everyone is assaulted on a daily basis with the marketing messages they walk past the smells they sense or products they see as they pass shops or street vendors the convenient facilities they use ATM s vending machines the free papers they read and the sights they see All form the backdrop for the international research the consultant is there to investigate so exposure to them is essential Separating oneself from this dynamic can only reduce the consultant s comprehension of social context and have an adverse impact upon their understanding of cultural nuances I have come across many professionals who like

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/why-getting-lost-makes-you-a-better-researcher/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Either situation will not only cause a great deal of inconvenience for the owner but there is also the concern particularly for those that rely upon the device that whoever holds their phone or tablet also has access to much of their lives Personal photos contacts passwords emails texts and most importantly their financial interests Another is the lack of trust in the security of the tablet and smart phone itself This is due to these tools being relatively new and for some untested but in the main it s driven by two quite different issues Both of which can be easily overcome by the user feeling they have control over the environment in which they are used The first is the way the device connects to the internet the other is a design shortcoming that no provider is seemingly doing anything about Connection When the user is out and about using public transport sitting in a coffee shop they are expected to use uncontrolled community Wi Fi networks that can be accessed by anyone This creates a feeling of unease restricting the actions that many users are willing to undertake A consumer may not do much to their own home Wi Fi unit to secure it many have no idea how but it s at home in a controlled environment can be seen and touched so in their mind relied upon This is further compounded by the lack of a robust and continuous service in the wild Consumers commonly complain of lost connections at inconvenient moments This colours their trust of the provider and again limits their willingness to undertake anything more than the smallest of transactions Tablet design This has more to do with one of the main selling points of the tablet device Whichever one you use each is designed to have a screen that is both bright and clear In fact Apple invests a great deal of money in extolling the virtues of their latest iPads retina screen with sharpness of picture This visibility issue is compounded further by providers who are intent on designing apps and web sites that make interpreting and digesting information as simple as possible through clarity and legibility In some ways this is great from a user experience point of view but these two factors combine to ensure that what is seen by the device owner is generally shared with those around them Commuting on the MTR is boring so it s impossible to not steal a glance across at what others are doing interested in which site they are using what they are saying to their friends or what movie they re watching Ignoring screens is even harder at night I took a couple of snaps at Happy Valley race course a few weeks ago to illustrate how simple it is for others to nose in on what others are doing The luminosity and size of screen ensure that it s difficult to not see what s going on It

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/consumer-mistrust-of-mobile-on-the-move/ (2016-02-14)
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  • up with expectations Japanese have a passion obsession for well presented food and every restaurant window is filled with colourful saliva inducing copies of their dishes However if you know what a McDonald s burger looks like compared to the picture on the menu you are also familiar with how quickly the excitement can fade as soon as it gets served This is not the case in Japan where you can expect your food to look EXACTLY like the beautiful plastic copy making every meal even more enjoyable Maintaining and exceeding expectations should be the first concern when offering a product or service Think about the context The tiny bathroom of my hotel room has been a constant source of amazement Here is my favourite little wonder a portion of the mirror is heated from behind which means you can look at yourself even after a hot shower Simple and elegant solutions like this are only possible when design considers the importance of context Be inclusive Tokyo impressed me for the attention to disability needs in all public spaces With its buttons at different heights this elevator is just an example of how sometimes it takes very little to create a design which works fine for all users disregarding their physical capabilities Don t overcomplicate Here it comes the famous Japanese toilet heated seat customisable splash Star Trek meets your most private needs Sitting gives the anxiety of the first take off on a plane It s a striking contrast to the otherwise minimal design of Japanese interiors and frankly the control console feels like too much even for an Italian expat whose first complaint abroad is the lack of bidets Trying to do too much with a single product often ends up worsening rather than improving the quality of

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/design-principles-i-learnt-in-tokyo/ (2016-02-14)
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  • change much over time and can be recognised without the need for primary research It is when we move down to the subtleties of a culture and the more personal attitudes and modes of interaction that we are subject to more useful contextual information that can be factored in to the research and design of a localised user experience For example Neil and I took the subway to the research venue On our way through the station Neil came across a rack of paper slips that resemble the UK National Lottery forms On closer inspection these slips were part of the Ontario rock paper scissors R P S game True to our expectations the style of this game was similar to the UK National Lottery yet surprisingly different from another popular ticket based game Proline that was also available Because of this passive detective work we became aware of the subtle distinctions in the types of ticket based gambling that were available to our research participants and were therefore able to begin the research with a valuable foundation of knowledge with which to probe each person Local knowledge research This foundation of knowledge doesn t necessarily need to come from articles on display If as a researcher I were investigating online shopping styles in order to establish an ideal shopping experience for online electronics retailer a good place to gather observations could be a physical electronics shop Visiting a shop like this could provide indirect information on the confidence of different types of shopper or perhaps how customers respond to signage labelling or marketing in the store The detective work could continue whilst buying a coffee A quick glance around a large coffee shop at the number of tablet computers in use may go some way to representing the current

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/advantages-of-in-field-international-research/ (2016-02-14)
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  • now what Steve is clearly a master of deep dive research wading into the rich and often confusing world of users in order to find insights and opportunities which will direct great design Even a novice UX researcher knows the dangers of moving too swiftly to draw conclusions from fieldwork It s important to maintain a state of openness and observation Leaping to solutions and recommendations can bias your view This could cause you to miss something really revealing or valuable simply because it doesn t fit with the way your view is developing It shouldn t be true but in fact the older and more experienced you get the more danger there is that you ll fall into this trap Firstly you re instinctively calling on experiences and patterns in user behaviour that you may have seen before Secondly the more senior you are the more impact your wrong headed views may have on the situation The antidote Spend some time with Steve In fieldwork tasks both before and during the workshop he helped me refresh my skills in patiently and single mindedly observing fighting off the instincts to conclude solve synthesise until the time and place is right to do so Seeking out insight is a bit like stalking a nervy deer Charge in and you ll scare the darn thing off without even knowing it was there But take your time and you ll be surprised what you can creep up on 0 0 0 0 Related content Here s a selection of other articles you may like from the frontiers of user experience or view all in Thinking Why retailers in Asia need to get smart about digital design By Keynes Yeo A handy way of staying in touch abroad By Elsa Plumley Selling to the

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/stalking-insights-with-steve-portigal/ (2016-02-14)
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  • Create an improved user experience with off-the-shelf tech
    be made in the procurement and installation of any standardised tools Having done the research common UX tools like personas and user journeys are excellent tools for communicating user requirements to vendors Personally I prefer them to detailed requirements documents because it removes the option for the vendor to merely respond maintaining that their system ticks every box in the requirements list A persona or user journey puts the onus on vendors to demonstrate exactly how they believe their system can address the challenges described Step 2 Configure don t customise Admittedly it is very rare that business software can be installed in its out of the box state without requiring some changes to functionality and user experience Even very standard processes such as raising IT tickets or submitting HR forms may be too generic or need to reflect some unique quirks of the organisation The key word here is configuration What I mean by this term is using the full extent of options available in the package to create fit for purpose screens layouts and flows What I m not talking about is customisation This is the act of creating bespoke code to augment or modify existing functionality Naïve designers often unwittingly create requirements for customisation by designing a UI without checking to see what aspects of their design is possible with existing configuration options and which imply customisation Sensible stakeholders hate customisation Why Well firstly it s expensive to do Secondly it s expensive to have done it Vendors of software packages typically provide support contracts which go on for years after the initial software purchase Buyers of software would be foolish to make the upfront investment without some guarantee of ongoing support and periodic upgrades as new patches and versions are released Any customisation inevitably moves a product away from the vendors release roadmap see Step 4 below It reduces stability and supportability Most vendors will demand danger money to continue supporting a highly modified platform and eventually the amount of bespoke code may make it impossible to upgrade to the latest version Step 3 Align your requirements with the vendor s Here s an idea If you want something changed about your software package and you ve got no money get the software vendor to do it for you For free Vendors range from the remarkably obtuse to commendably open in their willingness to consider functionality requests from customers Understandably vendors need to consider every request in the light of their other corporate customers needs There s also a food chain here and the bigger global client accounts will tend to have the largest clout Once again this demonstrates the extraordinary value of that upfront investment in user experience insight Having evidence to inform a functional requirement is incredibly powerful and achieves two things Having feedback based on genuine user insight puts you into a different category from the majority of ad hoc client functional demands If the vendor has sold the product on the promise

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/create-an-improved-user-experience-with-off-the-shelf-tech/ (2016-02-14)
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  • a deluge of articles citing facts and figures to convince the reader that it is time for B2B organisations to embrace mobile However on closer inspection many of these reports use data that simply highlights the obvious fact that more and more people are using mobile phones But how does this unsurprising insight actually inform a considered mobile strategy There are precious few reports that specifically look at B2B and mobile So I decided to focus on the few I could find which actually quoted figures from research I wanted to see whether these findings had a common thread or provided some kind of consensus on the state of the industry The arguments made for why businesses which create B2B systems should be entering the mobile domain mostly fall into three categories 1 More people are using more mobiles for more stuff There s no disputing that mobile ownership and usage is on the rise globally but most reports do not distinguish between B2B and B2C figures although it is the latter which represents the majority of usage These numbers are then used to justify some often pretty flimsy arguments intended to convince organisations that they need to be doing something on mobile An example of this would be an online report from Cisco which states that Last year s mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000 This sounds impressive but then Asia s online population is now as large as the entire Internet population was 5 years ago So is this truly a really meaningful statistic that tells a business whether or not to engage with mobile 2 Your competitors are throwing tons of money at this e g you re going to get left behind It s true that a lot of businesses are throwing a lot of money at mobile apps and websites currently However if I m correct in my earlier assessment then an awful lot of this investment is thrown at producing yet more dancing bears Everyone else is buying X has never been a valid investment strategy so equally why should this argument apply in other business decisions For example U S and U K businesses are embracing mobile technology at an unprecedented rate more than doubling their investments in the next year and a half cioinsight com Well if this headline was about the return on that same investment then this might become an interesting finding As it is this is a descriptive figure that tells us no more than lots of people are spending money on lots of stuff 3 B2B customers are ready for mobile This is arguably the most contentious of the three points and it s a shame because whether or not it s true of your customers right now could be a most useful piece of knowledge to support decision making As it is those B2B specific studies I have found tend to fall apart under scrutiny For example a

    Original URL path: http://www.foolproof.co.uk/thinking/risk-of-mobile-for-b2b-enterprise-orgs/ (2016-02-14)
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