Twitter Facebook Dribbble

Archive for May, 2014

Video Stores & Multi-level Car Parks

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.34.51 am

At the bottom of my street is an independently run convenience store. It sells various fruits, vegetables, home wares and liquor.

5 or so years ago it used to be a DVD rental store and before that a VHS rental store.

We’ve watched the space in the store dedicated to video rentals go from 100% to 90% to 80% and so on, as the owners added snacks, then drinks, then more food, adapting their business to the growing needs of their customers and the market.

It occurred to me that the changes experiences by the our local video store might similarly happen to multi-level car parks over the next 10-20 years with the introduction of driverless cars.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.38.03 am

If we assume that driverless cars will become a part of daily life for most people in major cities in developed countries, we can see there will be a need for them to have a place to refuel and store them selves. It seems like a logical solution to this in dense cities would be to use existing multi-level car parks.

As VHS was replaced by DVD’s and DVD’s were replaced by digital video streaming, so might a single floor of a car park that is available to the general public today, in the future these may be replaced by driverless car spots.

The car parks might continue to be owned by private companies like Wilson (Australia), leasing individual spots or levels to either energy companies like BP or Mobil who will supply the fuel to the car manufactures, or to the car manufactures themselves who will refuel elsewhere.

Photo 24-05-2014 10 53 57 am

 

Designing the infrastructure to support driverless cars will be a very interesting project combining many key stakeholders from the private sector and government. Energy companies, insurance companies, storage companies, car manufactures, maintenance suppliers, roads and infrastructure. It’s game on.

Could be a good project for IDEO.

 

Post 35: Build Video

 

Post 34: Build Update

For those following along at home, this is a short video of where Tony (@adeperio) is at with the build of the first version of our product.

We will be launching this before the end of may, but only allowing 200 people to register initially.

To start with the functionality will be very limited:

  • Create a profile & upload avatar
  • ‘Discover’ – alphabetical listing of people in network
  • View availability of people in the network
  • Unique URL to make sharing easier

That’s about it.

Post 33: The Oxygen of Good Design

Last night I was reminded of just how important customer research is when you’re developing a new product.

At a small design industry event in town I showed a bunch of people our product and asked questions about how they use other products like LinkedIn and Behance.

Photo 14-05-2014 9 42 07 am

 

As a two person team, we have assumptions about pain points people have and we think we can solve them. But nothing is more energising to a team than hearing your assumptions come out of the mouths of your customers.

One person gave us the feedback above when I asked her how she used LinkedIn.

While this kind of feedback doesn’t point to a specific solution, it does prove that there is at least some kind of pain point here and in the early days of product development, its this kind of qualitative feedback than helps point you in the right direction.

 

Photo 14-05-2014 10 40 21 am

Speaking to at least 5 customers each week is a goal I’ve tried to hit over the past 3 months. People love talking about things that piss them off about products & services, and if you listen carefully you can learn about where you should be focusing your time and energy.

Listening to Seb tell me about how he found it difficult to add that he’d written a couple of articles to his LinkedIn profile gave us the idea add a feature that lets people include things like articles, presentations etc. on their profiles.

“But talking to customers takes up valuable design time!”
Getting up from your desk to have a coffee with someone on the other side of town, or driving out to a bar after work is a pain. It takes at least 90mins each time and it’s easy to say “I could be using that time designing”. Yes you could, but you could also be designing something that no-one wants. This is the counterintuitive nature of customer research. I’ve never spoken to a customer about a design problem and walked away with nothing. In 100% of cases I’ve learned something I didn’t know before, or found an important problem with my design. In the end, taking the time to talk to real customers ends up saving you a lot of time.

 

Team Moral & Motivation
I’ve worked in teams where they feel like the thing they’re working on isn’t actually something the customer wants. And in my experience, few things kill company moral quicker. Putting a team to work on a real customer problem is energising and focusing. A great way to discover real customer problems is to talk to real customers. Sounds simple, but few people do it or do it enough.

The guys at Google Ventures echoed something similar in a recent article on their blog where they dive into more detail than I have here and explore some of the common excuses people give for avoiding customer research.

Maybe its the way we are educated, or maybe its just uncomfortable, but most designers I know would rather sit behind their 27′ iMac clicking and sketching away than get up from behind their desk and go and speak to the people they are trying to solve a problem for.

More than anything else, I’ve found that real customer feedback is the oxygen that fuels good design solutions.

 

Post 32: Design Update

We’re exploring a product idea that helps you tell your professional story and/or communicating your professional value on mobile devices. For a designer, this might include links to your work on services like Behance, Dribbble & The Loop, your Instagram account and work history etc. Obviously everyones value and story differs greatly.

3 months ago, the idea was that everyone’s story would be like a deck of cards with a ‘face card’ showing an overview of your profile and then you’d have a card for each job, or service you used etc. Something like this mockup.

CD_Card_Perspective1

Over the weekend I sat down to take a closer look at how we might design the product to give people the best browsing experience when looking through a collection of peoples stories.

The solution I came up with is below.

You would swipe left or right on your phone to change profiles and up and down to go deeper into their story.

The ‘card’ UI element has been semi-replaced by a ’tile’ type element, similar to Pinterest.

So far the feedback has been strongly in favour of this design, although there is a lot more testing to do.

We like the idea that a customer can drag tiles around to create their own hierarchy. We also like the idea that we can partner with services like Youtube or Behance or GitHub to create custom tiles that people can add to their profile.

We are hoping to get some version of this design into the build we launch with (end of May , 2014).

 

CD_MVP_V4.3

 

Post 31: Putting design second, at first

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 3.26.00 pm

The image on the left is what the first version of our product will look like, the image on the right is what I want it to look like.

As a designer your instinct is to work on something until it is beautiful, effective and the simplest it can be. But when you’re working on a new product with no customers, well you don’t have that luxury. Especially if, like us, you don’t have any funding and you’re just trying to get feedback.

Design certainly is important in the early stages, but in my experience, too much attention to the look can hold up development and progress to the point where you loose valuable testing time.

Designers work faster than developers (mostly) and in our case I can’t code well enough to contribute, so my partner needs .png’s to work from. It’s no good him coding all day and then at day’s end, I send him a new set of screens that I’ve been working on that day saying “can we make it look like this…?”

It helps me to remember why we are building what we are building. It’s about learning and getting feedback. If they design is only 60% of the way there, well so be it.

Shipping less than perfect design will batter your ego and you’re not going to want to show your designer mates, but you just have to cop it — poorly kerned letters and all.

We both like the second screen you see above, but we both know it’s not worth spending time changing the code. It can come later. The focus is on launch.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 3.29.20 pm

 

Designing Transportation Systems

Recently I’ve become very interested in the technologies being developed around optimising and improving transportation for people.

From my very initial reading, it seems that in the next 5 years we will have commercially available self driving cars and in the next 20 years, entire networks of self driving cards that will be available to most people in the developed world.

This week Google released an update on where they are at with the development of their own self driving technology. (See above)

I’m particularly interested in the infrastructure that will be needed to be built to support this breakthrough. It doesn’t seem hard to imagine a scenario where you use an UBER type application on your smart phone to book a car to take you out to dinner or to work each day.

Exploring the businesses models around these developments is very interesting. It may be that our kids will never actually own a car, rather they might pay an annual fee to be able to hire a car on demand. Most of the time our cars sit idle costing us money, so an on demand service makes sense.

Transportation

Self driving cars, apart from being safer, will also be more economic, being able to drive other people around while you are at work.

Above is a sketch of a multi story car storage and maintenance centre where the cars could also charge, assuming they are electric. Existing energy companies like BP, may in the future own these buildings which could be used by any number of cars made by different manufactures providing they have a standard charging interface.

I’ve not read enough yet about this work happening in this space, but I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing some ideas around how we might be able to design the transportation systems of the future.

 

UPDATE: There are a group of engineers and designers from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who have a goal to become the first city in the world to have a driverless car network. (See video below)

Interesting statistic: 80% of driver accidents are caused by human error. There are 1.2 million deaths globally caused by cars. Remove the drivers, and we save around 960,000 lives. This number of course assumes the driverless technology is evenly distributed globally which wouldn’t be the case initially, but its a goal to work towards.