I’d like to thank Robert Powell and Patrick Neeman for providing the forewords to my book Designing for Human Experience. I really wanted to hear what they had experienced over the last 25 years of changing job titles and true to their expertise they focused on change and human evolution, thank you. I’d also like to thank Jophy Joy and Todd Zaki Warfel for release to share their comments, thank you.
This book about what I have done for a living since 1989. Here I have put together an anthology of my life and my passion for designing for human experience. I describe what I do as designing for human experience because you can’t design experience as it resides in the emotions of others. But you can design environments and psychological cues that trigger emotional responses and appropriation by attribution of past experience on the current one.
Note: This is in no way a dig at people with job titles of Experience Design but rather at the industry around them that created such a job title. I really don’t care what the role is called as long as we get to engage with real users
#instructionaldesign #usability #accessibility #userexperience #userexperiencestrategy #ustomerexperience #humancentreddesign #servicedesign #designthinking #systemsthinking #pervasiveexperience #recruitertips
Introduction by Karl Smith
I had always said that I would not write a book about what I have done for a living since 1989, but that I would give away my knowledge and experience on a blog. The blog https//www.karlsmith.info is rather successful with an average of 4,500,000 views a year, shared under a creative commons attribution license (thank you Aaron Swartz for making it real). I hope it continues to be useful, irritating and thought provoking to people for many more years. What I have put together here is less of a book and more of an anthology of my life and my passion for designing for human experience. I describe what I do as designing for human experience because you can’t design experience as it resides in the emotions of others. But you can design environments and psychological cues that trigger emotional responses and appropriation by attribution of past experience on the current one.
Thank you, Robert Powell and Patrick Neeman, for framing this conversation, Designing for Humans remains for me the most fantastic amalgamation of the complex to create the simple, useable and nascent components and artefacts that support human experiences. I’ll apologise in advance while I try to use simple English I often fail because someone came up with a word that covers off the complexity I’m trying to express. I use dictionary’s often when writing, not least because I’m dyslexic and can’t see letters, I was taught to read the gaps between them in primary school by a special teacher, so my perspective is often quite different from others.
It is important before getting into the main part of this book to understand aspects of motivation and rationale across the wide area of specialisations I have worked in over the years hence the glossary of roles, often the same words and phrases are used to mean different things. It’s like being told someone speaks English so communication will be easy, all the while not realising that meaning is biographical through culture and geography. Definitely make notes on things you don’t agree with and please contact me on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlsmith2/
Fundamental to my work in designing for human experience is my early experiences of human augmentation in supporting what the world describes as disability. When I was eight (1970’s) my father was involved in setting up a respite centre for the families of disabled children. It was the first time I’d seen technologies that support people in doing what I take for granted and it changed my perspective on technology and what it means to be human.
I’m not interested in Technology; I’m interested how Technology evolves our human experiences
Looking back, it was clear from an early age that I accepted all people, recognised individuals and gained the realisation that everyone had strengths and limitations. Through my design training at school, college and then university I was able to frame questions about; what does it mean to be human? Ergonomics and Anthropometrics is what started me on questioning why technologies were not measurable against who uses them and their physical, emotional and intelligence limitations. If that’s offensive think about it, everyone has limitations they also have strengths, certainly I have benefited by having to work harder with reading and writing than others through being able to make connections others cannot see, I’m not special just different.
When I first saw mainframe computers in the late 1970’s they were the punch card systems from the 1950’s and I could understand why you’d need to be a mathematician to work with them. Clearly the timelines are wrong here in terms of the development of computers, however my high school had a punch card computer in the basement. Jumping into 1980’s personal computers arrived so I self-taught Basic, then Binary and Hexadecimal. Technology in those days was not a mass market usage environment but was beginning to gain engagement, a number of accidental encounters led me to investigate usability in 1988. While many people may not even know about usability, even now it is the key to Human Experience both good and bad. The earliest reference I could find was from the 1940’s in ship building for the design of passenger corridors on ocean liners. It was described as usability but in fact in today’s terminology it was flow and accessibility. This is why I describe what I do as designing for human experience rather than designing experience. I can design the container and cultural or context markers, but I can’t design the translation layer in people’s minds that establish experience. I do write about how people adopt and appropriate technologies and services, but that is jumping ahead a bit. It’s also worth noting that I don’t use Socratic Logic to gain an understanding of humans, I use Hegel’s Dialectic again the rationale for that should become clearer later in the book, but it’s a critical component to successfully designing for human experience.
Robert describes company survival based upon useable products and like the viral experiences of today, great products and experiences even then reached critical acclaim often by word of mouth. If usability is the foundation for what I do, then why am I not a usability consultant instead of the glossary of roles included. The easy answer is like humanity, we are all on a journey towards a better by design experience contained in structures I can’t control. Saying to the board of directors of a client company I’m going to help them make their entire business operations, R&D, HR, vendors, sales and marketing usable gets confused faces, but saying I’m going to facilitate an Agile Organisation uses the current parlance for them to engage and adopt thinking and behaviour based on usability. Again, I’m more than happy to discuss this rationale behind the emergence of Agile, but essentially, I can only describe my experiences, what I have done and what has worked and hope that you use it to define or refine what you do. I will further expand on Agile and its connections to Usability and UX in my next book, “Agile an Unexpected Journey” and then in detail in my third book “Servant Leadership, Experiments in Ways of Working”.
We who lived this fantastic change in the fortunes of humanity from being a necessary evil in the gaining of wealth for companies to being engaged and actually asked what they want are still excited by it. While I have been Designing for Human Experience since 1989, I must admit to having made quite a lot of it up as I have gone along, hence the methods I have created and the ways of understanding data I have proposed. As Patrick says we adopted thinking, processes and artefacts from wherever we could with no malice, but rather with the hope that we could better listen, better learn, communicate and deliver the advocacy and solutions that users desired. Failing that at least something that would not destroy the reputations of our client just after a launch. You will note a certain amount of angst in some of my writing in response to people not asking users anything and still calling it user experience or human centred design. I do this because I’m genuinely appalled that after all these years that people are still swayed by pictures of work and diva like opinions (from designers, technologist and executives) when the product or service is interactive and has a journey rather than a static view. Still as humanity moves into nonvisual user interactions for the internet of things, I’m expecting that to fall away as you can’t bluff the ecosystem.
Enough rambling, I hope you enjoy the book.
End and Beginning
There is a huge amount of information here to absorb about what it means to Design for Humans, who does it and what their skills are. The format is based upon individual blog posts stitched together and tidied up a little. I hope this short book is insightful to people about the issues of designing for humans and the progressions and regressions that have affect that work over the last 30 years. The above chapter describes my theoretical foundations it’s a little heavy duty but critical to understand the trajectory of my view of Designing for Humans.
The main take away from these Theoretical Foundations is a total divergence from the existing ways of thinking in order to deliver Design for Human Experience. I do not merely have a different method that I’m trying to sell and get rich off the back of it. I use a different logical form that changes everything I do and think. It establishes a different set of meanings and values, on everything including mathematics, science, human behaviour and the possibilities that they afford us to evolve.
There is a prize for people who work this out.
Socratic logic creates war and a search for perfection, Dialectic logic creates peace and an acceptance of diversity with a responsibility to gain information converted to knowledge by application and an accountability to every other human to listen to them.
I’d like to thank, Robert Powell, Patrick Neeman, Jophy Joy and Todd Zaki Warfel for contributing. I’d also like to thank so many clients over the last 31 years who have entrusted me to refine and evolve their customer engagement, give access to services to citizens and be responsible for their success.
This book it dedicated to quite a lot of people, but mainly to Hazel who as always supported me and given me the confidence to go against the crowd to do the right thing. To Cyril and Betty who let me dream and told me that I could make my dreams come true. To Karen and Thom who have always been supportive and challenging, your inspirational people. And to Petrina who is an impressive woman, leader and mother choosing at every point to make a difference. I’d also like to thank Cris Finniss, Becky Grimaldi (to be Taylor soon), Dan Cox and Julian ‘Dredd’ Bennett for always being open to the conversation.
Designing for Human Experience Book
Due out November 2020
E-Book: ISBN 978–1–8382370–0–4
Due out December 2020
Paperback: ISBN 978–1–8382370–1–1