Saturday, 7 November 2009

PPRG Annual Conference – Day Two - Morning

Up bright and early (well early) for day two and sat in bed finishing the blog post from yesterday. Need to go somewhere where I can connect to the wireless so I can post it. Loving my new Samsung N110 which is getting its first outing for this conference. It’s very comfortable to use and incredibly lightweight so am very impressed so far. I also am finding that the shift key is where I’m expecting so I don’t keep hit page up by accident (something I do on the EEEPC when touch typing). Hope the battery life lives up to its claims so I can continue to use it throughout the day. Hoping for an interesting day....

..... much later. Well day two was interesting. I started the day off with a swim – very nice pool in this hotel. It was lovely and quiet at 7am and set me up for the day. Breakfast followed which was much needed and very tasty. After breakfast it was straight into the sessions, the first being Mark Young talking about Human-centred design. So what is human-centred design? Well it’s not just about giving users what they want, because users aren’t designers. But having said that it also isn’t about designing them out of the equation either. Users need to be integrated throughout the whole process. Mark said there are 3 areas of human-centred design (it’s not all about chairs), physical, psychological and organisational. We need to integrate the human into the system design and operation to achieve the desired level of output. He looked at a couple of case studies, the PalmPilot and the Fender strat – both of which were good examples of human-centred design.

Human-centred design involves a number of different methods for engaging your users in the process, from the traditional interviews, questionnaires and observation to task analysis, error identification, performance times and interface design. Mark also told us about a Design Museum exhibition, which was a public engagement project “to enhance the appreciation of ergonomics in society amongst researchers and the general public” and they applied the principles of human-centred design to the exhibition. The exhibition aimed to give a broader picture of human-centred design and not just focus on the physical which is most people’s experience of it (the chairs thing again).

So in summary human-centred design is observational design, evidence-based design and a philosophy of designing with users and designing with users in mind.

After coffee it Elizabeth Buchanan Elford’s turn who was talking about libraries: marketing and advocacy. Elizabeth talked about social networking and gave a good example of how social networking has benefitted a campaign – the Barack Obama presidential campaign which really took off – the Yes We Can speech. She said you need to decide what you message is and make sure that is in everything that you do so I guess for us that would be information; help; support – that is on all our new publicity so may we should be making more of this – this thought came back to me again in the afternoon session with Sharon Tuersley from Warwick, but more on that later. There are good examples of big companies and organisations who have embraced social networking as a way to engage with their customers – we need to be doing this, we need to tap into this market – I worry that we are being left behind and spending too long deliberating it. The presentation ended with the Did you Know? Version 3.0 video on YouTube, which I think I’ve seen bits of but I certainly hadn’t seen it all. Makes you think.

Another quick break then it was Judy Goodson from Staffordshire Library & Information service which underwent a major rebranding exercise. They used a really strong non-stereotypical imagery in some of their posters. They created bookmarks and flyers, radio jingles and junior learner packs amongst other things. They engaged their staff in customer service training, focusing not just on “library stuff” but retail concepts, which we seem to be more readily applying to our services. The main thing I took away from this presentation was the need for branding guidelines, and training staff to use these guidelines, but without stifling creativity. If staff are comfortable with what they can and can’t do they feel more able to work creatively within the brand. And then it was time for lunch. I was impressed with the battery life on my little device at this point but I did plug it in for a bit over lunch just to make sure it made it through the afternoon.

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