24 January 2009

User-involvement via the web

This week* Jeff Jarvis commented on the design collaboration between Buglabs and IDEO, where a design blog is being used to capture user input, convey concepts and gather feedback. This extends the user forum approach that Dell (and others) have used. (In Dell's case their IdeaStorm resulted in specific design features being included in the Latitude.)**

The comments on Jarvis's post are critical of his proposal that the Buglabs/IDEO approach could be useful in automative design: apparently Local Motors have already used a similar technique in automative design) so his proposal is not new; furthermore, the Pontiac Aztek, which was designed with substantial focus group input was subsequently hammered by critics and out of production after three years. I'm sure IDEO are fully aware of the methodological limitations of the blog, but I think this method does have its place, particularly for a project where most contributors are likely to be at ease with blogging and blog etiquette.

The blog itself is a pleasure to read and great publicity for both partners in the process. Thinking of Liz Sanders' design research map, which I've commented on previously, I'd put this method somewhere above 'Lead user innovation,' just in her Design-led/Participatory quadrant.

* I realise that other hugely important things also happened this week - and the user/technology story from that (X-box to Atari) has been covered elsewhere

** David Gelles' FT article 'The new corporate firefighters' (22 January) covered the role of social media in maintaining communication with customers.

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