Video: Aral Balkan on Making the New Everyday Things at NDC 2011

If there was one session at NDC 2011 that I found totally fascinating, it was Aral Balkan’s session on user experience design entitled, Making the New Everyday Things.

Aral was highlighting, for this developer audience, the ways in which user design, or more specifically good user design, can help your product stand out in the marketplace and be a piece of equipment that users can derive joy and satisfaction from using.

I’ll skip over all the terribly bad language Aral used (Winking smile) to get to a specific example that was made.

On arrival into Oslo airport you can hop on a high-speed train that will take you right into the centre of Oslo City. It couldn’t be easier. The manner in which you buy your ticket for this train is so easy it is practically sublime. You walk towards the departure platforms and you swipe your credit card and the get onto the train. That’s it. You swipe your card. No pin numbers, no waiting for the ticket to print, no message saying “you entered an incorrect station – please select one of the following” … you just swipe and go.

Compare this to Aral’s experience with the same machines in Sweden. Check out this bad boy:

Ticket machines in SwedenAll this machine needs is a huge handle on the side and it would perform the same function as a fruit machine – it would take your money and you wouldn’t know how it happened!

Aral demonstrated how the design of the machines that all airport train travellers used in Oslo was designed with the user in mind, making compromises on the business needs in favour of maintaining the most simple and easy-to-use machines.

Now, I don’t know about you, not only am I not 100% certain what would happen if I put my money in the machine in the picture on the left, but I am also pretty sure that I would avoid using it if I possibly could. And as Aral says in this video, in a commoditised industry, if a user avoids using your “solution” because of complexity of design, caused by product designers satisfying inane business needs imposed by their bosses, you are going to go out of business pretty fast. 

I really enjoyed this session, and you can download the recording of it by heading to the agenda page of the NDC 2011 website and clicking on “Watch Movie” underneath Aral’s Session. You’ll find it in the first slot of track 4 on day 2. (Be warned, bad language is used!)

Aral stayed a while to chat to me about his session and I really appreciated his time. You can view a potted version here to get a taster of his session.

Aral Balkan: Making the New Everyday Things

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