“Service Design” / “Customer Experience Design”

In a recent post to Creativity Online, Jen Bove (who is a friend of mine) posits: “Service design, while often talked about in academia, is getting more and more attention from design companies and service providers, as the impact of experience design has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and brand perception.”

And while I agree that the practice of service design is ascending (slowly), I’m dubious that the term “service design” is getting more and more attention, at least in the United States. In my recent trip to London, I visited with Chris Downs, one of the founders of Live|Work, the UK’s premier service design consultancy. In our conversation, we reached a supposition that the term “service design” has succeeded in the UK and Europe because there have been government-sponsored public sector service design projects which have demonstrated its value.

In the US, our public sector is notoriously bad at supporting good design, so there’s been no public discussion of service design. In another conversation I had with Don Norman (who is currently obsessed with service design), he felt that the term would remain an academic one.

For my blog posts at HarvardBusiness.org, I’m talking almost exclusively about service design, but I’ve never used that phrase. Instead, I use “customer experience”, the phrase that’s received traction in the US, and it’s variants “customer experience design” or just “experience design.”

Movie review: Objectified

I was hesitant to comment about Objectified, until I realized the people reading this blog are potentially interested in this documentary film about industrial design, directed by Gary Hustwit, who made the Helvetica.

Sadly, the film is simply not worth seeing. I say “sadly,” because I think there’s demand for a smart film on this subject. In fact, there’s demand for smart films on a range of design issues. Objectified, though, is a surprisingly disappointing collection of talking heads. It’s a bloodless film that communicates little passion for design. Hustwit has no discernible point of view, and simply presents a bunch of voices that add up to nothing. And the most compelling voice (and the only one truly critical of the role of industrial design), Rob Walker, gets perhaps the least amount of screen time.

I identified two primary flaws with the film.

1. The subjects were boring to watch
Unlike Helvetica, which had some quirky personalities and energy, the talking heads in this film were even-keeled energy sucks. The most obvious attempt at quirk, Karim Rashid, was simply insufferable.

2. Trying to do too much
It turns out “industrial design” covers so many potential topics, and Hustwit cruises over too many too fast. Whereas Helvetica had a remarkably narrow focus, Objectified touches on mass production, mass consumption, sustainability, interaction design, design processes, design as identity, and much much more.

Pretty much the only coherent thing about the film is that male industrial designers have an… interesting… relationship to facial hair, and closely-cropped head hair. There’s something going on there, but I can’t quite figure out what.

Behold the awesomeness that is UX Week 2009

(and register before July 1 and get serious early-bird discounts!)

Check out the schedule for UX Week 2009, and tell me that it’s not the best UX conference program around. From Tony-Award winning performer Sarah Jones, to austistic animal facilities design and author Temple Grandin, to director of UX on the Palm Pre Matias Duarte, we’ve got main-stage presentations that will inspire you. And then in the afternoons, workshops lead by a raft of industry leaders (including many of the brilliant folks at Adaptive Path) to give you hands-on skills that’ll level-up your game.

I’ve put a fair amount of work into this program, and it’s exciting to see how it has come together.

When you register, use the promotional code FOPM and get 15% off the registration price. Which is currently $2195, which is already $300 off the full price. And so 15% offa that means you pay only $1,866, which is less than $500/day, which is a damn fine price for such quality.

Movie review: Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Maybe it was because I was travel-tired when I saw it on the Virgin Atlantic flight to London, but the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil actually made me well up with tears. Most commentary on the film refers to it as “the real Spinal Tap,” and while there are similar moments of absurdity and tragedy (shouting matches with booking agents; way-undersold shows; Anvil’s drummer actually named Robb Reiner), there are also remarkably touching moments, largely centered around a couple of guys who simply won’t let go of a dream, no matter what shit life throws at them. Other themes include the importance of familial love and care; best friends who love each other no matter what; and the Jewish immigrant experience. Definitely worth seeing.