In the weeks leading up to our very first Milk Bar Meet Up in Glasgow on 22 April 2016, we’d like to introduce you to the great speakers who will be presenting their ideas about Methods of Innovation. These are some of the most forward-thinking minds in the current Scottish business scene and they have some fantastic insights about how to make businesses better through innovation.
First up is Ben Hutton, who will be talking about using Personas and user centred design to create software that lives in your pocket. Ben Hutton is a current Director and Partner of the mobile app and digital solution company Xdesign. He has previously worked in advertising, politics and as an Associate Partner at Cello Group PLC. He specialises in digital communication and helps organisations solve problems and exploit opportunities with mobile applications.
We asked Ben a few questions:
What brings you to our Milk Bar Meet Up?
Destiny! In all seriousness though, I feel that anything we can do to forge a stronger digital sector in Scotland the better. Ultimately, there is more work out there for all of us if organisations in Europe and further afield think of Scotland as a digital “hub”, so I’m happy to talk about what works for us, and learn what works for others – and in some small way contribute to that greater good!
Your talk will be touching on the use of personas and user centred design in software. Could you tell us a bit more about what personas are, and why you chose this this topic for the Meet Up?
All the way back in the last century (well, 1999), Alan Cooper popularised the ideas of Personas in his book “The inmates are running the asylum”, as a tool in the development of software. Personas are essentially synthesised profiles of typical (not average users) that define elements like goals, tasks, motivations and needs, as well as demography.
However, as the web grew, a split emerged in the principles of digital design – with marketing, rather than product development principles, solidifying themselves as the driving force. Mobile apps are mobile software; they are not just “little websites”. However, the development projects are often run by marketers and business owners. The use of Personas helps bridge the gaps between their understanding of what’s needed, the needs of the app users, and the technical development of the project. Hopefully, I can give a small amount of insight as to why this is a beneficial approach to mobile development projects.
Could you tell us about a time when you experienced successful innovation, in any context?
I was recently at the Mobile World Congress and had the opportunity to try some of the virtual reality systems being touted – especially the HTC Vive. Having, over the years, tried a number of “VR-ish” bits of kit (starting with Nintendo’s “Virtual Boy” in the nineties and on to the Oculus developers kit), the Vive was definitely the first time that I felt someone had brought something that actually worked to market – the controllers work as you would expect and things like the Manus VR gloves do work really well. In that sense, it’s very successful.
That being said, the things I could do with it – paint, shoot things, go on a roller coaster - were not really very innovative in and of themselves. So in many ways, and I think this is true of many innovations, its success is only partial – the achievement of getting the product to market is definitely a great one – but it now needs innovation to be built on this innovation to be truly successful.
Meet Ben Hutton at the Milk Bar Meet Up on 22 April, 3-5pm, Orkney Street Enterprise Centre.
Keep an eye out for our next Milk Bar!
(Blog first published 04/05/2016)
Managing Consutant, This is Milk