Maximizing the HunchWorks User Experience

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A computer system is much more than just code: it consists of technology, its users and the processes that they follow.  User experience (UX) covers all aspects of users’ interaction with products and services and how they are perceived, learnt and used. UX design prioritizes human values and relationships in the development of technology, to derive maximum value from our interactions with it. It’s an interdisciplinary approach that includes elements of psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science.

Over the last few months, Global Pulse has been fortunate to work with Adaptive Path, one of the pioneer UX design firms, on HunchWorks.  HunchWorks is Global Pulse’s new rapid crisis impact detection platform, designed to team human insight and collaboration with computational power to rapidly detect and understand the weak signals that often signify the early impacts of crisis.  

We realized early on that UX is crucial to HunchWorks’ success because unless users can rapidly build their networks and establish trusted relationships with their communities of practice and with the platform itself, we will not be able to reach the critical mass of users we need for it to become really useful.

 The team at Adaptive Path includes PJ Onori, Dane Petersen, Jeff Wain, Shad Gross, Todd Elliott, and Trina Hancock, and they have done an amazing job driving us toward a thorough understanding of HunchWorks user requirements, values and relationships, and recommending design patterns and interaction flows to build trust and value into the platform.  

We co-presented this work with them at UX Week 2011 last month. UX Week is one of the most exciting events on the user experience design calendar and is attended by some of the best interaction designers, sharing knowledge from the bleeding edge of UX. So we went there to share our work with the UX community and to ask for further assistance as we move forward on Global Pulse systems.

Flickr photo by Tamimcb 

On the opening morning P.J. Onori and I presented a talk about global systemic vulnerability and HunchWorks which was well received (although our discussion of global risk did scare several people in the audience). Mark Congiusta (@interactivemark) made this excellent sketch visualization, live as we gave our talk:

We also held a UX Week workshop dedicated entirely to HunchWorks user experience (“Pre-empting Global Crises: A Collaborative Design Session for United Nations Global Pulse”).  Adaptive Path have worked hard to flesh out the 5 most core aspects of HunchWorks, but we still have a huge pile of other interactions to design.  So we picked out 7 of these, brainstormed what we needed to know and drew up an A0 poster for each of them, explaining what we needed both in words and pictures.

UX Week photos by Wild Plum Photography

The feedback and participation from the user experience design community is invaluable to us in the development of HunchWorks. We were honored to be a part of UX week, and both humbled and energized by the enthusiastic outpouring of designers who want to continue working with us!

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