May 16 Digital Philanthropy Forum at DDU Degui Academy 
XXC (Mr. Charles Chen), the famous usability blogger and Internet architect of WWWins Consulting, made User-Centered Design the main appeal to the audience. This is the second forum of the forum series on digital philanthropy organized by DDU School of Philanthropy. 
XXC started his talk from the perception gap between website designers/architects and customers. Many customers tend to underestimate the difficulty and cost a website design process would normally take. Some hold the misperception that websites be designed within a few days. XXC used the 5-star Peninsula Hotel (Hong Kong) as an example. It took 2 years to complete the whole website design and construction.
XXC introduced the process of user-centered design. XXC used Deborah Adler’s design process as a good example. Deborah Alder, now the principal designer of the Target ClearRxsm system, was motivated to make people’s lives safer and easier. She designed a comprehensive packaging prescription system as her Master’s thesis for the Master of Fine Arts in Design degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2002.
XXC pointed out that website design is an interdisciplinary effort and involved professionals from various fields – psychology, anthropology, sociology, arts, and programming, etc – so as to make a website truly a user-centered, communicative space. XXC believes that, while website designers analyzes the behavioral patterns of website viewers and try to make a appeal according to the analysis, the behavioral patterns of users might change over time as they learn to negate the effect of the new “design.” XXC phrased this phenomenon as “When designers fail.” 
A typical case for the design failure is to determine the hottest spot of a webpage. The top spot of a website has been identified as the hottest and therefore the best place for Ads. However, viewers learned over time as they saw Ads had always being placed at the top spot. They developed a new viewing pattern that totally ignores the top spot of a webpage and therefore reverse the design efforts. 
XXC brought an interesting contrast between “Yahoo!- vs. Google-type users” in the search service market – the former tends to “ask for” information while the latter “search for” it. He raised the question that why Taiwanese users are so overwhelmingly Yahoo-type” while in other countries the majority belong to Google-type. 
XXC believes that “design” is embedded in the human and social context. He used the sign system of the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital (Sin-dian, Taipei County) as an example. The sign system, as XXC sees it, is not a good design in the sense that the signs are difficult to see – not well colored and placed near the roof. Nevertheless, this hospital has the best interactive “communication system” to help people find their way – a number of volunteers with uniforms and care always ready to show you or take you to the place you want to go. 
In the discussion session, Ilya raised the issue of the latest popular social network services “Twitter Search.” There seems to be a leap from Google search to Twitter search. How is this issue related to the idea of “ Quantitative Changes lead to Qualitative Transformation”(量變到質變). XXC replied that there is still a lot of room for research. Since the Internet world has been changing so rapidly, the big player such as Yahoo, while doing substantial layoffs, keeps the whole research team as its core strategic force. 
XXC compares Twitter with Plurk and guesses that Plurk might be more popular in Taiwan, due to his observation that Twitter is “dryer” and less fun than Plurk. Nevertheless, XXC admitted that the Internet world is full of surprises and it is always interesting and fruitful to focus on user experiences and design a system embedded in the human and social context to allow the learning process to evolve. 
XXC’s presentation slides is at here:
2009.05.16 Web, Design, and User Experience