Navigating the new world of work

Category: The World of UX

Fast Company Fast Reads

On my way to the tube station yesterday I came across an interesting article on physical art experience. But what I found really useful, was the 6 minute indicator on the article, to let me know I’d have time to read the whole thing before my tube arrived.


Fast Company Article

Personalised TV on the second screen

After a short gap I have returned… And after renewing my hosting and domain I’m looking into altering the template and updating the blog slightly so I’ll begin that process soon. However, its emphasis on Customer Experience remains the same, and has even perhaps become more focused. I’ve yet to find the biggest areas of interest this year, but I’m keeping an eye out for emerging areas. I’ve now finished my masters and managed to secure a job, but haven’t posted about my 3 month research project which resulted in my dissertation. You can download the entire document from here if you so wish. If not, I’ve included the report which I gave to the BBC which contains the most important findings below:

Perceptions of Personalised TV: Exploring interactivity preferences to enhance the user experience on the second screen


As personalised TV becomes the differentiator for new services, this study, in conjunction with the BBC, explores what this might mean in terms of user data collection and attitudes, perceptions and behaviours towards privacy, and trust, around TV. It aims to investigate and explore new avenues for personalised services that may encourage users to reassess the cost/benefit analysis of logging in for an enhanced user experience. In order to do this, user’s second screen activates were investigated, to discover what new services could contribute for users watching BBC TV. It also probes participants about recommendation systems, general feelings about trust of the BBC and about different ways of “logging in” to the TV.


Literature Review

As the Internet ultimately becomes pervasive and turns into a fluid media, completely intertwined in our daily activities (Lindley, Meek, Sellen and Harper, 2012), we must look at the future of television in a new light.  It’s now possible to record, pause and rewind live television, resulting in x-shifted viewing. Users can also gain extra content and information through the advent of interactive TV, smart TVs with on demand apps, and second screen devices and services.

By far the most important aspect however is the growth of second screen activity such that now 24% of people are using a second screen device while watching television (Deloitte/Gfk, 2012). It is speculated that second screen activities will become a multi-billion dollar market (Niyogi, 2012) and research by Cruickshank et al. (2007), has found that second screen devices are preferred by users for trying to interact with television over using the television itself. This makes the second screen a great platform for personalisation. Additionally, diary studies by Hess et al. (2011), suggested that users would like to have smoothly integrated content and social options available to them while watching television.

In order to experience personalised services, the BBC would like users to log in by using the universal BBCiD login system, which records activity in order to adapt services across channels (web, TV, radio) and devices accordingly (Vinayagamoorthy, 2012). Although it is possible that some users are averse to logging in as they view this as an intrusion of their privacy, a well-trusted organisation will overcome this barrier, as users will feel more comfortable with giving out their details (Jøsang et al., 2005). Alternatively, it may become possible to log in to a personalised television service with a paired device i.e. a second screen device. Some studies suggest that users may have security and privacy issues when pairing devices to other interfaces or to the devices of others, but it’s possible that these fears can be allayed when devices are paired within the home, as it is considered to be a secure environment (Chong and Gellerson, 2011).

Another type of login is the inclusion of a facial recognition camera to locate members of the household watching television. Although this may be considered somewhat futuristic, it is already in place for users of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect ID system (Carmody, 2010) and is also included in some SmartTVs along with voice and gesture recognition, replacing manual controls (Nguyen, 2012). With these methods of log in, personalisation could include data gathering of mood and body language as well as proximity and level of attention, but again, these are subject to trust issues.



Eighteen participants were recruited for the study, 12 male and six female, between the ages of 22 and 52. They had wide ranging occupations with some coming from a public service background, some worked in financial services, others were from the MSc HCI-E course or have some kind of design role. Participants needed a Twitter account and to have used a second screen device while watching television more than once before.

The study itself consisted of three parts. Firstly, initial interviews were conducted, to explore participants’ current behaviours surrounding television, and what personalised TV services they already use or are interested in. The second phase was an innovative and novel digital diary study (with a focus group element) facilitated by the social networking site Twitter. A private Twitter account was set up specifically for this research, meaning that Tweets were not publically accessible. Participants were asked to contribute to the feed by posting when they were involved in a second screen activity, while watching television. This activity may have been related to the channel they are watching or completely unrelated (e.g. work), and may have been on any device:- smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Afterwards a debrief interview was conducted with each participant, exploring their motivations for usage patterns in the diary, looking at trust issues, and the future of interactive TV through their eyes. The BBC was not mentioned until this stage so as not to bias any self-reporting of participants.

Transcripts of interviews were carefully coded using a thematic approach, classifying sentiments together as they emerged. It was an iterative process, refining the coding categories as more information became available. For the Twitter diary study, the data set of Tweets was then analysed for themes and split into categories of type of activity and device used, as well as whether the activity was related to the television show or not.



Participants are using a large variety of devices and platforms on which to watch television with convenience and speed being significant factors. They like to watch television when and where it suits them, with iPlayer being the most mentioned catch up service. Laptops still have a large dominance with almost 50% of activities being carried out on them. Tablet usage is smaller at 19% but is expected to grow. The tablet format was favoured for those participants that owned one as it has the right balance of screen size and ease of use.

Over the specified two-week period for the diary study, 249 Tweets were submitted. In order to log these properly, they were split into each activity, giving a total of 270 effective Tweets. Of all Tweets, 74% were unrelated to the television show, leaving 26% as related Tweets, with the most of this activity circulating around trivia or fact checking of the television show. Only a relatively small amount of these Tweets were social. Conversely, of the unrelated Tweets, 44% were socially motivated. Other activities mentioned included looking at the TV Guide, reading articles, looking up recipes, shopping and playing games. Five participants stated that social interaction was a growing feature and something they would like to see more, particularly with people that they knew. It also appears this is important for certain shows or genres, such as sport, however, avoiding spoilers if it’s not possible to watch in real time is also a large concern.

In terms of logging in to services, social log ins were largely undesirable. 14 participants stated that a social networking site that shared their viewing habits with the entirety of their friends, or followers list, was a concern, and that they did not want everyone knowing what they were watching. Most participants were instead in favour of a paired device to log in with their second screen device; a mobile phone or tablet as they regarded this to be the most natural interaction, and an altogether more private experience.

Seventeen participants would completely trust the BBC with their data. Eight participants would trust them more than any of the other television channels. Reasons for this are due to the BBC’s reputation and participants’ positive association with the brand; the fact that it’s a large, well respected corporation, it has higher quality programming, it doesn’t have advertising and it is publicly funded. They tend to hold the BBC in higher regard than other channels, but interestingly, they also expect them to place paramount importance on security of their data. They are generally very happy with their data being collected as long as it is to improve the service, and none of the participants expect the BBC to sell their data to a third party or send them ‘spam’ of any form. In fact, at least five participants believe that the BBC should collect data, or that they already are, in order to provide more relevant programming.

When asked if they would like the BBC to be transparent about what they are collecting, eight participants said this would make them feel more comfortable and more in control of their data, with two already expecting the BBC to allow them to see what information has been gathered about them. Seventeen participants stated that they would find their viewing information useful or interesting but some said that the novelty is likely to wear off and that, it may make them embarrassed or guilty about how much time they spend in front of the television. Because participants believed that they have a stake in the BBC due to paying the license fee, they also believed that they should be able to give them feedback about their service, and they should be adequately listened to.

This provides a good platform for the BBC to release new personalised services to help with data gathering from their audience, as they are highly trusted.



Any new facilities or functionalists should be thoroughly tested on all devices and platforms, and should continue to be tested as new devices and platforms become available.

The overwhelming amount of activity that participants indulged in while watching television was social interaction. However, as the study suggests, most of this was unrelated to the television show, meaning that designers wishing to create real engagement around television shows may have to work hard in order to gain interest from their audience and get viewers to converse with each other. The purpose of the social interaction is important in this respect.

Features such as recommendation systems and suggested episodes are likely to be made use of if they are more trusted. It will be important to maintain the trust of the BBC by the public in future in order to facilitate continued adoption of these services.

As it was found that participants would prefer to know what data had been collected on them, information about their data e.g. in the form of a graph, would make them feel more comfortable. However, many also stated that they would not like to know how much time they had spent watching television, because this made them feel guilty so it may be better if specific timings were omitted from the information. Testing of visualisations or potential prototypes with users will help further this research in future.






Carmody, T. (2010). How Facial Recognition Works in Xbox Kinect. Wired: Gadget Lab. Available from: [Accessed 23 August 2012]

Chong, M. and Gellersen, H. (2011). How users associate wireless devices, Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems, May 07-12, 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Cruickshank, L., Tsekleves, E., Whitham, R., Hill, A. and Kondo, K. (2007). Making interactive TV easier to use: Interface design for a second screen approach. The Design Journal 10(3).

Deloitte/GfK (2012). The rise and rise of ‘second screening’ Available from: [Accessed 23 August 2012]

Hess, J., Ley, B., Ogonowski, C., Wan, L. and Wulf, V. (2011). Jumping between devices and services: towards an integrated concept for social tv, Proceddings of the 9th international interactive conference on Interactive television, June 29-July 01, 2011, Lisbon, Portugal.

Jøsang, A., Fabre, J., Hay, B., Dalziel, J. and Pope, S. (2005). Trust requirements in identity management, Proceedings of the 2005 Australasian workshop on Grid computing and e-research, p.99-108, January 01, 2005, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Lindley, S., Meek, S., Sellen, A. and Harper, R. (2012). It’s Simply Integral to What I do”: Enquiries into how the Web is Weaved into Everyday Life. Proceedings of the 2012 international conference on World Wide Web. Session: User Interfaces and Human Factor, Lyon, France.

Niyogi, S. (2012) Please Don’t Ruin the Second Screen. TechCrunch. Available from: [Accessed 1 June 2012]

Nguyen, V. (2012). Samsung Smart TV Voice, Gesture and Face Recognition Hands-on. Slash Gear. Available from: [Accessed 23 August 2012]

Vinayagamoorthy, V., Hammond, M., Allen, P. and Evans, M. (2012). Researching the User Experience for Connected TV – A Case Study. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference extended abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts, Austin, Texas.



Fabulous Fabergé

I love Google’s Doodle today. It’s in memory of Peter Carl Fabergé’s 166th birthday. I’ve been lucky enough to able to see some real Fabergé eggs in Russian museums, and it’s lovely to be reminded of them. Google have really nailed the art of brightening up their users’ day. It’s the small things I guess.

Steve Jobs

After wondering about the best time to start blogging, I thought perhaps the death of Steve Jobs might be a good starting point since I actually have something to say. I woke up yesterday morning to my iPhone and scrolled through Facebook to pick up the collective-sentiment of the day, or rather, the night before. Still half asleep I wondered if what I was reading was correct, and flicked on the news to see it confirmed. He had died.

It’s hard to put my finger on why someone I’ve never met has made me think so hard about life. I was never really in to celebrities, even when I was young I couldn’t tell you the members of Boyzone or N’Sync. I’ve never turned up anywhere to get a glimpse of someone famous, apart from accidentally being in Loch Fyne while Gok Wan came in to use the loo. I don’t read the glossy magazines and I only follow Stephen Fry on Twitter.

But today was different. Maybe it’s because I use so many Apple products. I’m a certified convert and I’d avoid Windows all my life if it were possible. Maybe it’s because I’ve just been reading about him while reading about Interaction Design, and how the iPod changed the world. Maybe it’s because my Dad is the same age as he was.

I’m not really inclined to like someone who goes round putting items in front of a user without asking them want they want. It seems counter-intuitive, and Apple aren’t known for their user research – something I think is of paramount importance when it comes to new technology. He was right though, almost every time it seems. Although I don’t see that many people using FaceTime (perhaps they don’t have that many people to FaceTime with?), I do see ‘just three clicks’ to get to any song implemented in a lot of mp3 players, and I’d never switch from my iPod.

I read through the BBC’s article on Jobs and scroll to the comments. Although most of them are nice there are a few people trolling as usual. ‘He was just a CEO, he had no impact on design’, ‘he was a genius for all the fools he fooled’. Perhaps he was, but like any indoctrination –  I’m pretty happy to be brainwashed. There is a reason I’ve heard many people say they’ve switched to mac and won’t go back, but never the other way around…’The British are always jealous of successful people’ says one woman in retaliation to some of the negative comments. I think she might be right.

As tributes flood in, people changing their desktop wallpapers to Apple’s new minimalist homepage, leaving flowers and once bitten apples outside Apple stores and compiling celebratory infographics and montages all over the Internet; you are left wondering… When was the last time a co-founder of any company made this kind of impact on people? More people drink coke than own an iPhone but do you think people would bat an eye-lid if the CEO of Coca-cola died? Would they even know about it?

There’s no doubt about it. Jobs had the midas touch, when he was at Apple and when he wasn’t. I guess I’m wondering the same as everyone else. Will Apple ever be the same again? Should I get an iPhone 4S because it’s the last product he touched…? There won’t be another.

If you’re not convinced, you should watch this.

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