“Dancall Logic Mobile Telephone Design Project” by Spreenberg

  • ©Peter Spreenberg

  • ©Peter Spreenberg


Entry Number: 08


    Dancall Logic Mobile Telephone Design Project

Program Title:

    Designing Technology



Project Affiliation:

    IDEO Product Development and Dancall Radio NS


    IDEO’s user-centered design process is composed of six stages: understand, observe, visualize, evaluate, refine, and implement. These stages seldom occur sequentially-it is more common for us to be engaged in two or more simultaneously and iteratively. Here we describe the process in
    more detail as it was applied to the development of the Logic range of mobile telephones for Dancall, a medium-sized Scandinavian manufacturer.

    Although IDEO had prior experience designing telecommunications products for Dancall, we needed to understand more about the design objectives for the Logic range. We began by asking questions like, “Who are the users?,” “Do they have any special requirements?,” and “What are the opportunities and limitations of the technology?” This questioning process helped us arrive at a succinct project brief.

    Observations and interviews allow us to gain an understanding of the people who will use aproduct or system. For Dancall, we interviewed a small number of car telephone users to understand how they used their phones and to appreciate the kinds of difficulties they had in using them. We find that conducting detailed observations of a few selected users is preferable to the “wide and shallow” studies typically conducted by market researchers.

    Observations help designers to understand today’s uses and scenarios but the creative leap occurs when we develop scenarios of the future.
    We developed four characters that represent Dancall’s market: a Finnish architect, a UK insurance agent, a Malaysian entrepreneur, and a Danish salesperson. We created scenarios for these characters to help us imagine how they would use cellular telephones. As we developed the scenarios, the characters began to take on lives of their own. We created sketch drawings, models, and storyboards of concepts that fit each character’s occupation, personality, and lifestyle.

    Evaluation is an on-going activity and should be an integral part of development. For Dancall, we tested user interface simulations and appearance models in focus groups with potential users. Human factors designers play an important role in this stage and provide “reality checks” for design concepts.

    In this stage, the more promising concepts or innovations are refined. For Dancall, we assembled photographic storyboards that showed our scenario characters using appearance models. We also developed engineering prototypes of some mechanical components and interactive simulations to demonstrate the appearance and behavior of the user interface.

    During this stage, IDEO generates mechanical drawings for tooling and manufacturing of the hardware components and detailed guidelines and
    specifications for the user interface appearance and behavior. We worked closely with Dancall to ensure a smooth hand-off to their in-house engineering group. We are convinced that the scenario development process enables us to provide more innovative and appropriate product solutions. The Logic range has been well received throughout the industry and has won numerous design awards. The designers involved represented disciplines and backgrounds-industrial interaction design, human factors, engineering and IDEO believes this multi-disciplinary approach to design contributed in part to success of the products.


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