Design and Innovation Daily

Two months of paper prototyping

Posted in methodology, user interface by Dan on January 22, 2010

Microsoft Office Labs recently released a new add-in: Ribbon Hero is a game that can improve your skills with Microsoft Office. In this interview, software engineer Jonas Helin discusses the development process for Ribbon Hero. His team spent two months designing with paper prototypes before writing a single line of code.

(Found via Steve Portigal and Lost Garden.)


TED talks for the weekend

Posted in creativity, methodology, product design, theory, user experience by Dan on January 15, 2010

Three not-so-recent TED talks for your weekend viewing:

Don Norman on 3 ways good design makes you happy

Niels Diffrient rethinks the way we sit down

Tim Brown on creativity and play

Ritual in innovation; the story of the ribbon

Posted in culture, methodology, user experience, user interface by Dan on January 8, 2010

Bruce Nussbaum wrote some interesting thoughts on the role of ritual in technology and innovation. “I was once nearly thrown out of a brainstorming session at IDEO and it marked me for life.” His brief post: “The Ritualization of Creation—The Role of Ritual In Innovation.”

For your weekend viewing, here’s an interesting presentation from 2008: Jensen Harris, a user interface designer at Microsoft, talks about the process of developing the ribbon in Microsoft Office 2007. Back when Microsoft began developing the next version of Office in 2003, their team found that, while Office was fairly complete in its range of features, the user interface was insufficient for the software’s complexity: “The user interface was failing our users.” Harris and his team set out to reimagine, redesign, and evaluate the interface.

In the presentation, from the MIX conference in 2008, Harris describes the design process for the ribbon, including some of the team’s iterations, prototypes, and mistakes. Video, audio, and slides from the presentation are available on his blog. Although the video is a bit long, and even though “Microsoft” connotes “boring” for some, watch at least the first 4 minutes to get a taste; it contains valuable insights and design lessons.

Here’s the blog post: The Story of the Ribbon

Marriott rapid-prototypes a hotel lobby

Posted in methodology, user experience, user research by Dan on January 7, 2010

In the process of redesigning Courtyard by Marriot, a project which addressed the hotel chain’s lobbies along with the overall brand and customer experience, the company prototyped an entire hotel lobby with foam core, allowing them to quickly test and iterate on the lobby design. In Mark Hurst’s interview with Brain King, VP and Global Brand Manager for Courtyard, King discusses the user research strategies employed during the project. (Found via Jared Spool.)

Yesterday’s article on Johnny Holland—incidentally, also by Jared Spool—was a bit ironic because I’ve been writing website reviews and recommendations over the past couple weeks. Spool warns of the risks of making recommendations as a designer, suggesting that experimentation is a better way to arrive at decisions about a design. The lesson is also important when we, as designers, give each other feedback; a particular suggestion could be right or wrong, but our feedback is more valuable if we first aim for a better understanding of the problem. “My Recommendation: Stop Making Design Recommendations.”

Great day for a project

Posted in creativity, methodology by Dan on November 20, 2009

If you’re reading this, you either didn’t read yesterday’s post or didn’t follow the instructions.

So, listen to this talk by Merlin Mann.

Now, actually start something. It’s Friday—the best day to begin.

Brain crack

Posted in creativity, methodology by Dan on November 19, 2009

It’s Thursday. Watch this short video by Ze Frank about brain crack.

Now, don’t read this blog for the rest of the week. Close your laptop and go execute your idea.

Six secrets: design lessons and shoelace knots

Posted in designers, graphic design, methodology, user research by Dan on November 18, 2009

Picking up from yesterday’s topic, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, director of design and user experience at Digg, recently wrote about getting useful feedback. “If someone uses the product, they have a valid point of view – period.” In counterpoint to “When Not To Listen To Users,” you need to prompt feedback in the right way and interpret the right parts of the feedback. Here’s the post: The Anatomy of Useful Feedback

I only learned about 99% yesterday, but it looks like a great resource, with lots of interesting articles and many videos to come from its conferences, which seem to share the TED approach and would probably appeal to TED fans. Anyway, in 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks

Renowned graphic designer Michael Bierut claims that he’s not creative. Instead, he likens his job to that of a doctor who tends to patients – “the sicker, the better.” Digging into the 86 notebooks he’s kept over the course of his career, Bierut walks us through 5 projects – from original conception to final execution – extracting a handful of simple lessons (e.g. the problem contains the solution; don’t avoid the obvious) at the foundation of brilliant design solutions.

Other 99% videos feature Scott Thomas, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, and Seth Godin (one of my favorites).

Finally, this is too cool not to post it. This is a shoelace knot that won’t loosen throughout the day: Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot

hostage negotiation and user research

Posted in methodology, user research by Dan on November 17, 2009

Boxes and Arrows published a fantastic article last week on What design researchers can learn from hostage negotiators. Bryan McClain and Demetrius Madrigal make an insightful comparison and outline a few interviewing strategies for designers.

We know that users generally don’t make very good design recommendations—so when exactly can we and can’t we listen to users? Laura Klein pieces apart the answer to this question on Bread Board: A Faster Horse: When Not To Listen To Users