Design and Innovation Daily

Recommended blogs: Pasta&Vinegar and 52 Weeks of UX

Posted in interaction design, theory, user experience, user research by Dan on January 13, 2010

I was going to post another link from Nicolas Nova’s blog, but then I realized that I’d like to share just about everything he writes, so instead I’m going to recommend that you read his blog in general. From the description of his blog: “I study people’s practices as well as usage of technologies and turn them into insights, ideas, prototypes or recommendations to inform design and foresight. This blog is a selection of the material that I collect, especially in fields such as mobility, urban environments, digital entertainment and new interfaces.” Pasta&Vinegar: mind/tech bazar from outer space.

Another promising blog, which just began last week, will present weekly entries on user experience: 52 Weeks of UX: A discourse on the process of designing for real people.


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.”

Design research at Nokia Open Studios

Posted in user research by Dan on December 22, 2009

Jan Chipchase, if you haven’t heard of him, is a researcher working for Nokia who travels around the world to learn how cell phones have changed the lifestyles and social patterns of people in different cultures. For an introduction to his surprising findings, watch his TED talk, and if that holds your interest, read the New York Times article about him, “Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?”

While catching up on Chipchase’ blog, I found a slideshow and a paper about Nokia Open Studios, a project his team ran in 2007. As an alternative method for design research, Nokia conducted public design contests in three “shantytown” communities in Ghana, India, and Brazil. The project was an innovative way for Nokia to engage these communities as well as a fascinating strategy for discovering the wants and needs of such distant (both geographically and culturally distant) communities. This slideshow summarizes the project and also contains interesting lessons about design research. For more detail, see the paper.

New Don Norman article: “Technology First, Needs Last”

Posted in theory, user research by Dan on December 9, 2009

This blog has been missing in action for the past two days. I’d like to make the excuse that that was some kind of a lesson in design, but I’m not yet sure what that lesson might have been.

Since I last posted, Don Norman published an essay arguing that major conceptual breakthroughs in design, as opposed to incremental innovation, are driven by the exploration of new technologies rather than the desire to meet needs: “Technology First, Needs Last.”

Norman’s other essays are available here.

Trap streets are a clever 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