Design

Shillington Design Blog - MaricorMaricar

5 Ideas I liked (since January): Pie + Creative brainstorming, Google work philosophy, Watercolor Typography, Facebook Userflow

1. One of my favorite ideas in the past year.

Pie + User Feedback or Community Involvement + Design = PieLab

2.  This PaidContent article on the insensitive coincidences of online ads and tragic news stories (e.g. shooting massacre articles and bloody novelty shirt ads).

Screencap by Evan Brown

3.  “Why Google Does Things The Way It Does“, by The Guardian.

Thought-provoking.  Because you keep hearing about how Google is revolutionary, but they’re never as suave at branding themselves as Apple, plus they have weird ideas like Google glass, and annoying decisions like killing Google Reader:

“In its behaviour and vocabulary, Google oozes scientific method. A couple of times recently I’ve heard Google executives say in public, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. …engineers are trained not to act on intuition. You are allowed to have intuition, of course, but you use it to make hypotheses, which you then test. You act on the results of those tests…

When an experiment is completed, you either choose to follow up on it, or you terminate it and move on to something else. A scientist doesn’t get emotional about this; it’s the way the system works, and everyone knows that it’s all for the best.”

4.  I don’t know which I enjoyed more – the Maricor/Maricar watercolor typography exercises…

Or the Shillington Design Blog “I Love These Guys” category page, where they were featured?

Shillington Design Blog - MaricorMaricar

Shillington Design Blog – MaricorMaricar

5.  Facebook sharing its “Report Abuse” interaction flow.

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6 Fun finds: Cake furniture, Bags for mess-less toast, logical fallacies, a cute wedding invitation, an IDEO experimental twitter project and an Audrey Tatou movie

Haven’t had these visual collection posts in a while.  No wonder tabs are piling up again, haha.

1. Cake Furniture!

Sapore dei Mobili, by Ryosuke Fukusada and Rui Pereira via hovercraftdoggy

2.  Toaster Bags! by Boska via Co. Design

Smart! You get the grilled cheese, you get the grill marks, but you don’t get the hot dripping ooze and hard-to-clean crumbs everywhere.

Usable up to 50 times!

The amazing things…polytetrafluoroethylene can do.

3.  John & Sally Argyle Wedding Invitations via Designspiration

I love these.  Beautifully designed, clever and clean.

Just because it’s an age-old tradition-slash-sacrament doesn’t mean you can’t make the invite fresh.

4.  Delicacy via I-D

Just seemed like a movie I’d like to look for.  Read the review here.

5.  Exquisite Corpse, by IDEO Labs via Core77

6.  YourLogicalFallacyIs

Interesting site outlining various propaganda tools and techniques.

Wes Anderson | The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 | Fast Company

Fast Company 100 Most Creative People 2012: I’m impressed.

I know I am such a fan girl, even of the hard-copy-physical-media magazine.

But, I think this is how a text-rich magazine is translated smartly to web.

It retains the strengths of a text content-rich magazine, plus the way they structured the information, and how to navigate through it, is just practical.

It prepares for and takes advantage of the strengths of web.

On paper or print, a large part of the ease is just being able to randomly flip-through.

I just realized now that I can go through and enjoy an entire magazine without even reading the table of contents.

Not the same for a web experience – people won’t click on things that they don’t feel will have something interesting “behind” it.

Now, that makes it hard because that means every single piece of content you have has to have an enticing way of being found.

Be it through a text link, an engaging image or a meaningful description.

But, what the web has, that print doesn’t, is adaptability (according to your personal taste).  It can allow you to explore a single set of information using multiple systems of navigation – going through something the way you’d find interesting.

And, that’s what Fast Company did for their 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012 issue.

The design team for the feature, who I’d like to name and laud if I could (I’ll try to find them), decided to have two ways of wading through the content.

You can either go through:

1) a countdown-type, names-in-order of “creativity” list (similar to the magazine),

2) or through a skill-centered path, where you go through the articles according to what advice or skill sets you want to work on.

The skill-groups are cute, too:

Be Weirder

Do Good, Well

Be More Productive

Think

Rethink

Sell

Lead

See, relevant and concise.

The entries themselves also follow the little guidelines I see on the usability sites, and they help.

Bulleted lists, highlighted text, one-paragraph nuggets of content; relevant hyperlinks.

If they had used the exact same format from the magazine, it would have been so much harder and less interesting to go through.

I think I actually like the information architecture more than the list itself haha.  I shall just leave a comment on their page. Yay, Fast Company!

[Sorry for the really long image, I screengrabbed the entire page.]

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Design links: Prettily creative kids’ crafts’ site; Hiroki Nakamura, my style icon, fun typography features and manufactured-ly “vintage” design

1. MiniEco.co.uk

Aaargh, visually arresting site for crafting with kids!

I love the rainbow sprinkles-popcorn feature and all the rainbow objects!

2.  Hiroki Nakamura and VISVIM

This man is one of my style icons.  Not all his products really, but more of how he carries himself.  And how he’s able to pull off green bead necklaces with crisp shirts, and still seem like a gruff, straight but sophisticated man.

I also like his backpacks, and his retail philosopy.

VISVIM Laminaria Kudu

3. Onion Typography featured in CMYBacon

Onion Typography by André Baumecker

4.  Mid-Century Modern Typefaces Identified, featured in CMYBacon

Lubalin Graphic Bold – MCMTypefaces.Tumblr

5.  I like the old school, rough and artisanal design feel, so I enjoy this list of

40 Vintage and Retro Web Design Inspirations from InspirationFeed

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Teenage Engineering: The group that helped Ikea make a digicam out of cardboard

Ohmilawrd.  This site deserves its own entry.

Teenage Engineering was mentioned in the articles for IKEA KNÄPPA, the cheapest digital camera created, crafted from cardboard, featured on petapixel.

Teenage Engineering worked with Ikea on the camera, and with a name like that, I had to check out their site (wrong pronoun placement/use of antecedents).

I have to post their “About Us”-slash-“Careers” page.  I would like to work for a place that thinks of pages like this (but that’s just the fangirl in me talking):

The Stockholm agency’s current main product is a digital synthesizer and this is their product feature page:

That’s really all.  I just really wanted to show their site off. Haha nice clean, but colorfully loud aesthetic, highlighting their products.

P.S. While, I’m at it – this PS AT HOME site by Ikea, also a great idea.

Featuring their products in actual people’s homes.  Good strategy.

charts-graphs-types

Usability and User Experience: 5 articles that help clarify my job + a fun chart!

I would like to thank my twitter feed, for bringing me links that would help me explain to the clients and managers I work with, the nuances of what they’re trying to achieve.

User experience is some sort of buzzword in the web design and product development circle.  Or at least in the company I work in.

Managers talk about it, and the designers “name-drop” it.

My boss calls me a usability professional.  Sadly, it’s not what I want to be or want to be called, nor am I equipped to be one.

1.  Clarify what you’re aiming for

This piece in UX Matters, entitled More than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience Part I helps explain my predicament.

See, I want to be a User Experience professional.  I want to be a user researcher and, hopefully, an interaction designer.

That is much more than usability.  Usability only refers to the ease with which you are able to do something.  Whether a task can be accomplished or not; whether people make errors and how easily they navigate through a device or interface.

A user’s experience (hence the phrase “user experience“) can’t be oversimplified into just how easy it is to do something (otherwise it would just be called “user ease”).

It has to be enjoyable to use, or give some sort of value.  It’s an entire package of sensations and delivery beyond “efficiency”.

As the article points out, it’s usability + value + desirability + adoptability.

Multiple frameworks have already cropped up I know, this just seems to be the most concise and memorable one I’ve seen (so it’s easy to repeat).

Frank Guo’s User Experience Framework

2.  Acknowledge that it takes a lot of humility, emotional maturity and self-restraint (not just creativity and camaraderie) to make a multi-discipline group work together

Richard Anderson writes, in depth, about the multiple perspectives on “working in silos”.

This strikes a chord because a) there’s this one particular boss in our corporation who loves using the word “silos”, in meetings, to repeatedly refer to why it’s difficult to create successful strategy.

b) Because I’ve realized that product development teams are composed of people from different educational and professional backgrounds, all required to be creative and productive together.

The really really great thing about Anderson’s entry, is that he argues for both the good and bad sides of deferring to each other’s expertise and “leaving your _____ hat at the door”.  Because, that is how complex the UX design team situation is.

On one hand, you do want to respect that the designer knows design best, the developers know code best and the researchers know social sciences best. But, yes, once you’re all discussing “UX”, everybody really tries to stir the pot and get their hands in the stew.

I also like his conclusion, regarding the collaborative process centering on delivering a “good experience” to the consumer.

I wish it were that easy, though.  When put in practice in real life.  But at least, in terms of corporate evangelization, Anderson’s articles and talks (“Borrowing from the field of child development…“) would be very helpful in explaining how team division and conflicts should be dealt with.

Richard Anderson – UX Working team objectives

3.  Dirk from Involution Studios writes about his (seemingly scathing) reaction [“Losing faith in UX”] to a Whitney Hess article, which, to be fair, did seem to put UX designers on a high horse.  Or a much higher horse than she should have.

I sympathize with Mr….. Dirk.  Despite my not having worked in or with as many start-ups.  Mostly because of humility.

I am humbled by my new-ness in this field, and by the fact that, realistically, I am primarily a market researcher and a user researcher.

Meaning: As much as I badger and hammer my digital strategist teammates to refine their strategy (or actually make a sound one), since I’m the one who “knows the user”, I respect the difficulty of what they have on their plate.

Product Strategy, particularly in my team, is differentiated from…my role – user research.  And, as much as, sometimes, I’d like to think I could create better strategy, it isn’t my job to and I honestly wouldn’t enjoy just doing that day-in and day-out.

I’ve always been the one checking how people respond to products or content, or finding out user needs, but it’s a whole other level of responsibility to put a product out there and your ass on the line, juggling business decisions and all.  This is why I particularly dream of becoming an Interaction Designer, not a Product Manager or Brand Strategist.  I’d rather work with systems, framework and evidence, more than price points and competition.

To each his own, basically.  I just hope that people had as nuanced a view about work.

4.  This is really more for me.

I like how this UX matters article articulately differentiated the disciplines behind Agile and User Experience.

Again, being new in a web design team, these are phrases I kept hearing over and over and over during my first weeks of work.

It was almost funny, sometimes.  People would get into lengthy discussions or arguments on what kind of method to use, when, if you really thought about it, it’s not as if they were mutually exclusive.

This article, Agile User Experience Design, communicates how “Agile” is a web development process and “User experience” is a design tenet and methodology.  They can actually work together.  Please read the article if you want to know more; Ms. Janet Six is much more articulate.

5.  On a lighter note, there’s also “How to annoy a UX designer“.

It’s really practical and funny at the same time.  Thank you very much, Peter Hornby, for writing this.
Worst answer—You’re kidding, right? You’re employing me as a UX designer, and you want me to code? Sure, I’ll hack something together. Perhaps we should discuss my hourly rate?

And this really fun infographic! on chart types 🙂

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Innovative Social Media Apps: Let’s make things simpler, tangible and more relevant, shall we?

Ideating in this day and age calls for a whole other set of creativity.

I want to bookmark some of the most relevant (to me) tweaks and ideas that people thought up to harness the stream of social media…stuff.

Responses to oversharing.  No one can deny that individuals with thriving online lives experience lots of clutter.
Every day, it’s entry after entry, stream upon stream of individuals, groups, organizations sending you virtual updates.

So what can we do about it?

1. To combat the overall bombardment, Flavors.me, featured in Fast Company, collects and streamlines your different social feeds into one “page”.  Fast Company writes that it’s similar to About.me, but I’m just generally happy that there are ideas like these that are trying to corral the onslaught.

2.  But then, we also have Shu.ush, which works only within Twitter, featured on Co. Design.  I love how it literally “tones down” the din from talkative tweeters.  Just really amusing.

We’ve also got innovation ideas that make the digital Instagram stream more tangible.

3.  Printstagram takes your Instagram pictures and turns them into stickers.  via PetaPixel

Similarly, you also have Instaprint by Breakfast NYC, which is an installation or a physical photo booth that prints Instagram photos too.  Featured by Creative Applications.

How about letting someone’s Instagram stream give you travel guidance?  Enter Wander.  Featured on PetaPixel.

I think this surprisingly makes sense, since iPhone or Apple product owners would probably frequent places of interest for global counterparts with similar purchasing power.

Damn, I talk in a really boring way now.  Mental laziness.

4.  Also, to make things easier to grasp for the Pinterest generation, Brazilian agency ionz creates infographics out of users’ personal informaton (likes, dislikes, favorites) to create your “digital persona” desktop wallpaper.  Fun idea. via Creative Applications

And lastly, for people who just want to keep their finds to themselves:

5.  Pinry.  via The Next Web

For the people who really just want to collect stuff, without sharing.

Isn’t that great – they even have apps for selfish, hoarding people! Like me!

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Fangirl mode: the barbarian group

I came across the barbarian group through an article one of their co-founders wrote an article on the vulnerability of the social media giants on Beta Beat.

I’ll be watching out for their work.  They seem to be the first massive purely digital agency I’ve seen.  The others usually seem to be under multinational umbrella agencies who started in traditional media.

I also like the navigation set-up of their portfolio – which has a secondary navigation bar showcasing: new projects, case studies, featured projects, greatest hits, lab projects and a client list.

They just made it simple to find things, with clear paths.  Which is just right considering they’re in the business of interaction design.

They have an interesting blog – which both showcases their work, but also reports relevant industry-wide updates.  I found this nice article on managing “content creep” – the social media content strategy of version of feature creep.

Besides that, they have amusing personal (okay, that’s not the right word) projects like Is Pinterest the next ____? , which is their way of poking fun at all the Pinterest hullaballoo.  Although, aside from fun projects like that and a screensaver made of your friends’ Instagram feeds, they have innovation projects like a digital mirror.

via slideshare

Link Glut (Part II): User Research

1.  I’m going to start off with a Jan Chipchase blog entry.  He’s one of the flagship user research “rockstars” that got me interested in the whole design research thing, with his global mobile interaction studies.  He now works for frog design, and used to be the most prominent researcher for Nokia.

I like this blog entry because it’s a real-world look into what goes on in a design research process, within a multinational product development agency context.

Often researchers get ahead of themselves and like to talk about the opportunities they perceived after uncovering unmet needs. The fact is in many cases needs are being met, just not particularly well.

2.  On capturing user research data, which is actually a crucial and relatively overlooked process step.

I really love the specialization of the Internet – here, I can learn about and relate to the troubles and advantages of note-taking while on field.

3.  How to tell managers the’re wrong about UX research and still get hired

User experience research isn’t about finding out what people like or dislike. And it’s not about asking users to design your interface. It’s about seeing the difficulties users face when trying to use the design you’ve invented.”

Just because you like a certain author doesn’t mean someone else will enjoy reading the book. You’ll only be able to get the right book if you know something about the person, either by spending some time with them or by asking questions.”

But this doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t do user research. In the famous ‘Playboy’ interview in 1985, Jobs said: “We’ve done studies that prove that the mouse is faster than traditional ways of moving through data or applications,”

4.  This desonance blog, which I came across in an Andy Polaine post.

I love how the author writes, in detail, about his user research and framework-creation learnings.  Really helpful to see process-centric insight like this; you don’t see that every day.

5.  Very good advice on presenting user research from Doors of Perception, also featured by Andy Polaine.