Friday, December 14, 2012

A collection of Design articles

I'm using this blog to also document/store links to UX-related things, so here's a dump of a bunch of them. This collection is a little more geared to good reading about Design & Great Products, in no particular order...

Startups, this is how design works
  • Pretty fundamental description of what design is and isn't.
  • Includes Dieter Rams' Ten Principles of "Good Design" (more about these ten principles here and here, with accompanying visuals)
  • Explains different types of design (UX vs UI, visual, etc.)
  • Design founders
  • How to find designers

What your company will look like when Millennials call the shots

Ten core principles that successful business will adhere to:
  1. Enable open collaboration across the organization. Remove silos and enable diverse cross-functional teams
  2. Ask for more from every employee. Continually present new challenges and allow for rapid growth for those who perform
  3. Value ideas over experience. Seek out and recognize good ideas wherever they exist in your eco-system, whether from the CEO, mail room clerk, supplier or even customer
  4. Engineer humanity. Utilize technology to make products more customized, communications more personal and consumers lives more enhanced
  5. Don’t skimp on quality. Consumers will quickly avoid those products that fail to meet their expectations and have megaphones to ensure their thoughts are heard
  6. Integrate responsibility into the core of the business. Don’t give back- be a company with a mission beyond just profits
  7. Be genuine. Don’t hide behind celebrity personas- focus on connecting to individual consumers and communities in ways that are authentic, relevant and meaningful
  8. Think 2-Way. Partner with consumers across all areas of the business- live and breathe transparency and open communication
  9. Foster advocacy. Build products and create marketing that invites consumers to share and leverages word-of-mouth, the most influential source of information
  10. Change. If your business is not continually searching, evolving and finding new ways to do things, you won’t keep up

Don't Let the Minimum Win Over the Viable

Helpful best practices:
  • "MVP" doesn't mean "smallest imaginable" -- it means knowing the core features and not adding anything beyond that.
  • Prototype (and test) multiple MVPs simultaneously, so that the team doesn't get anchored in one.
  • Embrace a smart business model design & hypothesis. It doesn't have to be perfect -- it should evolve as your MVP does -- but you should have some idea of the economics from the start
  • Stay true to your vision and the passion behind it
  • The market will change -- be aware of how you might adapt as it does

How LEGO turned its brand
  • Biggest point: You need constraints -- real problems, guiding principles -- for design to actually productively help

How To Ask--And Listen--Like You Mean It
  • Tips on inquiry and reflective listening
  • Includes pitfalls to genuine listening (it's hard!!)

Fostering a Culture of Dissent

  • On leadership: delegate, but be involved in the small things that make the biggest impact. Give employees a voice (in everything!), the power to influence, the knowledge that dissent is truly valued, and clear responsibilities and objectives.
  • On hiring: Involve a lot of people, so that new hire will have the support of them when they start. Would hire for good problem solving over experience.
  • Goal-setting: MORPH = Mission (what's your mission at the company, in one sentence?); Objective (top 3-5 goals for the quarter); Results (metrics to measure those objectives); People (what changes need to happen to achieve this?); How (as in, How did you do?)

Emotionally Intelligent Interactions

  • It's basically paying attention to details that give personality to your site/brand. It's great especially to turn a potential negative experience into something positive (like siteerror404's, timeouts, and such) or livening up dead points in the experience.

Ending the opinion wars: fast, collaborative design direction

  • Make sure you get past people's natural inclinations to jump to conclusions, and actually take the time to explore the why's, to look at the strength of the data to support design decisions (and saying no), and mostly allowing the whole team full participation in the journey.

Working Backwards
A way to get to shared vision by starting with the "end product" (the LEGO piece also has a bit of this).

A New Mobile UX Design Material
Applying principles from animation to mobile. Most of it is pretty straightforward, but good to think about anyway.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Adopting Design Thinking

I was scouring old information and decks today and found some slides/decks that, although fairly basic and targeted at the design thinking initiate, were still pretty relevant to the practice of trying to get non-believers to understand why design thinking matters, and what kind of difference it can make.

Traditional vs. Design Thinking
The first was this slide from an Innovation & Delight slide deck that sums up the differences in simple terms:

Of course, it's one matter to understand the concepts here, and another one entirely to actually be able to act upon these every day. Or, better yet, inspire others to start behaving like a design thinker.

How Design Thinking is Different from UX Design
The second is this deck from Sylvain Cottong on the differences between UX design, service design, and design thinking:

Overall this isn't anything that is new to a UX or design thinking practitioner, but looking at it from the lens of someone whose organization is not converted or equipped just yet to convert to using design thinking as a matter of course, it had some clear details about what is and what isn't different facets of design, and why one should care.

It was published in 2009, so there are certainly some things in there that I wouldn't agree with (particularly some of the definitions of design thinking on page 53), and some things that have definitely withstood the past 3 years (slide 58).

Particularly worth a skim for anyone thinking about doing UX (the first section on UX is pretty comprehensive), and understanding how design thinking is gradually moving forward business.

Why Design Thinking Matters
Finally, another deck, this one from Jan Schmiedgen, focused on introducing design thinking to the business-minded (he calls them "convergent thinkers" -- haha):

A great summary, I thought, of arguments for design thinking. (I bet there were several illustrative stories told to accompany this presentation.) Toward the end, starting on slide 74, he gets into highlighting the differences between traditional business thinking and design thinking. I particularly liked the quote on page 89; it really highlights the gap we have today and where we could be.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


A colleague forwarded this yesterday -- What a great concept! And what beautiful visual design and CSS, too.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the goodies this month!