Design

Why Snowflakes Are Counterintuitively Integral to Design Systems

Why Snowflakes Are Counterintuitively Integral to Design Systems

The problem Design systems (e.g. style guides, pattern libraries, etc.) are all the rage. They speed product design through consistency of patterns, components and behaviors which, in turn, drives out random, one-off elements (let’s call them ‘snowflakes’). It’s a noble goal, except that design systems also slow down product teams. The drive for consistency and the efficiencies that stem from it can crowd out the flexibility needed to craft the right element for the right situation at the right time. How do we embrace this conundrum? By not making it a conundrum. We can embrace snowflakes as a positive aspect…

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Notes (quotes, really) from Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. A Strategic Design Vocabulary. Some of these are a tad out of context. I’d read the book if I were you. It’s very good, short and has both high level strategy ideas and lower level tactical examples. What gives designers the right to approach such complex areas, usually the domain of political scientists and civil servants? Aren’t these essentially beyond the capacity and capability — if not remit — of design? Culture is not something that can be designed, after all; is it even ethical to consider that it could be? However, a…

UX Agencies Sell (and Clients Buy) Informed Decision Making

UX Agencies Sell (and Clients Buy) Informed Decision Making

What is User Experience (UX)? UX is a process, an approach, a way of thinking and an outcome. Outcome, in particular, is the key aspect to UX’s value. Are you solving a real problem? Are you tackling something meaningful to people? Are you bettering the organization, the system, the… whatever? I hope so. Otherwise, you’re selling an inferior product (be it a physical thing, a service, an idea, etc.). Let’s also be clear that outcomes are not journey maps or competitive analyses or any number of other artifacts that will be generated during the course of a project. As much…

UX Design and Congress are More Similar Than You Think

UX Design and Congress are More Similar Than You Think

I listened to this interview with retiring US Representative Rush Holt and it struck me how well his viewpoint could be applied to client services. Holt makes the case that his time in Congress was one where he would apply his ethics publicly (and he admits that he came up short from time to time). Similarly, client services is also an arena where you apply your ethics. Ethics can, of course, encompass how you treat people, your business practices, etc. but they should also encompass your principles and convictions. The process you use, your client interactions and your company’s culture…

Photoshop’s blend modes explained

I’ve used Photoshop for so long, I used to keep a backup copy of it on a floppy disk. Nonetheless, I’ve never really known how the blend modes worked. I simply experimented until wither my file looked the way I wanted it or I abandoned the exploration altogether (which was usually the case). Decades later, I come across this explanation. Too bad I don’t design much anymore.

Book Notes: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Cognitive friction: the resistance encountered by a human intellect when it engages with a complex system of rules that change as the problem changes. “#1 goal of all computer users is to not feel stupid.” Larry Keeley’s three qualities for high tech products: Capability: what can be done? Supplied by technologists. Viability: what can we sell? Supplied by business people. Desirability: what do people want? Supplied by designers. Need and desire are not the same. Desire leads to loyalty. Designing for a minority of users leads to success rather than attempting to accommodate all users. Specificity is key. Find a…

Google Maps Frustration

If you search for our university on Google maps you’ll find a listing for a liquor store right in the middle of campus (which isn’t correct, of course). So, what’s a person to do? Report the problem to Google, right? Right. Well, good luck. I didn’t see an obvious way to submit an issue, so I went to the help link and did a search. I ended up a Google help article describing how to report a problem. Let’s count the problems with this process, shall we? Most obvious, is that there is no obvious way to report a problem…

The Perfect Higher Ed Layout?

I decided to head over to eduStyle to check out all the site redesign submissions I’ve missed over the last few months. It turns out that “differentiation” doesn’t seem to be a marketing objective anymore. Check out all these variation on a theme (and there are plenty more I could have chosen). What gives? Have we as an industry actually hit upon higher ed’s perfect website layout- big image/interactive area across top with multiple columns of text and images below?

Video Tips: Cooking Shoots

I’m new to the video world. I don’t own a video camera (well, my phone, but that’s not why I got it), lights, mics, editing software or anything else associated with video production. Naturally, of course, I don’t let that stop me from tackling self imposed video assignments at work. I’m certainly no expert (hardly a novice), but that won’t stop me from using my blog to spit out some tips from what little I do know. My assignment was to shoot a how-to baking segment like you’d see on any cooking show. Here’s what I learned: Have a script…

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