Thoughts and articles about design, digital era and more…
I’ve been too busy to post, but I just tripped over this “Golden Oldie:” CarbonIQ UCD Methods
I’m still proud of the work Gabe Zentall and I did on this document in frigging 2001, and I’ll argue it stands up pretty darn well to the test of time.
This is another “half baked” post. Hope it’s useful!
Personas have been around for a long time in marketing. Alan Cooper introduced personas and scenarios to interaction design to solve the problem of keeping the target user top-of-mind when creating software.
They often look like this:
But after reading Indi Young’s great article on the problem with demographics in personas, and influenced by my own research into fiction construction (in particular, the GMC) AND Laura and Kate’s provisional persona work, I’ve built a simple template I use in my teaching.
A provisional persona is your first theory about who the target user is, based on early research. Here is my rough template:
Who is this person? Name or code-name. (Names can carry stereotypes, as many studies have shown) Role: Product manager, student, mom, cashier, cook, trip planner. Goal and Motivation: I want this, because that. Conflict & Attempts: Why I can’t do it now? What stands in my way? What am I tryin..
I have some things I need to get off my chest. This is a ramble, but I’m in too much pain to tidy it up. If it’s too rambly, go to the final section about naming names at least, please.
Not Here was written in 2014, the year of #YesAllWomen. I might call it the moment I “woke” up, but like nested nightmares in which you wake up just to find yourself in another nightmare, I keep waking up and it doesn’t look to be stopping soon.
Shortly after I wrote Not Here, I wrote “Tweaking the Moral UI” for A List Apart. I went through rounds and rounds with my editor. If we were going to write this for a very male developer-heavy audience, we were going to have an article that was airtight. The only time I’ve come even close to that degree of editing was when I wrote for a peer-reviewed journal and a panel tore apart every sentence. For the Moral UI, every sentence got torn apart twice.
Potentially angering men is a dangerous business if you are a woman.
A woman’s worst nightmare? That’s prett..
I’ve been publishing fully formed essays lately, and I thought I’d pause to share a half-baked idea, to invite my readers to help bake it.
Recently I published A Unified Theory for the Design of Just About Anything. I’m working through a longer piece on applying this to software/web, and while I was writing about Context, I realized a Context Canvas would be a useful tool.
Canvases are living documents you place on the wall of your team workplace to create a shared context. They are amended and updated as the team knowledge grows.
Below is a second draft of a Context Canvas for Product Design and Management. it’s been through one iteration after and early test.
If you use it, please leave a comment on how it worked for you!
I first hard of Anders Ericsson in one of the funnest literary nonfiction books I’ve ever read, Moonwalking with Einstein, when he coached a young journalist to become memory champion of the United States. Or perhaps it was earlier, in Gladwell’s Outliers, where his work gave birth to the ten thousand hours myth. His research has been fodder to many a fascinating book, but too often it has been mangled and misunderstood.
In this book, Anders teams up with a science writer to create a fascinating, accurate and ultimately inspiring book, Peak. I urge you to buy it, and discover the lie of talent and the promise of a type of practice that will allow anyone to become an expert. That’s right: anyone.
from the book description
“Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditional..
Sketchnotes from SiWC 2017If you plan to do NaNoWriMo, you’re going to write 1,667 words a day. That’s a lot of words to write everyday. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser (if you like to outline, or just write and see what comes up), you are going to get stuck. You can always “freewrite,” which looks like this:
“Oh god what do I write I’m totally stuck, I should never have signed up for this, my characters are stupid except the duck, he’s kinda interesting, I wonder why he limps? maybe he was a spy in the last war…”
Freewriting sometimes works, and always adds to your wordcount. But I find these blobs of text super annoying in revision. I prefer to look for more useful ideas for inspiring material that might actually contribute to the final draft.
I wrote a big synthesis of writing advice up here: The Shape of Story and it makes for good October reading (I hope!) It covers plot and characters and many other helpful big picture ways to think about your book. It’s how you make a g..
A few years back I was obsessed with the question of why some companies rocked at one thing, and sucked at another. How could Amazon be so good at Information Architecture & Interaction Design, and yet so bad at Graphic Design (and Apple software the opposite: pretty and pretty unusable.) I mean, they could afford hire endless numbers of designers, right?
Around the same time I was studying a lot of Game Design theory, and I came across MDA, a theory of how game design works. MDA is a theory about the emergent nature of game play. It says when you combine game MECHANICS (shoot something, collect coins, jump over something, open a locked door, etc) the combination becomes DYNAMICS (sidescroller, boss battle, etc) which then is experienced by a player as a type of fun, or AESTHETICS (Fellowship, Challenge, Fantasy etc.)
I also was reading up on Loops and Arcs, which are ways to organize game play. That’s when I realized MDA was missing architecture. Which led to asking what else was mi..
If you like this article, you probably want to sign up to be notified when my new book on Visual Thinking is out (in less than a month, I promise!) Also, there is discussion and some clarification on the Medium version of the post.
When I first heard about Design Thinking, I thought it was a clever rebranding effort by IDEO to charge twice as much for user-centered design. What can I say, I’m an old fart of a designer, and when I read about design thinking, I didn’t really see the big whup. And I wasn’t alone.
But over time I’ve discovered that the oft-parodied approach to Design Thinking — a lot of post-its and a lot of prototyping — works better than nearly any other approach to product and service innovation.
Do designers truly think in a different way?
The key is the word “thinking.” I want to make an argument that Design Thinking is a kind of thinking based on three key cognition theories:
Distributed Cognition Expertise Thinking Iterative World Modeling Let me break ea..
Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
Very few people are good at or good with feedback. Yet it is the only way we can get better at what matters: work, marriage, friendships. This book helps you give better feedback, get better at making sense of the feedback you’re given. And maybe, most importantly, what to do with that feedback. Including, sometimes, not taking it at all.
This book is just terrific. Well written, yet I had to stop every so often to digest the ideas and meditate on my own life. I’ve used it in class over and over as well, as I teach students about critique of both their work and how they work. No matter what you do, it should be in your personal library.
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