Thoughts and articles about design, digital era and more…
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.
Class Write Up: Three Years of Learning Creative Founder is in many way the anti-foundations of interaction design.It has no interest in designing interfaces, or usability (except as a means to an end.) Yet it is the ultimate design class, using design methodologies to understand customers and buyers, and to speak value in their language, and to provide change in their lives.
Creative Founder was the first class I taught at CCA, when it was called Designer as Founder. I suggested teaching a startup class to the chair of the department because I believe designers should understand business. I suspected designers would resist taking a class that admitted it was teaching them business, but would flock to sexy start-up land. It’s been waitlisted every year, though no longer for the original reasons. It has developed the reputation of being ridiculously hard, and the class that gets you ready for thesis, and then for life.
Zhiyou and Jaime working the BMC. The first one was spring of 2014..
I thought I might try a new series. I read a lot of books, between pleasure and teaching, and I have a backlog of gems. So once a week I’m going to point you at one. I’m not going to write a long review, just tell you why I liked it.
This week’s is The Culture Map by Erin Meyer
First, she’s a lovely writer. Many business books are so busy telling you how important they are, they forget to make their writing pleasant to read. Erin is a joy to read.
Second, her insights are more important every day. The teams I worked with in the valley were multicultural (Russian, French, Indian, Chinese, and more), and the classes I teach are multicultural (Chinese, Mexican, Brazilian, Italian and more) and everyone is always freaking each other out. Our default assumption clash. I write a lot about teams, and one thing that breaks teams apart is conflicting assumptions. Understanding cultural norms helps you recontextualize surprising interactions, and move toward compassion and collaboration.
I teach a number of classes at CCA, including Creative Founder, Story and Play. One year I tried on teaching Foundations. I love the Sophomores, and the class went great, but I found myself a bit bored teaching core concepts yet again. I passed on teaching the class the next year in favor of some other “weirder” ones (like Play!). I want to write up my choices as I designed this class so that other teachers can use this as a resource. And someday I may return to this interesting problem, “How do we make interaction and UX designers?”
Here is the syllabus. The best part of it is, IMO, the deliverable checklist.
This is the prettified version, made by Bibiana Bauer Goals and Process When I committed to teaching this class, I had a lot of decisions to make. My Foundation class would be 15 weeks long, once a week, for six hours. This may feel like a lot of time, but it’s not, really, to teach the foundations of interaction design. I believe it’s not enough to teach “pure” interactive des..
Every wonder if there was a better way to form and manage teams?
Before I disappeared for the summer, as I am wont to do, I gave a well received talk on teams at the Lean Startup Meetup. The video and slides are available. Enjoy!
Five years ago I walked away from corporate life and started teaching. I thought it’d be easy; I already gave highly rated talks and ran full workshops. But becoming a teacher taught me how little I knew, and changed how I did everything.
We learn with our hands not with our ears. The first class I taught was an eight week, two-hour a week course on User Experience. I freaked out. How could I cover all of UX in this limited time! So I made the classic mistake. I lectured for two hours each week, then gave homework.
Danielle Barnes, pal and wise producer, told me students were asking for more in-class exercises. I was put-out (we have a lot to cover!) but I listened and added exercises. Students learned better. Homework got way better. I started adding more in class exercises, and traded lecture for coaching.
Now I lecture maybe ten minutes in every hour, and use homework for information transfer rather than droning on.
2. Draw Everything.
When I started teaching at CCA I was warned..
What if summer reading wasn’t trashy but fun, but wonderful reads that were wonderful all the way through?
I’m sharing some of my favorite page turners from the last year (or two): fiction and non. Every single one of these is engrossing and fascinating and edifying all at once.
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
I found solid evidence that, of all people, Napoleon did it: he buried the memory of this great man – Gen. Alexandre Dumas, the son of a black slave who led more than 50,000 men at the height of the French Revolution and then stood up to the megalomaniacal Corsican in the deserts of Egypt. (The “famous” Alexandre Dumas is the general’s son – the author of The Three Musketeers.) Letters and eyewitness accounts show that Napoleon came to hate Dumas not only for his stubborn defense of principle but for his swagger and stature – over six feet tall and handsome as a matinee idol – and for the fact that he wa..
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