Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Countless designers seem to be whining about Apple’s incessant deployment of visual metaphors. As designers, we like to clean, harmonize, rem...
Countless designers seem to be whining about Apple’s incessant deployment of visual metaphors. As designers, we like to clean, harmonize, remove bumps in curves, straighten lines, literally organize the life out of everything.
One has only to look at ebay’s new logo to know it is within the capabilities of every designer to remove the heart and soul of anything in the name of formal structure. Designers talk a lot about user-centered design, or design for human factors, maybe more so since Bill Moggridge died. It seems that Interaction Design has matured more in this matter than Visual Design.
If Visual Design was more Human Centered, we would realize that vernacular, metaphor, inference and observation are crucial elements of communication and understanding. We would realize that we live in a world where local relevance is as important as global consistency, and that applying swiss to every system could be akin to facism. We’d see that there other kinds of design, many, that are not swiss in heritage.
Design which is interested in the vernacular, admires rough edges, seeks the peculiarities that make something more human. We’d acknowledge that there are many design frameworks that admire the idiosyncratic rather than forcing homogeny. We would realize that the foundational insight for the Apple Brand at Xerox Parc is that computer systems can look more like something we know, rather than like lines of code and commands of a native system.
As designers, we need to become more interested in the world around us and take inspiration from what we observe. We need to open our eyes, our minds and our toolsets. By doing this, we may move skeuomorphism beyond kitsch towards defining a new vernacular.
To celebrate the end of summer, the SF studio decided to raft 18 miles down the Middle Fork American River. What can we say, we’re thrill seekers!
Hitting the water in the early morning, we had our trusted guides at American River Recreation to lead us through the wild rapids–the most exhilarating rapid being the Tunnel Chute, which we learned was created when miners blasted apart a granite wall to create a tunnel to redirect the river. There were also plenty of long, mellow stretches on the river; perfect for relaxing and attempting to splash water into each other’s rafts.
Some Method team members stayed and made a camping trip out of the weekend, enjoying burgers, camp fires, and river swimming. It was the perfect way to say ‘see ya’ to summer. Can’t wait for next year’s trip!
On Saturday, the world lost design legend Bill Moggridge to his battle with cancer. We at Method are heartbroken. For a special few here, Bill was a colleague and friend, but he was and remains an inspiration to all of us. Inventor of the first laptop computer and founder of the interaction design field, Bill had a profound impact on our world.
Fittingly, there are already a number of remarkable tributes to Bill online, including articles by our friends at Fast Company and The LA Times. The Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum–which Bill had directed since 2010–created this beautiful video.
For our own tribute, a few of us at Method would like to share our memories of Bill and his influence:
“Throughout my career, Bill remained a touchstone for what I imagined interaction designers should be. Not just in terms of what we do as a discipline, but in how we should behave toward both the people we design for and the people we design with. Whenever I talked to him – whether it was when he visited live|work for his book, Designing Interactions, or my very first day at IDEO where he sat down and spent time with me talking about my journey as a designer to date, or the moment when we spoke about my brief time at Twitter and I introduced him to Evan Williams for an interview in his book, Designing Media – I was reminded of how important it was to remain warm, and humble, and generous regardless of what you feel your achievements have been. It is simply impossible to teach interaction design without making constant reference to him and his work. ”Uncle Bill” was and will remain a person for us all to aspire to.” – Ben Fullerton, Director, Interaction Design
“I stopped Bill on the steps of the Cooper Hewitt. He didn’t know me, yet he picked up on my accent and spent ten minutes talking with me, a stranger, about life the universe and everything. It was as if I had known him forever.” - Marc Shillum, Principal
“So much has already been said about Bill Moggridge’s impact on the design community and what we do for a living, but I’m astounded when I think of the larger impact he’s made on the world. Bill changed how we create. His influence on design education, his conscious and explicit focus on creating with an ‘empathetic eye,’ changed design forever, and directly resulted in more comfort, safety, satisfaction and pure joy in the form of products and services than anyone could have imagined. His legacy is greater than a single invention or technology. He has gifted the creators with a process of seeing and designing our own ideas through a superior lens.” – Mark Roudebush, Interaction Design Lead
“I don’t think I’m being over sentimental when I say that none of us here at Method would be doing what we do, the way that we do it, if it hadn’t been for Bill Moggridge. He has been the single biggest influence on my professional life. In my early teens, I read an article about him and his incredible work. It was because of that article that I knew I wanted to be a designer. Through my early product design education, it was Bill and IDEO that gave me the version of design that I knew I wanted to emulate. Studying computer-related design at the RCA, it was Bill’s work in forming ‘Interaction Design’ that gave context and meaning to our studies. I was then lucky enough to work with him during my internship at IDEO SF in 1999. I have never been so star struck as I was the day I saw him eating lunch in the same building. Soon I learned that Bill was not just someone to idolize professionally; he was the warmest, most open, most generous, thoughtful and inspiring man I have ever met. I also got to know him through his support in the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. My proudest career achievement is having Bill write a paragraph about my work in Service Design in his book, Designing Interactions. - Chris Downs, Principal
For more information on Bill Moggridge.
This October, join Method at the NEXT Service Design conference in Berlin! As a meeting place for the European digital industry, the NEXT conferences bring together marketing decision-makers and business developers with technical experts and creative minds to discuss important issues for the coming year.
With each conference dedicated to a specific emerging topic, NEXT Service Design will cover basic insights into the service design discipline, what businesses can learn from service design, and how the lean principal can be applied to services. Speakers will also discuss future trends and new developments that will not only influence service design, but spread to the whole digital and creative industry in the next few years.
One of five main keynote speakers, Method Principal Chris Downs, will be presenting, “Are we still talking about this?” In his talk, Chris will explore how today’s technological landscape has made it difficult to distinguish between a digital product and a service. So, where does that leave service design?
Early Bird tickets will only be available until 10 September. Buy your ticket now!
When I began writing Brands as Patterns in late 2010, I hadn’t full...
When I began writing Brands as Patterns in late 2010, I hadn’t fully realized the potential of the argument.
What I had foreseen was the convergence of interaction design with brand thinking and how that was going to change the business of building brands forever. What I hadn’t foreseen is that that same convergence has the potential to change the face of designing for interaction as well.
It occurred to me after this week’s verdict on the Apple – Samsung patent lawsuit that this goes beyond vilifying copycat design and begins to challenge the underpinning of all design for interaction.
It is, of course, somewhat ironic, that a discipline that was founded upon recognizing and notating the common patterns of users and is responsible for creating the standardized building blocks of design has produced one of the most hotly contended intellectual property battles.
The outcome of this verdict could mean that any designer of interface or behaviors could be financially liable for whether the function or behavior they’re designing is unique, or appropriated from a commonly held usage pattern.
Of course it is the declared goal of interaction design to make use easier, and building upon commonly held usage patterns had been the primary way this was achieved.
Some of the patents being protected—the bounce back behavior, the unlock gesture, pinch and zoom—have quickly become the standard way we all have come to understand touch interfaces. It seems incredulous to design a plethora of permutations as to how a user may perform these standard tasks. But, if you think about it, this is exactly what has happened in the physical world. A pin tumbler lock is pretty much the standard for physical locks and was patented in in the 1800′s by Linus Yale. Yet if you look at your key ring, there must be at least three kinds of keys that all have different behaviors, and that does not take into account numeric combinations, electronic key cards, or biometrics.
Traditionally the choice for any competitive brand, when faced with patent issues, is to license, innovate, or avoid. And because it would be hard to imagine someone like Apple licensing its core patents to the competition, the only real choice is to innovate.
This brings about an interesting conundrum: are we really going to reinvent standard interactions to create differentiation? And do we then pass on this inherent complexity to the user?
But, therein lies the opportunity. By creating a set of behaviors, functions and organizing principles that is unique and protectable, you create a stickiness within the interface that a user grows attached to. They begin to organize their systems through your tools, create value through your functionality, access and respond to your behaviors. Much in the same way that it is easy to become accustomed to the handling of a particular car, users become accustomed to the handling of the interface.
This is the true power behind brands as patterns. Branding has moved away from the tails of planes or the logo on a business card that can only signify the breed of the company. Branding has become the way you use something, the way you interact with a company, and the way you experience their products. So far, it is as protectable by law as a logo, a trade mark, or a slogan.
So, there are 2 implications for the interaction design community to consider:
1. If this thought presents a fundamental challenge to the very core of the discipline and blocks best practices, the user will ultimately suffer. Future users may be unable to convert between interfaces and will have remaster even the simplest of tasks. The adoption of standards solves this massive problem. Imagine the web without http; measurement without standard weights or distances, or currency conversion without a centralized rates. The standard patterns of interaction are only shared between designers with an adhoc agreement to create better experiences for all users.
To protect standardization in the future, we must create a legal entity that would hold the global decisions on which interactions are kept as common and which are created into Brand IP. This would represent the Standards of Common Interaction if you will.
2. If this thought embodies the true spirit of innovation and presents the opportunity to fuel innovation for the coming centuries. It’s clear that we must all begin the race towards creating more ‘brand owned’ experiences and interactions in earnest.
Ultimately, we must delight and engage the user in the uniqueness of the product or service as it relates to the ownable pattern of the brand. To do this, we have work ahead of us.
Melissa Martin is a Senior Interaction Designer out of Method’s San Francisco studio. This post originally appeared on her blog, MLSSAMRTN, which explores her thoughts on interaction design, UX strategy, graphic design, design research, and education.
As designers, we have a multitude of tools available to do our jobs. Each of these tools facilitates the bridge between thinking and making, and we can start to favor certain tools over others. This habit can eventually lock us into a particular way of working, even if we’re not accomplishing what we need to.
I recently found myself in this rut and thought I’d share how I got myself out and the lessons learned along the way.
When I first started my career as an interaction designer, clients and developers typically required my designs be heavily documented with annotated wireframes. With the intention of saving myself time, I designed directly in Omnigraffle or InDesign. As I waded through ever-growing documents every time a change was made, my process became increasingly tedious and time consuming. My documents became increasingly complicated, and my creativity, resourcefulness, and motivation began to suffer due to the stagnation created by sitting in front of a mammoth wireframe document day after day. Moving forward, I needed to identify tools (and a process) that would reduce iterating within the detailed design documentation but would make our transition into creating this easier and less time consuming.
So this past year, I decided to make non-screen based tools a stronger part of my process to test how much I can accomplish before moving into the computer. I wanted to move beyond the mouse and engage with a tactile medium that allowed more hands-on manipulation of materials to explore and communicate concepts. I wanted to see how I could push the use of hand-based tools – pencils, pens, markers and paper – in designing interactive products and services. I over came my initial hesitation to change by viewing it as an opportunity to not only use a medium I love, but also challenge myself and my team to work nimbly with minimal materials.
Starting with the basics, we focused on roughly sketching out ideas on paper, usually around a particular mental model, question or set of user goals We forced ourselves to stay within the medium for as long as possible before moving into the computer. The more we drew, we discovered more and more ways to stretch the medium to explore and communicate ideas. In one recent project, designing an e-learning platform, my team and I started with very rough, messy sketches using sharpies and legal sized paper.
As we solidified ideas, our sketches became more refined and colorful. After two weeks, we created a set of formal drawings that we then cut into modular components for a paper prototyping exercise with the client. The exercise helped us (and the client) begin to see how various components fit together creating a system that was bigger than the sum of its parts. And more importantly, how the information within them talked to each other and formed a cohesive experience for the student. The drawings also encouraged the client to do some sketching of their own, which led to a rich conversation, breaking down the client-agency barrier and allowing us to all work together to solve a common problem. The client enjoyed working in the format so much he requested a set of the drawings to take back with him and use with his product team.
In another project for a TV platform, we started experimenting with origami as a medium to communicate physical attributes and behaviors of the system. It was not only fun but got us thinking about the experience of using the product in 3 dimensions rather than a set of pages. Where a previous static wireframe failed to communicate this concept, a piece of paper sculpture triumphed instantly with the client.
Another positive effect the switch to hand-based tools has enabled is that Interaction Designers have been working even more closely, and consistently, with the Visual Designers. Our process has benefited tremendously from this because it allows our strongest concepts to be translated more quickly into higher fidelity comps and even prototypes. This has reduced our need to rev within wireframes and allows Interaction Designers to refine interaction logic and behavior while taking visual design into more consideration, something that is hard to do in wireframes.
Sketching early, and for longer, in the process might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how easy this step can be brushed aside or abandoned in lieu of the latest (and usually considered the fastest) tool. Moving away from familiar habits is of course uncomfortable and scary at first. What if I waste a bunch of time using something that leads me nowhere? What if the client doesn’t respond to hand drawn sketches? What if they perceive it as not “real work”? These and many other questions haunted me, but I had to trust that there would be valid lessons to learn even in failure.
Overall, I continue to find real value in the mind-body connection that occurs when you put pen to paper. My thinking thinking processes are more active and open when there is a feedback loop traveling between the my mind, arm, fingers, pen and paper. Drawing also forces us to break down a concept into its simplest form, preparing us to effectively communicate the idea with quickness and clarity. If it takes you 15 minutes to describe an idea or how something works, it’s probably too complicated and you should go back to the drawing board (no pun intended).
Moving forward, hand-based tools continue to strongly influence our process as well as our relationships with client. They have help our team to explore more ideas quicker, reduced time creating documentation and increased collaboration internally and with our clients. So go ahead, buy that shiny new rainbow pack of sharpies, fancy drawing pens and pencils and draw to your heart’s content.
Draw, scribble, doodle, cut, fold and most of all, have fun.
[Image taken from Martina's Anti-Pattern presentation]
The UXPA International Conference is one full week packed with workshops, panels and presentations all aiming to inspire User Experience and Interaction Designers to take the lead in their fields. There are also plenty of good parties and design jams, where designers come together to ‘hack’ a problem for a given time period. This year, the conference turned 21 and appropriately, it was held in Vegas, Nevada. I traveled from London to Sin City to join over 600 design professionals from all over the world, ready to share insights, make new friends, and get a big dose of inspiration.
On the second day of the conference, I gave a presentation on anti-patterns in design communication with co-presenter James O’Brien. He is a seasoned UX consultant and long time agile UX proponent, currently working with Sparrk. The title of our talk was, “Selling Design To Human Beings: 13 Communication Anti-Patterns That Kill Good Proposals.” While we often focus presentations on best practice patterns to improve our skills, James and I were interested in looking at the opposite, the anti-patterns, in how we communicate our designs, to learn to identify and fix these challenges. Anti-patterns are basically the opposite of best practices. And they don’t get enough focus.
Together, James and I established 13 anti-patterns to look out for and troubleshoot. Always passionate about cross-disciplinary collaboration and bringing ideas to market, this was a new angle to explore for both of us. We provided our audience with practical tips on how to address these communication challenges to help ideas along the the way from inception to product release. For example, ‘Speaking different languages’. As designers we need to communicate the value of our design ideas to business and development. This means it’s our responsibility to learn the languages of our audiences in order to clearly communicate the benefit of our design solutions.
We created a card-based role-playing game to accompany the session. Splitting the audience into teams of six, we gave each group a persona to assume, some tactics to fend off challenges, and 13 challenges the players had to defeat. They could barter with fellow players for skills (tactics) they lacked. This allowed them to role play the cross-disciplinary communication that solves design challenges. It also encouraged them to meet fellow conference goers and take away practical tips, in the form of the deck, that they could incorporate into their own practice.
After a successful presentation, I spent the rest of the week connecting with other UX professionals from around the world and learning from their leadership experiences. My biggest takeaway from the conference was that many of the other leadership sessions touched on themes I had explored in my own talk, particularly on the importance of learning to speak the language of business.
Ultimately, a very friendly conference to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I look forward to attending next year, when the UXPA conference will be held in Baltimore and Shanghai, to cater to an even more international audience.
Lucky for Method SF, sunshine is only a short bridge ride away, which we’re happy to take advantage of when we get out of the city for our annual picnic. Last week, we loaded up the party bus and set out for Paradise Beach County Park in Tiburon, CA. It was a full day of field sports, bounce house combat, and serious lounging.
Happy summer everyone! More picnic pics below!
Official Intern Month is almost coming to a close!
Last Friday you met Tim, a third year design student interning in the New York office. This week, we want to introduce you to James. Originally from Cupertino, California, James started interning at Method San Francisco in November 2011. In March he converted to full-time, working on the Insights team where he helps to address business needs through research, facilitated problem-solving, and structured thinking. Get to know him better below!
What sparked your interest in the Method internship program?
Serendipity. I was a graduate student at California College of the Arts (Design MBA) and a professor introduced Method as an awesome experience design firm in the city. An alum of my program had previously worked there as Design Researcher, so I picked his brain and got a lot of great feedback. Then coincidentally, Patrick Newbery – one of the co-founders and principals – spoke in my class days later. His articulation of design, business, and innovation fascinated me. I subsequently spoke with principals Jason Meil and Paul Valerio and was just blown away by their expertise. Method happened to be looking for an Insights intern, so I went for it and fortunately things worked out.
What program were you a part of?
Insights. We utilize research methods to provide at actionable insights for clients and their brands, products, and services.
Did anything surprise you about Method when you first started?
The laid back but incredibly sharp vibe, the open space, and the amount of gangster rap and old school R&B (I mean like All-4-One-and-Jodeci old) played throughout the day. Not a surprise, but the bathroom fully stocked with soap from the “other Method” [the home cleaning supplies company] was a nice touch.
What’s it like to have gone from being an intern to a full-time employee?
Couldn’t agree more with Dever. There wasn’t much of a change aside from signing some papers. Everyone was seriously cool and welcoming from day one and expectations were set right, so that one takes on the responsibilities and mindset of a full-time before becoming one.
If the Method kitchen could keep an endless supply of any type of food, what would you want?
My officemates would give me a lot of smack for this, but I’m not afraid to say it: Panda Express. Specifically, their chow mein and orange chicken. And some Beijing Beef to wash all of that down. Thanks, Kevin!
What are we most likely to catch you doing outside of work time?
The dougie. Blowdrying my hair (it’s kind of long) while watching TED Talks. These days, reading up on Burning Man (going for the first time this year, any tips welcome!). And on the more eclectic side, reading (currently The Dead Emcee Scrolls), doodling (with Copics), and watching Nikita the TV series (a great show, give it a try).
Favorite Method memory so far?
There are many…during my first week at Method, there was an office happy hour event at a local karaoke joint. Think Coyote Ugly, but with men and “Take On Me.” Yeah, it was a fun night.
Want to apply for a Method internship? Check out our Job Opportunities!
Lucky for us, every year we get to meet up with like-minded TV lovers at the annual TV of Tomorrow Show (TVOT), the live events division of [itv] – InteractiveTV Today.
Held at The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts–only a few blocks from Method’s San Francisco office–the conference is a global gathering for executives, technologists and creatives working in the Interactive and Multiplatform Television industry and community.
This year, Method Principal and Managing Director, Jason Meil, moderated a spirited roundtable on interactive TV design. The group discussed a lot of interesting topics, but focused on the increasing importance of creating cohesive experiences across multiple platforms and exploring the inclusion of social in a non-invasive way. The limiting factors around TV interface design were also touched on, as well as the collective acknowledgment that we’re still very much in the early days of both TV UI and second screen design.
The night before Jason’s panel, we wanted to kick off things right by hosting an intimate gathering with our friends and peers to discuss what we believe the future of television to be. It was a fun night for all and the delicious food and wine was only upstaged by the excellent company!