Category Archives: UCD

How to build your creative confidence

Is your school or workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create… (From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.)

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Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving

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Written by Jon Kolko from AC4D this book is available to read for free online or can by purchased.  Inspirational, with a clear focus and easy to read style. As described by the authors:

This book was started with the intent of changing design and social entrepreneurship education. As these disciplines converge, it becomes evident that existing pedagogy doesn’t support either students or practicioners attempting to design for impact. This text is a reaction to that convergence, and will ideally be used by various students, educators, and practitioners

To enjoy this great read, click here.

When Great Design Works|Boarding Passes & 50 Problems in 50 Days

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There is a great sense of awe and wonder when I stumble across a great example of graphic design. UK designer Peter Smart has redesigned the format and interaction we have with the traditional boarding pass. His design speaks to function and user interaction and proves that small changes can have a great impact.

Fed up with constantly being handed confusing and poorly designed airlines boarding passes, a traveller decided to make his own. What he ended up creating could be the best boarding pass ever and has grabbed the attention of passengers and airlines.

Read the full article here.

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The idea for the design coincided with Smart’s project, 50 Problems in 50 days , which explores social problems and how design can assist. The project is truly exciting and showcases the hope, desire and dedication of one designer. It also shows how much a single person can impact the world around them when the take an interest.

2517 miles, 15 beds, 12 interviews, 10 cities, 38 cups of coffee, 1 adventure

I’m on an adventure – to explore the limits of design’s ability to solve social problems, big and small. To do this I attempted to solve 50 problems in 50 days using design. I also spent time with 12 of Europe’s top design firms.


Top 10 Apps and Services That Are More Than Meets the Eye

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Tools, glorious tools. With access to so many apps I fear the day that I can tweet my kettle into making toast (…that may already be possible….). The rate of technological development and the number of apps out there may be a little overwhelming, but they do offer us incredible opportunities.  A post by Whitson Gordon of Lifehacker offers a brief exploration of apps available to us which are really worth a look.

Some apps do one thing, and they do it well. Others have a host of clever, hidden uses that you might have never thought of on your own. Here are our favorite clever uses for popular apps.

Enjoy the read! Click here

If you haven’t read this, do so in 2014.

I sometimes think our world has become to big. We are surrounded by millions of objects and messages, all screaming for our attention, to be used or to be purchased. I’m a packaging junkie. It isn’t a wonderful thing to admit but if a design spends enough time on the packaging of an object – tasteful colours, appropriate imagery, decently kerned copy and, of course, some textured element – there is a very good chance that I will buy that product. I realised that what draws me to great packaging is the detail and visual story telling. Someone sat and made directed and contextually relevant decisions to create something beautiful with a devastatingly low survival rate (let’s face it, how many of us keep packaging). The human consideration in packaging,  as with product and services, is something that makes me feel connected to the process of production. At the same time it reminds me of how wasteful our world is. The need to feel connected is becoming shockingly more difficult in our world. Books, like great packaging,  make me incredibly happy. When I read a great book about designers or design I feel connected to their process and views. Great authors help one make sense of the world by offering alternative views,  personal interpretation and case based evidence. There are so many amazing books out there on the topics of design and design for development that I often feel sad, as I know I will never be able to fully explore them all. So, in order to simplify things a bit I offer you my top 5 book to read in the new year. Some new, some old, some about philosophy, some about practice but all iconic. They tell the story of creative innovation and design, the need to be connected and the need to really see the world around us…

1. Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand (1947).  This book, published over 50 years ago, captures the philosophy and views of the icon designer Paul Rand. I fell in love with Rand’s Swiss Style of typography. The book explores his views on functionality and aesthetic, and documents his views on design which can clearly be seen in his later designs such as the IBM logo.

2. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek (first published in 1971). Today this book is on the compulsory reading list for my Industrial Design students, and many more I am sure. They usually end up discussing how such a powerful piece of work is still relevant today, even more so maybe. With the provocative start of the book stating: “There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few”, the book strips away the covers of consumerism and irresponsible production to reveal Papanek’s views on a more sustainable future. Revolutionary then, necessary now and key to our future.

3. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman (first published 1988). In this book Norman explores the functional requirements of products and adds a new dimension to J.J. Gibson‘s term affordances. He also explored the term ‘user centred design’ and the importance of putting users at the very centre of the design and conceptualisation process.

4. No Logo by Naomi Klein (first published 1999). This book will change the way you look at your world. I find it hard to believe that it has been than 15 years since this book was published. Klein takes a hard look at the second economic depression (which we have all felt in some way since the publication of the book). The power of capitalism and the ultimate cost is explored. The 2010 special publication is also amazing and well with the read.

5. The Language of Things by Deyan Sudjic (2009). Sudjic, the director of the Design Museum in London, explores our world and the human desire to fill their world with objects. He reflects on a world ‘drawing in objects’. Witty, humorous and sometimes personal Sudjic exploration of this topic is unmissable.

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Human Centered Design Toolkit | IDEO

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Well, the IDEO group really do have a talent for developing great toolkits. The Design Thinking for Educators toolkit has long been a favourite of my. Their HDC toolkit is a great introduction to human centred research and practice that the beginner and expert will both find useful. To download the toolkit, click here

The HCD Toolkit was designed specifically for NGOs and social enterprises that work with impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The free kit walks users through the human-centered design process and supports them in activities such as building listening skills, running workshops, and implementing ideas. The process has led to innovations such as the HeartStart defibrillator, CleanWell natural antibacterial products, and the Blood Donor System for the Red Cross—all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people.

For some inspiration watch this:

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Design that Makes a Difference

I like finding case studies and examples of good design practice. The Design that Makes a Difference exhibtion showcased 20 projects from the UK and Norway focussed on inclusive design. The exhibition was in April 2013 but many of the projects have been incubating and developing over the last few years. These projects inspire me, and remind me that design really can make a difference.

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Design that Makes a Difference

People-centred projects from Norway and the UK

This exhibition, organised by The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Norwegian Design Council, presented projects that demonstrate the benefits of people-centred design thinking. The work ranged from passenger trains and hotel chains to government websites, voting systems and community-led initiatives. Together they provided a snapshot of the developing practice of social design – design that makes a difference.

An inclusive design approach works most effectively when activated at all levels – within local communities and neighbourhoods, within business organisations and through public services. These projects represent a cross-section of work that puts people first, meets social need, influences business practice and effects positive change.

Drawing on a history of collaboration between the UK and Norway, the work builds on a book published in 2010 by the Norwegian Design Council with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art. Innovating with People: The Business of Inclusive Design advocated the need for an inclusive approach in business. Three years on, this exhibition looks at companies, designers and initiatives that actively engage with this idea.

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Creating Relevance by Design

An amazing video by CLICKNL that looks at Industrial Design today. Under ten minutes, this video captures the essence of product design (and design at large) as we experience it. It also looks at the idea of “user experience” and the ideas behind good design. Well worth a watch.

The movie ‘Creating Relevance by Design’ illustrates the changing rol of design agencies from designers of ‘good products’ towards ‘creating value for their clients’. It shows the way how industrial design agencies manage to keep relevant for their clients.
Van Berlo, NPK, Fabrique, Van der Veer Designers, Spark, Philips Design, Indes and Flex have contributed to this film in co-creation sessions. 39 Dutch Design Agencies support the story of the film.

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A Five-Step Process For Conducting User Research by David Sherwin

A great article from Smashing Magazine in which Sherwin explores user research. Easy to digest and insightful. Click on the title to go to the article on Smashing Magazine.

A Five-Step Process For Conducting User Research

by David Sherwin

Imagine that this is what you know about me: I am a college-educated male between the ages of 35 and 45. I own a MacBook Pro and an iPhone 5, on which I browse the Internet via the Google Chrome browser. I tweet and blog publicly, where you can discover that I like chocolate and corgis. I’m married. I drive a Toyota Corolla. I have brown hair and brown eyes. My credit-card statement shows where I’ve booked my most recent hotel reservations and where I like to dine out.

If your financial services client provided you with this data, could you tell them why I’ve just decided to move my checking and savings accounts from it to a new bank? This scenario might seem implausible when laid out like this, but you’ve likely been in similar situations as an interactive designer, working with just demographics or website usage metrics. Continue reading

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