Facilitating design workshops a.k.a. how to plan a Kick-off meeting that doesn’t suck

11 Jan

Source: Smashing magazine Becoming A Better Facilitator

Start with

  1. OUTCOMES & GOALS – What is the purpose of the Workshop?
  • Who?
  • What do they already know that they can contribute with?
  • also, anticipate how to avoid pitfalls: managing preconceptions, 1-2 persons dominating conversations


Rather than a Meeting, Kicks-offs can be “WORKING MEETINGS

Top Advice: Be yourself. Find a style that works for you. But don’t be afraid to try other styles and stretch yourself (ie rather than always being a good listener, being more bold)

Range of types of activities
Open: Free discussions
Semi structured: Framework, guiding questions
Structured: Activity sheets, guided activities

Mixed activities
Hands on: energizing to move around, and to “see” things taking shape
Individual: some people think better alone, larger range of ideas (early ideas don’t steer the convo)
Team breakouts: sometimes necessary in order to get fast progress


1 Facilitator + 1 Note Taker
Don't transcribe everything, instead record Key decisions → Actions 


Source: Good Kickoff Meetings 


“Frontload” – interview your stakeholders before the meeting

Exercises during the kickoff
“Values / show & tell” – provide examples (for example, if going to discuss Value of Visual design, provide examples of beautiful typography, grids)
Assemble (visual) materials, examples that participants can respond to during the kickoff
Involve participant by having hands-on prototyping activities


Design principles ftw

5 Jan

Huge directory of design principles


Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 3.52.30 PM.png

The next thing in interaction design? Designing system behaviours

5 Jan

In Smashing Magazine a great article about how AI will change design: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/01/algorithm-driven-design-how-artificial-intelligence-changing-design/

The article references a source “Interaction designers vs. algorithms” by Giles Colborne, and following the rabbit hole of links, blogs on cxpartners about…

Interaction design in the age of algorithms

User experience in 2017 – what will happen?


My takeaways:

  • The role of the designer is to facilitate and look after the output, working together with engineers about inputs versus outputs. What is it ultimately that the user wants to know, learn, achieve?  What inputs matter the most?
  • Conversational interfaces. Human-like without being misleading, without bad manners. Look at chatbots, which ones are seamlessly being accepted? (obviously not MS Clippy)
  • Mobile is the future (great to have confirmation of what I already felt!)

Platform thinking, not screen design


Right now I can’t find the source where I uncovered this, but…

  • 2017 is about Designing systems. 2016 was about User Experience. 2015 was about …(already forgot… hopefully I manage to track down the original source)

Design criticism: travel e-book

9 Jul

I bought a copy of Lonely Planet’s e-book for my recent trip to Crete, and I can say I was thoroughly underwhelmed… Paperback travel books are so much better. It was really hard to get any kind of overview in an e-book, and I kept losing my bookmarks to all the important sections that I wanted to flag. The bookmarking, flagging, highlighting and note taking capabilities on the e-book on an ipad really sucked. As well, all the advantages one might expect of the electronic format really weren’t used at all. The maps were much worse than a printed map, as you couldn’t see any kind of detail on it without zooming into the photo. But once zoomed in, you couldn’t see the legend! 

For my next trips I will NOT consider an e-book. 

I wonder if there’s a possibility to develop a better e-book? Possible idea for a future project. 

Interaction design links

9 Oct

Cooper Self Study Design Journal http://www.cooper.com/journal/2013/01/self-study-interaction-design
Buttericks practical typography http://practicaltypography.com/
Skills needed for industrial design http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=15501
ID designer vs UX/user experience designer. http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=19642

Interaction design blogs

8 Oct

One student’s detailed blog during his studies at Carnegie Mellon’s interaction design program


Ways of increasing creativity when designing automobiles

31 Jul

Courtsey of Lars Falk from Volvo Cars, who tutored one of my industrial design projects while I was studying in Jönköping.

  1. Select a time during the day or night when ideas come easily.
  2. Sketch in side elevation.
  3. Make each design different than the one preceeding it.
  4. Use a sketching technique you are comfortable with.
  5. Do not make variations of a design theme until you have exhausted your original idea sketches.
  6. Sketch when you are relaxed and there is no pressure to produce a design. (Some designers work better under pressure.)
  7. When you run out of ideas, take a break and try again later, or work on anther assignment that does not require creativity. (Give the right side of your brain a rest.)
  8. Change proportions, wheelbase, perspective, or location on the body mass.
  9. Have a specific goal or theme to work to.
  10. Re-arrange the basic components: engine, passengers, wheels (2-3, or 4)
  11. Define the problem you are trying to solve.
  12. Share ideas with your peers and seek their opinions.
  13. If the assignment is unpleasant, don’t procrastinate, do it now!
  14. Change your basic approach: If your designs are soft with curved lines, try some ideas that are angular, crisp, light, linear, organic, modular, asymmetrical or crazy.
  15. Look for good design in other modes of transportation: racing cars, motorcycles, racing boats, aircraft.
  16. Do not be afraid of being laughed at. All great ideas were laughed at when first presented. Any idea that is truly original will look strange at first.
  17. Do not be discouraged if no ideas come. The best of designers suffer the same experience.
  18. If none of the above suggestions works you may want to consider another profession that is more suitable to your strengths and skills.

Reassuring words for beginners

30 Jul

And how to get out of a creative rut

Original source:


Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

– Ira Glass


What skills does a young industrial designer need to develop?

30 Jul

Source:  http://www.designaddict.com/design_addict/forums/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread_show_one/thread_id/13745/

Make things with your hands. Especially sculpture.

If you have the technical skills but lack the artist’s eye, you will never be a great designer.

However, it is necessary to have technical skills. The best designers know what is impossible with current technology, what is possible at high cost or with low yield, what is safe and easy, etc.

Learn how your objects are manufactured. Talk to machinists, watch a CNC mill, visit a factory assembly line, feed an injection-molding machine, etc.

The technology is always changing. It is important to be aware of the latest developments — the best methods, the newest processes, the most advanced tools, etc. — even if you can’t use them yet.

It is also necessary to have an intimate knowledge of your materials. Have you noticed the way that accomplished woodworkers talk about wood? On this forum, SDR, SPD, Heath, and Tktoo are good examples (and there are others, of course). They have a deep understanding — deeper than “knowledge”, more like “feeling” — of the density and strength of various species, the way wood shrinks and stretches, the way it takes stain and other surface treatments, the extent to which it can be worked, the strength of glues, the effect of moisture, etc.

You should understand ABS, polycarbonate, aluminum or steel alloys — or whatever materials you use — in the same way. You should know how those materials feel, how much they weigh, how sharply they can be bent, how they cut, their thermal properties, how they flow in a mold, the surface finishes available, elasticity, strengths, weaknesses, how they’re produced, how they wear, how they age, the cost, etc., etc., etc. Learn about fasteners and adhesives, too.

You can learn a lot of this from books, but you won’t instinctively KNOW it without experience… So get as much experience as you can: Make things with your hands, but also just HOLD things in your hands, and LOOK at them. Think about WHY they are designed as they are, and WHY they use the materials that they do.

Also, be a critic. Analyze every manufactured object you see; try to find at least one thing wrong with everything, and think about how to fix it with a better design.

Talk with other designers or design students. Try to meet mechanical-engineering students, and talk with them, too. Search the web for “human factors”, “ergonomics”, and “usability”. Read Donald Norman’s books, starting with “The Design of Everyday Things”. Read http://www.asktog.com.

Industrial design sketching… the why and how to use sketching to design products

30 Jul

How to move from drawing to designing – Design sojourn

After that take a conscious effort to not just look at objects around you, but to see it in its elements. Ask yourself when you see a beautiful object what sort of elements (line, shape, composition etc.) makes it a beautiful object. When you look at an ugly object, you ask yourself the opposite, what elements don’t work on this design.

Source:  http://www.designsojourn.com/question-of-the-week-how-to-move-from-drawing-to-designing/

Sketching: Approaching the paper with purpose – Paul Beckett

One of the things I ask my students to do before sketching is to build a design theme: a set of carefully curated products, attributes, materials and details that tell a clear story. It explains, for example, whether the product should be engaging and approachable or refined and technical; bold and powerful or so subtle it blends with the environment. Properly constructed, it becomes a designer’s ‘go to’ when sketching, setting up a brainstorm session, exploring form and refining details. From early on, design students should be in the habit of having one or more of these themes in front of them while they sketch, to reinforce the idea that sketching is only useful when it’s helping to realize an idea.

Source: http://www.core77.com/blog/education/sketching_approaching_the_paper_with_purpose_by_paul_backett_20422.asp#more