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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


The next thing in interaction design? Designing system behaviours

5 Jan

In Smashing Magazine a great article about how AI will change 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)

Interaction design links

9 Oct

Cooper Self Study Design Journal
Buttericks practical typography
Skills needed for industrial design
ID designer vs UX/user experience designer.

What skills does a young industrial designer need to develop?

30 Jul


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