Design Methods #39 – Speed Dating

Jun 20 2016

The concept of speed dating is well known, and in design and research the same idea is applied to comparing multiple design concepts or ideas in rapid succession. This gives researchers the opportunity for quick feedback and also to collect more general information on usage context, societal and environmental issues. Speed dating is typically used at early stages of development to rapidly screen visual ideas and storyboards rather than more developed prototypes. Read more »

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Design Methods #38 – Crowdsourcing

May 28 2016

Crowdsourcing happens when a “crowd” or group of volunteers help to solve or complete a task or project. Crowdsourcing is an approach that can be used to collect large quantities of data or solutions from a range of people outside your organisation in a short amount of time. Read more »

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Principles of Design #70 – Iteration

Apr 26 2016

The principle of iteration is central to design thinking. Just as evolution allows complex structures to develop over time in nature, iteration is at the core of good design, building on simple foundations to develop more complex designs. This is achieved by progressively exploring, testing and refining a design over time, often with very fast cycles of iteration. Iteration is often broken into two phases: design iteration and development iteration. Read more »

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Building Meaning into Brands

Apr 16 2016

I’ve just read the second edition of Brand Meaning by Mark Batey and although there is some additional material and up-to-date examples the core argument of the book is the same (you can read a review of the first edition here). Successful brands are ones that create and nurture strong meanings to consumers, and the more symbolic and value-driven that meaning is, the more powerful it becomes. Read more »

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Design Methods #37 – Directed Storytelling

Mar 18 2016

Directed storytelling comes from the social science method of narrative inquiry and is a quick and simple way for researchers and designers to gain insights into the real-life experiences of people by using simple and thoughtful questions and prompts to guide and frame a conversation. The approach is based entirely on the stories that people tell, and is means of collecting information on real-life behaviours and contexts where observation or longitudinal studies are impractical. Read more »

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Design Methods #36 – Cultural Probes

Mar 02 2016

Cultural probes are the name designers give to exercises, activities and provocations given to participants in a study to provide inspiration and understanding about their lives, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and the cultural and social context that informs them. In market research, such activities might be associated with longitudinal studies and with pre-work (homework) and follow-up work done in connection with more formal interviews and participant discussions.  Read more »

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Design Methods #35 – Artefact Analysis

Feb 23 2016

Artefact analysis is the systematic evaluation of objects in their natural environment. Artefact analysis looks at the material, aesthetic and usage qualities of any object in order to understand its physical, social and cultural context. It has been used frequently by anthropologists to understand other cultures, and is increasingly used in design and research to understand the lives of people through the things that surround them.

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What are Uber doing?

Feb 09 2016

What are Uber doing with their recent redesign of their identity? Whatever you may think of the original logo, it was distinctive and clear (if a little cold according to some design critics), However, the new logo is about as distinctive as a white blob in a coloured square (which it is). When the logo changed, I struggled to find it on my phone. I struggled even more to work out the meaning behind the change, but Uber have nicely provided a nice corporate logo to explain. Read more »

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Principles of Design #69 – Weakest Link

Jan 30 2016

The weakest link can be a strength in the design of a system, as this refers to the deliberate use of a weak element that will fail in order to protect other elements in a system from being damaged. So while it is still valid that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, this does not mean that the weakest link is the least valuable in a system. It is not a liability, but rather in place to protect other important elements in the system. For example, fuses are designed to fail so that a power surge doesn’t damage an electrical circuit. Crumple zones are deliberately made weak so that they easily crumple when a car collides with another object, reducing the impact energy  transferred to passengers who sit in a more strongly reinforced shell at the centre of the car. The fuse and crumple zone are designed to be sacrificed to protect more important elements (people in the case of cars). Read more »

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Why Copying is Good for Creativity and Innovation

Jan 27 2016

In Copy, Copy, Copy, Mark Earls argue that creativity in marketing (or anywhere else) is essentially about following the success of the theory of evolution outlined by Charles Darwin. Although the title of the book focuses on the copying part, the truth is that his central argument is that the essence of progress is “loose” copying, following the are of an idea but introducing variations into it. As Darwin demonstrates, if you do this enough times then eventually what emerges is superior to what came before.

The beauty of the book, which I highly recommend, is that in arguing the case for copying as a creative strategy, Mark Earls also manages to integrate a lot of behavioural thinking into the strategies and approaches he outlines and gets away from the arguments about which marketing strategies work best. He argues that the first question to ask is “What kind of thing is this?” and from that then find an appropriate strategy to address the specific challenge. Read more »

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