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4 posts from November 2011

Thinking Outside the Elephant: Part 2

Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

This is the second part of a recap that was written over 51 hours at the HOW Interactive Design Conference, then delivered to attendees as a 45-minute closing talk. Read the first part here.

Now, for those of you that know me, I have a penchant for pushing analogies to their breaking point, until they become so absurd that they start to resemble reality. So I'm going to start visualizing for you what kind of world our elephant lives in, and what might be stressing her at this very moment.

Continue reading "Thinking Outside the Elephant: Part 2" »


Thinking Outside the Elephant: Part 1

This is the first part of a recap that was written over 51 hours at the HOW Interactive Design Conference, then delivered to attendees as a 45-minute closing talk. The second part will appear on Tuesday.

During the first day of the HOW Interactive Design Conference, I was having a conversation with Richard Hassen of To the Point Design Studio about the challenges that designers with deep expertise in print are having adapting their skills to interactive design. He said: "How am I going to bite into the elephant? It's just too big."

I loved his analogy—that acquiring the necessary interactive skills to be successful in our careers was equivalent to chowing down on a elephant, spoonful by spoonful.

What's inside this elephant? Us, of course. Then tools, clients, technologies, frameworks, methods, you name it. And this is a baby elephant, not a full-grown elephant, since interactive design is much younger than the disciplines of industrial and graphic design. (Baby elephants are still heavy, mind you.)

Based on Richard's analogy, I felt obligated to thinking about just what we were trying to eat. What follows are the four top themes from the conference that describe our proverbial elephant, and further thoughts about what forces are being exerted on our baby elephant, out there in the world.

Continue reading "Thinking Outside the Elephant: Part 1" »


Slides from "Information Architecture: Making Information Accessible and Useful"

The above slides are from a talk I just gave at the HOW Interactive Conference in San Francisco on November 2nd, entitled "Information Architecture: Making Information More Accessible and Useful." The talk was about how designers can help people make use of information—both find and act upon it.

The core metaphor of the talk was centered on a recent trip that I took to the SFMOMA to see a career retrospective of Dieter Rams's work, whose ethos of "Less, but better" is a challenge to any designer seeking to create better websites and applications. (Go see this exhibit!)

I re-explore this trip multiple times over the course of the talk, considering the overlap of information in physical and digital systems—and how conceptually we merge them.

From there, I provide best practices and principles for how to approach information architecture and user experience design in a more iterative, agile fashion through in-line prototyping.