Posts about Features


The color of empathy is not flat: Insights to Color Blindness & Design.  

Line, motion, space, texture, size , form, shape, typography, and color.

As a member of the 9 structural units, or elements of visual interaction design, the role of color is integral to the way we communicate, parse, and enhance information on and off the screen. In an attempt to simplify human interaction with the digital interface, designers have pursued the style of a “flat UI”. This bare-bones approach relying mostly on rectangular shapes and solid, flat color is meant to place a user’s focus on content. The visual shift from skeuomorphism to flatland also helped to foreshadow a product’s ease-of-use by dramatically simplifying how the interface looked. 

Read More

Designing for color blindness (aka Daltonism) is an example of how designers can practice visual empathy and learn to experience the world from someone else’s perspective.

Customer Journey Map or Service Blueprint?

If you have a hammer, everything is a nail. If you have a service blueprint, everything is a detail to be nailed down, even if those details don’t contribute to your ultimate goal. To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

Read More

To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

How to Design & Lead a Brand Experience Workshop in 6 Steps

Most stakeholders aren’t versed in the language of branding. That’s dangerous because word of mouth and first-hand experience have more of an effect on user love than celebrity endorsements or well-toned advertisements. Branding is more important than ever. How do you get stakeholders into productive conversations about it?

Problem: Finding the brand through trial and error

You could take the trial-and-error tack: just make stuff to see how they react, and go through round after round of presentation and feedback, each time learning a little bit more about what the brand is supposed to be. But this is expensive, tedious, and demoralizing. It’s like hacking away at a beehive to make a sculpture. You end up with a lot of stings.

Solution: Get those brand attributes out and vetted with a Brand Experience Workshop

Cooper has faced this challenge with its clients head on for 5 years with a workshop to solve this problem. It’s fun and works like a charm. Here’s an introduction to how it works, followed by some tips and tricks to making them awesome.

A Brand Experience Workshop in 6 Steps

The workshop should feel pretty magical to the participants, and of course that takes some work on your part, but it’s worth it. Find below the key six steps.

Read More


Pair Design and the Power of Thought Partnership

From Lennon & McCartney to Holmes & Watson, popular culture is teeming with examples of creative pairs. When we think about famous creative partnerships like Eames & Eames, or creative problem solvers like Mulder & Scully, what’s special about them?

In addition to their individual genius, what makes these pairs so effective (and what we’re talking about when we advocate Pair Design) is that these are true thought partnerships, in which each person has...​

  • shared ownership of what they’re creating
  • shared responsibility for making it great
  • shared risks and rewards if they succeed or fail

Read More

From Lennon & McCartney to Holmes & Watson, popular culture is teeming with examples of creative pairs. When we think about famous creative partnerships like Eames & Eames, or creative problem solvers like Mulder & Scully, what’s special about them?In addition to their individual genius, what makes these pairs so effective (and what we’re talking about when we advocate Pair [...]

Service Design 101

This article was co-written by Lauren Chapman Ruiz and Izac Ross

We all hear the words "service design" bandied about, but what exactly does it mean? Clients and designers often struggle to find a common language to define the art of coordinating services, and frequent questions arise. Often it emerges as necessary in the space of customer experience or complicated journey maps. In response, here is a brief FAQ primer to show the lay of the land in service design.

What are services?

Services are intangible economic goods—they lead to outcomes as opposed to physical things customers own. Outcomes are generated by value exchanges that occur through mediums called touchpoints. For example, when you use Zipcar, you don’t actually own the Zipcar, you buy temporary ownership. You use the car, then transfer it to someone else once it is returned. Every point in which you engage with Zipcar is a touchpoint.

Read More

This article was co-written by Lauren Chapman Ruiz and Izac RossWe all hear the words "service design" bandied about, but what exactly does it mean? Clients and designers often struggle to find a common language to define the art of coordinating services, and frequent questions arise. Often it emerges as necessary in the space of customer experience or complicated journey [...]

Persona Empathy Mapping

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Empathy -- it’s a buzzword in the UX design world. Everybody’s doing it! But what exactly are they doing? There isn’t a quick “Empathy Filter” that we can apply to our work or our team, no formula to pump out results, and no magic words to bring it forth. There is, however, a simple workshop activity that you can facilitate with stakeholders (or anyone responsible for product development, really) to build empathy for your end users. We call it Persona Empathy Mapping.

Empathy Mapping helps us consider how other people are thinking and feeling. Typically, research notes are categorized based on what the research interviewees were thinking, feeling, doing, seeing, and hearing as they engaged with your product. It helps your team zoom out from focusing on behaviors to consider the users’ emotions and experience as well. I first learned about it from Dave Gray’s Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers and Changemakers and it’s gotten more press lately due to Alex Osterwalder’s book, Business Model Generation.

Read More

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”- Theodore RooseveltEmpathy -- it’s a buzzword in the UX design world. Everybody’s doing it! But what exactly are they doing? There isn’t a quick “Empathy Filter” that we can apply to our work or our team, no formula to pump out results, and no magic words [...]

Amber Alert: The Tragedy of Bad Design

If you live in California or New York and you own a cell phone, you probably recently experienced the new Amber Alert capabilities. And by “capabilities,” I mean “the government’s newfound ability to disturb your sleep with non-actionable information.”

In California, the alert that set all this ablaze was in reference to a man, James Lee DiMaggio, who may or may not have killed his friend and her son, burned his house down with them in it, and fled with her daughter. Not that you would have known that from the Amber Alert: “Boulevard, CA AMBER Alert UPDATE: LIC/6WCU986 (CA) Blue Nissan Versa 4 door.” Certainly, Twitter has been all a-buzz about the alerts, and there are dozens of articles on the subject (my personal favorite headline: “Shaquille O’Neal: Yeah I Got That Amber Alert”).

Read More

If you live in California or New York and you own a cell phone, you probably recently experienced the new Amber Alert capabilities. And by “capabilities,” I mean “the government’s newfound ability to disturb your sleep with non-actionable information.” In California, the alert that set all this ablaze was in reference to a man, James Lee DiMaggio, who may or [...]

Designer’s Toolkit: Road Testing Prototype Tools

For fresh content, more tools, and updated reviews check out the Prototyping Tools page.

We’ve all been there: you’ve got a few days to throw together a prototype. For expedience sake, you go to one of your large, well known tools to get the job done. The files quickly become bloated and crash—hours of hard work lost. There’s got to be a way to create prototypes at a similar level of fidelity with a lighter weight tool.

After test driving some alternative prototyping tools I discovered that there are indeed other good options. Here is an overview of what I found, followed by assessments of each tool, with hopes it will help fellow designers in the prototyping trenches.

Choosing the tools

After researching existing prototyping tools, I narrowed a long list of about 40 to a small set of 10 that looked the most interesting. Some factors that influenced which tools I selected include: 

  • Hearing about the tool from fellow Cooperistas or other colleagues.
  • The popularity of the tool based on what I read in other blogs. 
  • Whether it looked cool or exciting from  my first impression of the design and features. 

This is not a comprehensive set of tools, but includes the ones that I was interested in checking out. 

 

Read More

For fresh content, more tools, and updated reviews check out the Prototyping Tools page. We’ve all been there: you’ve got a few days to throw together a prototype. For expedience sake, you go to one of your large, well known tools to get the job done. The files quickly become bloated and crash—hours of hard work lost. There’s got to [...]

UX Boot Camp with Marketplace Money

Old School Radio Meets the Digital Age

Take a look inside Cooper's June, 2013 UX Boot Camp with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money radio show, where students explored the next horizon of audio programming—a paradigm shift from broadcast to conversation-based platforms.

The Challenge
Students rolled up their sleeves to help the show respond to the trend away from traditional radio by finding the right mix of alternative distribution platforms. Marketplace Money came equally ready to take a radical departure from their current format in order to create a new model that redefines the roles of host, show, and audience in the digital age. To reach this goal, students focused on designing solutions that addressed three big challenges:

  1. Engage a new, younger audience that is tech savvy, and provide easy access to content via new platforms, such as podcasts, satellite radio shows, and the Internet.
  2. Inspire audience participation and contribution. Facilitate conversations and inspire people to share their personal stories so that listeners can learn from each other.
  3. Design ways for the host to carry an influential brand or style that extends beyond the limits of the show and engage with the audience around personal finance, connecting with listeners in ways that are likeable, useful, and trustworthy, making the topic of personal finance cool, fun and approachable.

At the end of the four-day Boot Camp, student teams presented final pitches to Marketplace Money, and a panel of experienced Cooper designers offered feedback on their ideas and presentations. In the following excerpts from each day, you can test your own sensory preferences for receiving content as you see, hear and read how design ideas evolved at the Boot Camp, inspiring new relationships between people and radio.

Marketplace Money Class

Read More

Old School Radio Meets the Digital AgeTake a look inside Cooper's June, 2013 UX Boot Camp with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money radio show, where students explored the next horizon of audio programming—a paradigm shift from broadcast to conversation-based platforms.The Challenge Students rolled up their sleeves to help the show respond to the trend away from traditional radio by finding [...]

Self-study Interaction Design

In classes and cocktail hours, lots of people ask me either how they can switch careers into interaction design, or how they can improve their self-trained “IxD” chops.

Of course Cooper offers a number of awesome training courses to help folks do just that (but we can’t be everywhere in the world at once) and there are great university courses here in San Francisco Bay Area and around the world (but not everyone can take that kind of time off).

So if you’re a self-starter, unable to attend a training session and can’t take time off for school, or want to be able to speak the language of interaction design, what can you do? How can you make those first steps to getting more familiar with the field?

I recommend reading up on some of the fundamentals, join up with practitioners online, and actually start designing. More on each follows.

Read up on the fundamentals

Get your hands on copies of the following three books and give them a good read. Not a flip through, and not a skim. These are the basic things you need to know. Please note that I'm aware of the conflict of interest of a Practice Lead at Cooper saying that two of three fundamental books are ones published by Cooper, but even after much handwringing and gnashing of teeth over the seeming conflict of interests, these are still my recommendations. They would be if I didn't work here.


The Inmates Are Running the Asylum
by our own Alan Cooper

"Inmates" details the reasons why designers should lead the charge of software design, and why personas are the primary tool we use to do it.


The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald Norman

Norman plainly lays out the fundamentals of design thinking from cognitive psychology, industrial design, and interaction design standpoints.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Fourth edition)

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design (4th Edition)
by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, & Christopher Noessel.

AF4 contains best practices for the medium of the human-computer interface.

(If you happen to be a sci-fi fan, I’ll certainly also recommend my own book and blog as a way of applying design thinking to interfaces that appear in that perennially-favorite genre, but it’s hardly considered a fundamental.)

Join conversations

A next thing you can do is to get involved with current conversations by practicing interaction designers. That can be in person, by attending conferences and local groups, or it can be online in forums. However you do it, when you join these conversations, you become familiar with shared vocabulary, ways of discussing, and current concerns of real practitioners.

In person: Attend gatherings

  • IXDA: The most active and relevant to practitioners, IXDA has an annual conference and lots of active, local chapters
  • ACM SIGCHI: More formal and aimed at students and academics, the CHI conferences are where you’ll encounter smart people pushing at the forefront of interaction design knowledge
  • Local Meet-Ups: Meetup.com is a website where you can find folks interested in meeting around particular topics.
  • Cooper Pubs and Parlors: If you’re around the San Francisco Bay Area, a few times a year Cooper hosts Cooper Pub and Cooper Parlor, where we sit around, salon-style, and do a deep dive into tools or topics.

Online: Follow feeds

Cooper Journal: Well, OK, you’re already reading this blog, but there are lots of design blogs and social media feeds each with its own take on the practice. Here are four others, top of mind. Note that almost any other designer will have different answers to this same question.

If you're the Twittering sort, you can subscribe to some of these same feeds. Or you could trust one of the awesome advanced aggregators like Feedly setting up an interaction design topic, and let it do the work for you.

Online (advanced): Use forums

Forums are places where you can read past and current threads (and of course run into trolls and get burned in flame wars, so keep a clear head about yourself.)

  • IXDA’s forums are fairly active with practitioners.
  • Google groups and Yahoo groups: Have a mix of in-person and online groups, but it’s a place.
    The internet is global, of course, and groups in different countries may prefer other sites. (If you know of any, drop ‘em in the comments for other readers!)

Most importantly, start designing

That’s right, start designing. Start today. It doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. There are lots of problems in the world with existing products, experiences, and services for which the tools of interaction design can help shape an answer. Find them and tackle them using materials at hand. Post them to a blog or use them as material in an online portfolio. Get good at solving design problems well with limited time and on a limited budget, and you’ll be a shoo-in. ☺

As an example of this kind of design, Cooper has for a few years been publishing informal solutions to such problems as The Drawing Board. Watch a few of these to see examples of Cooper designers tackling a problem in a lightweight way. The following is the most recent at the time of publication.

The Drawing Board Episode 10: Lyrical Travel

You can also find a small real world project, like a website for yourself or a friend. Whatever the project, challenge yourself to put into practice everything that you've learned in order to demonstrate a deep understanding of the topics. These self-starter projects will give you practice and something to discuss with potential clients or employers.

Branching out from here (brace yourself)

It gets deep quickly, and there are dozens of ways to specialize your knowledge. These are just a few…

You can also get more interested in future technologies, but as these are always changing, I'll leave the specifics as an exercise for the student.

Interaction design is a deep, deep pool (that's part of why I love it) but it's not inaccessible. Get interested and start following some of these leads, find new ones, and you'll be thinking like an interaction designer before you know it.

In classes and cocktail hours, lots of people ask me either how they can switch careers into interaction design, or how they can improve their self-trained “IxD” chops. Of course Cooper offers a number of awesome training courses to help folks do just that (but we can’t be everywhere in the world at once) and there are great university courses [...]

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11