Posts about Methods


The Drawing Board: Pull-Cord

Here at Cooper, we find that looking at the world from the perspective of people and their goals causes us to notice a lot of bad interactions in our daily lives. We can’t help but pick up a whiteboard marker to scribble out a better idea. We put together “The Drawing Board”, a series of narrated videos, to showcase some of this thinking. These aren’t meant to be slick, highly-produced demos—just some ideas we’ve thrown up on the board to stimulate thought and discussion. So enjoy. Discuss. Design.

This Drawing Board is about riding the bus.

Until a bus rider is familiar with a particular route, there’s anxiety around either pulling the cord soon or too late. Let’s meet two riders who have that anxiety minimized as they head to the same appointment with a service called Pull Cord.

This is the tenth Drawing Board published on the Cooper Journal. See more on at http://www.cooper.com/category/drawing_board/.

A video of an interaction design scenario about minimizing anxiety riding an unfamiliar bus. 

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

Don't let Personas get shelved

“What quantitative data do you have to back these personas up?” 

“We already know what our customers want. Our sales people are talking to them all the time.”

“Marketing has developed personas already. We can just use those.” 

(produces marketing segments and stereotypes rather than personas)

*crickets* Personas go on the shelf and are never heard from again.... 

 Heard something like this before?

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Personas are an amazing design tool, so how do we make sure they're being put to good use? 

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.

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What does Pair Design look like?

If you’re trying to figure out whether Pair Design is right for you or your organization, it’s useful to have a model of what it looks like across an interaction design project. So, let me paint you a picture.

I’ve broken down our typical goal-directed design process into broad phases that should be relatively easy to map to your own. But, if this is your first time reading about Pair Design from Cooper, I recommend reading up on the distinctions between the generator and synthesizer roles I’ve written about before, as I’ll be referencing those terms

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Visual Design for White Labelled Products

Designing a product with the intention of being “white labelled” means that you are creating a software for a client to incorporate into their existing (visual language) system. Every now and then design consultants are hired by another consultant to work on a third party’s existing system. This what you call a super white label. Here, you not only have to consider your client’s needs, but your client’s client’s needs, too. It can be easy to start designing with everyone’s goals in mind and eventually lose focus, leaving no one satisfied in the end. These are some basic tips I’ve found that to help start and manage a white labelled project. 


It can be easy to start designing with everyone’s goals in mind and eventually lose focus, leaving no one satisfied in the end.

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Design Fundamentals: 3 Key Practices for Building Your Own Design Process

A strong design process is the cornerstone of creating a great user experience. But finding one that’s right for your company isn’t easy. Each organization is different, and adapting a process to the specific constraints you face is a huge challenge, especially in an organization that might still be a little uncomfortable with design.

The human-centered visual design process we follow and teach at Cooper, based on the three key practices below.

As a design theory nerd, I’ve had the opportunity to explore a lot of different design methodologies. Though they can vary greatly, a few key practices have emerged that seem to drive every methodology I’ve looked at. Approaching design in terms of these individual practices, rather than as an end-to-end process, can help you to integrate human-centered design into your organization in a more fluid way. Smaller and more incremental changes driven by these practices, rather than a complete overhaul, are a great way to begin building a design-centered organization without upending the current system.

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A strong design process is the cornerstone of creating a great user experience. But finding one that’s right for your company isn’t easy. Each organization is different, and adapting a process to the specific constraints you face is a huge challenge, especially in an organization that might still be a little uncomfortable with design.The human-centered visual design process we follow [...]

Service Blueprints: Laying the Foundation

Cooper workshop service blueprintingThis article was co-written by Izac Ross, Lauren Chapman Ruiz, and Shahrzad Samadzadeh

Recently, we introduced you to the core concepts of service design, a powerful approach that examines complex interactions between people and their service experiences. With this post, we examine one of the primary tools of service design: the service blueprint.

Today’s products and services are delivered through systems of touchpoints that cross channels and blend both digital and human interactions. The service blueprint is a diagram that allows designers to look beyond the product and pixels to examine the systems that bring a customer’s experience to life.

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This article was co-written by Izac Ross, Lauren Chapman Ruiz, and Shahrzad SamadzadehRecently, we introduced you to the core concepts of service design, a powerful approach that examines complex interactions between people and their service experiences. With this post, we examine one of the primary tools of service design: the service blueprint.Today’s products and services are delivered through systems of [...]

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.

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“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 [...]

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