Inside the IxDA 2014 Student Design Challenge

Photo by Jeremy Yuille

As co-chair of the 2014 IxDA Student Design Challenge with Dianna Miller, I recently had the pleasure of announcing this year’s theme, “Information for Life,”sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Now in its fifth year, the IxDA Student Design Challenge (SDC) will run during the Interaction14 conference in Amsterdam, February 5-8, 2014. The competition brings together exceptional undergraduate and graduate students for both critical thinking and hands-on experiences over the course of the conference. Here, students have the opportunity to present their work in a way that shows, rather than tells, and it’s also a terrific venue for students to connect with colleagues, potential employers, funders, or new networks.

And I speak from experience — this competition holds a special place in my heart as I was a participant myself just a few years ago, in 2011.

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Raising Funds and Raising the Bar: Hats Off to Practice Fusion

When Practice Fusion recently announced it’s spectacular $70M financing round, cheers went up not only throughout the healthcare sector, where the company is one of the fastest growing health tech pioneers, but also within the halls of Cooper, where the design and prototype for Practice Fusion’s 2013 IxDA award-winning ipad app was born.

Stefan Klocek, former Cooperista and now Practice Fusion’s Senior Director of Design, had a critical role in the development of that iPad application while at Cooper, and now that he has joined Practice Fusion, he took a moment to get on the phone with us and share his unique inside perspective on the impact design can have on businesses.

“It’s not been hard to trace how Cooper’s original design for Practice Fusion’s mobile platform became a seminal turning point in how our business makes products today,” Klocek said, after we exchanged verbal high-fives. “Following the Cooper engagement I’ve been able to see firsthand how the organization shifted its perspective from design being something added on later, to actually driving decisions around branding and product development.”

And Practice Fusion’s investment in design is growing. “Our design team went from 5 to 17 people in six months,”Klocek added. “The original mobile app project that Practice Fusion worked on with Cooper really demonstrated to everyone here the value of design, ultimately driving decisions to rebrand our website and redesign our flagship product.”

To which we say, huzzah!

Big congratulations to Practice Fusion for continuing to raise the bar and the standard of data management for healthcare.

Can illegal networks of zombie computers be a force for… good?

Whenever a major website has significant downtime, people start to wonder: is it intentional? Is Anonymous behind it? Or a secretive group of enemy government hackers?

It’s a reasonable assumption, as it turns out that DDoS—distributed denial of service—attacks are relatively easy to pull off these days. To accomplish it, a ne’er-do-well need only harness thousands of “zombie” computers, point them toward their intended target, and harass the web servers with so much traffic that they are overwhelmed. It’s a temporary effect, but can cause severe economic damage.

It used to be that coordinating such an attack required a great deal of skill. A criminal needed to first infiltrate those thousands of machines using some kind of trojan horse or other malware. To harness their collective power, they would stitch together a “botnet” by designing a way to control them all remotely by issuing them commands, then bend them all to whatever nefarious purpose they have in mind. (Besides DDoS attacks, botnets also send a lot of spam.) Today, however, pre-configured botnets can be rented for a pittance. One source claims to rent a 10,000-strong network of zombie machines for $200.

This got me wondering: why not rent a botnet, and use it for good?

By Tom-b (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Cooper <3 Bikes

Yesterday a record  number of San Franciscans hit the streets biking to work. Here at Cooper, we are not only passionate about design but we are passionate about our bikes! We’ve got  them all:  Fixie, Townie, Cruiser, Cross, Self Custom-Welded, and Road. We love our bikes, and love working in a bike-friendly city like San Francisco.

Announcing the 2013 UX Boot Camps

We’ve been getting a flurry of questions about the dates of our upcoming UX Boot Camps for 2013. For those inquiring minds, we’ve mapped out the rest of the year including partners, locations, and a brief description of the problem space. Every 3 months, we’ll release more information about the forthcoming UX Boot Camp with more details about the design challenge and what participants can expect.

Cooper’s UX Boot Camp is a four-day deep dive into user experience design. This training has a dual purpose, both furthering the education of our design community and providing a non-profit with innovative design concepts to implement as they choose, free of charge. More information about the UX Boot Camp here.

Registration is open for all of these trainings. So if you’re interested, go ahead and reserve your space.

Marketplace Money

San Francisco, CA
June 11-14

Listening to someone advise you about personal finance feels a lot like your mom telling you to eat your veggies. In this UX Boot Camp, you will be challenged to change this experience and explore ways to empower a new audience to build a better life by taking control of their financial destiny.
Sign up for UX Boot Camp: Marketplace Money now


Petaluma, CA
September 17-20

Encourage the spread of knowledge through mobile Wikipedia. Conceive of new ways to enable the contribution process by making it more approachable, more obvious, and less reliant on traditional inputs like typing.
Sign up for UX Boot Camp: Wikipedia now

Canine Companions

San Francisco, CA
November 19-22

Generate design solutions that improve the quality of life for veterans with memory impairments. Explore and create design solutions that build memory skills and aid communication between veterans and their service dog.
Sign up for UX Boot Camp: Canine Companions now

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Design Collaboration and Communication is now DESIGN LEADERSHIP

A few years ago, we designed a course to help individuals and teams learn how to work together better, knowing that if we could teach them how to be master communicators and collaborators, they’d get better products and services out into the world. Over the past few months, we’ve been experimenting with the content of that class, gathering feedback from alumni, and brainstorming how to take it up a notch. We’ve come up with a new and improved curriculum that goes beyond collaboration and communication, introducing participants to the skills and practices to become leaders in their organizations. We renamed the course to reflect this new emphasis.

Design Lead Photo Edit

At its core, Design Leadership remains a fantastic hands-on workshop for designers and managers alike to collaborate and learn from each other. But now, we’ve added more leadership techniques like using storytelling to communicate the value of your work and ways to impact the culture of your organization. This is the course your career wants you to take.

To entice you, we’re offering 20% off our first Design Leadership training on February 27-28. Just use this code when you register: DL20213

Announcing our Spring 2013 UX Boot Camp Partner: Fair Trade USA!

2012 was the inaugural year of the UX Boot Camp, so we were overwhelmed by the response that we got from so many different organizations that were interested in partnering with us in 2013. We were deeply impressed by the amount of consideration that went into each entry. Many thanks to all of the organizations who contacted us, please stay in touch for our 2014 Boot Camps.

It is with great pleasure we announce that Fair Trade USA will kick-off our 2013 UX Boot Camps from March 25-28


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Congrats, Cooper U Sydney!

Shouts out to all the newly minted Cooper U alumni in the South Pacific! We had students from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia, representing a wide array of specialties: Marketing, development, visual design, company ownership, user research, and yes, interaction design as well.

Some travel snafus had some students arriving later, but we forged ahead with Day 1.

Following are some images and video from the fun and intense learning week we spent together.

When it was all said and done, students told me that they loved the pace and the content of the course, specifically appreciating learning…

In a personal email, one student even told me it gave him fresh new eyes for understanding how to think about and critique his freshly-downloaded iTunes 11. He said he felt more equipped to have rational design conversations about things now, which is as much as any teacher could ask for.

Congratulations, again, to a vibrant class for crossing the…

(and thanks to April Hague-Smith for the lovely horse sketch. :)

Want a Cooper U in your part of the world?

Cooper loves the opportunity to travel to new places and teach how it is we do what we do: we learn a lot in the process. If you’re around the world and think there’s a classroom’s worth of people eager to attend, let us know and we’ll try and get there as soon as we can.

Cooper wins 2013 Interaction Award


We are proud to announce that our work with Practice Fusion’s EMR iPad app has been announced as 2013 Interaction Award winner in optimizing from the Interaction Design Association. The app was selected by an international jury and recognized for it’s ability to make daily activities more efficient. Here’s a look at what this app can do.

Congratulations to the Practice Fusion team and the Cooper team of Stefan, Andreas, Jayson, Elisha, Jenea, Doug, and Nick, and a big thank you to Jim.

Update:If you like this app, than let your voice be heard! Vote for this app to win the Interaction13 People’s Choice Award

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