Six (6!) new ways to push your practice

You asked. We answered. Bringing you SIX new workshops and courses in customer experience, brand strategy, leadership, product definition and design, research, ideation, personas and more—each chock full of skills for taking your professional game to the next level (and maybe even the level above that). Stay current, get smarter, make an impact, effect the bottom line, and teach your team a thing or two (or ten) about your new-found knowledge. We've saved you a seat.

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What does Pair Design look like?

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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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.

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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Day 3: Interaction13

Notes, pictures, and recaps from the last day of Interaction15

Catch up with everything that went down on Day 1 and Day 2

Keynote: Design as Language

by Ayah Bdeir 

"The electronics are not the point. Technology is not the point. It’s about the poetry you can make."

Picture by Julie Celia, recap by Shahrzad Samadzadeh

The problem

Electronics are everywhere, yet their language is closed, cryptic, and ugly. We generally don’t know what our electronics are doing, and consider them consumable and disposable, yet we rely on them as a fundamental part of everyday life. This is a strange and dangerous state of things. 

The big shift

Instead of a closed discipline, how can electrical devices become a shared language? This is an extraordinary shift, and LittleBits made it happen by doing the following.

  • Make the language usable and accessible; “It’s not about the technology, it’s what you can do with it."
  • Make the language inviting and coherent, so users feel in control.
  • Define the alphabet, the grammar, and the context, then let users build a community around the new language. 

The outcome

The gap between defined market and one-off individual need is bridged, and users feel empowered to break down barriers and create new interactions in the world. 

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Let's Jam. 

What's a Service Jam?

The Global Service Jam is a 48-hour event that brings people from all backgrounds together to learn new approaches, tools, and methods for designing services. 

This isn’t a watch-and-learn kind of conference, the GSJ participants get their hands dirty, creating services, not slide decks. 

On the evening of the first night, a theme is announced, then for the next 48 hours jammers focus on exploring, iterating, and prototyping new service design ideas. All the Jams share the same starting themes, and publish their local results over a central platform.

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Come join us for the San Francisco edition of the Global Service Jam.

Day 2: Interaction15

Recaps, updates and information from the annual IxDA conference in San Francisco. 

Keynote: Tim Brown in conversation with Allan Chochinov

"Design is about people being intentional about what they do in the world."

Pictures and recap by Christina Beard and Emily Schwartzman

Here are some of the themes they talked about:

Advice for Designers  

  • Designers need to be sensible, cautious, and look ahead as much as possible. Designers also need to work with nice people. 
  • Our responsibility then is to search out places where we think we can make the most impact.
  • Search out places where you think you can make a difference or are interested in making a difference.
  • If you’re not feeling fulfilled with the problems you’re tackling - you’re probably not solving the right problems for yourself.

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Stop Solutionizing and Start Problem-Solving

I made up a useful word a while ago, though I doubt I’m the first to have done so. The word is solutionize, and it means “to come up with a solution for a problem that hasn’t been defined (and might or might not even exist).” Solutionizing leads to solutionization, or “any outcome of the act of solutionizing.” 

This all sounds like nonsense, because it is nonsense. The word solutionize comes from materials science and has nothing to do with design. 

The word is solutionize, and it means “to come up with a solution for a problem that hasn’t been defined (and might or might not even exist).”

Some blatant examples of solutionizing, as I define it:

  • Designing an iPhone app for users who don’t have smartphones
  • Building an MVP that addresses no customer need
  • Creating UI for a service users want to get from a person

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Pair DJ-ing

Like many people who practice formal Pair Design, Cooperista Shahrzad has paired before, though in a different domain: Being a DJ. Suzy and I sat down to talk about this experience with her and what it means to Pair DJ.

Shahrzad (in the glasses) back in the day. :)

Tell us about your pairing experience as a club DJ.

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Like many people who practice formal Pair Design, Cooperista Shahrzad has paired before, though in a different domain: Being a DJ. Suzy and I sat down to talk about this experience with her and what it means to Pair DJ. Shahrzad (in the glasses) back in the day. :) Tell us about your pairing experience as a club DJ. Shahrzad: [...]

Teaching by Design

Last year at Cooper U, we took the plunge and completely redesigned our Visual Interface Design course to better serve the design community. By applying the same user-centered design approach that Cooper U is built upon, the redesign became an interesting case study for how teaching and practice influence each other.

The impetus for the redesign came from student feedback and a sense that the course didn’t fully convey critical parts of Cooper’s visual design process. Though the former course was successful in many ways, it tried to do too much and appeal to too many to fully reach its potential. This resulted in an overwhelming, lecture-heavy classroom experience that felt out of place compared to our other workshop/activity driven courses. And while students left with a lot of great information, they didn’t have a clear direction on how to apply what they learned back at their workplace.

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