The Secret to Giving Away Secrets

There’s a baker in San Francisco named Josey. He owns a popular bakery and coffee shop called The Mill. Josey’s bread is really good, but it’s also not cheap. Loaves sell for $7 and up. And they sell toast — with toppings like almond butter, cream cheese or house-made jam—for $4 a slice. This is a lot of money for toast, but it’s so good that people line up down the block to buy it. It is that good. 

Josey also wrote a cookbook teaching people new to breadmaking about how to make bread. He writes in an approachable, un-intimidating style. Joseys’ basic message:making bread is easy.  

In the same way Josey sells bread, and teaches people how to make bread—we do the same thing at the design consultancy where I work, Cooper. We sell our design services to clients. And as part of those projects, we also teach clients about design and our design process.

That sounds crazy.  

Why teach people how to design (or bake bread)? If you teach everyone how to design (or bake bread), then no one will buy your design services (or your bread). Well, the opposite actually is true.

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How design consulting is becoming more about teaching design (especially to non-designers)

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California Academy of Sciences + Cooper UX Boot Camp

By Dana Lamb, PMO Manager, California Academy of Sciences

I joined the technology team at the California Academy of Sciences shortly after completing Cooper’s UX Boot Camp back in 2013. While at the Academy, I’ve leveraged many of the concepts I learned at UX Boot Camp, including creating powerful personas to engage our stakeholders and solve complex design problems.

The Academy has a unique new challenge, and I’m excited to work with Cooper and Cooper U workshop participants -- and perhaps *you* -- to solve it.

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The California Academy of Sciences has a unique new challenge, and I’m excited to work with Cooper and Cooper U workshop participants -- and perhaps *you* -- to solve it.

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4 Days of Change

By Rob Vanasco, @nocuberequired

“Please sign my petition asking for M&M’s to be made without artificial dyes.” 

That was the plea of a mom of two kids. In 2014, realizing the petroleum-based dyes in her son’s M&M’s were causing adverse effects to his behavior, Renee Shutters partnered with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to help her son and other parents dealing with similar situations. She wanted to rally people to ask the makers of M&M’s to stop using harmful dyes.

It seemed like a difficult task, but Renee found Change.org, which enables people to start a petition around virtually any topic and share it via social media. Renee received 217,123 electronic signatures in support of her cause over two years. In this forum, people shared their stories and discussed how removing dyes helped their kids.

In February of 2016, M&M’s announced they would no longer use toxic dyes in the production of M&M’s. Renee’s petition was a confirmed victory. If you visit Change.org, you will see a long list of similar victories. People are making a difference in their communities, and around the world, by using this technology.  

But, what if you want to do more?

What if you want to go beyond the limits of a petition and rally people around a cause? 

What if you want to organize people within a community?

How do you engage and motivate that group?

How do you provide that group with a delightful experience while giving them the tools they need to accomplish their mission?

These are the questions that leaders at Change.org asked the participants of UX Boot Camp to address.

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Cooper’s UX Boot Camp allows participants to learn the art and science of user experience design, and to put it immediately into practice with a real-life client. So when my company encouraged me to consider professional development opportunities, I researched all the options out there. I reviewed all the workshops offered by Cooper U, and UX Boot Camp was exactly what I was looking for. 

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Nate Clinton Named Managing Director, San Francisco

Effective April 11, 2016, Nate Clinton has been named Managing Director, San Francisco at Cooper. Nate joined Cooper in 2012 as an Interaction Designer. According to Sue Cooper, Cooper’s Co-founder, “Nate is an outstanding designer, a strong client manager, and an effective relationship builder and spokesperson.” In his new role as Managing Director, San Francisco, Nate will manage the work of Cooper’s San Francisco studio. Nate is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

15 years, 5 months and 8 days

After many inspiring years, I am leaving Cooper. In this blogpost, I will reflect on my time at Cooper, and the powerful and formative experiences I've had here.

Before I came to Cooper (for the second time)*, my all-time longest stay at a job was 18 months. When I ran out of steam or patience, I found a new job, a new group of mentors, a new set of problems. My wandering stopped when I came to Cooper in April 2000. The work never got old. Mentors surrounded me. Clients with really complicated problems trusted me, and inspired me to do great work. New teammates arrived with exotic backgrounds, and injected divergent ideas into my process.

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After many inspiring years, I am leaving Cooper. In this blogpost, I reflect on my time at Cooper, and the powerful and formative experiences I've had here. 

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Learn More about Non-Verbal: Do Your Own Research

By: Katherine Hill & Robin Zander

In our last two installments on designing for the non-verbal in UX Research, we suggested you keep your eyes open for non-verbal cues in your existing research methods and then add prompts for them as integral pieces to your future processes. However, interpreting these cues may prove challenging at first, if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to encourage such expressivity from a user.

This is where acting, dance, and improv training come in handy. The study of human behavior is wide, and we suggest incorporating physicality and expressivity to your already deep knowledge base of behavior. 

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In our last two installments on designing for the non-verbal in UX Research, we suggested you keep your eyes open for non-verbal cues in your existing research methods and then add prompts for them as integral pieces to your future processes. However, interpreting these cues may prove challenging at first, if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to encourage such expressivity from a user.

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Designing for the Non-Verbal: A More Active Approach

By: Katherine Hill & Robin Zander

Last week we discussed the importance of interpreting non-verbal body language and setting the strategic processes in place to notate your findings. Yes, it is important to take note of the way someone is sitting, tilting their head, or squinting their eyes. All of these gestures offer profound insight into the way a product is making users think and feel. Now, let’s take it a step further.

Because the non-verbal cues offer such insights, we suggest that you actually design scenarios to encourage non-verbal communication. Crafting specific opportunities for your users to express non-verbally will provide the insights and your users the opportunity to fully communicate their ideas. 

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Rethinking UX Research: Non-Verbal Clues

By: Katherine Hill & Robin Zander

Understanding the end user is a complex and sometimes daunting process. Typically, we as humans don’t know what we want until we see it. We need experts to interpret our segmented requests and half baked ideas in order to design something we think we might like to use.

As the researcher, designer, or expert in any creative field this can be maddening. The individual uneducated in the specific field attempts to describe details and nuances without the proper language, experience, or expertise.

However, when working with clients, interpreting their needs is the name of the game. So, we’d like to propose a new (and old) way to go about it- pay attention to the nonverbals.

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As the researcher, designer, or expert in any creative field this can be maddening. The individual uneducated in the specific field attempts to describe details and nuances without the proper language, experience, or expertise. However, when working with clients, interpreting their needs is the name of the game. So, we’d like to propose a new (and old) way to go about it- pay attention to the nonverbals.

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Invest in brains

There's a special kind of fear-mongering you see in certain circles that always gets my goat. It goes something like this: "[some new behavior that people are suspicious of] has been shown to make detectable changes to the brain!" The implication of this is that the new behavior must be bad because it alters the brain from some perceived pure or natural state.

Is there other language we can use when talking about experience leading to changes in the brain? Yes, yes there is. It's very simple. It's called learning. (Next time you read one of those fear-mongering statements, replace "changes to the brain" with "learning" and see if it sounds so scary.)

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If you are serious about user-centered design, then you should be investing in the brains of your product team by giving them the experience of talking directly to your end users.

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Sound Design: From the Ears of a Motion Designer

...How do you communicate with a user when their eyes aren’t glued to their screen? As a motion designer, I firmly believe that motion design is a critical consideration in the world of experience design. As I’m learning more about sound design, I’m realizing that it is equally critical to a user’s experience.

A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.

I’m not talking about pops and pings that demand your attention to the screen, I want blips and bloops that reinforce interactions I have made without picking up my phone to see that I “got it right.”

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A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.  

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