Leading By Design

In my career, I’ve spent a lot of time learning from great design leaders. The best stand out as creative, thoughtful listeners, able to persuade with grace and speak hard truths, while uniting the team around a focused vision.

Through my involvement in Cooper U’s Design Leadership course, I’ve learned techniques to repeat the success of these leaders. Recently, I had the privilege of co-teaching with two of Cooper’s design leaders, Jenea Hayes and course creator Kendra Shimmell. In the class, these bright ladies presented tools that help the rest of us become leaders who can sell a vision, unite a team, and achieve organizational consent. The following overview captures a small slice of the course content from general principles to practical applications that are simple yet powerfully effective ideas for all of us.

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Designs That Change Lives: UX Boot Camp and Kiva

“The UX Boot Camp is a transformational experience, disguised as a training.”

- Lead UX Boot CampTeacher, Stefan Klocek

In each UX Boot Camp, participants dive headfirst into design. They are challenged by a real-world problem and in just four days produce clever design solutions tailored to their clients needs.

At the UX Boot Camp with Kiva, the designers’ mission was to envision web concepts that helped Kiva lenders decide which loans are best for them and facilitate the loan selection process. Currently, lenders can feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the number of borrowers and different types of loans. So Kiva was looking for ways to empower lenders and help them make decisions with their money.

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Designs that change lives

The UX Boot Camp: Kiva

Kick off your spring at the Cooper studio with our upcoming UX Boot Camp with Kiva, held March 11-14, in San Francisco, CA. This deep-dive promises to be one of our most inspiring, as designers, developers and project managers work together to support Kiva’s mission to eliminate poverty worldwide by connecting people through microloans.

Sound like a high bar? It is. Wait until you hear your mission.

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Man’s Best App

How do you design an engaging and educational application that prepares a user with short-term memory loss for a lifestyle change?

For the November UX Boot Camp, designers, developers, and product managers from around the world teamed up to answer that very challenge for Canine Companions for Independence, the largest non-profit provider of service dogs.

Led by senior designers from Cooper, UX Boot Camp participants got their hands dirty learning new UX design techniques, collaborating with new teams, and working closely with stakeholders from Canine Companions.

From kickoff to design delivery, UX Boot Camp participants took a hands-on role in the generation, exploration, and synthesis of five distinct and fully-developed design concepts.

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New Peers, Practices, and Perspectives

Takeaways from Cooper U in Philadelphia

A guest post by Cooper U alumni, Hanna Kang-Brown

As a career changer and the first UX Designer to be hired at my company, there’s a lot of self-learning I do on the job. Reading books and blogs have been essential to developing my UX process, but when I had the opportunity to attend Cooper U’s Interaction Design Training in Philadelphia this past December, I jumped at the chance. I wanted a week of hands-on training, and the opportunity to learn a thorough interaction design process with a group of other professionals. Some highlights from the week and my biggest takeaways are below.

My Biggest Takeaways

Clarifying Process
I was already familiar with the interaction design process, but the course helped deepen my understanding of it through hands on activities. I discovered ways in which I had cut corners in my design process and how I could have a better end product if I spent more time initially considering business stakeholder goals, personas and sketching out scenarios.

Speaking of Sketching
I’ve always been a reluctant sketcher because I never thought I was very good at it. We did a lot of sketching, from user profiles to storyboards and wireframes, and it helped me gain more confidence and a better appreciation for its usefulness as a lightweight prototyping method.

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What’s culture got to do with it?

In short, everything.

Does your work culture make it challenging for your team or organization to do great work? Well this could be the year you make it better. At Fluxible 2013, our very own Teresa Brazen, Design Education Strategist, delivered a 30 minute talk, Make Culture, Not War: The Secret of Great Teams and Organizations, about the role and impact of culture on organizations. Of particular interest to the UX crowd, she explained how designers are uniquely positioned to influence culture by employing familiar tools from our bag of tricks. Enjoy (and share!) the video below!

If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty, you (and perhaps a few folks from your team/organization) might want to check out our newly launched 1-day Designing Culture Master Class. This training aims to help people intentionally approach their team or organizational culture – through a cultural assessment, visioning and goal-setting exercises, and development of a tactical plan to improve their culture (some of the topics Teresa hits on in her talk below). Teresa and Susan Dybbs, Managing Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, will be teaching the course in our San Francisco offices on Friday, January 31st.

We are also offering Designing Culture in-house training for organizations that would benefit from having a larger group (management, teams, etc) go through this process together. Contact us at cooperu@cooper.com for details.

Video: Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations

Cooper U On The Road

Are your products failing to resonate with users? Too many features creating bloat? Many of today’s products are driven by spreadsheets, technology constraints, and feature lists. They leave frustrated customers wanting more.

We believe a better approach to design focuses on the human needs first and technology second.

In Cooper’s Interaction Design training, we can help you envision, plan, and build products and services that are financially viable, technically feasible, and that your customers will love.

Beginning this December, Cooper is bringing our experience-based, hands-on training to sites around the world.

Where will we be going?

December 3-6 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

May 2014 in Berlin, Germany (If you want to be the first to know when we announce the dates, add you name here)

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Engaging Millennials – the UX Boot Camp: Wikipedia

As mobile devices become widely adopted, organizations are increasingly focused on designing engaging experiences across multiple platforms. At Cooper’s UX Boot Camp with Wikimedia, the non-profit took this a step further, challenging the class of designers to create a solution that facilitated content input and encouraged a new group of editors, specifically Millennial women, to contribute through mobile devices.

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Road Trip: Cooper U’s Interaction Design Training Heads East!

In service of spreading design awareness and education, Cooper U is bringing its foundational training in Interaction Design to Philadelphia on December 3-6 to cap off a great 2013. Throughout the year we’ve received many requests from our design peers to bring our training east, so when we had the opportunity to add another class to the schedule, we thought Philadelphia would be the perfect location.

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UX Boot Camp: Canine Companions for Independence

Join Cooper, Canine Companions for Independence and designers from all over the world, November 19-22 in San Francisco, CA, for the last UX Boot Camp of 2013.

The Goal:

Create interactions and experiences that stimulate memory and cognitive functions to facilitate communication between veterans and their service dogs

The Team:

Designers, Product Managers and Developers from around the world will converge on the Cooper offices for 4 days to immerse themselves in Cooper’s Goal-Directed Design methods and take their design-thinking to a whole new level.

The Client:

Canine Companions for Independence, a California based non-profit, enhances the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support.

Save your seat now!

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