Inside Goal-Directed Design: A Conversation With Alan Cooper (Part 2)

We continue our conversation with Alan Cooper at Sue and Alan’s warm and welcoming ranch in Petaluma, CA, which, in addition to themselves, is home to sheep and chickens, a cat named Monkey, and a farmer who works the land.

Part 2 brings us up to present-day, and discussions around the applications and fundamentals of Goal-Directed Design that support its success at Cooper and beyond.

From Theory to Practice­­

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Inside Goal-Directed Design: A Two-Part Conversation With Alan Cooper

Go behind the scenes in this two-part Masters In Conversation series with Alan Cooper, exploring the origins and applications of Goal-Directed Design (GDD). In Part 1 we rewind to the early 1970s when Alan was just starting out and the climate of programming and design was changing rapidly, forging the insights that led to the techniques of GDD. Part 2 brings us up to date with GDD as Cooper designers and teachers apply it today.

Part 1: In the Beginning…

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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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A 15-minute investment in creativity

Despite the allure of the Newton’s apple story (Apple falls, and presto, change-o: an idea is born), creativity doesn’t fall from trees. On the contrary, the kind of creative thinking that drives true innovation takes nurturing. And by nurturing, I mean an honest and consistent commitment to exploration and out-of-the-box thinking in the form of time, resources, and space.

Because, here’s the thing: as product-design company Zurb aptly puts it, “People struggle to be creative when it’s not part of the culture.” Companies may tout “Innovation!” as their driving goal, but that proclamation means nothing if there isn’t infrastructure to support true creative thinking day-to-day.

Which leads me back to Zurb and a simple little practice called Friday 15. On Fridays, their team dedicates, you guessed it, 15 minutes, to some kind of creative exercise. They do this for team-building, fun, and to inspire a creative culture. Here’s a taste of the brain-ticklers they’ve explored together:

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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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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.

Designing Culture: New Ways to Think About Work

How might we…

  • invest in relational chemistry?
  • encourage personal leadership?
  • integrate new team members?
  • gain alignment around vision?

These are just a few of the questions we explored in our last Cooper Parlor, Designing Culture. The evening was focused on ways to be intentional about creating a creative culture and work environment. Attendees from design, digital technology, city government, engineering firms, art museums and more shared their desires, challenges, and experiences in shaping the culture of their workplaces.

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Designer’s Toolkit: Road Testing Prototype Tools

We’ve all been there: you’ve got a few days to throw together a prototype. For expedience sake, you go to one of your large, well known tools to get the job done. The files quickly become bloated and crash—hours of hard work lost. There’s got to be a way to create prototypes at a similar level of fidelity with a lighter weight tool.

After test driving some alternative prototyping tools I discovered that there are indeed other good options. Here is an overview of what I found, followed by assessments of each tool, with hopes it will help fellow designers in the prototyping trenches.

Choosing the tools

After researching existing prototyping tools, I narrowed a long list of about 40 to a small set of 10 that looked the most interesting. Some factors that influenced which tools I selected include:

  • Hearing about the tool from fellow Cooperistas or other colleagues.
  • The popularity of the tool based on what I read in other blogs.
  • Whether it looked cool or exciting from my first impression of the design and features.

This is not a comprehensive set of tools, but includes the ones that I was interested in checking out.

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UX Boot Camp with Marketplace Money

Old School Radio Meets the Digital Age

Take a look inside Cooper’s June, 2013 UX Boot Camp with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money radio show, where students explored the next horizon of audio programming—a paradigm shift from broadcast to conversation-based platforms.

The Challenge
Students rolled up their sleeves to help the show respond to the trend away from traditional radio by finding the right mix of alternative distribution platforms. Marketplace Money came equally ready to take a radical departure from their current format in order to create a new model that redefines the roles of host, show, and audience in the digital age. To reach this goal, students focused on designing solutions that addressed three big challenges:

  1. Engage a new, younger audience that is tech savvy, and provide easy access to content via new platforms, such as podcasts, satellite radio shows, and the Internet.
  2. Inspire audience participation and contribution. Facilitate conversations and inspire people to share their personal stories so that listeners can learn from each other.
  3. Design ways for the host to carry an influential brand or style that extends beyond the limits of the show and engage with the audience around personal finance, connecting with listeners in ways that are likeable, useful, and trustworthy, making the topic of personal finance cool, fun and approachable.

At the end of the four-day Boot Camp, student teams presented final pitches to Marketplace Money, and a panel of experienced Cooper designers offered feedback on their ideas and presentations.In the following excerpts from each day, you can test your own sensory preferences for receiving content as you see, hear and read how design ideas evolved at the Boot Camp, inspiring new relationships between people and radio.

Marketplace Money Class

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