Planets Don’t Have Orbits

I heard an argument forwarded by Andrew Hinton way back in Dublin at the Inteaction12 conference. The short form goes like this: “Users don’t have goals.” (UDHG for short.) Being a big believer in Goal-Directed Design, I thought the argument to be self-evidently flawed, but since it came up again as a question from a student at my Cooper U class in Berlin, I feel I ought to address it.

Are there, in fact, goals?

Given just those four words, it seems like it might be about users actually not having goals. But of course, goals do exist. If they didn’t, why would anyone get out of bed in the morning? Or do work? Or make conference presentations? If we didn’t have goals, nothing would be happening in the world around us. But of course we do we do get out of bed. We do work. We write blog posts. All because we have reasons which—for clarity—we call goals. This example illustrates that what UDHG really means that most people don’t have explicit goals.

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No Cheap Seats: Designing the Fan Experience

Remember when you first began to learn the rules of a game? That’s when you began to join a new family, one that can span generations, languages, and distances. In some cases, this family defines part of who you are. You’re able to form instant bonds when you see someone with the same jersey and immediately question the judgement of someone who rooted for the rival. When that happens, you’ve committed. You’re a fan.

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SF Design Week 2014 – A Peek Inside Cooper

What: Cooper’s Open Studio during AIGA’s SF Design Week Studio Tour
When: Tuesday, June 17 from 6pm-9pm
Where: Cooper’s Loft Studio, 85 2nd St, 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA

Come stop by!

Each summer during San Francisco’s Design Week we celebrate our craft with events and open studios. This year Cooper is especially excited to open its doors and welcome friends and colleagues to share drinks and eats, and explore our space.

The Next Factor: Cooper and Factor 14

Factor 14 is a startup developing both hardware and software focused on helping the four million patients currently taking oral anticoagulants manage their care remotely in the hopes of reducing healthcare costs and improving outcomes.

When Cooper connected with Factor 14 during the start-up’s incubation period at Rock Health, a design mentorship was born. Co-founders Ryan Bloom and Raman Talwar worked with Cooper designers Izac Ross, Lauren Ruiz, and Cale LeRoy for six monthly design sessions. We recently caught up with Ryan and Raman to ask them about their journey from premise to prototype….

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Design + Impact: Cooper’s UX Boot Camp with Kiva Zip

Human-centered design meets socially conscious entrepreneurship at Cooper’s Summer UX Boot Camp with Kiva Zip. Join us in our San Francisco studio August 12 – 15 to design innovative solutions for this exciting, early-stage venture from Kiva. Launched in 2012, Kiva Zip is a pilot program that enables individuals to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in Kenya and the United States without a 3rd party middleman.

In these times of global economic challenge, design solutions for creating sustainable wealth can have a lasting and meaningful effect. During this UX Boot Camp you will practice and stretch your design skills while helping Kiva Zip achieve their mission to enrich lender-borrower relationships and make possible 0% interest loans. Your design portfolio grows, and the world gets a little better — now that’s what we call impact.

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Persona Empathy Mapping

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Empathy — it’s a buzzword in the UX design world. Everybody’s doing it! But what exactly are they doing? There isn’t a quick “Empathy Filter” that we can apply to our work or our team, no formula to pump out results, and no magic words to bring it forth. There is, however, a simple workshop activity that you can facilitate with stakeholders (or anyone responsible for product development, really) to build empathy for your end users. We call it Persona Empathy Mapping.

Empathy Mapping helps us consider how other people are thinking and feeling. Typically, research notes are categorized based on what the research interviewees were thinking, feeling, doing, seeing, and hearing as they engaged with your product. It helps your team zoom out from focusing on behaviors to consider the users’ emotions and experience as well. I first learned about it from Dave Gray’s Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers and Changemakers and it’s gotten more press lately due to Alex Osterwalder’s book, Business Model Generation.

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Design > Critique > Repeat

There’s a lot of writing out there on how to run a productive critique.

One of my favorites is by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures where he lays out nine rules to follow. For example, one great rule is to write it before you say it – this requires 5-10 minutes of silent time to look at the work and write down your initial reactions. It allows you to respond to the work individually – eliminating groupthink. Scott Berkun also wrote a great guide on setting up a critique and goes into the details of specific questions to ask and what materials you’ll need.

So you’ve followed the best practices and just had a super productive critique.

Now what?

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From Vision to Value: Techniques for Demonstrating the Benefits of Design

A guest post by Cooper U alumni Grant Baker.

At every conference session I’ve gone to, someone has asked some variant of “this all sounds great, but how do I sell it to my company?” This is especially true when talking about processes seen as business cost centers, like design. To the initiated, it makes no sense why anyone would try to build a product any other way. Yet our business partners look on these same strategies with a cold eye, blinded to anything but added expense. Add this to frustrations such as impending deadlines and frivolous demands, and it’s no wonder many interaction designers have great theories, but no way to put them into practice.

In March, Cooper U hosted their Design Leadership workshop, which teaches the skills needed to meet these problems head on.

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The Creative Habit

Most of us follow a daily routine. We awake at about the same hour, maybe hit the snooze a few times, grab breakfast and a shower, dress and hit the road. Usually it’s the same road — and the same mode of transportation, with maybe a beverage of choice on the way, and then in the door at work at roughly the same time, with all the familiar tasks awaiting.

Some might find this a seriously limiting portrait, a sort of Dilbert Dullsville, unconducive to creative production or flights of imagination. But actually, inside that predictable routine lies genius, if you know how to tap it. For many of the great artists, writers and designers, this very kind of structure proved key to their success.

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Barry the Blog Post…

…or, Why Silly Names Make Silly Personas, and 8 Tips to Getting Your Personas Named More Effectively

You’ve seen them before and unfortunately, you’ll see them again. Personas with names like Sarah the Security-Minded, Adam the Artist, Gloomy Gus, or Uzziah the Uppity Unix User. (Wait. You don’t have a persona named Uzziah?)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”
—Romeo & Juliet, Act II scene 2

A quick word about doing this sort of thing. Don’t. On one level, sure, it works. The alliteration helps you remember both the name and the salient characteristic that that persona is meant to embody. Who was Gus? Oh that’s right. The gloomy one.

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