Archive for the 'Process' Category

Design in China – taking a great leap forward

ApogeeHK published an article I wrote to reflect my experience with User Friendly 2007 and the workshop I did there. Go read it and give them some props 🙂


The rise of the Chinese experience economy
Currently, China’s economy is largely based on an manufacturing-age mindset. This mindset causes the work flow of a product development organization to resemble that of the old assembly line. Everyone is responsible for one task and is rewarded for successfully doing just that. When that task is completed, it is passed on to the next person. Design is just one function in this linear process where collaboration and teamwork is a foreign idea. The product manager writes the specification and gets a design resource to finish “drawing up the concept”. Despite the current situation, I believe that Chinese companies will join the rest of the world in the Experience Economy sooner than we would think. The Chinese economy have been growing at rate that many of us can’t ignore. The government, while still politically far removed from the world, is committed to growing the economy at GDP rates in the teens on average. Thus, Chinese companies will realize, like their Western counterparts, that Design thinking will need to be core to their organizational structure.

The user experience field will take a huge leap forward, working at a higher level in the organizational chart as well a huge demand for design thinking to bring these companies into the next decade. The designers I talk to are ready for it. Consumers will become smarter as spending per capita increases with the rise of the middle class that we see so much of in Beijing, Shanghai, Canton and so many other major cities. Chinese designers are optimistic that this day is coming and they want to be prepared to take that opportunity. I saw great energy and a yearning to build up their skills to face challenges and responsibilities that comes with design being a core competitive advantage of an economy. I believe that the struggles Interaction Designers are facing in China today will soon become an opportunity for them.”


Inclusive Iterations: How a Design Team Builds Shared Insights – Emily Ulrich

Emily talked about using the Elito method to capture design research and observation. This method consists a team of people from Sales, Marketing, Product, Design doing research together and doing a collaborative analysis session together filling out columns on a spreadsheet consists of the following. As the design researcher, Emily moderates the sessions and leads the research effort:

[Col 1] Metaphor [Col 2] Observation [Col 3] Insight [Col 4] Value [Col 5] Concept

[1] Metaphor – make it memorable

[2] Observation – one at a time

[3] Insight – what did we learn about people?

[4] Value – what does that tell us about the people and what their values are? Why is this important to us?

[5] Concept: it’s ok to have opinions before they know where they come from but just don’t get tied to them. See if it relates back to the observation and insight and how it provides value.

Why she likes this method?

  • Get Sales, Marketing, Product Managers, Designers, Researchers involved in the research and synthesis creates buy-in.
  • This method allows people to have judgements.
  • People can be creative without being held back from research even if it’s backed up
  • Everybody can add insights to the project
  • Bringing people back to the Elito, showing blank cells on the screen gets people back to the task at hand.  People want to fill in the blanks.
  • The process brings democratization to the design process and creates buy-in to the design focus.
  • Gets people focus on the task at hand instead of getting distracted by arguments.
  • Insights and metaphors have longevity

Example: “Access to innovation”

She talked about an example to help us see how insights can be translated into drivers for the rest of the design effort. For one of her projects (which was succesful), they were studying how people work in cubicles. One day her and her team were interviewing a senior architect and saw a pile of books by his desk. She engaged in a conversation about how he uses the books and turned out that they don’t have space in the office for an  library. But he uses them as resources to educate and inspire the younger architects in the office. She wrote that down and didn’t think much of it.

During the Elito session with the team, she brought it up to put into the observation notes column. They talked about it and someone called it  “Access to innovation”.  A bit more into the research, they kept seeing “Access to innovation” creep up in different contexts in the rest of the sites they went to during the research. Eventually it ended up driving a whole concept to solve a problem.


Waterfall bad, washing machine good – by Leisa Reichelt

The gist of this talk was about designing product with an agile mindset. Iteratively, collaboratively, and humanistically (use of scenarios or stories). This is not new to us at Liquidnet, we’ve been trying to methodically carry this out in increasingly bigger projects.

Lisa’s background is in project management. I like her sketches, they’re very cute. Here are a few key points:






Sam Felder took notes exactly the way it is, here it is.