Recap: Designing for Digital: Processes and Planning for Powerful Solutions
In the ever-shifting industry of digital design the dual roles of process and planning are fundamental in creating powerful solutions. At the Girl Geeks Toronto meetup on November 19th, Linda Nakanishi, Linn Vizard, and Laura Baxter each tapped into their personal backgrounds to address designing awe-inspiring and informed digital products. Each speaker highlighted key phases of the design cycle that lead to the production of exceptional digital products.
Both an educator and creative director in the interactive design industry, Linda Nakanishi shared her experiences of how she transitioned from a visual arts background into design. This shift caused a change in her perspective from creating solely for an inner critic to creating for an audience. Linda went on to describe how shifts in the design industry have caused a scattering of the titles designers use to describe their roles. As a general rule Linda provided some common sense advice of “if you don’t understand what the title means, don’t use it”. Moreover, understand what a role and it’s respective title specifically requires you to know. Wells Riley provides a canonical set of titles and their accompanying descriptions. Linda also staunchly advocated for designers to learn to code so they have a deeper understandings of the technical implementation of their designs.
With characteristic wit and humor Linn tied several tenants of user experience design to timeless pieces of industrial design. Linn Vizard studied as an industrial designer but transitioned her career from designing physical products to digital ones. Linn brought examples from the physical world into the digital one to illustrate key design concepts. An Eames chair is an example of powerful partnership as Eames was one of the most consistent and impactful design duos. The SK4 record player by Dieter Rams has a simple and refined design. It is a symbol of less but better. As Linn said “think about a minimum valuable product. What is the essence of what we are trying to build and what is it’s core product.” Next Linn showed a first model Dyson vacuum cleaner. It took many versions and significant effort to develop the first Dyson cleaner. Its creation makes the case for prototype and iterate. When Mies Van Der Rohe designed his Brno chair he presented a truthness to materials. Finally, the Olivetti Lettera typewriter is built for longevity. Each of these physical products provide insightful considerations as well as challenges for digital designers.
Laura Baxter is a digital consultant who brings solutions to companies that aid the design process as it spans from conception to execution. Laura recognized a fundamental flaw in the process of creating digital products from the traditional linear process of discover, define, design, develop, deploy, measure, and maintain. She observed that it wasn’t the processes that was flawed but it’s execution by people, each with their own interests and agendas. She went on to propose a novel process which, considers the individuals who implement it. The process she proposes has three cycles with various stakeholders involved. At the centre of the wheel is user experience, emphasizing the need for its consideration it in all phases. The three phases include consultation and strategy; architecture and design; and development and production. The process Laura outlined provides the necessary opportunity to revisit phases.
Each speaker opened new avenues of thinking in designing digital products that extend beyond everyday solutions to comprehensively consider the problems they aim to solve. Linda created a central definition of design as problem solving and elaborated on modes of defining the titles designers assign to themselves. Linn adopted design standards found in the industrial design to inform digital design. Finally Laura presented a process methodology that reforms the errors people place upon traditional ways of building digital products. Designing for digital provides many challenges as well as unique opportunities to create lasting and informed solutions.
Presentation slides and resources from this meetup can be found at the links below.
- Linda’s slides: slideshare.net/LindaNakanishi/girl-geeks-toronto-designers-do-more-than-just-make-things-pretty
- Linn’s slides: slideshare.net/linnviz/girl-geeks-lessons-from-classic-industrial-design-for-a-digital-world
- Laura’s slides: slideshare.net/lbaxter/presentation-girl-geeks
- Website colour contrast checker: snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html
- Collection of inspirational websites using media queries and responsive web design: mediaqueri.es/