At frog, we often find ourselves conducting research in surprising places all over the world. Those of you familiar with our recent trip to Afghanistanwill know that we conduct field research everywhere from private homes and businesses, to civic and social institutions, to very public spaces. When we're in the field, we like to create "pop-up" studios to facilitate rapid synthesis, ideation, and prototyping. Last month in Austin, we created a unique pop-up studio very close to home, at the frog SXSW Interactive Opening Party.
Milan’s Salone del Mobile began in the 1961 to promote Italian furniture for the export market. In the fifty-two years since, it has grown into one of the world’s premiere design events, drawing enthusiasts and attention from across the globe.
“From Tuesday to Sunday, the city comes alive with all sorts of madness,” says Executive Creative Director Fabio Sergio, based in frog’s Milan studio. “It’s not just about the furniture showcase but what is happening informally in showrooms across the city as companies and designers showcase what is happening within design.”
frog will be joining in the citywide design festival, hosting two events over the course of the week. On April 9, the studio will be opening its doors for an informal showcase of its work along with music and drinks. While the open studio is a Salone del Mobile tradition, this year’s event will serve as a housewarming for the studio’s new space.
This is an exclusive excerpt from my new book, Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers, which was recently released by HOW.
As I read through his resume, the designer stared at me expectantly. He had a wealth of great design projects under his belt. He had been seeking out personal projects to build out his portfolio. He had internships with sterling businesses and design studios. But there was one thing that leapt out at me from the list of core skills he’d listed at the top of his resume: strategy.
Not brand strategy, content strategy, interactive strategy, media strategy, or the MBA-land of business strategy. Just plain ‘ol strategy.
This has been happening more and more frequently, for a few reasons. In the process of providing strong service to our clients, we increase the likelihood of becoming a strategic partner. We finally have a seat at the table when the client is talking strategy—and we can offer a range of strategic services that verge outside what may be considered a designer’s core area of expertise. This is a good thing. With the ongoing expansion of design’s role in business, today’s designers are helping to solve problems that transcend mere decoration and instead impact the core functions of a client’s business.
But in our haste to be strategic partners, I’ve discovered that many designers don’t fully grasp how strategic services fit into their client offerings. And when I ask designers out of sheer curiosity how they’re functioning as strategists—what experiences they directly bring to bear on being strategists rather than having a strategic orientation—they can’t easily answer the question.
If you’re going to run a design-led business, it’s inevitable that you will need to talk strategy with your clients. So let’s explore the types of strategies you might create as a design businessperson, as well as how they may support the efforts of your clients. It’s my hope that this information will open up some new paths for you to explore in your career as a designer.
Today’s connected world is filled with product and service ecosystems that compete for people’s limited time and shrinking attention spans.
The quality and nature of the User Experience that these ecosystems offer is increasingly one of their most valuable differentiating assets on the market.
An effective Experience Strategy defines the vision and roadmap to fulfill the promise that a brand makes to its customers, expressed in terms of the long-lasting human experience it aims to stage for and with them.
The Facebook News Feed is the first page seen upon login by the social network’s 1 billion-and-counting users. So it came as no surprise that the company’s News Feed redesign generated a lot of conversation when it was unveiled earlier this month. Beyond the discussion of ads and algorithms, however, is the continuing evolution of Facebook’s “social design” strategy.
With a strong emphasis on prioritizing social connections and conversation, the company’s designers work to get the platform's interface out of its users’ way. As Director of Design Kate Aronowitz previously told design mind’s Reena Jana, “when we’re doing our jobs right as a design team, we do not want people to remember interactions with our brand, we want them to experience real connections with each other and with content. That is most important.”
The team's continuing commitment to this approach was evident in my recent conversation with the two product designers behind the News Feed overhaul, Robyn Morris and Vivian Wang. We spoke on the phone only a few hours after News Feed’s public launch, the culmination of a year of work by their team in a small war room at Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters.
Like a number of you I purchased a Twine—the thing that provides new ways to sense and measure and understand the world around us. I’m a happy customer—they’ve done a good job in rallying a community, bringing it to market, and although I’ve never met the team I have a greater affinity for who they are (or who I perceive they are) and what they’re trying to do than most of my relationships as a consumer. But I’ve hardly used it.
Today I received an email nudge from them.
I just wanted to check in and see how things are going with you and your Twine.
We want you to enjoy owning Twine as much as we enjoyed designing it, so please let us know if you have any questions!
I assume this email is in response to how little I’ve been using Twine, the range of things that I tried using it for and how quickly I stopped experimenting with it—when the product is connected it’s easy data to pull up. The email is subtle enough to be read as something more generic and certainly doesn’t come across as big-brotherish. But it did trigger pangs of guilt.
Guilt that the blood, sweat and tears they put into bringing this to market; the environmental impact of manufacturing, shipping it to me; and in spending the time on support to set it up; all were not repaid through sustained use. And I know they know (and if they are reading this, they know I know they know). Hence the guilt. Which, in this slither of a discussion, is a good thing, because a better understanding of use can help me make smarter consumption decisions in the future. Or at least from today’s perspective, because new models of consumption, sale, support, ownership and use emerge – its not a static landscape. (I prefer to consider myself a consumer in the sense of appreciating consumption, use, rather than wanton consumption).
The following post is the second in a two-part series on storytelling, healthcare, and data from SXSW Interactive. The first part can be read here.
Human health is the next battleground for advances in Big Data. From understanding the human genome to leveraging electronic medical records, the opportunities to improve our healthcare with data management and visualization is one of the most discussed topics this year at SXSW. Healthtech at SXSW Interactive has taken many forms, from start-ups like 23andme, which will map your genotype for only $99, to businesses at scale like GE Healthymagination, or venture accelerator RockHealth (who seems to be driving a lot of innovation in the space).
The healthcare provider community, including doctors, nurses and the organizations, like hospitals and clinics, that support them are in the middle of a massive overhaul of the methods and mechanism with which they interact with data. We would like to suggest an approach to includes the patient perspective, their raw data, and the public ecosystem.
Yesterday, Jon Freach described a methodology by which patients can construct coherent self-narratives of the history and state of their health. This methodology has the potential to reduce the emotional stress experienced during the treatment process and result in the best possible treatment outcomes. By giving the patient the ability to construct their own health narrative, this tool supports the current shift in the healthcare relationship from a provider/payer-centric model, focused on procedures and costs, to a patient-centric model, focused on health. The words “patient-centric” and “self-constructed” are likely to give many doctors (and a few hospital administrators) fits, as the mere concept of enabling a patient to own their diagnosis and treatment threatens to disrupt the established healthcare machine.
But do clinicians have a choice in the matter? In a connected world, the patient is armed with more information than ever before. And patients seeing multiple doctors for different aspects of the same condition often quickly realize that they possess more knowledge than any one of their individual doctors. I saw this growing up as my mother, who suffers from a chronic nerve disease, often would be seeing up to eight different doctors at the same time. In her case, she was the only one who could tie the story of her condition together. So, if the move to a patient-centric universe is a likely outcome, how can we give clinicians the appropriate tools to maximize healthy results and maintain a level of acceptable control?