Blog  frogs on the road

Google’s Material Design Video Recreated in Keynote

During this year’s annual I/O conference, Google revealed Material Design, a responsive design language that aims to unify all their products, platforms, and devices. Google's promotional video amplifies the compelling theory of a rationalized space and system of motion found in Material. Videos like this are common in the industry, and are often made using Adobe After Effects -- a very powerful video, motion graphics, and compositing application. As an interaction designer working at frog, I am tasked with communicating to clients how a system works and what an application looks and feels like. Producing a high fidelity animated video like the one Google created for Material is certainly a possibility, but it often requires additional time, scoping, and resources. Instead, I use Keynote because you can tell the same story just as effectively in much less time.

Blog  frogs on the road

What Defines the Designer of the Future?

Sharing. Entrepreneurism. Coding.

What do these traits have in common? They belong to the designer of the future, according to a panel of experts gathered at frog Amsterdam in February to discuss the future designer.

Blog  frogs on the road

Launching Point B’s Design-Thinking Center for Community Engagement in Myanmar

After more than 50 years under military rule, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is just beginning to open up to be a free and democratic nation. The people of Myanmar currently face challenges and complexity that vastly exceed the creative resources available to address them. Point B Design + Training (pointB), a partner of frog, is leveraging this unique time and context to change the story of Myanmar from seeing problems to creating new possibilities.

Blog  frogs on the road

From frog Milan: Design for Everyday Life

On February15th, frog Milan hosted the 3rd annual World Information Architecture Day: a global sharing of experience and vision among the IA community. Taking place in 24 cities on 6 continents, the Milan event attracted 120 enthusiastic participants to frog’s studio for a day of sharing and collaboration themed “Design for a Better Everyday.”

Blog  Intangible

Bringing Users Into Your Process through Participatory Design

We've been seeing an intense pressure on businesses to rapidly make sense of customer needs and demands, then incorporate that feedback into new or existing products. For today's designers, it can be challenging to make well-informed decisions about the large and small details that comprise these products, especially when working within the constraints of an agile/scrum methodology.

At frog, one of the methods we turn to regularly to identify and incorporate user feedback into products is participatory design. Participatory design aims to bring users into the design process by facilitating conversations through the creation and completion of a wide range of activities. We create activities to facilitate sharing and conversation with users, providing them with materials to descriptively discuss their personal experiences and express their desires for ideal solutions. By doing this, we are able to work directly with current and future users of products and services, quickly discovering important criteria to fold into the next iteration of a product, service, or experience strategy.

Blog  Interpretations

What You Will Find On a Design Researcher's Bookshelf

Sometime around 1996 I found myself standing in the upstairs library of a drafty, suburban Chicago Victorian owned by a mentor, marveling at what seemed to be a neurotic collection of books. He had volumes on cooking, social science, biology, business, systems engineering, anthropology, architecture, comics, painting, science fiction, classic literature, graphic design, and a batch of academic papers, among others. When we went book shopping together, I often left with a stack in hand similar to what was on his shelves, despite other intentions.

Blog  The Visual Design Dept.

On Design & Translation (Les Belles Infidèles)

When French philosopher and writer Gilles Ménage commented on the humanist translations of Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt some four hundred years ago, he was criticizing the re-interpreted dimension of beauty that the translator had added to the original work.
“Translations, like women, can be either faithful or beautiful, but not both” wrote Ménage referring to a brief romance he had once had in the past, and went on to describe the lost connection between the original piece and the translators’ repurposed sibling.
 

Blog  frogs on the road

A Report from TEDxAustin City 2.0

“Dream me. Build me. Make me real.” This was the mantra for the national TEDCity2.0 event held globally on September 20th, 2013.

Blog  Intangible

The 10 Building Blocks of Design Studio Culture

The 10 Building Blocks of Design Studio Culture. Great studios are able to balance all of these factors as part of their day-to-day operations. (Illustration by David Sherwin.)

This is an excerpt from from my new book, Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers, out now from HOW Books.

Culture is everything people in a design business do that supports the process of making work happen. Culture can create joy for designers, while improvements in process can facilitate profit. A common misperception is that culture emerges organically based on the decisions of a business owner or CEO. But a design studio’s culture is not created solely by those at the top. For a design-led business, culture is generated from ongoing contributions and discoveries from both studio owners and employees.

In researching my recent book on how design businesses can be more successful, I began to see important building blocks that were present in the most successful studios. These building blocks are divided into two groups: hard building blocks and soft building blocks. Hard building blocks are realized through a budget, meaning that you can allocate money and time for them as part of business overhead. The soft building blocks can be created through the decisions employees make over the course of their daily work, life and play (with less material investment by the owners).

A healthy studio culture draws equally from both types of building blocks. They provide emotional and material stability to employees in the face of ongoing work challenges, and often clients, family and the general public perceive them as ingredients of the company’s brand. These building blocks are equally present within design firms and in-house design teams—though for the latter, the composition of some building blocks may be heavily influenced by the company's overall behavior and needs.

Let’s take a deep dive into these building blocks, with important questions to ask yourself (and your team) in order to create a strong studio culture. 

Blog  Intangible

What Aspiring Designers Need to Know About Strategy

Segmentation strategy... for Cute Overload

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.

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