Talk, but I’ll need pen and paper.

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We used chalkboards when I was in primary school and it was fun. Our teacher would ask someone to write his notes on the board so that the rest of the class could copy. Though it wasn’t the prettiest thing to do, chalk on my head, chalk on my school uniform, I would volunteer. I not only wanted to show off my handwriting but genuinely enjoyed the process of putting down and together, words.

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Omnigraffle Vs Adobe Illustrator

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Spot the difference (click for bigger view)

When Veerle Duoh tweeted about her Cityscape tutorial done in Adobe Illustrator, I just knew I had to try it, in Omnigraffle.

I began using Omnigraffle in a UX role for wireframing. After getting comfortable with it, I started to see the potential and decided to give illustrating a go. I did try to learn Adobe illustrator every now and then, but I kept going back to ‘Graffle.

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A Design Conversation with John Maeda

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John Maeda is a design partner at KPCB, a VC firm in Silicon Valley with Google and Amazon in their portfolio. It was an honor to hear him speak live about design and hybrids. Big thanks to Poptech for organizing for free and Patrizia of Legoviews for sharing the event.

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Events Roundup (May)

Digital Shoreditch Festival

Got the opportunity to attend Digital Shoreditch Festival an annual festival that brings together the Creative, Tech and Entrepreneur community to celebrate outstanding work, share ideas and look forward to the future.

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Storymaking For a Better User Experience

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Stories are great, we all love a good one. Storytelling is useful in helping us connect with others, companies and brands. We can enhance this by co-creating stories using StoryMaking methods.

“StoryMaking is the engagement in creation of a story with one or more people”

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UX is Responsible Design

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“In this age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer.”

Victor Papanek (p. ix, Papanek, 1985)

Responsible Design

The idea around responsible design was ignited when I was in a Bible study about love and it’s responsibilities. At the same time, I had been working on a responsive design piece for the web and I thought to myself, to design responsively well, we need to be responsible designers first. And just like love, design should not merely be responsive (firefighting approach), it should be pro-active, given to ‘take care of’ concerned about others, finding out real problems and trying to solve them.

I read Victor Papanek’s book, Design for the Real World (highly recommended) a few weeks later and the ideas began to really gell.

Responsible design takes into account a number of things; Culture, Accessibility, Sustainability, Empathy, Ethics. Responsible design is holistic, accountable, creative, caring, visionary, quality conscious and forward thinking.

The relationship with User Experience

I read an article recently that attempted to split UX and design, it drew me back to Papanek’s words that we are all designers, but how we design is another story, UX is how I design, for example. We are all teachers in the same vein, whether we teach professionally or teach using a particular method, is something different.

A friend of mine had a stint teaching maths to children at a secondary school in Lagos. Many of the children appeared to be dull and didn’t seem able to grasp what he was teaching. My friend had been using the prescribed textbooks and examples, to describe percentages, additions, distance etc. and he got frustrated. The children were frustrated as well and they turned to buying and selling of items in class.

One day, it hit him, he describes it as an epiphany. He quickly changed all the textbook examples into things the children could relate to and see in their neighbourhood and the class began to liven. The children were happy and learning, he was happy and wondered how blind he had been.

I told him it was the same with design, any attempt to leave behind the people we are designing for will end up in frustration, for one party at least.

Can you design without UX?, sure! But UX is a better, responsible way to design, whether in visual, technical or development.

UX is a combination of skills that derive from the responsibilities we have as designers.

If we care, have empathy for people, we will involve them in our design process through co-creation, user research, usability studies etc. These skills must be applied to take an idea from pure fiction safely into the hands of users.

If you are in the business of design, you need to decide which way you fall, take up the responsibility and consider the above, build the necessary skills, it’s a daily struggle! Don’t think you will be able to master all skills, so better to ‘know thy self’.


Next Post: The Responsible Designer & Culture

I gave a little speech about Responsible Design and Culture at work, which went down quite well. Culture falls into 3 categories, Culture Within, Culture Without, Culture Transpositions (from/to)

Culture Within is about the character, values and experiences that are allowed to flourish or wither within a design team/org. It is foundational to how one designs.

The next post on Responsible design will explore ‘The Responsible Designer’, how the designer contributes to culture within, and it’s effects on the designer/designer’s work in turn.

For now, stay bright.


Essays on Responsible Design

Nigerian Design Patterns: Intro

Design according to Victor Papanek (Whom I’m currently enamoured by) is a conscious effort to impose meaningful order. It is broad enough to cover a lot of areas but succinct. The place called Nigeria, my country is one which captures over 200 cultures and languages, the vastness in relation to design is amazing. Because of this, I will be focusing on artifacts in a specific area at a time, right now, it’s all about clothing and textile.

I have been researching and I will be writing an in-depth post of textile design; why and how clothing was/is designed in different cultures, the meaning, implications, effects and how they matter for us in the present and future.

Another piece of the work is in digitizing some of these patterns for preservation, and communication in ways beyond clothing and textile.

These are some Adire textile patterns with their meanings, courtesy: Chief Nike Davies

“Adire are indigo resist dyed cotton cloths that were made by women throughout Yorubaland in south-western Nigeria. Resist-dyeing involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them absorbing dye. Some of the clothing used to be handpainted with patterns that very important meanings”

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All illustrations are done in Omnigraffle. Cheers.