Akwete in play

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Hi everyone, as you would know from my blog, I began a project years ago to bring Nigerian textile design patterns into the digital world. Recently I was contacted about the usage of one of the patterns, an akwete pattern, for Nigerian playing cards and was delighted! This is the intent, let’s make use of what is ours. I think the patterns are great and look forward to exploring and illustrating more.

For now, enjoy the playing cards and back the Kickstarter project here

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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.

Design Management Lessons from Carlo’s Bakery

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Cakes and Design, a winning combo? Yes! I found out recently that my favorite TV shows are reality shows where there’s some form of creation and/or competition like Cake Boss and Next Great Baker. At first it was all about passing time, entertainment and cakes, then I noticed the design process was similar to what we do on projects in the digital space.

There were a few points I picked up in the process which will be helpful on any design project. Enjoy.

Have Client Conversations

You will get all kinds of clients, aim to have a relaxed friendly conversation no matter how ‘corporate’ they seem. Very often this turns into some sort of battle where you have to get on the defensive but clients go to you because they trust your abilities or want to trust you, show them they are before the right person.

Meet in a comfortable place, ask about their vision, feedback on the spot with ideas. Your expertise should be what takes the conversation forward.

Share the Vision

For leaders, be honest. If it’s going to be a gigantic cake, if it’s something you have never handled before, tell them. Let your people buy into it and push themselves to achieve it.

For those who are led, if you still don’t get it, ask questions.

Sketch or Prototype the Ideas

When I saw the lo-fi sketches and 3D animations, I smiled because this is a no brainer. A good designer thinks visually and a part of that is being able to communicate the ideas in mind. It also enhances collaboration and helps one figure out what could or isn’t working. Paper and pen is all you need.

Building the Idea starts with Building the right team

After the high level vision and ideas have been shared, it is important to break up the goal in chunks that can be handled by every member of team, depending on the scale of the project. In the Bakery, everyone is known to be excellent in particular areas, and they are called to handle that area especially where there’s a large piece of work to be done.

Again, it is very important that everyone sticks to their strengths – a live client project with constraints is not the place to start learning, let the tasks be assigned according to what the individuals are good at.

Call in the Experts

“Sometimes you have to go outside your field of study to find the right people.” – Temple Grandin

You might be a design or baking expert, but it’s important to acknowledge you don’t know all things. The bakery has a number of relationships with experts in other fields outside bakery that help them achieve their goals. One time they even had to bake the cake in the FX expert’s workshop! Designers must form such relationships with others. Collaboration outside of the team is very important for excellent work.

Have Some Fun

“No matter what the recipe, any baker can do wonders in the kitchen with some good ingredients and an upbeat attitude!” – Buddy Valastro

Yes it’s work, but like Temple Grandin said, “my work is fun”. Remember to remember that design is fun, you are creating things into the world that never existed before, c’mon, have a laugh! 😀

Panic be Gone!

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Ewww. Every now and then, there’s a disaster at the bakery. Someone might have done some shoddy work or the cake melts faster than they can deliver. The number one thing they do is curb panic. The leader, Buddy makes them understand it’s not about ‘you’ Think of the work, think of what can be done to rectify the situation. No time for blame games or hysterics.

It’s a bad thing to do work that is below par, it becomes disastrous when you can’t see what is wrong. Leave ego at home.

Details & Delivery

Details in design cannot be overemphasised, it is what separates brands, products and services, though they might be offering the same things. Everyone on the team needs to know how important this is. Sloppy fondant work for example, can destroy a well baked cake.

Delivery is very important, what happens if attention is not paid to this and the beautiful cake is damaged right before the client’s eyes? Let the details in your work be end to end. Have no rest until the cake is firmly lodged in your client’s stomach.

Leaders Lead by Example

Buddy is the clear leader of Carlo’s Bakery, but he is the type of leader who is hands-on which I like. Because design is a practical thing, It’s great to know you have a leader who can fold up their sleeve and get to work.

Stay Challenged

Carlo’s Bakery constantly tries to push the boundaries, baking bigger and more complex cakes. They take on these challenges from clients because it is important for imagination, to build skill and the team. It also exposes the cracks and helps you make provision for training etc.

Eat Cake.

Everyone I know likes cake, so why not get some to celebrate the end of project. Your team will like you, I promise.

“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories”

– Buddy Valastro

The Value in Diversity of Minds

“Different Not Less”

Temple Grandin is an Inventor, Innovator, all round amazing person who is on the Autistic spectrum. Probably the best person in the world to tell you about Autism. You just have to read more, and listen to her talk. Claire Danes acted in a movie called Temple Grandin which you have to see.

As someone who knows autistic children, this really drives me to tears, the way we treat others without trying to understand them.. Listen to her.



 

“Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot. I once was at a science conference, and I saw a NASA scientist who had just found out that his project was canceled—a project he’d worked on for years. He was maybe sixty-five years old, and you know what? He was crying. And I thought, Good for him. That’s why he was able to reach retirement age working in a job he loved.”
Temple Grandin, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

On Design

Every design problem I’ve ever solved started with my ability to visualize and see the world in pictures. I started designing things as a child, when I was always experimenting with new kinds of kites and model airplanes. In elementary school I made a helicopter out of a broken balsa-wood airplane. When I wound up the propeller, the helicopter flew straight up about a hundred feet. I also made bird-shaped paper kites, which I flew behind my bike. The kites were cut out from a single sheet of heavy drawing paper and flown with thread. I experimented with different ways of bending the wings to increase flying performance. Bending the tips of the wings up made the kite fly higher. Thirty years later, this same design started appearing on commercial aircraft

“Now, in my work, before I attempt any construction, I test-run the equipment in my imagination. I visualize my designs being used in every possible situation”

“My first step in designing a better system was collecting all the published information on existing ‘wheels’. Before doing anything else, I always check out what is considered state-of-the-art so I don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.”

“That idea, like many of my best designs, came to me very clearly just before I drifted off to sleep at night.”

How to Create an Owl in Omnigraffle

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Omnigraffle is a tool used by designers and UX professionals primarily for wireframing. The tool also allows one to make the wireframes interactive. Now, Omnigraffle can be utilized for much more than that. I was inspired to explore this when a conversation on tools came up in Spring UX Camp People wanted to know if tools made the designer.

My argument continues to be that tools should be employed depending on what’s available, necessary for the time, audience and purpose. If all you have at a point is Microsoft Word, you should be able to create a useful wireframe in it. That’s a major attribute of a real designer.


A good article on Omnigraffle by UX Matters


Why I like Omnigraffle

Omnigraffle has been a steady tool of mine for the past 3 years. I started using it because it was the main tool at work and I found it comfortable. I like the stencil system which makes one create things faster. Most of what I do begins on paper, while Omnigraffle helps me bring it to life in a myriad of ways.

How You can Illustrate in Omnigraffle

The Basics

It is important to know shapes, and most people who know how to draw naturally know this.

Every object is based on these; The Circle, Triangle and Square.

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Any tool that gives you the ability to create these or by way of stencils can be stretched to far much more, it just depends on your time, level of comfort and imagination.

Understanding the Simple-Complex relationship

When I look at an object I almost instantaneously break it down into pieces, I’m sure it holds true for a lot of designers. This translates into other areas, where you look at a complex problem or argument and you’re able to quickly see the pieces. The most interesting part is that these pieces can be put together in many more ways. This is one reason I like voltron projects.

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Limitations

Omnigraffle is not Adobe Illustrator, so don’t expect advanced work here but you will be able to draw objects, add color to them, modify objects (subtract, union, intersect etc). I haven’t been able to warm to Illustrator, so I can’t tell you what the main differences are, only that there is certainly an advantage to using Illustrator (professionals use it!). But if you are ok with the simple things, Omnigraffle (if you already own it) will work out just fine.

So, I decided to try my hand at a bit of illustration and I’ve enjoyed the whole process immensely. A few things below I’ve created recently, used them in my portfolio, created logos for people, and basically just had fun!

Above all…

It really does start in the mind, don’t ever neglect your pen and paper.

If you cannot see, you cannot do.

Stay Bright.

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The Future of Web Design 2014

 

 

The Future of Web Design FOWD is an annual conference which seeks to inspire and educate everyone who is interested or/and works with the web. It also is an amazing opportunity to network with many brilliantly talented people.

I found out in February that a Nigerian-American designer I follow on Twitter was going to be speaking, my interest in going increased a hundred-fold. Last month I stumbled on the call for volunteers needed for the 8th and 9th, I jumped right in. Big thanks to Michelle of Future Insights for giving me the opportunity.

Day 2

Tuesday started out very early, I was at the Brewery by 7:30am, the volunteers got briefed on what they were going to do, there was a schedule and I was expecting to be busy. I think my favorite part at conferences is welcoming people at the front desk, finding their name tags, directing them and generally smiling, it’s fun.

The following sessions made an impact on me ( …and the ones I could attend!)

 

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The Keynote speech by Paul Adams @Padday, the head of product design at Intercom, it was titled ‘Our New Creative Canvas’. It echoed the thoughts I’ve been having about the web recently; it’s fluid, web pages do not do it justice. This is how I see the web in my mind.

According to him, the future of web design comprise 3 things; 1.We will all be designing systems 2. Personalised experiences 3. Designing for change. Now, I’m no fan of personalized content because I didn’t get on the web to be put back into a silo, however, I am on board with the other two.

 

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“UX Comics: How to Share Ideas Through Pictures” by Bonny Colville-Hyde @almostexact of Sift Digital. This was really important because it is something I’ve done (will blog about it) but never thought of putting before clients. She mentioned that comics allow you to generate and explore ideas, I can testify. The 5 Cs of comics she says are: Calligraphy, Composition, Clarity, Consistency and Communication. Her slides are here. In advancing her talk, I thought that one thing to consider is how body language differs from culture to culture, we shouldn’t have a one size fits all approach.

 

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Senongo Akpan, @senongo on Non-Linear Storytelling. This was a must-go for me and I wasn’t disappointed. It was really interesting seeing how one could essentially connect the dots even if they looked different. I saw how rich the web could be if we employed some of the things recommended in this talk. The slides from Senongo’s talk are here

 

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The last keynote of the day was by Stephanie Rieger  “The Emerging Global Web”. Jumia from Nigeria was name checked here, excited to see that. She spoke about the rise of ‘Instagram businesses’ in developing countries. Creativity certainly develops where there are constraints and a goal.

Day 3

Unfortunately I took ill, but managed to get to the Brewery by 12pm. I pretty much didn’t do any volunteer work so I had the chance to listen to a few talks.

 

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Razvan Caliman’s talk was amazing, I saw things I didn’t know were possible yet. The future has arrived. Browser-free web, anyone? You have to experience it because what I write cannot do it justice. Get it all here (controlled environment required)

 

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Belinda Parmar the CEO of Lady Geek talked about how not to alienate half the population in design. She spoke strongly about de-masculinizing  design.

And it was a wrap.

I was happy with what I got to experience, wish I had gone to Rachel Nabors talk, but I’m not twice. Particularly loved that it ended with the CEO of Lady Geek’s talk reminding us that the domain of web, design and development is for all of us.

I feel very lucky to be a part of this community.

“Those who design for the web, internet are extremely lucky to be in the space right now, being able to shape the world” – Paul Adams

The conference was well organised and as a volunteer I’ve had the least to do here. It was true to it’s aim, educating and inspiring those of us privileged to attend. I also got to talk with a few people I will be keeping in contact with. The emerging story for me from this event is redesigning the web through non-linear storytelling with various mediums and the eCommerce applications. I will be writing a post on that soon. For now, cheerios and don’t stop looking to the future.

You can view slides from other speakers here

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User Experience in Space

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I got the opportunity last month to speak with two talented designers/engineer/design-thinkers who are heading up the design team at SAC in Harwell, Oxfordshire. I was very curious as to what User Experience looks like in this ‘industry’, so I took a trip to Harwell.

First of all, I was impressed by the Diamond Light Source on the campus.

Diamond is UK’s synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce beams of light 10,000 times brighter than the sun that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

You can visit the Diamond on an open day

Now, when it comes to space technology there are three main areas of application; Navigation, Communication and Earth Observation. The designers at SAC were very keen on showing how space technology can be applied commercially. The facility will be handling a variety of projects from different industries. They would be pro-active in problem solving and they will be providing specific solutions for particular companies.

I have no doubt that this is one of the most important areas of development. We have years upon years of data that can be pulled into useful products. It is no wonder that it is one of Innovate UK‘s priority areas, find out more here

As a User Experience designer, it would certainly be an amazing opportunity to work in this industry, there’s so much to learn here and it opens one’s mind to the different possibilities and areas of application in everyday living. Innovation is certainly not far off, given that it usually occurs at the point where various fields meet, in this case, <Space science, User Experience/Design, Business, Engineering, Art >

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I’m also very happy that the Space Apps challenge by NASA made Lagos and Calabar, Nigeria, a part of this. I love that people from my side of the world are involved in global challenges for products that would benefit all of Earth’s citizens.

UXCampLondon, Spring 2014

UXCampLondon is the first UX (un)conference I’ve been to in a very long time. I was really looking forward to the talks, there’s always something different, unique, compared to the usual conferences with set speakers. I also decided to talk about something I had written about some time ago, UX in big ships: How To Stay The Course.

In UX or even life, I am way more concerned about people than tools or processes, so I seek to understand people and their interaction with work, and other people. In my talks, I hope to appeal to people to think more about the way they communicate and how they might do it better.

The Camp

Basically what happens is that at the start of the day, there’s a board with time and room slots and anyone interested in speaking, starting/facilitating a discussion, running a workshop for 35mins can fill in when they want to do it.

First, started off by attending a talk given by some designers from Ustwo, it was about Making Money Valuable I thought this was a very ambitious talk because anything that tries to cover morals and ethics ends up on a slippery slope. They asked some valuable questions though. Things like, “Do my beliefs match my behavior?” ‘What is your core value?’ because that affects the things you design. One ought to design in human language and with cognitive limits in mind.

Second stop, I went to see a presentation on the Burj Khalifa by Hammad Khan of Entropii. It really wasn’t what I was expecting but it was interesting to see that they were going to get a better online experience. I was expecting something like this, Gas Machine from Statoil.

Third talk was Mine!

Oh boy, I didn’t expect the large turn out. I was nervous.

[Read] UX in Big Ships: How To Stay The Course

Sketchnotes "UX of Big Ships: How To Stay On Course" talk by @tonianni - UX Camp London, 22 March 2014 (Drawn by Makayla Lewis)                                                                                                                                                                    Sketchnote by @maccymacx

I had all round good discussions afterwards. One guy said, the only option he’s had in a big ship was to jump off the ship when things got too hard to handle. We also talked about ways to communicate better, sharepoint, wikis etc. Another guy talked about considering the captain of the ship, which is a very good point. If you have the opportunity to get to know more about your CEO before joining up, you definitely should. There’s also the subject of on-boarding new staff, ways of doing this better.

It wasn’t until after my presentation that I realized I hadn’t even introduced myself! yikes, I’ll do better next time.

After the talk, we had a break and then I had long conversations with two ladies, one a product manager and then a developer transitioning into user experience. We talked more about our experiences in ‘big ships’ and also in startups, the differences, pros and cons. There was an idea of exploring how environment affects the way we work, suburbs vs inner city for example.

I also went to a talk on Introversion and Extraversion, by Kim McGuire. Anything about personality always interests me, however I don’t think the introversion and extraversion scale is sufficient enough to qualify a person. I find the MBTI a better way to absorb this. I am an INFJ via the MBTI. I particularly liked the angle about the implications for user research and the way we user test.

Next, went to discussion about B2B vs B2Cs by Red Gate’s Marine Barbaroux (love her name). She asked what our preferences for projects were.

I strongly hold that curiosity is what drives passion and that’s what any and every kind of project whether B2B, B2C, B2E needs.

I personally like having a variety of things to work on. It could be airport kiosks today, trading software tomorrow or fashion applications next.

The remaining sessions covered Agile. My favorite quote was ‘Silos are for farmers’ talking about how we need to shed the us vs them mentality. I thought there is still a dire need for a proper online collaboration tool.

I’m really glad I went, can’t wait to do it again.

Learn by Prototyping

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For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of prototypes. Each time has introduced something new to my knowledge bank. I also did up a portfolio recently which is live. I decided to create it in Axure, a protoyping tool so there will be no question if I can use the application amongst other things. It was something that was quite quick, after sketching out what I wanted to do, i went straight into prototyping. I also went responsive with it, which was quite the challenge. I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did while doing this.

It is important to test assumptions. I thought I understood responsive layouts, but this showed me how much was lacking in my knowledge, and I’m going back to the drawing board now.

It’s in the details. Again and again, you’ll find your mind straying. The ability to bring it all back together, whether by talking to people, meditating or reading something is a necessary skill to have in design. This comes easy to me but we all forget things.

Skills depreciate or appreciate, work on them. As much as we have talent to do something, it is skill that makes it productive and takes it to the next level. Always find the time to work on your skills.

A world of opportunity. While working on this, I realized there was hardly a thing I couldn’t prototype in Axure, and as for content, it challenged me to start working on new things, which I will be uploading as I go along.

Is this perfect? no, but  I am committed to lifelong learning.

A successful prototype is not one that works flawlessly; it is one that teaches us something

– Tim Brown

Stay positive. Have hope.

TEDxEuston 2013 is Here!

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It will hold at The Mermaid, Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London EC4v 3DB on Saturday the 7th of December. Learn more about it on the website TEDxEuston

Buy Your Ticket here —> TEDxEuston Tickets

I attended last year and also volunteered with the team, it was so amazing that I had to write a few posts about it. Take a look;

– [WATCH] TEDxEuston2013

– [WATCH] Feature on CNN

– [READ] Challenging a Starved Optimist

– [READ] Business For Change

– [READ] We Are All Leaders

If you need more information. Tweet @TEDxEuston, @tonianni or visit the website TEDxEuston

The Photomaker – Paul Sika

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A lot of people take photographs, and now thanks to great camera specs on phones everyone seems to be a photographer with photos all over the place but I really have never seen any like this.  The photos give me such a delight and much more unexplainable. He studied engineering like I did, before falling in love with this.

Paul Sika is a not a photographer. This is what separates the art from utility. Look at the pictures for yourself.

Paul Sika

http://paulsika.com/

In 2009 he was awarded a Chinua Achebe Center Fellowship. I love that his subjects so far draw a lot from Africa and ‘African-ness’

He has been featured on CNN, the BBC and New York Times

Paul has a book out called ‘At The Heart of Me’ which I think you really should get.

Enjoy!

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What UX do.

Wikipedia - Elvis Presley

I wrote this article, The Role of UX: Learning From Sustainability  on UX Matters before I got my last job, 16months ago. I think it is crucial for me to revisit it as I take stock of what I’ve done in those months. Some ideas and thoughts are still very crucial.

Focusing on what people do, not titles.

UX magazine recently released an article Stop Explaining UX and start doing UX which gives practical points on validating design and things UX professionals could do in ‘doing UX’. I had written in my article;

…there are a couple of things UX design professionals do agree on: design is good, design is essential, and people should benefit positively from their interaction with any design. So I began to focus on what people actually do rather than what their title says, because titles don’t get design done, people do.

So I am particularly glad that this is being rehashed in the community. I had identified four areas where a UX professional can function, as an Educator, an Innovator, Disruptor and Partner. Now looking back on my work, what have I actually done in terms of these functions.

Educating People

I had the opportunity of talking to people who were curious about UX at work. Sometimes they would ask me in the kitchen, at their desk, sometimes in the toilet! Yes I had to do a 1min UX pitch to an illustrator as we exited the Ladies!. Telling others about what my little team did was also beneficial for my team, because the better the understanding a person has of what you do, the better the collaboration. Respect, Trust follow and they really really matter.

I was also able to educate through the use of work shops. The first one I ran was with the Marketing Acquisition team, and I am certain that they left the meeting that day with more understanding of how we the UX team could help them in doing their job better at the least.

Another aspect has been in my blogging to a wider audience, my UX diary and also participating in UX camp and facilitating two talks; Developing Healthy UX Teams and 50 shades of UX, which I will blog about very soon.

Partnerships and Collaboration

Across the year, I partnered with more people than I could have imagined. I learnt from QAs, infact a whole load from QAs, getting a mentor in the process, I think I’m ready to be a Games producer! I collaborated with developers who write Python, Java..technologies I had not been involved with before. Partnered with Marketing and became bosom buddies with Customer service officers. It has been so rich and rewarding, not only do you learn about what they do and how to work with them, you see possibilities and how much what we do interlinks, gives you a new level of respect for every one else. I got to work in sustainability again. At the moment I’m exploring more partnerships and collaborations that can be fostered in the community. Watch this space 🙂

So these are the two main areas where I have functioned as a UX professional aside my regular work. I will be taking this up a notch this year, with so many opportunities arising, all I can pray for is more hours to my days!

Even if you don’t take me seriously because you don’t know me, take Elvis seriously! the guy was genius.

“A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark”

-Elvis Presley

Lessons from 2012

clock

I have a thing for numbers. I don’t like odd numbers. The only odd numbers I can stand are 5s and multiples of 5. So I think there’s some hidden  meaning in numbers but can’t really remember when/how this has been formed in my mind.  The world didn’t end in 21/12/12 but some part of my world ended on 12/12/12. Pretty significant eh.

When I came into 2012, everything was dandy, it seemed like it was going to be ‘my year’ It was for a while, nothing could go wrong, it was all even. Then life happened and we all know life holds both the evens and the odds. Looking back on time spent there is always something to learn so you can close the page and move on to the next chapter of your life, here’s what I learnt.

 Solve Problems

There is a problem, a challenge everywhere, think about it enough and you will see them rise before you. Think about what makes you mad, Rage for Change is a reality, that could be where your problem solving abilities will shine. People are only going to pay attention to the things you do if you provide a solution to a problem they see or have. At work, you are paid for the problems you solve, that is where your value lies. Increase your value by solving different kinds of problems. Being a UX professional really makes this come alive for me, being able to help QA, Graphic designers, coders e.t.c do their work better is very rewarding.

Teach Others How to Solve Problems

I didn’t know how much I enjoyed teaching until I was in Uni. I did a stint teaching graphic design even though I was studying Engineering. Since then I embraced it and even enrolled as a tutor on an online service before I got my full-time job. Like the famous saying goes ‘Don’t just give a man a fish, teach him how to fish’ This is the sort of thing that contributes to a better world. When you teach, you get better at not just teaching but also at what you teach.

Go After Change

Don’t complain about things you are not willing to change. A relationship? Job? work/life balance? passions? If you want something you don’t have, you have to do something you haven’t done before and do it daily. Don’t moan if you are not willing to let go. It’s either you get out of the situation or you change the way you react to the situation. You might not be able to control or change another person, but you can control or change the way you respond.

Develop Good Habits Daily

I remember having a chat with one of my friends at work about developing a Habit App, he thought all the ones out there didn’t quite do it. I was really interested even though personally, apps like that do not do me any good. People really want to change their lives but the reality is, to succeed at a thing you have to do it everyday, every two days might even be pushing it. I’ve started on some habits and I’ve fallen by the way side, but my biggest take away is, Daily! Daily!! Daily!!!.

Embrace your difference

I’ve written about feeling like a misfit sometimes however, I realize that that is where my significance lies. If two people bring the same thing to the table, it means one is irrelevant. Faith Jegede drove the point home with her TEDTalk  “The chance for greatness, for progress and for change dies the moment we try to be like someone else.”  “The pursuit of normality is the ultimate sacrifice of potential.” I was also able to become a Top Writer on Quora, by embracing this. Good times.

Stay Passionate, Always Create.

Passionate people change their lives, they change the world one person at a time. Be a force for good, dont get passionate about bringing someone down for goodness sakes. If you are not building up, you are definitely tearing down. Be part of the solution not the solvent and be passionate about what you do, you will succeed.

Get Connected

Everything was created to be connected to something else, it is the great circle of life. You cannot do things on your own. Invest in people, give your time, volunteer, help people. Being involved with TEDxEuston was life-changing and I will do it over and over again  What you make happen for others, happens for you too. Don’t like networking? e.t.c Focus and develop the relationships that you have.

Focus Focus Focus

A vision is a powerful thing. I have been privileged to work in a company with unfaltering vision, this is what drives focus. Don’t lose sight of it, stay on track and you will go far.

Everyone Fails

This is inevitable, everyone fails at one point or the other but that is not the whole story. Broken focus leads to failure but if you are able to pick up the pieces, that is what really counts. Everyone fails, Great ones get back up. James Dyson talks about the importance of failure here

Respect Life

Laugh, Love, Live. Take a minute, ok, more than a minute to enjoy nature, humans, life.  If you asked me this time last year if I liked domestic cats, it would have been a no. I have come to appreciate the creatures though I was forced to live with one, lol. One big thing I realized was that regardless of a person’s present state, their value never changes. This is important to remember. Value life, Respect it, we will all do better because of this.

The Future is Now

I love planning for the future, making a list of things I want to happen in my life. I forget that it all starts from now. Better, I realize that if I want to see anything in my future I have to do it today, no need to wait for tomorrow, the important time is now.

Wise up

Now as we approach another year and the great big numbers continue to chase us, let us not just grow older, let’s get wiser. Remember wisdom is not in the information or knowledge that you accumulate, it is in the things you do with the information and knowledge you have.

As you would have known by now, this post has been sponsored by the number 12. Go on and have a great New Year!

All I Want For Christmas

ww1

Christmas!

There is something about this season that makes one happy, go on, admit it. In spite of the ‘commercialization’ we rightfully moan about, there is still something that drives you to smile.

Christmas time holds many great memories for me. One of them was the first time we got our Atari 2600. This was in the late 80s. One of my aunts who resided in Canada had brought it for us as a Christmas gift. That was all we could ask for at that point. We quickly mastered most of the games, from River raid to Jungle hunt. Gaming back then was a beautiful learning experience one that seems to have been forgotten in these days.

I remember a weekend ago at a cousin’s house, my little cousins were playing the new Super Mario Bros on the Wii! When I told my 4yr old cousin I wanted to play, he said, ‘it’s too hard for you!’ and they didn’t give me a chance to prove myself after I mistakenly jumped into a pit. I watched them as they frustratingly tried to play the game, stopping to watch the tutorial video built into the game. All this made me think of what we really need in these times.

I would like to see these few things in 2013, as we build games, applications and experiences;

Let Learning be fun. 

Many systems tend to make learning ‘the other’ I wrote sometime ago about this on Gamification and Learning Processes Give people the chance to pick themselves up and try again, that’s what makes people usually feel better. Holding someone’s hands is nice, but the mark of maturity is taking responsibility.

Develop good habits

One thing I think we need more of in this world is patience. It’s amazing how tech and everything has gone towards the system of ‘on demand’ needing things now, now, now. It’s sad when you see kids exhibit  impatience especially as the systems we create enhance that. They don’t want to learn to play Mario because they need to succeed, now! Imagine what it would be like when they grow up, this leads to all sorts of unnecessary stress.

I’m not talking about habit apps, because those things don’t even work for me. I think we need to create systems which nudge people to be patient. There’s the risk that they abandon your application, but I think the earlier the better. If people have spent time learning through your app, the likelihood of them leaving later on is low. This is a better experience, I find.

Whatever you do, enjoy the moment. If you can’t, help someone else enjoy the moment.

And oh yes, don’t forget to go to Winter Wonderland if you are in London.

Best of the Season to you!

Story Cubes

A colleague introduced me to Rory’s Story Cubes yesterday, which I thought would be a useful UX tool, for brainstorm workshops, idea generation and much more. The Graphic designer who showed me, said he uses it, when he has to come up with game concepts and the like.

How it Works

It’s all in the roll of dice. There are nine dice with 6 faces which have different pictures.

You can roll three at a time, and find a way to connect the pictures to what it is you are doing or what you want to work on.

It forces you to be creative by connecting the ‘dots’

Try it.

Smurf Me, I Smurf You.

The Smurfs, I.Love.Them. When I was younger we watched the Smurfs, recorded them on video cassettes, and got Smurf merchandise. These blue people rock! What’s even better, the Smurf language! However this post is not really about the Smurfs.

Today is my last Monday at work for this year, and while I have to work as a ‘designer’ I always think about ‘design’ in every way, while I’m on holiday, eating, christmass-ing it will be there.

So what am I trying to write about? Design has become well… Smurfy 🙂 I should be very happy. I have to say thanks to one of those I follow on Twitter (@annettepriest), who gave me this insight. To understand, read up The Smurf Language. It all started with my observation that well, there’s been a lot of ‘fights’ in the ‘design’ community. Everyone is writing up blog posts faster than I can say JACK, countering some person’s opinion, what is even more glaring is that there has been the lack of context in which these posts are written. One person says Design is everything, another person says Design is just ‘Somethings’, I’m sure a Smurf will probably know the true answer.

CONTEXT!! ok, we are not Smurfs, so we aren’t somehow intune with everyone’s mind. I think it will really help, if people talking about design, define the context and then refer to it all through as they talk about ‘design’

My own opinion is, in the context of solution providing, Person + Tool = Solution, where Design is the Tool. Design is A WAY not the only way. This is different from Creativity which is mainly the capacity for thinking. Design is one way to provide solutions, if you have chosen it, good on you!

Why UX? Passion.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs

Creativity is Raw Energy

What is Creativity? 

Who owns creativity? How do you measure it? These are some of the questions my colleagues pose. I have attempted a good think about it and realized those questions shouldn’t be the matter of discussion.

As stated by quite a few at the SenseWorldwide event and also across the world, I am sure many people believe creativity is inherent in every human. In my viewpoint Creativity is like Raw Energy. There’s nothing much you can do with it if it is latent. It has to be harnessed. And once harnessed, channeled through the right points (enablers) and then, used for outcomes which would ultimately be of benefit to mankind.

So the questions to ask end up being,

  1. How can it be harnessed in the first place and refined?
  2. How is creativity channeled?
  3. What’s the best way to do so?
  4. What are the enablers and disablers?
  5. What sort of outcomes do we expect from this harnessed creativity?

The Project; Audi and Kids Kabin

As the project progressed we decided to go to Walker to visit the Kids Kabin and have a first hand experience and chat with the enablers there. My team mates and I went over.

Kids Kabin is an arts centre in Church Walk Shopping Centre in Walker , Newcastle upon Tyne. Kids Kabin has a wide range of creative arts, performing arts and crafts facilities for the use of local young people and schools and community groups.

We wanted to see how we could work with this center in relation to one of our main themes. Kids Kabin

We also walked around Walker, had some conversation with administrators at the local library and community centers,