Designer, Design Thyself

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This was a completely different post when I started writing a week ago. I wanted to critique the Design and Exclusion conference that I attended. Talking about inclusion, exclusion, diversity etc is tough because the attempt to include every single point of view in every single space is futile. However a discussion was started which should be commended. Even though I felt excluded in some areas of the conversation, I trust that design doesn’t give up, (I discovered someone also!), so I look forward to a better conference next time.

As the ideas and words for the critique percolated in my head, I came across Ayse Birsel’s book, Design the Life You Love and it was exactly what I’d been thinking, but now on an individual level. We have with us a powerful tool, design, that can bring about positive change even in our own lives and that’s what this book seeks to help us to do.

DLYL_Don't Fold The Page

Basically, while we attempt to design the world around us, we should not neglect ourselves and our lives. Being able to stop and assess what is, ‘deconstruction’, as Ayse calls it, is the important first phase of the process. This also fits well with the Appraisal theory and to an extent, mindfulness, but it also provides the tools to help in the ‘reconstruction’ process.

“Deconstructing and breaking current reality is necessary to enable us to shift our perspective to see the same things differently in order to reconstruct a new reality that is more than the sum of it’s parts “

I got my copy a few days ago, and I’m excited about going over it. I need it so much in my life right now as I deal with so many moving parts, and I don’t want to lose the ability to see myself in relation with others (partly why I decided not to go ahead with the critique, I needed to take care of the plank in my own eyes).

This is not just for professional designers, it’s for anyone ready to take a step to becoming a better person and having a life where you love and love.

user you

Enjoy.

 

The Christian and Technology

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Picture from #WocinTechChat

I grew up in a world where co-existence made sense to me. My dad’s family are Muslims and my mum, Christian. I learned arabic as a kid and still like my given muslim name. My dad didn’t practice Islam, he thought truth was beyond both faiths and went into AMORC eventually finding his way to Christianity, in his late 40s.

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How to run remote User Interviews

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Every now and then, you might have to interview people where it is not physically possible because working on global projects require global input. If you cannot get on a train/bus/plane to your users the following tools might help you get going. Continue reading

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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How to Create an Owl in Omnigraffle

How to draw

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.

shapes

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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Connected Brains: The Internet of Thoughts

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Recap

After writing about wearable technology for introverted intuitives, a lot of interesting discussions came out of that, so in a way this is a part two of that post. The initial idea stems from the experiences and the challenges of the INFJ. This is what it feels like for INFJs I discussed with.

“It happens so many times having valuable insights in my thoughts, and as they usually appear in the middle of a daily task, I don’t always have the time or mood to take notes, and because of this, in the moment I finally write down on paper, those insights will not be the same anymore, it happens the same when verbally communicating those insights to other people”


“I have often thought there should be a device that can capture my thoughts in real time, so I don’t have to write down the jumble of thoughts that go around in my head. I often have creative ideas I would like to store, but when I try to write them down even a few minutes after I have thought them, I cannot seem to recreate the exact same thought. The ‘magic’ is gone”

So that’s what it is about, Braintext will capture thoughts in real time and send them to your designated device, converting it to readable modifiable text.


This is a good post to read when thinking of wearables

Wearable Technology Design Principles


Going further, the discussions morphed into actually connecting brains to each other, of course there is the danger of brain hacking but I’ll focus on the benefits of this.

Connect Our Brains, really?

When I told a friend about this (He is ISTJ) he said that the internet as we know it could be seen as an internet of thoughts, because it is the products of our brains and thoughts that are connected. Fair enough I thought, with a smile, if I didn’t know personality types I may have gone into an argument with him. It is a valid thought, however IOT is specific to situations where the thoughts are connected ‘raw’. Thoughts will connect with thoughts directly.

What I imagine is being able to limit your thought transmission to certain people i.e the device you have (Braintext 2.o) will have to pair with mine, like how Bluetooth technology works. Will it still be hackable? as with all technology there is that possibility, but the mind is more powerful than we give it credit for. I think this might enhance our natural ways of communicating.

Possible Applications: Ability Bridge and Empathy Transfer

This is one of the thoughts that came from the original idea.

“When I initially saw the two persons facing each other wearing the devices, I imagined that the device could be both emitter and receiver, it would be like mind reading, which could be so useful for example in a situation where a person is unable to talk, imagine the benefits for disabled people. Second idea is related with empathy and mirror neurons, imagine if your device could “capture” or “process” somehow the information from those neurons and transmit them to someone who lacks them, for example, autistics.”

The Future

I do think the brain is the final frontier, once we get to understand the workings of it, this world will be something else entirely. For now, as my friend said, “IOT is a nice slogan, I’m waiting for a product that deserves it” We will wait with hope.

You are INFJ, So what?

One of the most popular posts on this site is An INFJ Designer and I’ve had people tell me they are INFJ just from reading it, I haven’t been convinced. Getting that kind of feedback and the increasing tweets and posts about wanting to ‘debunk MBTI’ I thought it is important to get back to basics.

What is MBTI and all these letters?

The MBTI assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions

I got introduced to MBTI 5 yrs ago and I’m still learning a lot. MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It was developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs based on Carl Jung’s work  A mini-research on the foundations of the MBTI led me to the Yoruba’s divination system Ifá! but that’s a topic for another day though this might make an interesting read.

The MBTI is not astrology, it won’t predict your future or character neither does it tell you everything about your personality. The main focus areas are the absorption of information and the communication of it especially in decision making.

Robert Kaplan and Dennis Saccuzzo state that “the underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation.”

MBTI Letters

The letters that make up the types stand for various things, belong to four scales and form 16 personality types. We all have bits of everything, but the MBTI instrument identifies what your favorite, preferred functions are.

  1. First scale  I – Introversion ——— E – Extroversion deals with where you love to focus and gain energy from. As someone on the introversion side, I gain energy from being by myself, thinking inwardly and doing work alone, but I have friends who are energized by speaking or being around other people. Learn More

  2. Second scale  S – Sensing ———- N – Intuition focuses on the kind of information you prefer to gather. For INFJs like me, our dominant function is Introverted Intuition which means I love to see more in everything, reading between the lines. Small talk is usually a bit of an annoyance because I want to get to the root of the matter as fast as possible. Learn More

  3. Third scale F- Feeling ———– T – Thinking deals with what one prefers to make judgements or decisions on, do you go for hard facts or does the way people feel move you more? Learn More

  4. Fourth scale J – Judging ———— P- Perception This pair describes whether you extravert (act in the outer world) when you are making decisions or when you are taking in information. Learn More

The Different Types

Click on the graphic to find out what the 16 combinations are and maybe, your type.

What is the benefit of knowing Type?

The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type.

For me, the first thing is self-awareness which starts with being honest with your own self. You gain a clearer perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, motivation, and emotions. It will help you understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

Going beyond Types

Above all this, we are to love our neighbour i.e people who are not us. It doesn’t matter if you know types or not, remember to always act in love and grace towards everyone.


Do more 

Find Your Type

Take the MBTI assessment instrument

For the Skeptics

For all still skeptical, this might be helpful MBTI for Skeptics

INFJs

I connect highly with this tumblr by Arissa Scott, INFJ Doodles

Websites

Center for Applications of Pyschological type

The Myers-Briggs Foundation

God-Type

Recommended Books

Building Blocks of Personality Type

Was That Really me?


“I dream that long after I’m gone, my work will go on helping people.” -Isabel Myers, 1979

Stay Awesome.

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.

Have Fun with Axure

A recruiter once asked me “Why would you create interactive prototypes…” it seemed he had never heard of it before.

I used to be well bonded with Omnigraffle but given that creating interactive prototypes was one of my objectives for the year, I had to turn to Axure to help me out. After asking some colleagues to get me on the way, It wasn’t until a specific project to redesign a mobile microsite came up that I fully immersed myself into it.  Now, I had tried some other software both web based and stand alone because I wanted to avoid Axure, but I didn’t find any that made me as comfortable as Axure.

Why Create These Interactive Prototypes?

1. A lot of people don’t have the time to read through your annotations. Seeing how things work, or how they go from A to B is usually much more valuable. You can get people on the same page without spending many man hours actually building the product.

2. You get to test early! If you want to work AGILE, you don’t wait till a product has been built before testing it. You can iterate between sprints.

3. For some reason, not only is your work interactive, your communication also becomes more interactive. When people catch an idea visually of what it could be like, it’s easier for them to give input.

4. You can generate UI specifications and annotations which are easily updated.

5. People can view your work on their own computers without you having to physically guide them through the process

6. You can view your prototypes on any device and have it work accordingly, tapping, sliding, clicking. Drop-downs, tabs, accordions, all basic functionality you can think of.

7. It helps you focus on the important bits, you would quickly see what works and what doesn’t.

8. There’s so much more benefits, you might start off slow, but you would be creating these things in an hour.

Examples on Axure Site

Annotated Wireframes still have their place, they are useful for documenting iterations and versions. The better you become at using Axure for prototypes, there is no doubt that wireframing on the platform would be fluid. I had thought I would have to switch between Omnigraffle and Axure, but that hasn’t been the case. I haven’t touched Omnigraffle for almost two months now.

As with all tools, there are Pros and Cons. One of the cons of Axure [for me presently] is the inability to create responsive prototypes. You could probably hack it, but I don’t think It’s worth the effort.

I really like Axure and I can’t wait to use the newest version, 7 that would be released pretty soon.

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.