Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why designers are Innovators also?

Researchers say they have identified five skills that drive innovation.Here is my take on this.

Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers.

A true designer studies people habits by observing them in their context. He studies people's behaviors, needs, motivations, and latent desires. Any design activity begins with Users Research and completes with it.

Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields.

A designer possess inherent ability of creating and recognizing meaningful associations from different fields. If he had not had this ability, he would not have become designers in the first place. To solve a problem he needs to know latest trends in: cultures, technologies, material sciences, fashion, markets, and what not. The designer then connects different variables from different fields to create his best concept.

Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask "why?", "why not?" and "what if?"

No designer can create a new product without questioning. Questioning is an integral part of design process. The more he questions, the more layers he peels off towards success. Challenging common wisdom is another trait of a successful designer. He constantly challenges the society and breaks the norms. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Juicy Salif, designed by Philippe Starck in 1990. It is considered an icon of industrial design that has been displayed in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots.

Prototyping is a common practice in design industry. Nothing is produced without prototyping and exploring concepts in all possible ways. A good designer needs to know prototyping and it is a necessary part of his job.

innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives.

Designers network with people from different fields and domains. For example: To design a world class automatic hair cutting machine, the designer needs to understand the latest robotic technology with best robotic scientist and at the same time to understand hair cutting he needs to talk to the best hair dressers. Both the scientist and hair dresser will bring their perspectives and ideas to the problem, which will help in the best solution.

Therefore, we can safely infer that when you hire a designer, you get an innovator for free.

(Photo Courtesy:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

World Movie Map

I received this image in email. There is no information about its source but it is pretty good information visualization. It does not provide any information about the designer, nevertheless, he deserves due credit. I am hosting his amazing creation.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Office Wall After Brainstorming Session

Last week, I conducted a brainstorming session, "Paint the Wall", at office. It was designed to get ideas about the Dashboard for client's new web-application.

After the meeting the management got stunned to find that the users were demanding very different features than what the managers of users have contemplated in BRD (Business Requirement Document).

Lesson of the day: Always talk to the real users of the application. Once again, always talk to the real users of the application. Such a simple sentence but nobody follows that.

Products in Use - Handheld or What?

It is pretty common to see many Americans driving with GPS in their hands. Obviously, it was never meant to be used that way.

Not that the designers of the product did not think about its mount, of course, they did. But probably, they missed user testing.

It comes with a suction pad that could be attached to the windshield. However, the GPS device is too heavy for the suction pad to keep the GPS stable on windshield. Whenever the suction decreases it falls down, which is annoying to the driver.

The suction decreases for couple of reasons:

* As suction pads go old, its vaccuum generating capacity deteriorates.
* Large potholes shake the GPS so hard that the suction cannot bear it
* Variation in temperature and pressure also affects suction capacity

Therefore, most of the drivers end up using their hands to hold it.

Annoying, but that is the truth.

Lessons for us: Usable Design and Rigorous Testing