Design milk: an evening w argodesign

Posted on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog, Education, experience design

It’s fun to peak into another studio, see their presentation style (and templates) and hear them talk about their work. I paid particular attention to the style of typography, the sizing, formatting, choice of imagery and pacing of the story. Project brief, goals, methodology, research findings, solution, result. And also the content. Obviously.

Mark Rolston introduced us to some concepts I’ve heard floating around but haven’t spent too much time understanding before: contextual computing, conversational computing, cognitive systems. (Sidenote: my friend Jessica was there–she works on Watson and is always trying to recruit me to come work at IBM.)

Back to the preso–Argo thinks a lot about interface. They define the interface in each project as the canvas on which they work. In the very near future, they predict, much of the static world will be animated as interface. That might sound strange, but in 10 years, it might be as normative as Facebook.

I was reminded of a few other phrases: design as change agent, visual affordances, manifest vs symbolic.

Something New: the concept of software interfaces as decision support. They spend a lot of time designing systems that compute everything that can possibly be computed in order to support our design making processes. Imagine what it would be like if our “meta-selves” made decisions for us. One example given was, our calendars talk to each other so that our next meeting is set without our own input. Initially my response is, aha! computers re trying to replace me. Mark suggests that this will be reality whether we like it or not. So many decisions, tasks, research have already been absorbed by computing In ways even 10 years ago we might have believed to be absurd.

Another steal-worthy idea I think can immediately apply to my work at Spredfast, Customer Experience Strategy. This means approaching all user-facing brand touchpoints as a strategic design opportunity. Done well, an organization takes a critical look at all their customer touchpoints and choreographs the entire journey. If I’m designing a job for myself, it would be to lead this kind of critical design evaluation in order to streamline the experience, identify and smooth inconsistencies and fill gaps with additional interface elements. It requires information hierarchy and aesthetics. Very interesting, no?

Possible collaborative opportunities: Spredfast collected social data is projected like a meta-me onto a wall, we show how Spredfast offer decision support for important marketing decisions that one makes for his or her brand. This is essentially what many tools within the platform do. When to post, which people to target, which inbound request to prioritize.

The last takeaway was some cool examples of how “dumb” objects can be transformed into smart ones using cheap computers and small projectors. For example, once a post-it note is programmed as a light switch, it responds to touch just like your traditional hardware. The advantage here is that any dumb, yet more functional object (a post-it) serves as a flexible proxy that can be reprogrammed repeatedly. Secondly, projectors can be connected to small computers that receive voice or gesture info and project supportive interfaces onto any surface. I’m imagining that our homes, offices, bathrooms, etc. etc will be full of projectors in the future. Every surface becomes an interface and visualizations a will once again be tested with a new set of design requirements. It reminds me of how computer screens and then smaller devices have challenged the way we designed typography–what will be the impact when letterforms must be legible on wood, marble, textile surfaces? Interesting challenges indeed 🙂