Introduce Human-Centered Design: Start Small and Start Today

Introducing Human-Centered Design doesn’t have to be complicated. It isn’t a monolithic process that has to be applied across an entire organization before it works. Human-Centered Design is a discipline, a way of thinking and framing context, that provides value incrementally throughout the lifecycle of product design, development, support, and beyond. You can start simple, wherever you are in a product lifecycle, and begin reaping value from it immediately. Read more on Introduce Human-Centered Design: Start Small and Start Today…

Human-Centered Software: Creating More Value by Balancing Feasibility, Viability, & Desirability

As a designer, my chief goal within any project is to deliver the best user experience possible in terms of beauty (visual and interaction design), usability (workflows and information architecture), and usefulness (features and functionality). Read more on Human-Centered Software: Creating More Value by Balancing Feasibility, Viability, & Desirability…

Why Software Design Matters

Are preschoolers smarter than college students? When it comes to figuring out gadgets and iPhone apps, it certainly does seem that way sometimes.

I heard an interesting piece on NPR several weeks back about this very issue. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that 3- and 4-year-olds use a different process than older children and adults to figure out how things work. In experiments conducted by the researchers, children had to figure out how to operate a specially designed music box. According to the NPR story,  “Children try a variety of novel ideas and unusual strategies to get the gadget to go.” For that reason they are often quicker to figure out how novel technologies work.

As we age, we start to expect things to work a certain way. And when new gadgets don’t meet our expectations, we struggle with them. Read more on Why Software Design Matters…

Building the Right Thing – Define Your Product with a Kickoff & RDP Phase

Congratulations. You and/or your company have a great idea for a software product, and you’ve decided to work with Atomic Object to build it.

At the beginning of the process, you’re likely feeling excited about your idea and eager to see things take shape. You may also feel a bit worried or daunted about the process of turning your initial concept into a real, functioning product. Whether it’s an iPhone app, a web-based product, a desktop application, or an embedded device, creating a piece of software is a daunting task that can span months, requiring many hours of labor and thousands of dollars. It’s important to get things started off right.

At Atomic, each project starts with a Project Kickoff session, which leads into a phase of Research, Design, & Planning (RDP). This phase of the project serves as a foundation for everything that happens afterwards. For me, this phase is one of the most interesting and exciting parts of working at Atomic, and in this post I’d like to share a bit more about the process and what to expect. Read more on Building the Right Thing – Define Your Product with a Kickoff & RDP Phase…

Rethinking Product Development

When someone is developing a new product, they often focus on two questions:

  • Will people buy it?
  • Can we produce it cheaply enough to turn a profit?

While these are both essential, there’s a lot more to Product Development. In fact, reducing Product Development to “What will make us money next year?” is dangerous to your business’s long-term success.

Why? Because a good product does far more than bring in revenue.

Since a product is “the result of any action or process,” let’s broaden our scope beyond manufactured goods and consider three other types of products and how they’re developed. I think they’ll have a lot of applications to Product Development as a whole.

Read more on Rethinking Product Development…

Research the Extremes of a User Community

Atomic is currently collaborating with IDEO on a consumer-facing web app. The integration of IDEO’s user-centered design practices with Atomic’s software design and build practices is a powerful combination for our client. Working with an old friend and getting to know some more of the smart, talented people at IDEO have been great. We’re learning new things and refining our own UX practices.

Studying potential users of the app we’re creating is an important part of the project. The research being done is a clear example of IDEO’s “start with people”, design thinking process, as described by Tom Kelley at a recent Design West Michigan meeting. At our project kickoff, I had one of those delightful moments of finding my intuition entirely at odds with what was being presented, when our IDEO colleagues described how they selected research subjects.

Read more on Research the Extremes of a User Community…

Users Can Make Good Ideas Go Bad

As designers, regardless of craft, it’s our job to advocate for, and empathise with the user. However, that doesn’t imply that we bend to the user’s every wish.

Applications or products that respond to expressed or implicit needs of a user drastically increases its potential for adoption.
Conversely, applications or products that respond to every expressed or implicit need of a user drastically decrease its potential for adoption.

Read more on Users Can Make Good Ideas Go Bad…

Designing Complex Applications: Before Asking “Is it useable?”, Ask “Is it useful?”

Marissa and I at the Denver Airport on our way to Usability Week 2011.

A couple of weeks back, Marissa and I went to NNG Usability Week 2011 in San Francisco. During the conference, I attended the 3-day training course on Designing Complex Applications and Websites. The session was co-led by Lynn Pausic and John Morkes of Expero, Inc.

Read more on Designing Complex Applications: Before Asking “Is it useable?”, Ask “Is it useful?”…