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What do you call a designer who designs for devices? A lucky designer. This was one
of the many conversation highlights from last week’s “Devices Everywhere” webinar with Michael Surtees
of Gesture Theory and Ethan Eismann of Adobe, the
second in AIGA and Adobe’s “Breakthroughs” series. Lucky, because of the
opportunities that exist in this space—both in terms of blazing design trails
and expanding our knowledge bases and skill sets as designers.
for devices is challenging but rewarding. As a discipline, we’ve gone from the
singular role of graphic designer—designing for static, predictable artifacts—to interaction designers, product designers and user experience designers,
designing for dynamic, rapidly evolving technologies. It means designing for new
paradigms much more reliant on gestural interfaces, context and our constant
emitting and receiving of data to the “cloud.” Consequently, the canvas for
today’s designer is a moving target.
recommendation that designers be cross disciplinary and multidimensional was a
recurring theme in this discussion. Both Michael and Ethan stressed how
important it is for designers to be able to speak the language of business, as well as engineering (Kiyo Toma and Rob Girling also emphasized
this point in the first webinar). In order for us to design effectively,
we need to know why we’re designing, what we’re designing, and how what we
design is being built. But most importantly, we need to know who we’re
designing for—what design skills and processes can we use to ensure the
best user experiences possible.
Through Michael’s case studies we learned a lot about process: scrum (agile, fluid development) vs. waterfall (a more fixed, linear approach), and constant iteration via sketching, whiteboarding and rapid prototyping combined with user testing. Ethan polished the methodologies
section off with his great concept of front-loading designs, especially
important when following scrum. His teams’ creation of a visual
“North Star” to keep visual integrity and brand consistency across interfaces
was especially brilliant. He also impressed the importance of grids, typography
and white space in the design of interfaces—skills that any good communication
designer can bring to the designing-for-devices table. As we are presented with
more and more information in unpredictable contexts, information that is well designed,
thoughtful and considered will be the information that users gravitate towards.
the end, what designing for devices means is that, in addition to being great
communication designers, we are now systems designers, too. Most interfaces
designed for devices are tied to other product designs, as well. Take the Nike+ fitness tracking system, for example: Communication design for this system
spans industrial design in the device itself (your iPhone or iPod), the shoes
that the chip lives in, and the chip itself; the mobile UI, the web UI, the
information design of all the data associated with your workouts, and the
overall brand that must live harmoniously within the larger Nike branding system.
for devices means designing for complex systems. Designing for complex systems
means keeping an open, curious mind and expanding your skill set. Below are
some resources related to this webinar to help you do just that. We’ll be
continuing the conversation in the next webinar, “Responsive Web Design,” on July 27, when Dan Mall (Big Spaceship), Scott Fegette
(Adobe) and I will address the question of whether or not it’s possible to design
once and display everywhere.
Tell us in the comments what you thought of the webinar. Here, AIGA Cleveland’s Will Kesling offers his review of “Devices Everywhere” on video.
AIGA Webinar: Devices Everywhere. Summary. from Will Kesling on Vimeo.
Great designers need more than good ideas to succeed. In this exclusive members-only webinar series, visionary
designers pair with Adobe experts to offer guidance to help lead
you to your next breakthrough.
Section: Tools and Resources -
Callie Neylan, moderator for AIGA and Adobe’s “Breakthroughs” webinar series, provides an overview of the first session and a list of resources suggested by speakers Rob Girling of Artefact and Kiyo Toma of Adobe.
Section: Inspiration -
design thinking, interaction design, professional development, technology
Designing websites is getting more and more complex, from design considerations to technical and functional approaches. What are the technologies designers can use to create successful web experiences, regardless of context? Join moderator Callie Neylan in a discussion with Dan Mall of Big Spaceship and Scott Fegette of Adobe for the third in the “Breakthroughs” series of members-only webinars.
I was raised to believe that an architect should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city. At the root this belief is a commitment to improve the design of everything that can be made—to make it better.
Section: Inspiration -
critique, architecture, graphic design
Benjamin Dauer is a Senior Product Designer at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. and was recently the Lead Product Designer at SoundCloud in Berlin, Germany. AIGA Baltimore took a field trip to interview Benjamin about designing in-house for NPR.
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