Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mark Dziersk on Design Thinking

Design in its most effective form is a process, an action, a verb, not a noun. A protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities. Techniques and tools differ, and their effectiveness is arguable, but the core of the process stays the same. It has taken years of slogging through 'design = high style' to bring us full circle to the simple truth about design thinking: that when used effectively, it can be the foundation for driving a brand or business forward. [article]

My favorite part:
[Design is a] protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities. 
When friends or acquaintances ask, I usually try to explain that at work, I "solve problems" to improve and optimize existing products and offerings which is somewhat self-evident as a competitive asset. However, the second portion about "discovering new opportunities" is at least as exciting and important in my role. 

As mentioned in a Harvard Business Review article "Design Thinking":
Historically, design has been treated as a downstream step in the development process--the point where designers, who have played no earlier role in the substantive work of innovation, come along and put a beautiful wrapper around the idea. 
Now, however, rather than asking designers to make an already developed idea more attractive to consumers, companies are asking them to create ideas that better meet consumers' needs and desires. The former role is tactical, and results in limited value creation; the latter is strategic, and leads to dramatic new forms of revenue.
Whether it's re-understanding a problem we thought we understood or recognizing an opportunity that had been overlooked, I try to convey that I work both in this innovation space as well as in the more stereotypical downstream problem solving spaces. Being able to deliver on multiple levels is part of what makes the work so fun and satisfying.

As Mark said:
The simple truth about design thinking: when used effectively, it can be the foundation for driving a brand or a business forward.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pixel Perfect People (PPP)

Is this what the job descriptions/listings mean when they say "pixel perfect" attitude?

His conclusion: "It’s too much apparent that there is no overall design team involved in Firefox development, and for me personally it’s enough reason to not want to use Firefox at all".

I'm pretty sure when gradient shading and a few pixels' variation in positioning are the primary differences between two applications, I'll default to functionality and performance to decide which I want to use.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Superman is as American as…

There's a cliché in the [comics] industry that American comic book writers watch film and read comics, whereas Scottish, British, [and] European writers read books.

From an article on DC Comics (titles such as Superman) being written and drawn by just a couple Scots under as many as 14 different pseudonyms. 

Reportedly, part of the appeal of Scottish writers and artists for the US industry is their "quirkiness and a weird sense of humor". 

This leads one to ponder the relationship between what one knows (and derives inspiration) and their eventual output when it is time to create "from new" and what it means to be "creative". 

It is also pointed out that most of the Scottish writers had worked outside comics - from garage mechanics to bus conductors to ferry stewards. 

Interestingly, "irrelevant" backgrounds are stereotypically shunned in conventional thinking when searching for work candidates who are most suitable and highly trained. Reminds me of when a great design speaker mentioned architects can become some of the best interaction/user experience designers.

By the way, are these guys and Steve Jobs right? He claims 40% of Americans read one book or less last year. I wonder what kind of book that "≤1 book" is likely to be? Do Americans really not read anymore?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My personality type: Rational

Rationals are the problem solving temperament, particularly if the problem has to do with the many complex systems that make up the world around us. Rationals might tackle problems in organic systems such as plants and animals, or in mechanical systems such as railroads and computers, or in social systems such as families and companies and governments. But whatever systems fire their curiosity, Rationals will analyze them to understand how they work, so they can figure out how to make them work better.
  • Rationals tend to be pragmatic, skeptical, self-contained, and focused on problem-solving and systems analysis.
  • Rationals pride themselves on being ingenious, independent, and strong willed.
  • Rationals make reasonable mates, individualizing parents, and strategic leaders.
  • Rationals are even-tempered, they trust logic, yearn for achievement, seek knowledge, prize technology, and dream of understanding how the world works.
Rationals are very scarce, comprising as little as 7 to 10 percent of the population. But because of their drive to unlock the secrets of nature, and to develop new technologies, they have done much to shape our world.

I'm not sure what to think about being supposedly scarce. Does it explain why people confuse me sometimes or why I can be confusing sometimes?

I love the last sentence about analyzing systems to understand how they work so I can figure out how to make them work better. Reminds me of the creepy Sylar character in the TV series Heroes though.

All in all, a well-spent 10 minutes on the test: it's mostly accurate and where it isn't, it describes what I want to be. What's more, it lines up nicely with my random ruminations on the kind of career I want to have.

Take the test:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Was it something I said?

So, it may have been something that I did wrong. Or maybe not. Great. That helps a lot.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Career of Meaning

As designers … [w]e have the opportunity and the responsibility to create a world where each object and experience is filled with value, where living with less but better is both joyful and meaningful.

Hugh Graham in Lasting but Not Least on A Brief Message.

To me, a career and a life of meaning involves both seizing opportunities and assuming responsibility for being part of creating a joyful world.

Obviously, design isn't the only career path that contributes towards this vast goal but I definitely believe the set of skills associated with human-centered design creates many unique opportunities and thus increases the responsibility for designers to do our part in making things truly better no matter where we go and what we do.

Just as each person has their own way of understanding, expressing concern, and offering help, different careers have varying methods and extents to which they contribute towards creating a joyful world. I realized that all the careers I've had interest in sparked passion in me because I felt that the mix of my personal abilities, the working environment, and the problem space could enable me to maximize on opportunities to make solid contributions towards "making things better" and "making people happy".

While I may not always know exactly what I want to be doing in the future (and things inevitably change even when I think I do), from this perspective, what I do not want to do becomes more clear. I don't want to be spending my time on things where I'm not positive if I'll be making things happen towards improvement.

That is part of the reason I decided against pursuing a PhD program. I only considered it in the first place because I assumed it could increase my capacity to execute on my goals more effectively. However, somewhere along the way, I became convinced that the design legs I stood on were already capable enough to do some worthwhile work, so why not see how far these legs can go?

Basically, I want to be part of making things happen; and in particular, meaningful things. What's meaningful? I find it meaningful to be part of creating a joyful world. Making things better!

What would define a career of meaning for you?

Photo credit: Joe Lencioni.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

I feel like I just went through a breakup! I've been collecting screenshots of "company voice" that I find interesting. Maybe I'll figure out something cool to do with them at some point.

It's nice how the machine-generated message is very human by personifying itself by being able to give up and having emotions such as feeling sorry and even sympathizing based on the assumption that things didn't turn out well. These are normally (I think) all good things. But in this instance, I somehow find it rather depressing.

How much...

How much...
Originally uploaded by ericpan
… I know, it's not really a window.

[Decided to randomly put my photos on the blog for no reason.]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't talk to me like that okay? has a cool feature to let users create custom entry and exit points for each clip to share or embed.

Remind you of anything? (profanity ensues)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

UX Company Gmail Ticker Tagline: Nectarine

"UE Design Firm- Palo Alto - - We work with tech clients to make beautiful and easy to use software."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amazing Interactive Information Visualization: Lens Reviews

Digital Photography website just released long-awaited (by me at least) lens reviews section and besides being thorough and clear as I would expect from dpreview, I'm totally nerding out over the interactive information visualization widget that visualizes sharpness and chromatic aberration at all combos of focal length and apertures.

Wow. I'm blown away. If this is the result of buying dpreview, I'm glad it happened and I look forward to seeing this feature being developed and seeing what else they are cooking up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Design by committee 2.0" or "Genius designer is an anachronism"

In the end, is all this process-oriented work satisfying for its designers? Some of them say yes. "What you lose is overt self expression, but I gain something much richer by doing it this way," says Alexandre Hennen, a senior designer. "I get into somebody else's life and make it better."

Nicely put. From Masters of Collaboration: The 21st century design environment trades individual stars for teamwork uniting designers, engineers, anthropologists, and others.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dream: Collect Cars

Well, maybe just being able to regularly enjoy and marvel at them will be sufficient. If only there were more museums, galleries, or showrooms that would display and celebrate the cars as human achievements…

I was looking through a gallery of the upcoming BMW X6 and even though it may not be groundbreaking-beautiful (I'm not educated enough to have a meaningful say anyway), as I came to the first shot of the interior, I thought "I wish I could collect great cars." Asking myself why I thought that, the answer was "Because great cars are fascinating like art." (Yeah, it would be nice to collect fine art too, wouldn't it?)

But then I thought that cars may be somewhat different than what is traditionally considered as art - so what's the deal? It dawned on me: Great cars have held a special place for me as a designer because great cars are like highly interactive art with immense utility that are simultaneously demonstrations of mastery in technology and engineering. Truly amazing objects, aren't they?

How cool would it be to work in such an intersection as a designer?

Sure, BMW's Chief of Design Chris Bangle had a TEDTalk called Great cars are Art, but when I blogged about it, my main takeaways were the depictions of love and trust in design and more specifically the process of design and what it means to design. If I remember correctly, Chris Bangle was more interested in car design as art as a parallel for sculpture and artists seeking truth. Actually, I think I want to to watch it again.

For convenience, here it is again: