why so deep?

strategic design

cultural invention

experience design

meaningful experiences

design thinking

business design

design for business

service design

world design centers, california, london, tokyo, silicon alley, etc.

design research

human centered design

humanizing technology

changing people’s behaviour

changing the way people see the world

analysis paralysis

what ever happened to the simple pleasures, passion and beauty that good old fashioned design brings?

NBA draft picks

nba-logo2

The recent NBA draft got me thinking, what does this have to do with design?  You might think, “nothing” since American team sports and designers in general don’t seem to mix, maybe its that “I’m an artist” vs. “I’m a team player” mentality, but that’s for another post.

Work with me here for a sec. Let’s look at some NBA draft results over the course of a few years.

Atlanta Hawks – 2005 – Selected Marvin Williams ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul

Detroit Pistons -2003 – Selected Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Golden State Warriors – 1996 – Selected Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant,  Steve Nash

kobe_bryant

Los Angeles Clippers – 1988 – Selected Michael Olowokandi ahead of Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce

And arguably, the biggest mistake…

Portland Trail Blazers – 1984 – Selected Sam Bowie ahead of Michael Jordan

michael-jordan

The process of the NBA draft is full of analysis.  Players come in for workouts (testing prototypes), lots of statistics (intensive research), analysis on how they fit as part of the team (portfolio analysis), then ultimately making the selection (placing the bet on the product).  The “companies” spend 2-3 years doing this research on any given player.

Look above again, all that testing, research and ultimately, placing the bet on how to move forward, sometimes, just doesn’t pay off.  Look at how many “bets” ended up as busts.

The Design connection: lots of research, data and testing doesn’t always pay off, especially if the data is wrong (duh, but lots of people don’t realize they are just looking at bad data), as in the examples above.  Even if the research was right, just seems like there are so many other factors that can turn things upside down that data doesnt seem to uncover.  What’s the current economic condition? What’s the competition doing? Did your product/idea have a hidden flaw? Your product tested well, but just didn’t perform in the real world, that’s full of so many unknowns. But that’s what’s great about life, it always throws you a curve. (sorry for the mixed sports metaphor)

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate research, but i also think you can’t go overboard and you can’t let that drive every last decision you make.

Sometimes, you just gotta let passion drive…

tropicana packaging

tropicana-packaging

Arnell Group did the design of the new Tropicana package.  Seems like a lot of people hate it, so much that Tropicana are going back to the old design. Designers like it, most of my non designer friends don’t. Tropicana went back to the old packaging stating that consumers liked to see the orange with the straw, but they still paid the consultant a lot of money to make the change.

Was this a case of consultants trying to convince the client to do something that was “designed well” and to ignore consumer sentiment?  Well Tropicana agreed to change the package, at least for a while.

The clients ARE responsible for making decisions, regardless of what famous consultant is providing the advice.  That’s a big part of why I’m getting a taste of being the client…I know that I have the ultimate responsibility and accountability for decisions that get made, regardless of who might be whispering in my ear.

Google Tropicana packaging, lots of passionate dialog on this.

Which Tropicana design do you like better?

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swine flu and design

swineflu

On my way home, NPR was interviewing a psychologist about people’s fear of the unknown, in this case, Swine Flu. Basically, the Doctor was saying that people are afraid of Swine Flu because no one can connect the dots around who might get it or not, hence it seems, random. He went on to say that even though statistically, more people die from driving cars and crossing busy streets, people and the press don’t seem to obsess over this. Why? His theory was that driving cars and crossing busy streets puts the user in control, hence it feels like a normal experience, nothing noteworthy to speak of.

caraccident

So your chances of dieing are greater on the streets but since people aren’t in control of Swine Flu, it becomes a larger issue in their minds. So is it fair to say that people start to act irrationally when it comes to things unknown even though statistics prove there are larger issues at hand?  Why don’t people wear bright orange safety vests when crossing the streets?

swineflu1

So how does this connect to design? In design research, consumers are asked to comment on something really new. Ask a bunch of people about something they aren’t sure about, have no prior knowledge of and something they haven’t experienced before, basically, the unknown, how do you think they’ll respond? What is the psychology of the response? Will they be able to provide a rational answer? Will they try to tap into what they know but can’t since they are being asked to comment on the unknown and answer irrationally? People don’t want to sound stupid, yeah? So will they hide their fear of the unknown and pull a response out of their ass, hence sounding stupid?  Dooohh!

Good researchers will say that how the respondents are recruited and how research itself is conducted should prevent those irrational answers.  But does that weird psychology take over anyhow?