nook leapfrogs kindle

Ok, i want one of these…there was something about the kindle, that made me wonder if I should plunk down $300, uh ok, $250 (since the intro of nook).  I was unsure when I wrote about this a while back and am now certain, that i won’t buy a kindle.

nook

For now, until i can go to Barnes and Noble to buy one, my thoughts based on what i’ve read on the web and what i can see in pics:

Look: winner Nook – ok the Nook is nice and clean, not a stunning design, the Kindle 2…pretty darn bland, i can see the braun/rams/bauhaus inspiration, but, still just too plain. And the original Kindle, well honestly, that thing was pretty ugly, I mean, look at that keyboard.

Kindle-orig

Technology: winner Nook – dual screens, gotta love it
UI: winner Nook – jury out, but the potential of, the dual screens!
Experience – Nook – bring it to a Barnes and Noble and read stuff for free. Phyigital Reality, making digital things act like real life things
Cool Factor: Nook

kindle-2

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

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?

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?

The Graphics Experience

With Experience design being the popular next thing in design, here’s some fun stuff from the world of graphics. Can graphics alone change and enhance the consumer “experience”? It certainly has a big play on our emotions, it can make you smile, feel sick, get angry…so I would say yes it does. Graphic designers, get on the experience design bandwagon. (maybe you already are!)

This bag looks like it could hurt. Great concept for this nail biter product, whatever it is.

YKM is a department store equivalent based in Turkey. They sell home furnishings/appliances and clothing. I imagine they have a line of athletic wear.

With all the homeland securtiy going on, dont go to the bank or any government agency with this one!

see more of my thoughts on “experience design” here.

IDSA ICSID 2007 San Francisco, Day 1 AM

The IDSA/ICSID conference is probably THE IDSA event you want to go to. It’s only held every few years and because of that draws a much wider, diverse crowd than the standard IDSA event. The quality of speakers and audience are typically much better and compared to the last idsa event I went to (New York), this event delivered.

Here’s a quick and dirty run down of the events I saw at the conference.

I missed the first evening party, got to SF a little late, so took some folks to Manora Thai down in the SOMA area, mmmmm, deep fried soft shell crab.

The morning kicked off with Hans Rosling of Gapminder. This guy gives a great presentation with one of his messages being, there are NO gaps between the Western world and the Third world. Why? Public access to data has closed down these gaps. His website and visually driven data demonstrate this. Most of his presentation was based off the work done on his website so I would check it out. Because all of his talk was around world statistics like, population, infant mortality, etc…he did throw in for us designers, “…design increases the bandwidth of the optic nerve…” thus, when information is “designed well”, then its easier to take in. duh, but I liked how it he put it and how it meshed with his presentation.

Richard Seymour was 2nd at bat. His talk was around this project they are doing to help Virgin “Galactic” visualize space travel. He showed a highly produced movie with Space Odyssey like imagery. Pretty impressive and for those who dream of going to space, then this was it for you. But the thing that most stuck in my mind was his build up for the Virgin presentation itself. He told a story around how Seymour/Powell won a job with the British Rail but never having done any work in that field. Yes they have done motorcycles and bicycles, but nothing that big. Basically, he told a the board of directors that even though they had NO experience in this field, they had the answer that would make for a winning design. It was all about the romance, pride and heritage of trains in the past. Like the thought of traveling through space, there’s a certain fantasy and imagery that come with traveling via rail. He would bring back the delight and thrill of big things. It was this visual imagery, that he put into the heads of the board and the notion that they would create a design, that would make their sons, dream of being conductors of their new train. He mentions, the degree of design, thrill, excitement is what raises the bar and not technology.

Ironically, the next talk had the tech, but not the design. Martin Eberhard and Barney Hatt anchored the morning to talk about THE subject of the event: SUSTAINABILITY. This version was about how to do a real, electric sports car. Tesla Motors is the project. They went on and on about how this was a technical breakthrough and how different this car is. This is probably true. But when it comes to the design of car, I’d have to say…missed opportunity. Look at the website and tell me if you disagree, this sports car, sorta looks like, any other old sports car, especially of the Lotus lineage. The speakers went on about how they didnt want this to look like a futuristic, tech geek electric car. Bill Moggridge even suggested they put concepts on the walls for Martins friends and family to judge. Oh boy, any better way to bring on middle of the road? Just to be sure, I had to ask my car design friends to see what they said. “hey did you see the Tesla presentation…” and the response was prune face all around. OK, look at their website, its a nice sports car, but its just such an expected design. I’d like to see the first real ELECTRIC sports car, look like something, I’ve not seen before. This doesn’t mean it has to be some geeked out space odyssey…shit I’m not a car designer so who the hell’s gonna listen to me! Oh wait, if I listen to Richard, then I guess I CAN design a car. Well the Tesla certainly doesn’t capture the romance of a silent running speedster to me.

Now that’s what I’m talkin about!

Apple Craft: it’s the product

I just got back from the Art Center conference called Radical Craft. I wasn’t able to make the first day of the conference, which I was told seemed to be the better of the two days to attend. But I did happen to catch a talk, or more an interview given by Chee Perlman of Jonathan Ive, the VP of Design at Apple. I have to say it was a really great interview. The MC intro went sort of like this, “if Steve Jobs is the design visionary at Apple, then Jonnie Ive is the design soul”. Here are my thoughts about what I enjoyed:

1. Jon is the 100% opposite of the typical design rock star personality. Isaac Mizrahi also presented that same day, actually a really great interview as well, but his personality is huge and clearly a big part of the package. Flamboyant, loud, arms waving, running into the crowd like Jerry Springer. This is not Jon Ive. I think its great to see smart designers that don’t want to be rock stars, talk about their passions in a public venue.

2. He’s clearly focused on one thing, making the product as great as it can be. When asked about what the goals of Apple are, he states that creating and producing the best product possible, is more important than making money. I’m sure some of the business guys would choke hearing this, but I’m of the same belief, that if you really get the product right, the chances of it and the company doing well are much higher. Additionally, you get the benefit of a company with a reputation that delivers quality.

3. Following on about the utter importance of the “product” itself, he states that getting this right, has a much more lasting, positive impact than marketing and sales. Once again, I’m in complete agreement here. Yes the Apple ad campaign creates a grand sense of style and aspiration for us consumers, the itunes store offers a great online experience, but the proof is in the pudding, if the product pleases, it just makes you smile and reinforces the message, but if it disappoints, you’re crying and the message turns into a joke. If the product is done right and delivers, then that creates repeat customers boosting sales.

4. He is a design freak, passionate and fanatical about the details and getting it right. It’s fortunate that he’s in an organization that cares as much as he does.

5. Continuing on design, he states that Apple design is NOT about self expression and more about taking complex problems and making them appear simple. This was said in the context of comparing Apple Design to other designers, like Mizrahi, who would profess to say that the design he produces, IS self expression. On this note, I can’t say I agree with Jon. Yes the current Apple design language is the epitome of simplicity. One could argue that the current line is almost expressionless in its character. But what about the “candy colored” phase of Apple design? Or the jelly fish like Apple/Harmon speakers? Quite expressive if you ask me. What designers produce or at least intend to produce, in my mind, is a clear statement of self expression, whether that expression is simplicity or intricacy or excitement or whatever appropriate thought fits. That product expression is also a direct reflection of where that particular company is at the time as well. Often the reflection can get watered down to a murky blur by too many participants trying leave their own mark, but that’s another blog topic.

It’s clear that Jonathan and his team are in pursuit of excellence. It’s also clear that Apple at large is willing to pay for this and do what it takes to produce great product (poor engineers, they must go through hell!). There is another interesting blog about the cost of innovation from Noise Between Stations which I actually found on Bruce Nussbaum’s Business Week blog who also has some nice thoughts on design. The NBS blog talks about how much Apple pays for innovation and puts it up against sales, good stuff. This all said, as someone traditionally trained in Industrial Design, and now an expert in Experience, Strategic, Brand, Feeling, Styling, Innovation Design 😉 I quite enjoyed Jon’s ability to stay focused on one thing, the product.

Design Jargon: Experience Design

What is this??? Every designer is claiming to do this. When I think of Experience Design, the first thing that comes to mind is Disney. They were one of the first to truly create an “experience” that was differentiating. They created an environment that changed your state of being. Go there and get pure fun, escapism, and fantasy.

In the world of design, what experiences are we “designing” for people? Opening the package your scissors came in (with scissors because you can’t open the package without scissors), using the business center at the Courtyard Marriot, using your new XM portable radio. Can using a product be an experience? Sure it can, what if something goes wrong, like the interface is so bad, you can’t use it. Bad experience. What if it works just the way you thought it would, all the time? Great experience.

Here’s what I wonder, is Experience Design any different from what architects, industrial designers, amusement park designers and engineers have been doing forever? I think this jargon was created to help non designers understand the importance of design. That’s a good thing. In the end, the “experience” is really a sum of all the parts. Final product, UI, business practices and philosophy, retail, advertising, etc. etc. Great companies know how to execute on all these.