The Design Tinker

Messin' around in the world of human-centered design. In perpetual search of new ways to infuse the design process with the wants & needs of real people. Equal parts t(h)inker/maker/doer.


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I created a delicious page to store links to coverage of the rollout of Obamacare in America. I’m working on a series of blog posts about how the successful translation of a huge reform package like this, consisting of many individual policy changes, largely depends on good information design. Most Americans have no idea how Obamacare will impact their lives. It’s no wonder: the changes are complex, vary from state to state, and are often communicated in legalese.

P. Picasso wuz here

Five Weekly Obsessions: 10.19.12

1. This HTML5 apps video, created by the very talented Anna Bloom. My company, Hot Studio, has a growing vanguard of in-house HTML5/responsive design evangelists, and I’m so excited to see them getting the word out. (Don’t even get me started on the inefficiencies of one company having five separate design and development teams building five different versions of the same product. It’s nuts!)

Why We Love HTML5 Apps from Hot Studio on Vimeo.

2. Signs that say something…and yet nothing at all. I appreciate the snazzy upgrade and all—but does differentiating Muni from BART actually convey the information most people need at the moment they enter a station? Why not take the Kayak approach and anticipate where I want to go, rather than the line I’ll take to get there?
BART straight ahead, hang a left for “Metro.” But how do I get to Civic Center? Downtown Berkeley? SFO? I think I’ll be heading straight ahead for “Information”…

3. Stephanie Habif and behavior design. I’m working with Steph and her partner Bree McKeen on a big healthcare project and learning so much from their deep expertise in using the design of persuasive technology (a methodology developed by BJ Fogg at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab) to drive the behavior change you want to see. In a system as opaque and messed up as healthcare, what a breath of fresh air…
Yoga. In the airport. Namaste.

4. …which brings me to the yoga room in Terminal 2. I haven’t used it (yet), but love that it exists. In an airport. I’ve gotta say, all-around props to Terminal 2. I’ve been traveling a lot for work these days and love that, in the last minutes before descending into a middle seat on a cross-country flight, I can grab quinoa salad and heirloom tomatoes and GUS ginger ale and consume all of it in a terminal graced by amazing art and flooded with glorious amounts of sunlight. It sure does take the edge off.

5. Binders full of……..women, burritos, sunshine and you know, anything else I need more of, as long as it can be three-hole punched—? Have a great weekend.

Five Weekly Obsessions: 10.12.12

1. Human genome data viz: In five years, will these sorts of personal genetic profiles be the new Facebook avatars?

2. Guerilla design research: The Chicago-based Greater Good Studio sent a dad and his daughter, each sporting a GoPro on their heads, on a trip to the supermarket. Forgot what it’s like to be five years old in a world designed for adults? In sum: lots of beige and lots of butts. The check-out experience seemed especially drab and claustrophobic. (I saw this video at a conference and unfortunately, from what I can tell, it’s not online.) 

 [image source: The Richmond Times]

3. Girl Scouts cookie boxes got a redesign, now what about those god-awful uniforms? Talk about random. I can’t stop thinking about this *fascinating* conversation I had on Tuesday with Jenni Light, a Frog designer who wrote her master’s thesis on the Girl Scouts. Jenni’s research — which included working as a troupe leader for six months! — revealed insights about the high drop-off rates between Juniors and Cadettes (when most girls are entering junior high). Part of the problem: a lot of the great content developed by the Girl Scouts mothership gets diluted, or completely lost, in the game of telephone with individual troupe leaders. But DUH, I kept asking: what about those uniforms! Not sure what’s accomplished by outwardly marking a 12-year-old girl as the epitome of uncool. It’s time for an update. Or better yet, a global Girl Scout uniform hackathon!

4. A high-school classmate’s live debate commentary. Frankly, the most interesting thing on FB these days.

On Obama/Romney: 

It’s about 65% likely that Obama is studying and pondering The Federalist Papers on his podium while Romney speaks.

On Biden/Ryan:

What’s stunning is Joe’s ability to ruthlessly humiliate Skippy Dimpleface while simultaneously hinting, with a twinkle of the eyes, that he just might reach across the table and give him a noogie.

5. A good ol’ fashioned, $3, non-hipster milkshake. A comforting throwback to simpler times. And a great way to start the weekend!

Great visual wayfinding at the American Museum of Natural History

Swiping poster projections at a Cooper Hewitt graphic design show on Governor’s Island. Nice example of human-digital interaction in meatspace (a.k.a the physical world).

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