Creative Week NYC

Last week, I got the chance to attend a day of interactive-themed talks as well as hear from some of the One Show winners. Here are some of the highlights from these Wednesday Sessions.

The introductory session gave some great insight into both judging and submitting to this competition, though I’m sure the advice/observations can be applied universally. As the interactive category tends to be relatively new, submitters are often unsure of whether his or her project fits the term Interactive over, let’s say, a social or mobile categorization. It’s important to choose your category with intent and curate the submission accordingly. It is generally frowned upon by judges, who do span topics, to see the exact same entry multiple times. Entering into multiple categories is OK, any warranted for many pieces, but make sure the tone of what you are highlighting is specific to each. Lastly, weighing an interactive submission, think about what role the interface itself plays in the experience. If the idea holds up strongly, independent of that interface, it might not be as strong of an interactive submission than one that does. Once you’ve decided where to submit, remember that a simple video demoing the product works best. Showing something work in a clear, concise way overrides the need for overblown stats like number of shares or media mentions, which don’t tend to impress.

My favorite panel of the day was this one on responsive environments. I really enjoyed Eric Höweler’s vision of the suburb of the near future where the ownership is not so highly valued and everything from housing to “Last Mile Cars” (ones that home from the commuter rail) are shared for the benefit of the environment, the economy, and personal well-being. Continuing the theme community, Mouna Andraos of Daily Tous Les Jours spoke about the group’s musical swing installation. This is a great example of a project that becomes more impactful as more user’s join in. The final panelist, David Benjamin , talked through the great work coming out of The Living. He highlighted some of their NYC initiatives including an East River lighting installation that uses simple sensors to visually communicate a set of data. Also interesting is that fact that, when the goal was to communicate current water pollution levels, the team enlisted the help of live mussels. Apparently, the rate at which mussels open in close is directly related to the quality of the water they inhabit and observing this action proves more accurate than any known sensor.

And now for the winners…

Here are a few that stood out to me. If there’s anything you haven’t seen, each is definitely an initiative worth checking out.

IBM partnered with Ogilvy to produce and release a series of videos on Instagram based on real-time data from the US Open.

More Here

Lowe’s worked with BBDO to product the popular vine series, “Fix in 6″. A helpful, everyday trick is nicely packaged into each 6s piece.

More Here

Foursquare Time Machine is an animated visualization of a user’s checkins. Most impressive is the considerations required to make the experience engaging for users spanning a wide range of checkin activity. Ultimately, the playback speed of each animation is relatively to a user’s number of checkins. Another impressive stat is the 90% of users actually downloaded the summary infographic offered after the animation.

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Droga5 worked with New Museum to create “Recalling 1993“. The museum wanted to promote a show featuring art from specifically that year. The agency did a great job choosing one only remaining relics of that time, the payphone. By dialing the 800 number posted on about 5,000 working payphones throughout the city, users could hear a story about that year of transition from famous New Yorkers.

Squarespace Logo – Don’t mind the haters. This is a sweet little tool that came out internal project ideas and was designed and build in a week’s time (or so they say on the timing).

RGA’s Nike SB App is really fun, super robust, and well executed. Features include multi-angle videos of the pros landing 100s(?) of trick, all filmed during what became a 24 live YouTube event. Additionally, users can challenge once another and earn rank by uploading their own videos.

Barbarian Group’s Cinder is a C++ library for creative coding.

Pop Secret’s Perfect Pop App from Deutsch is a fun idea. It analyzes gaps between pops and let’s the user know when to stop the microwave. Bonus! It features a really cure kernel character.

Climate Name Change proposes changing the current hurricane naming-system to instead use the names of notable climate change deniers. More Here

Working Not Working is a vetted community that allows accepted freelancers to post their work status and, if they are currently working, post when they will be available next. This prevents recruiters from making fruitless contacts and helps both creatives and employers plan ahead.

Ghostbusters Fan Art

ghostbusters-fan-art

Traveling show in honor of the movie’s 30th anniversary.

I didn’t make it out, but these are few of my favs from the post below (top to bottom):
DKNG, “Ecto-1″
Nicole Guice, Janine
Nan Lawson, “There is no Dana only Zuul” (best scene evarrr!!!)

Coverage:
http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/23/5643936/ghostbusters-takeover-on-its-30th-anniversary-the-sci-fi-classic
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3029663/the-ghostbusters-30th-anniversary-exhibit-is-an-ectoplasmic-explosion-of-fan-art

IA Summit Poster

ia_poster_20140317_outlines I had a great time at this year’s IA Summit Poster Night and am just getting around to writing a little about what I presented. Essentially, I hope this poster serves as a little reminder that, regardless of time constraints, it’s always worth it to do at least a little research. The concept of Discovery as it relates to UX is pretty subjective. There isn’t one way go about it and, since it is more of a process than any concrete deliverable, it’s often more difficult to standardize than, let’s say, a wireframe presentation. As soon as I get briefed on a new project, I usually have a bunch of ideas and just want to get them out and into the final product. Depending on the nature of the project, it’s easy to jump straight into layouts. As I once made a habit of doing, you might find yourself thinking, “E-com site? I know the best practices. I have a few favorite tricks.  A combo of those will do just fine here… AGAIN.” I’ve since learned that formulating a plan and communicating it in a digestible way sets the foundation for better design.

Let’s walk through how the aforementioned thoughtful discovery can flex to accommodate, for sake of realism, a crazy-short, pretty-short, or short amount of time.

Any project should start with a through understanding of the ask (yes, I just used ask as a noun).

  • What do they want?
  • Who is it for?
  • What do they really want? (As in, “Why build a wayfinding app when a giant blinking arrow would do the trick x10?”)
  • What’s the competition up to in this space?

Finding these answers can be achieved by performing at least one task under each of three columns I’ve labeled as Ask, Stalk, and Show.

Ask – Question StakeHolders and Users

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A-SYNC IT: Since time doesn’t allow for interviews, use online questionnaires and surveys to learn what the stakeholders expect as well as what the audience wants. Many times, a realistic sampling of a product’s users can be found among your friends and co-workers. One piece of advice, don’t be shy to mark that survey-request email as high-priority. Everyone respects the red exclamation point!

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TIME FOR FACETIME: In-person or on screen, it’s best to have a realtime chat. This allows you to read participants facial expressions and reactions to uncover things like whether or not that redic QR code aspect is really required.

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ALL TOGETHER NOW: Workshop it! Take a day. Maybe two! Let the clients in on design. They love that… and you kind of do too!

Stalk – Learn As Much As You Can About The Brand And The Industry As A Whole

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THE US: Master the client’s current offerings and check out the competition.

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THE THEM: Deep-dive into top-competitors and expand to the landscape as a whole. Analyize what they’re doing right and what mistakes you can avoid.

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THE FUTURE US: Go beyond the industry and apply inspiration from other areas in a new way. Who knew that diagram for dissecting the anatomy of an F! engine could so perfectly translate into a visualization of a new multi-layered taco salad?

Show – Always Be Prototyping

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GO PAPERFUL: Make lots of sketches. Flesh out the ones that work and include them when presenting your other findings.

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GET IT IN THERE (You know, like in the computer): Start with some high-level wireframes, then turn them into something the client can move through. Even a simple click-through prototype is 100000000000000x more effective at communicating an idea than static pages. I know there are a ton of tools out there, and it doesn’t matter what you use, but lately InVision has been my go-to. It’s cloud-based, makes swapping screens super easy for fast updates, and the final project URL makes for a great presentation.

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IS THIS REAL-LIFE?: Move towards visual design and higher-fidelity prototypes. It’s easier than ever to make something look and feel like a finished product. You can get pretty far only using a tool like InVision or Axure. InVision has an auto-play feature for illustration or slideshow or custom animation and Axure even allows for some simple if/then formula creation. If you’ve got a little extra time, why not start actually start building the thing? There’s tons of documentation for grabbing a user’s location or accessing a device’s camera with HTML5. A framework like Foundation is great for showcasing responsiveness and selling in the real. (Just make sure the client knows the finished product won’t be ready quite so quickly :) )

Great. So now you know what you’re doing and might even have a few solid screen. DON’T FORGET TO MAKE IT LOOK NICE

Download The Poster We’ve Been Talking So Much About!

SiteSucker

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Or as I like to refer to it… world most underrated prototyping tool. Sure I’m a huge fan of invision, but if you spot some dope functionality, SiteSucker let’s you totally borrow the code… like all of it.