Learning to design - critiques

31 Jul 2006 - 5:29am
7 years ago
15 replies
520 reads
Donna Maurer
2003

Hi IxDers

I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a hugely
important project. In doing so discovered that some of my team are fine
at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability
testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the middle -
interaction design!

I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to try
is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I know
is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.

I need some places to start reading or smart people to chat to. I'm
trying to get my hands on a copy of Schon's 'the reflective
practitioner' but am not sure where else to start. I'm not even quite
sure how to phrase my question...

TIA

Donna

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

Comments

31 Jul 2006 - 6:28am
Sarah Bloomer
2006

Hi Donna,

Interaction design, ah yes! I call it "something magic happens" to
describe getting from analysis to design. That is, how to take all that
feedback and information and make sense of it.

Before you get into peer critiques, your team probably needs to learn
how to make design choices, that is, you may want to do some training
with them in interaction design. They need to learn that interaction
design isn't pretty-ing up screens, that each decision should have a
reason or rationale behind it.

Here are a few ways to do some quick training:

1) After you establish your goals for the system you're designing,
brainstorm design solutions to meet those goals. You can use a simple
table format to do that. Karen Donoghue has a good one in her book
"Built for Use".

2) Come up some possible goals for an existing site or web app (eg. look
at how well Telstra allows customers to learn about mobile plans, or
take an existing internal web application and critique that). This way
they may start to develop an eye for design by analyzing how effective
the design is at meeting those goals. Plus you're allowing your group to
safely critique designs before they move into critiquing each other's
work. What I like about doing this is your team will begin to build up a
set of design ideas (or what not to do) by looking critically at other
designs.

3) One 'safe' way to do peer critiques is to fall back on your
application's goals. Again, the idea is to have rationale behind each
design decision, so that your critiques don't end up being about what
people "like". I like to make sure the goals are visible during any
design reviews, and we constantly checking against the goals. "If we do
the design this way, it means we are going against Goal X, while it's
helping with Goal P".

4) Another way to critique a design is by using activity scenarios.
Write stories that describe the user experience you are aiming for and
then walk through the design. But instead of capturing findings as
usability findings, start to brainstorm design solutions
collaboratively.

Hope that gets you started.

Sarah

PS I looked up the Schon book on Amazon, and while it looks interesting,
I don't think it's going to help you with this exact issue.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Donna Maurer
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 6:29 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hi IxDers

I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a hugely
important project. In doing so discovered that some of my team are fine
at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability
testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the middle -
interaction design!

I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to try

is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I know
is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.

I need some places to start reading or smart people to chat to. I'm
trying to get my hands on a copy of Schon's 'the reflective
practitioner' but am not sure where else to start. I'm not even quite
sure how to phrase my question...

TIA

Donna

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

________________________________________________________________
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31 Jul 2006 - 7:07am
Donna Maurer
2003

Sarah Bloomer wrote:
> Hi Donna,
>
> Interaction design, ah yes! I call it "something magic happens" to
> describe getting from analysis to design. That is, how to take all that
> feedback and information and make sense of it.
>
> Before you get into peer critiques, your team probably needs to learn
> how to make design choices, that is, you may want to do some training
> with them in interaction design. They need to learn that interaction
> design isn't pretty-ing up screens, that each decision should have a
> reason or rationale behind it.
>
Yes, training & mentoring is step 1. But training is only a small step &
I won't be available for mentoring all the time.
> Here are a few ways to do some quick training:
>
> 1) After you establish your goals for the system you're designing,
> brainstorm design solutions to meet those goals. You can use a simple
> table format to do that. Karen Donoghue has a good one in her book
> "Built for Use".
>
> 2) Come up some possible goals for an existing site or web app (eg. look
> at how well Telstra allows customers to learn about mobile plans, or
> take an existing internal web application and critique that). This way
> they may start to develop an eye for design by analyzing how effective
> the design is at meeting those goals. Plus you're allowing your group to
> safely critique designs before they move into critiquing each other's
> work. What I like about doing this is your team will begin to build up a
> set of design ideas (or what not to do) by looking critically at other
> designs.
>
> 3) One 'safe' way to do peer critiques is to fall back on your
> application's goals. Again, the idea is to have rationale behind each
> design decision, so that your critiques don't end up being about what
> people "like". I like to make sure the goals are visible during any
> design reviews, and we constantly checking against the goals. "If we do
> the design this way, it means we are going against Goal X, while it's
> helping with Goal P".
>
> 4) Another way to critique a design is by using activity scenarios.
> Write stories that describe the user experience you are aiming for and
> then walk through the design. But instead of capturing findings as
> usability findings, start to brainstorm design solutions
> collaboratively.
>
> Hope that gets you started.
>
>
Thanks - all good.
> Sarah
>
> PS I looked up the Schon book on Amazon, and while it looks interesting,
> I don't think it's going to help you with this exact issue.
>
I have read some of it and it is good. Not practical, how-to, but an
interesting way to look at creative work and how to teach it.

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

31 Jul 2006 - 7:15am
ldebett
2004

A strategy that we've used quite often has been along the lines of what
Sarah mentions in her #4, and puts the burden of proof a bit more on the
designer: the designer creates explicit frame by frame storyboards
illustrating the activity scenario (or use case) they're prooving out. The
present to the team, walk through the story and collect feedback at the end.
Then they go back and iterate on their design based on the input and all the
other requirements they're meeting for another storyboard presentation.

This has been very effective for our team in communicating our thoughts and
ideas beyond handwaving and whiteboarding, and forces the designer to think
through their design more thoroughly and have an opportunity to defend it.

Cheers,
Lisa

On 7/31/06, Sarah Bloomer <Sarah.Bloomer at mathworks.com> wrote:
>
> 4) Another way to critique a design is by using activity scenarios.
> Write stories that describe the user experience you are aiming for and
> then walk through the design. But instead of capturing findings as
> usability findings, start to brainstorm design solutions
> collaboratively.
>
>

31 Jul 2006 - 7:34am
peter sikking
2006

Donna Maurer wrote:

> I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a hugely
> important project. In doing so discovered that some of my team are
> fine
> at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability
> testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the middle -
> interaction design!

I am sorry to be a bit more pessimistic here, but you
have already come to the conclusion that they don't have it.
I say that if they did not get it by now, they never will.

You describe what is a good usability team. Why take them
out of their comfort zone and reduce their productivity to
a crawl. Get an interaction architect in and work _together_.
In a limited amount of time, you can get fantastic results.

That's how I work with usability teams.

--ps

principal user interaction architect
man + machine interface works

http://mmiworks.net/blog : on interaction architecture

31 Jul 2006 - 10:07am
Marijke Rijsberman
2004

I've read somewhere about "ricochet critique." Someone else than the
designer gets to "explain" the rationale of the design by imagining that
they did the work themselves ("this is the problem I tried to solve here"
and "I did this because ..."). Then the rest of the group gets to ask
questions and suggest improvements (including the designer).

It's an inspired teaching tool that makes sure the group focuses on
motivations, on what's right as well as what's wrong, and on the work rather
than the person who did the work.

Marijke

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Donna
Maurer
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 3:29 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hi IxDers

I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a hugely
important project. In doing so discovered that some of my team are fine
at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability
testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the middle -
interaction design!

I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to try
is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I know
is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.

I need some places to start reading or smart people to chat to. I'm
trying to get my hands on a copy of Schon's 'the reflective
practitioner' but am not sure where else to start. I'm not even quite
sure how to phrase my question...

TIA

Donna

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
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31 Jul 2006 - 10:29am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Donna,

Artists, musicians, and graphic designers get a lot of practice giving and
receiving criticism. Even so, some people get the knack of sharing insight
without knifing egos, and some never do. Group critiques are precious except
when they get personal and people get hurt.

The secrets of a good critique session are detachment and respect.
Detachment means that the work being critiqued is considered somewhat in
isolation, both by the audience and by the creator. You put forth your work,
and then stand back and let people throw fruit. The fruitstains help to make
it stronger work. If you stand in front of your work to defend it, you get
the fruitstains and will become unhappy. Respect means that everyone in the
session realizes that a work is the product of personal effort and care, and
that encouragement and gentle correction is called for. Not all designers
will be at the same level along the path. Those farther ahead have an
opportunity during a critique session to act as good mentors. Those catching
up are blessed with the undivided constructive attention of those they
respect.

I believe that group critiques are a technique that can be learned, but
(similar to music or art) it takes some practice. So perhaps a way to start
would be to try group critiques of something that won't hurt anyone's
feelings, like a 3rd party website or application. Pin blowups on the wall
and list what is successful and what would benefit from rework. Strive to
keep the discussions detached and respectful. I hope that this is helpful,

Michael Micheletti

On 7/31/06, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi IxDers
>
> I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to try
> is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I know
> is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
> from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.
>
> TIA
>
> Donna
>
>
> --
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna at maadmob.net
> web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
> book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/
>
>

31 Jul 2006 - 10:36am
Susie Robson
2004

One thing that I have discovered over the years is that if you show one
design, people will pick it apart. But, if you show more than one design
of the same thing, people start to look for which one is better and
focus on positive as well as negative comments. They'll do more of a
compare/contrast than solely picking it apart.

Just a thought.

Susie

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Michael Micheletti
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 11:29 AM
To: Donna Maurer
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hi Donna,

Artists, musicians, and graphic designers get a lot of practice giving
and
receiving criticism. Even so, some people get the knack of sharing
insight
without knifing egos, and some never do. Group critiques are precious
except
when they get personal and people get hurt.

The secrets of a good critique session are detachment and respect.
Detachment means that the work being critiqued is considered somewhat in
isolation, both by the audience and by the creator. You put forth your
work,
and then stand back and let people throw fruit. The fruitstains help to
make
it stronger work. If you stand in front of your work to defend it, you
get
the fruitstains and will become unhappy. Respect means that everyone in
the
session realizes that a work is the product of personal effort and care,
and
that encouragement and gentle correction is called for. Not all
designers
will be at the same level along the path. Those farther ahead have an
opportunity during a critique session to act as good mentors. Those
catching
up are blessed with the undivided constructive attention of those they
respect.

I believe that group critiques are a technique that can be learned, but
(similar to music or art) it takes some practice. So perhaps a way to
start
would be to try group critiques of something that won't hurt anyone's
feelings, like a 3rd party website or application. Pin blowups on the
wall
and list what is successful and what would benefit from rework. Strive
to
keep the discussions detached and respectful. I hope that this is
helpful,

Michael Micheletti

On 7/31/06, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi IxDers
>
> I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to
try
> is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I
know
> is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
> from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.
>
> TIA
>
> Donna
>
>
> --
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna at maadmob.net
> web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
> book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/
>
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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31 Jul 2006 - 11:40am
russwilson
2005

I think Susie's point is great advice. I've used that technique as well
successfully.

But like Peter, I have to wonder why you don't bring a true IxD into
the team? If this truly is a "hugely important" project, it seems
risky to do otherwise.

- Russ

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Susie Robson
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 10:37 AM
To: Michael Micheletti; Donna Maurer
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

One thing that I have discovered over the years is that if you show one
design, people will pick it apart. But, if you show more than one design
of the same thing, people start to look for which one is better and
focus on positive as well as negative comments. They'll do more of a
compare/contrast than solely picking it apart.

Just a thought.

Susie

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Michael Micheletti
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 11:29 AM
To: Donna Maurer
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hi Donna,

Artists, musicians, and graphic designers get a lot of practice giving
and receiving criticism. Even so, some people get the knack of sharing
insight without knifing egos, and some never do. Group critiques are
precious except when they get personal and people get hurt.

The secrets of a good critique session are detachment and respect.
Detachment means that the work being critiqued is considered somewhat in
isolation, both by the audience and by the creator. You put forth your
work, and then stand back and let people throw fruit. The fruitstains
help to make it stronger work. If you stand in front of your work to
defend it, you get the fruitstains and will become unhappy. Respect
means that everyone in the session realizes that a work is the product
of personal effort and care, and that encouragement and gentle
correction is called for. Not all designers will be at the same level
along the path. Those farther ahead have an opportunity during a
critique session to act as good mentors. Those catching up are blessed
with the undivided constructive attention of those they respect.

I believe that group critiques are a technique that can be learned, but
(similar to music or art) it takes some practice. So perhaps a way to
start would be to try group critiques of something that won't hurt
anyone's feelings, like a 3rd party website or application. Pin blowups
on the wall and list what is successful and what would benefit from
rework. Strive to keep the discussions detached and respectful. I hope
that this is helpful,

Michael Micheletti

On 7/31/06, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi IxDers
>
> I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to
try
> is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I
know
> is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
> from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.
>
> TIA
>
> Donna
>
>
> --
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna at maadmob.net
> web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
> book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/
>
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

31 Jul 2006 - 4:10pm
Donna Maurer
2003

peter sikking wrote:
> have already come to the conclusion that they don't have it.
> I say that if they did not get it by now, they never will.
>
Why not? I didn't say they had been in the industry forever and never
developed design skills. Most are fairly new to the industry (couple of
years experience) and have naturally started at the easy point, learning
UCD techniques. They are smart, capable people who will probably make
good designers with some training, support and experience.
> You describe what is a good usability team. Why take them
> out of their comfort zone and reduce their productivity to
> a crawl. Get an interaction architect in and work _together_.
> In a limited amount of time, you can get fantastic results.
>
Yes, but there's this real world I'm working in where I have an existing
team & a huge shortage of experienced interaction designers ;) I do need
to take them out of their comfort zone. If they don't do the design, the
business teams will do it, and I know who I'd prefer to be designing
interfaces...

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

1 Aug 2006 - 5:13am
peter sikking
2006

Donna,

First of all, let me avoid a "design" misunderstanding.
I am talking about interaction architecture, the
model/concept/structure of the UI, not about graphics,
which is best left to graphic designers.

>> have already come to the conclusion that they don't have it.
>> I say that if they did not get it by now, they never will.

> Why not? I didn't say they had been in the industry forever and never
> developed design skills. Most are fairly new to the industry
> (couple of
> years experience) and have naturally started at the easy point,
> learning
> UCD techniques. They are smart, capable people who will probably make
> good designers with some training, support and experience.

Well, with those couple of years and the full immersion in UCD
and UCD techniques, I expect the if one person on the team
(can't be more) had it, she would know it herself by now.

She would be burning for interaction architecture. She
would not focus on incrementally improving existing stuff,
but instead focus on the concept, keeping it pure and in one
piece under the avalanche of input, feedback and usability
test results.

And you would know in your first meeting that this person
was on the team.

For me interaction architecture is very similar to solving
mathematical problems. In a way very structured and exact,
but also a very intuitive process.

We all know maths at secondary school: some kids had it,
some kids didn't. Those who had it knew where to start
which methods (they had learned) to apply, and when they
where finished. This who did not have it could scrape by,
if they worked really hard.

>> You describe what is a good usability team. Why take them
>> out of their comfort zone and reduce their productivity to
>> a crawl. Get an interaction architect in and work _together_.
>> In a limited amount of time, you can get fantastic results.
>>
> Yes, but there's this real world I'm working in where I have an
> existing
> team & a huge shortage of experienced interaction designers ;)

I know what you mean. I have no idea what the situation is like
in the US, but here in Europe the average is one person in a
100.000 can do this. In Berlin that means 3.5 million inhabitants,
35 competent interaction architects.

> I do need
> to take them out of their comfort zone. If they don't do the
> design, the
> business teams will do it, and I know who I'd prefer to be designing
> interfaces...

I had a look at your website and see that you got it. Good.

I propose that you steal from the thousand(s) year old practice
of architecture.

You are the principal architect. I think you were already
contracted for that role, so no problem there. All major
decisions have to be taken by you. You keep the model(s)
clean and in one piece.

You multiply yourself by making whole UCD team associate
architects. Either singly or in pairs you let them work on
a certain sub-system. They have to do most of the legwork.
In one or two meetings a week you work together with each
person or pair. Here all decisions are taken and the design
actually advances.

I don't think you need a coordination meeting with all
the associates. You coordinate in your work meetings,
and if the UCD team sits together then they can
cross-pollinate there.

By working in this way they can learn a hell of a lot
from you, and maybe one of them still has got it, and
will float to the surface.

Good luck,

--ps

principal user interaction architect
man + machine interface works

http://mmiworks.net/blog : on interaction architecture

1 Aug 2006 - 7:44am
Steve Baty
2009

Hi Donna,

(You say 'some of the team members' - do the others possess ixd skills and
experience?)

I've found that peer reviews/critiques work best when:
a) more than one idea is presented for review;
b) more than one person has worked on each design/idea;
c) the designs have gone through some form of revision prior to being
critiqued
d) clear direction is given at the start of the design process;
e) discuss possible solutions at the outset (even if generally);
f) clear guidelines are given about the desired outcomes - discover the
elements that are working; those that could work with refinement (and those
refinements) - and that it isn't a competition
g) everybody can voice an opinion, and every opinion is equally valid - but
you should be able to back up your opinion with more than 'I don't like it'

Cheers
Steve

----------------------------------------------
Steve 'Doc' Baty B.Sc (Maths), M.EC, MBA
Director, User Experience Strategy
Red Square
P: +612 8289 4930
M: +61 417 061 292

Member, UPA - www.upassoc.org
Member, IxDA - www.ixda.org
Member, Web Standards Group - www.webstandardsgroup.org

1 Aug 2006 - 11:27am
adamya ashk
2004

Hi Donna,

What an interesting post! I enjoyed reading many of the replies here. Most
make a lot of sense.

Here's my 0.02.

Peer critiques are definitely valuable. I always dreaded them in school
however, because (I felt) a lot depends on the presentation skills of the
designer than the design being critiqued in the sessions.

Design by it's nature is an activity where it's difficult 'not to be'
invested in the solution. It takes an exceptional individual or many years
of practice to achieve the sort of 'detachment' required for peer reviews,
especially in a professional environment where other pushes/pulls might be
present.

You can try to have more than one person work on sub-projects where ixd
skills are required. I find people learn quickly when working together.

I have also found that doing a lot of work on the whiteboard helps as it
makes one focus on the essentials. For internal team reviews (if the design
is not too complicated) ask team members to present by drawing in
real-time. This will get around presentation issues and will encourage
change.

If you are in the 'lead' position (and looked at as the expert) a lot will
depend on the direction you set. Someone mentioned setting goals. Setting
direction is similar. Like an over-all design strategy for the project. Try
to put it in words, a few paragraphs. If the whole team can come-up with the
strategy so much the better. People will feel a sense of ownership. The
central idea being that solutions will be guided by this central concept.

HTH,

-Adamya Ashk
Information Architecture, Staples Inc.

On 7/31/06, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi IxDers
>
> I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a hugely
> important project. In doing so discovered that some of my team are fine
> at UCD techniques (interviews, paper prototype testing, usability
> testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the middle -
> interaction design!
>
> I have some strategies to work through this, and something I want to try
> is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing. This is something I know
> is often done in design & visual arts training but, not having grown
> from either of those areas, don't know a lot about it.
>
> I need some places to start reading or smart people to chat to. I'm
> trying to get my hands on a copy of Schon's 'the reflective
> practitioner' but am not sure where else to start. I'm not even quite
> sure how to phrase my question...
>
> TIA
>
> Donna
>
>
> --
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna at maadmob.net
> web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
> book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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1 Aug 2006 - 2:11pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Actually, if you believe Gallup polls (http://tinyurl.com/zncea), in the
real world it is much easier to work with personal strengths, not against
them. Some people are better at creating, others at critiquing. Both are
valuable skills, however I would second Peter's opinion on hiring creative
Interaction Designer. Couple years of experience is a long time for someone
willing to learn.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 7/31/06, Donna Maurer <donnam at maadmob.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> peter sikking wrote:
> > have already come to the conclusion that they don't have it.
> > I say that if they did not get it by now, they never will.
> >
> Why not? I didn't say they had been in the industry forever and never
> developed design skills. Most are fairly new to the industry (couple of
> years experience) and have naturally started at the easy point, learning
> UCD techniques. They are smart, capable people who will probably make
> good designers with some training, support and experience.
> > You describe what is a good usability team. Why take them
> > out of their comfort zone and reduce their productivity to
> > a crawl. Get an interaction architect in and work _together_.
> > In a limited amount of time, you can get fantastic results.
> >
> Yes, but there's this real world I'm working in where I have an existing
> team & a huge shortage of experienced interaction designers ;) I do need
> to take them out of their comfort zone. If they don't do the design, the
> business teams will do it, and I know who I'd prefer to be designing
> interfaces...
>
>
> --
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna at maadmob.net
> web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
> book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

1 Aug 2006 - 6:28pm
Donna Maurer
2003

adamya ashk wrote:
> Hi Donna,
>
> Peer critiques are definitely valuable. I always dreaded them in
> school however, because (I felt) a lot depends on the presentation
> skills of the designer than the design being critiqued in the sessions.
>
> Design by it's nature is an activity where it's difficult 'not to be'
> invested in the solution. It takes an exceptional individual or many
> years of practice to achieve the sort of 'detachment' required for
> peer reviews, especially in a professional environment where other
> pushes/pulls might be present.
>
This is a good point. But if designers can't manage peer review by
fellow team members, they are going to be crucified by the client team ;)

--
Donna Maurer
Maadmob Interaction Design
e: donna at maadmob.net
web: http://maadmob.net/maadmob_id/
book: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/

2 Aug 2006 - 12:42pm
Eugene Chen
2004

I think peer critique is a great idea. How about starting with some very
informal and low-pressure sessions?

Have everyone gather and review the researach and design problem for a given
area. Then just jump in and (invidually) sketch out some solutions for
twenty minutes using pencil and paper. After 20 minutes, throw up the
sketches and talk about them.

Noone will feel pressured to create anything "right" or "best" in such short
time. However, I'm sure even in only 20 minutes, everyone will surprised by
the variety of interesting and potentially useful ideas that will have
arised.

As a side effect, you and everyone else will begin to get a guage of
everyone's relative experience and style. Someone will be very keen on
information design, but ignore widgets. Others will rely on all kinds of
fancy desktop metaphors and totally overkill it. It's the discussion that
will get everyone thinking and working as a team.

Repeat for 2-3 other sets of screens or scenarios. Watch out for idea
convergence or copying. Actively keep everyone involved to contain any know
it alls. Give some guidelines for the critique along the lines of what other
people have mentioned (critique the work not the person etc)

After a few group gropes like this, you could progress to assigning larger
and individual assignments to people. But still keep it to paper and pencil
and keep the time frames short, like 2-3 days, between review gatherings.
Keep everything taped on the wall along with pro con comments on stickies.

...Note that the dive into screens approach I'm talking about above is
really a teaching approach. With a more experienced designers, I generally
take the approach of working down from the big picture, using stickies to
map content and functions on to screens (as described by Constantine and
Lockwood). Breaking down tasks into detailed use cases, drawing flow and
content diagrams, etc. might also work well for the people you describe.
This approach takes the analytical so far that it gradually becomes
synthetic.

Eugene Chen | User Experience Design, Strategy, and Usability main 415 282
7456 | mobile 415 336 1783 | fax 240 282 7452 web
http://www.eugenechendesign.com | aim peastulip | skype eugene-chen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Donna Maurer [mailto:donnam at maadmob.net]
> Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 3:29 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Learning to design - critiques
>
> Hi IxDers
>
> I started today at a new contract leading a new UCD team on a
> hugely important project. In doing so discovered that some of
> my team are fine at UCD techniques (interviews, paper
> prototype testing, usability
> testing) but are completely missing the vital element in the
> middle - interaction design!
>
> I have some strategies to work through this, and something I
> want to try is to incorporate the idea of peer critiquing.
> This is something I know is often done in design & visual
> arts training but, not having grown from either of those
> areas, don't know a lot about it.

>

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