Community design?

28 Dec 2006 - 12:38pm
7 years ago
11 replies
660 reads
Soo Basu
2005

Hi
Just curious:
In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on my
CSS?
Cheers,
Soo

Comments

28 Dec 2006 - 1:24pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Soo-
Collaborative design is a necessary skill for many in our field, and one
you should develop and embrace. The key, as in any relationship, is to
be a good listener. Try to understand the "why" behind the assertions
of your colleagues, and offer ways that your expertise and experience
can provide improved designs or results, whether in terms of measurable
ROI (the best way to win over bottom-line business people) or a
cohesive, well-crafted experience (which will appeal to others with a
design aesthete, including content creators and copy writers).

I don't mean to belabor the recent argument about personas, but they
have been a very useful tool for me in doing collaborative design with 4
parties in three time zones across every conceivable skill. Other
techniques such as UML can be effective with certain audiences, but I've
found that people without a programming background tend to gloss over
when you show them an activity diagram or object model.

I guess the best tactic is, by whatever technique, look for ways to
align the objectives of all contributors, then work as a team to achieve
them.

Dante

_______________________________________
Dante Murphy | Director of Information Architecture
Medical Broadcasting Company | A D I G I T A S INC. COMPANY
-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Sunandini Basu
Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:39 PM
To: IxDA Discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Community design?

Hi
Just curious:
In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on
my
CSS?
Cheers,
Soo
________________________________________________________________
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28 Dec 2006 - 1:44pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Well, being soft-spoken is never a good thing in a design-by-committee
environment AND it is always good to UNDERSTAND the technologies you are
designing for as much as possible.

So I say, do both! ... Learn how to shot AND learn CSS. :)

-- dave

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
> Behalf Of Sunandini Basu
> Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:39 PM
> To: IxDA Discuss
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Community design?
>
> Hi
> Just curious:
> In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
> session involving writers and business people, and of course,
> designers.
> Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
> outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
> writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills
> or work on my
> CSS?
> Cheers,
> Soo
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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/
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>

28 Dec 2006 - 1:45pm
.pauric
2006

I've found that while doing my design research I get good results in cross
discipline meetings of 4 people or less, this is frighteningly predictable.
So, I suggest building a little consensus leading up to the big meetings by
informally injecting good design practice before the alpha personalities
make their mark on the larger groups. But, do not set up meetings for the
sake of it, have goals such as a card sort or persona definition.

It also pays to do a little background research on the personalities you
will be working with if its across timezones. And a critically important
tip is to talk their language, self skilled designers generally aren't well
versed in methodology and rely on their intuition. Everyone has their goals
so align design with their endgame. Alarm bells should go off if you hear
people talking about the 'user' so be prepared with persona's

Related, I recently had a Program Line Manager dictate, for want of better
words, to me the contents of a drop down in a critical feature. To cut a
long chain on diplomatic emails short I pointed out that he wouldn't accept
me mandating marketing requirements, I would build his feature but it would
be done properly, I put a wireframe together and he had little to argue
with.

To sum up, start with small meetings. Demonstrate yourself as someone who
is approachable, very important. Show how design can help them make the
best of their ideas and if all else fails, mock-up their ideas against what
you are proposing and do some informal user testing, you may miss the boat
on the first release but stand a better chance of getting in first at a
later date. Always take the long view if you find yourself getting
hammered, you will invariably be proven right.

28 Dec 2006 - 2:06pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

You should know CSS (and as many other technologies as possible, at least at
a high-level) so you can better understand the possibilities of the web and
can design effectively within those constraints. You should also know how to
shout so that you can go to the mat when it becomes necessary (if this
happens often, however, either you or your employer needs a new attitude).

More important than both, however, is learning to be convincing. The best
thing you can do for your own sanity, the betterment of the company, etc, is
to learn to convince people you can lead them down the right path (I'm
assuming here that you can lead them down the right path) and then do it. Do
this a few times, and you won't have to work nearly as hard convincing them
later on.

If personas are what you need to be convincing, then so be it. Mostly,
though, it's about presenting a solid case for every argument you make and
every design you propose, backing it up with evidence, and following through
with it.

-r-

On 12/28/06, Sunandini Basu <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi
> Just curious:
> In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
> session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
> Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
> outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
> writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on my
> CSS?
> Cheers,
> Soo
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

28 Dec 2006 - 2:48pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Learning to shout - and css is great, knowing how to conduct a meeting is etter.

If these are "your" meetings:

Deciding who is in a meeting is critical.

Determining the type of meeting is also important. Design session... or brainstorming... or buy in?
Most of the time if business is invloved I will have covered the critical isues with the primary decision makers and the meeting is about formalizing the decision to the team. If it is a presentation... that is a bit different. Each of these meeting types would bring a different approach.

Meetings should have an introduction, aggenda, conclusions or summaries, and next step (this typically includes duty assignments).

It also sounds a lot likt\e you could benefit from a basic understanding of how designers think and how business people think... differnece and similarities. Roger Martin from Rotman School of Management has been writing quite a bit about this. Especially the validity (designers) vs reliability (business people) discourse. Designers must learn to speak the "board room" language.

Mark

On Thursday, December 28, 2006, at 12:38PM, "Sunandini Basu" <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>Hi
>Just curious:
>In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
>session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
>Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
>outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
>writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on my
>CSS?
>Cheers,
>Soo
>________________________________________________________________
>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
>
>

28 Dec 2006 - 2:52pm
.pauric
2006

I would go a step further than "Do this a few times, and you won't have to
work nearly as hard convincing them later on." Get things right and you
wont have to work hard - period.

I'm in the Hoekman camp regarding persona's but they are very useful when
convincing people, to me they are a communication tool. This leads on to
something that you should be doing as a designer but which can demonstrate
your capabilities and professionalism to the rest of the team - building
your design library, mine contains among other things;
work flow diagrams
scenarios
3 personas
a wireframe library
feature specification library
etc etc, I use these in design 'discussions' with engineers.

Being in a position to pepper an email with insightful snippets that back my
case has served me well. Much like the difference between circumstantial
and forensic evidence in a court of law I guess.

28 Dec 2006 - 2:02pm
Ari
2006

I agree, collaborative design is important. However, certain corporate
cultures prevent it from truly occurring. For ex: I work in advertising and
woes me if step on a CD's or Art Director's shoes! I do it anyway since most
designers in agency environments still have difficulty separating reality
from the hookah.

I leave design up to the designer but IA and UI should be left up to people
who have a clue.

On 12/28/06, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at mbcnet.com> wrote:
>
> Soo-
> Collaborative design is a necessary skill for many in our field, and one
> you should develop and embrace. The key, as in any relationship, is to
> be a good listener. Try to understand the "why" behind the assertions
> of your colleagues, and offer ways that your expertise and experience
> can provide improved designs or results, whether in terms of measurable
> ROI (the best way to win over bottom-line business people) or a
> cohesive, well-crafted experience (which will appeal to others with a
> design aesthete, including content creators and copy writers).
>
> I don't mean to belabor the recent argument about personas, but they
> have been a very useful tool for me in doing collaborative design with 4
> parties in three time zones across every conceivable skill. Other
> techniques such as UML can be effective with certain audiences, but I've
> found that people without a programming background tend to gloss over
> when you show them an activity diagram or object model.
>
> I guess the best tactic is, by whatever technique, look for ways to
> align the objectives of all contributors, then work as a team to achieve
> them.
>
> Dante
>
> _______________________________________
> Dante Murphy | Director of Information Architecture
> Medical Broadcasting Company | A D I G I T A S INC. COMPANY
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Sunandini Basu
> Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:39 PM
> To: IxDA Discuss
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Community design?
>
> Hi
> Just curious:
> In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
> session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
> Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
> outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
> writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on
> my
> CSS?
> Cheers,
> Soo
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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/
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>

--
----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.flyingyogi.com

28 Dec 2006 - 3:21pm
Vishal Subraman...
2005

There is a difference between collaborative design and design by committe,
no? Guess its a challenge to have a collaborative environment without it
transforming to the the latter.

Vishal

On 12/28/06, Ari Feldman <ari1970 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I agree, collaborative design is important. However, certain corporate
> cultures prevent it from truly occurring. For ex: I work in advertising
> and
> woes me if step on a CD's or Art Director's shoes! I do it anyway since
> most
> designers in agency environments still have difficulty separating reality
> from the hookah.
>
> I leave design up to the designer but IA and UI should be left up to
> people
> who have a clue.
>
>
> On 12/28/06, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at mbcnet.com> wrote:
> >
> > Soo-
> > Collaborative design is a necessary skill for many in our field, and one
>
> > you should develop and embrace. The key, as in any relationship, is to
> > be a good listener. Try to understand the "why" behind the assertions
> > of your colleagues, and offer ways that your expertise and experience
> > can provide improved designs or results, whether in terms of measurable
> > ROI (the best way to win over bottom-line business people) or a
> > cohesive, well-crafted experience (which will appeal to others with a
> > design aesthete, including content creators and copy writers).
> >
> > I don't mean to belabor the recent argument about personas, but they
> > have been a very useful tool for me in doing collaborative design with 4
>
> > parties in three time zones across every conceivable skill. Other
> > techniques such as UML can be effective with certain audiences, but I've
> > found that people without a programming background tend to gloss over
> > when you show them an activity diagram or object model.
> >
> > I guess the best tactic is, by whatever technique, look for ways to
> > align the objectives of all contributors, then work as a team to achieve
>
> > them.
> >
> > Dante
> >
> > _______________________________________
> > Dante Murphy | Director of Information Architecture
> > Medical Broadcasting Company | A D I G I T A S INC. COMPANY
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> > [mailto: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> > Sunandini Basu
> > Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 12:39 PM
> > To: IxDA Discuss
> > Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Community design?
> >
> > Hi
> > Just curious:
> > In my company (an internet media company) design happens over a group
> > session involving writers and business people, and of course, designers.
> > Can good design really happen this way? Usually the designers (who are
> > outnumbered and softer-spoken) get over-ruled by self-skilled content
> > writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on
> > my
> > CSS?
> > Cheers,
> > Soo
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > 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
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> http://www.flyingyogi.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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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>

29 Dec 2006 - 9:46am
Mark Schraad
2006

Soo

For yet another frame of reference that you undoubtably familiar with... consider designing your meeting. Take into consideration the audience, context, goals, activities and language (business speak should qualify as a foriegn language) and design your presentation,discussion, planning, brainstorming, or update aggenda accordingly.

Mark

On Friday, December 29, 2006, at 09:17AM, "Louisa Sugar" <louisa.sugar at yahoo.com> wrote:
>Soo,
>
>I've worked on both the design and writing sides, and
>have some suggestions for you.
>
>Design is a bit of a foreign language to the others in
>the room; you're fluent in visual thinking, but
>they're not. They may be secretly worried you just
>want to make things look pretty.
>
>If you're a good designer, your design rationale for
>doing things is obvious to you, but not to them. So, a
>BIG part of your job is educating and explaining the
>reasons for each step of your design--from their point
>of view. You need to learn how to verbalize the
>thinking behind your work when you present in
>meetings. (Calmly and quietly works fine).
>
>When I taught design, I had my students deconstruct
>and defend each element of their work because I knew
>they would need to do this with clients. So consider:
>
>
>- What are the content writers' concerns? Think of
>things from their point of view and address exactly
>how your design solves their problems (showcases the
>message, makes it more appealing to read, etc.).
>- What are the business/marketing concerns? Explain
>how your design efficiently executes the project
>parameters (reaches the target audience, avoids
>errors, saves money, etc.).
>
>Maybe you can practice privately with other designers,
>or with friendly members of the team. Anticipate their
>objections and address them. As your verbal skills
>increase, you'll gradually earn more trust and you
>won't feel so out-numbered.
>
>Hope this helps.
>
>Louisa
>--
>Louisa Sugar Design
>Copywriting for Interaction Design
>415 931-1535
>louisa at louisasugar.com
>http://www.louisasugar.com
>
>Louisa makes emerging technology easy
>for the target audience to understand and use.
>
>>In my company (an internet media company) design
>happens over a group session involving writers and
>business people, and of course, designers.
>>Usually the designers (who are outnumbered and
>softer-spoken) >get over-ruled by self-skilled content
>writers. I'm wondering >whether to improve my shouting
>skills or work on my CSS?
>
>
>
>
>__________________________________________________
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>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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>
>

29 Dec 2006 - 5:17pm
ldebett
2004

Soo,

One thing I've learned the hard way is that the pen is certainly mightier
than the word. Words are fleeting while ink lives on. Specifications are
references so (s)he who owns them owns the design, essentially. Whether it's
CSS or FrameMaker, you'd serve yourself well if you honed those skills.
Shouting gets us nowhere but into trouble. ;-)

~Lisa

On 12/28/06, Sunandini Basu <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Usually the designers (who are outnumbered and softer-spoken) get
> over-ruled by self-skilled content
> writers. I'm wondering whether to improve my shouting skills or work on my
> CSS?
> Cheers,
> Soo

31 Dec 2006 - 12:28am
Soo Basu
2005

Thanks a lot, all, for contributing to this thread! I learnt a lot from
reading your replies. Listening, articulating design rationales, building
convincing arguments, improving CSS skills...
So these are on the agenda for me right now!
Hopefully I'll see some success sooner or later.
A great new year to everyone,
Soo

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