“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

sussin’ out my design frame

Today I was working on my workshop for prospective high school students who are interested in SCAD (@scaddotedu). The workshop is a 2.5 hour interactive, hands-on, intensive extravaganza.

So I’m using as a base my 1/2 day workshop that I did as part of Interaction 09 as an Intro to IxD. Fun times were had by all. But as I looked at that slides, I realized that WAY too much of that material is way beyond what high school students need. So, I’m toning it down and beefing it up.

One area (about 1/2 the workshop, I hope) is a break down of the practice of making. Previously, I had the following: sketching, tell, frame, refine. For the most part I think this works, but it is incomplete for me and well not descript enough.

So here is where I landed in my haste to get this all together on time:

Immerse, Collaborate & Observe:
One must do research. The best kind starts with immersion. I’m an anthropologist at my core and ethnographic participatory observation is still my favorite type of research. But any sort of immersion coupled with acute observation leads to great results. This past week at IDSA I heard from a design researcher from Continuum that in order to really design out of our cultural box we need to immerse ourselves into something wholly new. The collaborate to me is next. Now that you’ve acquired the language and customs, it is time to collaborate. Partner with those whom you want to design for (and in this case with). All the while in both processes there is observation. In fact, observation and our ability to capture what we observe is a crucial tool & skill to learn.


  • Ethnography
  • Interview
  • co-design/participatory design
  • participate
  • Analyze
  • Model
  • Understand

Explore & Experiment:
I have gone on record many times saying that design is the intentional creation of an environment that encourages serendipity to occur. When I talk about sketching I can’t not mention this fact, and it is during the early ideation process where we take the insights from immersive and collaborative observation and analyze and synthesize them into creativity–exploring new paths, and experimenting with things only previously unimagined. The opening up to associative juxtapositions is at the heart of designerly method throughout all these processes and frameworks.


  • sketch
  • prototype
  • play
  • travel
  • discovery
  • create

Situate & humanize:
I used to call this “telling”, but it is what we do with the narrative that is more important than the narrative itself. What we need to accomplish with any manner of narrative is to humanize our ideas and make sure that the characters, objects, dialog all have a well defined context.


  • storyboard
  • video prototype
  • role-play
  • define
  • understand
  • judge
  • embue

Frame & validate:
At some point the funnel has to get much smaller. To do that we must look at what we know. Not just from the user research but from the other areas of consideration. One of these areas is just the human being. and another are human beings. This is where we hone the solution to fit, to be the RIGHT design. We take our language acquisition and use our inner Rosetta Stone to translate requirements into comprehendable interfaces and all that goes with them. Finally, it is about making the design right!


  • wireframe
  • structure
  • task flow
  • language setting
  • seo
  • organize
  • navigate

Finish & express:
Finish in this sense is like the finish on an object. The final details that bring it all together. But this is also where the designer adds flourishes from their own soul to express themselves aesthetically.


  • Help (inline/other)
  • Messaging
  • exception management
  • Visual design
  • Audio design
  • Motion Graphics
  • Final interactive prototype — ship it!

So that’s where I’ve landed today. What y’all think?

Be Sociable, Share!


The archives run deep. Feel free to search older content using topic keywords.