Notebook

Our thoughts & opinions on usability, information architecture, interaction & interface design, brand - all things user experience design.

Audio from UXNZ and Hello Again!

Jotted down by matt on February 5th, 2014

We’re back for 2014! It’s already a busy year. Lulu from Lushai Wellington in back from maternity leave and is being a busy bee in the capital, and Matt is already busy with Lushai Auckland’s first new clients for the year.

The audio from Matt’s recent talk at User Experience New Zealand conference is up on the UXNZ website and there will be slides to follow.

In the meantime look out for Matt at Webstock next week, feel free to say hello Wellingtonians and Webstockers and get in touch if you want to grab a coffee or a beer!

User Experience New Zealand

Jotted down by matt on November 14th, 2013

Communicating through drawing title slide

Lushai’s Matt Gould recently presented a talk and workshop on drawing as a communication tool at the first User Experience New Zealand conference. It was a great conference, and the talk was well received despite Matt’s total inability to draw buses or motorbikes.

Matt at drawing UXNZ

photo courtesy @bryony

We’ll put the slides and audio up here once they are processed.

In the meantime, here are a few follow up notes to wrap up some conversations that happened during and after the talk.

During the talk and workshop Matt encouraged people to sketch and post their efforts on twitter under #uxnzdraw, we’ve compiled the results here: storify.com/lushai/uxnzdraw

There was a little bit of chat around drawing apps, to wrap that up Matt used the free version of Paper by 53 during the presentation for live drawing.

The tablet pen used by master Paper sketcher Gareth Parry is the Adonit Jot Script.

The pen Matt uses is whatever rubber topped pen is available at the airport closest to where he lost his last one, but he is seriously considering committing to either one of these bad boys: http://the-maglus.myshopify.com/ or it’s handsomer, slightly dimmer cousin: http://www.just-mobile.com/ipad/alupen.html.
And the other pen he mentioned was the cosmonaut which can be found here: http://www.studioneat.com/products/cosmonaut.

Thanks to everyone who came, and for those who didn’t this will all make much more sense once you hear the talk!

Lushai at User Experience New Zealand

Jotted down by matt on September 13th, 2013

Going to the UX New Zealand conference in Wellington this year? Keep an eye out for Lushai Auckland’s Matt Gould who will be doing a presentation called ’3 Degrees of Rough’ on drawing as a communication tool.

This is the rundown we gave to the conference:

You don’t need to draw to be a good UX practitioner but the ability to quickly present an idea in a visual form is one of the most powerful communication tools we have. Visualisations tap into aesthetics and stories, both of which people react to on an immediate and emotional level.

User experience practitioners from non traditional design backgrounds are often intimidated by the idea of drawing but the success of drawing as a communication tool is less dependent on the ability to draw well than it is on the ability to draw quickly and to judge the correct level of fidelity needed to achieve your communication goal.

This talk consists of three sections, how to judge the correct level of sketchiness for your need, quick and dirty techniques to produce drawings at these levels of fidelity and a special challenge at the end. This challenge will either demonstrate how a non illustrator can at very short notice (with a little practice) produce quick and dirty drawings at varying levels of fidelity without it becoming a song and dance, or end the talk in a blaze of glorious failure negating the whole talk. You have to come to find out which.

Like most things with a little separation between idea and execution the live challenge seems like a much poorer idea as we get closer to the time. But Matt has publicly committed and it will happen.

As a bit of trivia the talk was originally called ‘Dirty Pictures for Love and Money’ but the organiser quite rightly felt that this might give people the wrong idea …

There’s a bit of stuff like this:

Sample Sketces

Sneak Peak

Jotted down by matt on May 29th, 2013

We have been beavering away recently on a very exciting project in collaboration with Threaded Design studio. It is shaping up to be a thing of beauty and we are very proud of it. More details closer to the time but for now, a sneak peak:

Screen shots of JOM project on phone and laptop

We are really excited that Lushai Auckland’s Matt Gould has been appointed a Better by Design Design Coach. This means that through New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Matt and the other design coaches will be teaching New Zealand businesses how design thinking and processes can be used to build real value into their organisations.

Better by design are, in their own words:
‘ … a specialist group within New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand’s national economic development agency, based in Auckland.
We help companies increase their international competitiveness by integrating design principles right across their business. Our Design Integration Programme teaches design thinking and the tools of design integration to management teams through a sequence of learning activities. Companies are partnered with experts from the private sector and activities address real company challenges and opportunities.

To quote (quite liberally) from their website:

‘Successful designers have always been recognised for their sound user insights and ability to deliver creative solutions that anticipate customer needs. When businesses harness designer-like thinking across the entire business model they cultivate dynamic cultures, more desirable products and services, faster growth and passionate customers. This approach to business is called ‘design integration’.’

‘Better by Design recognises that management teams don’t just need to understand design better, they need to think and act like designers. Our Design Integration Programme helps companies use design to become more innovative, efficient and internationally competitive.’

This aligns beautifully with our own approach to design and ideas about the value of design to our clients.

For our clients this means building even more experience and capabilities into Lushai that can be used to their advantage.
As a company it gives us an opportunity to make a positive contribution to New Zealand’s economic health and diversity in a way that is consistent with our own ethos.

Lushai gets it’s teeth into Service Design

Jotted down by matt on March 25th, 2013

Global Service Design Jam Sticky Notes

New Zealand’s Global Service Design Jam participants in Auckland

Service Design is, obviously, the art and science of designing services. Humans have been designing (or at least planning) services for as long as we have been offering them. Every time we make a decision about how we will act the next time we interact with someone in providing them a service, we have embarked on designing that service.

But over recent years people’s expectations of services (and their ability to respond to poor service in very public ways) has increased dramatically and partly as a response to this user centred design methodologies traditionally found in the user experience world are now beginning to be applied to service design.

Lushai has been involved in service design regularly over recent years as a natural consequence of our strategic approach to user experience design. It was a natural step for us to apply the design methodologies we used when creating and implementing strategies for our digital products and services to a wider set of problems and opportunities. And as service design matured as a discipline we refined our approach to the point where we started to practice it outside of our traditional digital engagements.

2013 in particular has seen a significant increase on our focus on this discipline as an offering in it’s own right.
We completed completed a fascinating service design engagement with Chorus, New Zealand’s premier fibre company, and were a sponsor for New Zealand’s contribution to the Global Service Design Jam where Lushai Auckland’s Matt Gould also acted as a mentor. He has written about his experiences on his personal blog here: Matt Gould Portfolio – Global Service Design Jam. This year Matt is also involved in the new Auckland University of Technology Service Design Paper acting as a mentor and running a prototyping workshop.

Although service design as an offering is fairly new in New Zealand there is a growing appetite for it particularly as organisations who have experienced a service design program are starting to see the benefits and are spreading their experiences through their peer group. The small number of evangelists who are creating this industry are an inspiring bunch and we are very excited to be part of it.

If you’re interested in service design a very comprehensive introduction can be found on the British Design Council’s website here

New Zealand’s service design community seems to be congregating around the Big NZ Service Design Hookup group on Linkedin.

And if you have no idea at all what Service Design is you could do a lot worse than watch this.

Auckland Design Coffee Morning – 6 Months In

Jotted down by matt on October 19th, 2012

Auckland Design Coffee Morning
Imperial Lane Café
Every Tuesday 7:30am

A good idea at the time,
a surprisingly great idea 6 months on

Roughly six months ago at the UX Auckland meet up Penny Hagen from Smallfire floated the idea of a group of us meeting early in the morning for a coffee before we start our work days. We put out an open invite for anyone interested in design to join us. Of course what seems like a great idea after a couple of beers in the evening feels like a terrible idea once your alarm goes off on a freezing winter morning, but somehow a small group of us dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to our elected café. We have been meeting weekly with a diverse range of design orientated people ever since.

This has turned out to be the highlight of the Lushai Auckland week. Arriving consistently 5 minutes late to find Penny already holding the fort we hide out at the back of Imperial Lane Café and wait for our fix and to see who will turn up. Including Penny and myself we have a core group of about 6 or 7 people who are regulars and a revolving and diverse group who drop in and out depending on the week (it’s not easy to be in town at 7:30am! And I think it says something about the quality of the conversations that people so often make the effort).

A more diverse Tuesday morning

The most gratifying aspect of this meetup is the diversity of those who attend. They Include user experience types, graphic designers, photographers, researchers, graduate students, engineers, and pretty much anyone who has a link to design. They range from independent design practitioners new to New Zealand and looking to make contacts in the community to managers in large design focused organisations such as NZTE and Optimal Usability.

The coffee mornings are purposefully unstructured. There are no agendas or presentations (you even have to buy your own coffee) which means there are usually 2-3 conversations happening simultaneously molding themselves around the interests of whoever is there on the day. The result is an enjoyable, no-stress, low-commitment but surprisingly engergising start to the hardest morning of the week.

Personally, it is the broadness of the conversations I find so enjoyable, taking me out of my areas of comfort and bringing a broader perspective to whatever design issues I am wrestling with that week. Off the top of my head I remember conversations about researching how the elderly interact with robots designed to care for them, the trials and tribulations of running different size design organisations, IP issues for new products, aesthetics, collaborative design, research, service design, cycling, parenting, and always the ubiquitous discussions about design thinking.

Life outside coffee

The conversations have a life outside of the café as well. A recent result of conversations initiated at the coffee morning is the next NZ Innovation, Business & Design Thinking Drinks (As unfriendly a name to tweet about as there has ever been) where AUT design masters students will be presenting flash talks on their ideas and research.

So, hardy Aucklanders, you should come along and sup and gossip with us. I promise it will well worth your time. You can join our Meetup group, follow us on twitter @AKLDesignCoffee or just turn up.

We meet every Tuesday at Imperial Lane Cafe, someone is there from 7:30 am but people turn up when they can, and even if you don’t get there till 9 you can be pretty sure someone will still be there.

There’s also a design coffee morning in Wellington although I haven’t had the pleasure of attending one of these yet. I imagine they are similar but perhaps windier and slightly more stylish. You can find about them here.

Auckland Design Coffee Mornings

Jotted down by matt on June 26th, 2012

Kick Off Auckland Design Coffee Morning:
Imperial Lane Cafe at 7 Fort Street
at 7:30 am, Tuesday the 3rd of July

Coffee Machine

Lushai’s Matt Gould and service design force of nature Penny Hagen have started a before work coffee group in Auckland as a chance to caffeinate and have a bit of a design yarn before we all slope of off to our various places of work. There’s no agenda, we are assuming that if a bunch of people who are interested in design get together the conversation will take care of itself. It’s a great chance to meet some interesting people and start our days with a bit of a break out of our usual boxes.

You don’t need to be a designer, anyone who is interested in, purchases, consumes, or is bothered by design is welcome to attend. We are also keen not to box it into just user experience or service design. If you can drag yourself out of bed on time then the kind of design that concerns you is the kind of design we will talk about.

The kick of event is at Imperial Lane Cafe at 7 Fort Street at 7:30 am on Tuesday the 3rd of July.

If you want to attend either just turn up or even better either RSVP to our twitter (@AKLDesignCoffee), to Matt (matt@lushai.com / @mattsbrain) or Penny (@pennyHagen), or sign up on our meet up page: http://www.meetup.com/AKL-Design-Coffee-Morning/

We will also use the hash tag on twitter #aklDCM, so keep an eye out for that. Hopefully see you there!

Semi-Permanent

Jotted down by matt on May 22nd, 2012

Semi-Permanent screen shot

The Semi-Permanent conference has been a bit of an eye opener for me. Or rather it has re-enforced in stark detail to me the things that the marketing/graphic design community are good at that we in the user experience community are terrible at and the things that we are good at that they seem to struggle with. It has also re-enforced to me how stupid this gap is, how it makes all of our work much poorer than it should be.

It’s not the content of the talks at this conference that has made this evident to me but the organisation and feeling of the conference itself, as well as the way the attendees interact with it and each other.

The last conference I went to before this one was Webstock. The differences between Webstock and Semi-Permanent are subtle but really telling. Webstock nailed the overall experience, especially in terms of thinking about all the interactions outside of the lecture theater that make up a conference. They twitter stream was well organised and active, instead of tickets they had a round the neck pass with the programs printed on the back and enough information about you on the front (including twitter IDs) to facilitate conversations with people you don’t know but have things to talk about with.

The Semi-Permanent experience was slightly less holistic, more of an experience to be consumed. There was a lot of interaction with the conference, particularly the amazing twitter art project but less conversation facilitated by the conference amongst the attendees. For example they didn’t have a widely known and agreed upon hash tag, at least three being actively in operation before they displayed their preferred one on the big screen in the auditorium making it difficult initially for a back channel conversation to become coherent.

Semi-permanent, once you got in however, once you found the booth you were interested in, once you finally connected with someone, once you settled in for a talk was a little bit dazzling. The booty had a genuinely keepable book of design and art artifacts (including some from the speakers), the whole conference operated at a level of compulsive consumption that a more expansive experience like Webstock doesn’t always match. The production levels were high and they really achieved their goal of a conference focused on inspiration. Many of the speakers had a knack of taking simple ideas and presenting them in a compelling way that made them seem exciting and inspiring. Semi-Permanent made it impossible to resist engaging with ideas that weren’t actually that directly relevant to you. Webstock’s smart but occaisonaly nerdier speakers sometimes made it difficult to engage with subject matter that was directly relevant. Bear in mind I’m generalising, the two conferences have shared at least one speaker I’m aware off and there were a couple of slight fails speaker wise at Semi-Permanent this year. Overall though I would actually recommend Semi-permanent as an enjoyable experience to anyone, not just those involved in creative industries.

Webstock is my favorite of the two, it felt far more attendee orientated and also I relate to nerds. But the Semi-Permanent crowd know how to tell a story.

We all know in the user experience community that there are differences in the strengths and weaknesses of the traditional design world and ours. Webstock and Semi-Permanent embody (conveniently) a lot of those differences.

We sometimes look down on marketing companies for their cluelessness about technology and how people interact with it and how unsuccessful their attempts to use it are. And we know that they often look down at us (or more commonly have no idea we even exist apart from a notion that ‘usability’ is important but boring) and how invisible, dry and un-engaging they perceive the work we produce to be.

This gap is pointless and stupid. We often pay lip service to the importance of story and graphic design but the fact that visual design is often the last stage of our process says a lot about how much we understand the importance of how our work is experienced emotionally. When you consider that user experience is often defined as the emotional experience a user has this gap in our practice is really galling.

And I think the marketing community need to ask themselves how much they really know about how people interact with systems and technology on a psychological and behavioral level, if they know enough to design solutions that are successful when they butt heads with the messy real world with its busy lazy people. The marketing and design world is full of micro sites, Facebook pages and websites that show a shocking understanding of how people engage with technology on a behavioral level, how their interactions contribute to their overall emotional experience.

This frustrating gap was one of the reasons Lulu and I formed Lushai, we wanted to do holistically good work and break out of the silos that are still so strong in new Zealand where things are largely still divided into technology/usability and design/marketing.

A couple of other things

You would hope that Webstock would be better on the web front since that is a web dedicated conference (and to be fair, doesn’t have to tour and is a lot more expensive). But I was surprised at how many classic user experience missteps there were for Semi-Permanent on the web side. Little things like the website made you hover over pictures one by one to see who the speakers were and the program was only available on the website as a downloadable PDF.

One last really interesting difference between the two communities. The conversations in the user experience blogs and twitter streams tends towards the critical and questioning, which helps us to get better but does sometimes feel like being in a room of people all pointing at each shouting ‘Fraud! Charlatan! DEGENERATE!’. The back channel and blogs around Semi-Permanent had a more supportive narrative more along the lines of ‘I love your work. You are are a beautiful human being. Look at that face!’. It was a noticeably uncritical environment.

Which is worse I wonder.

Hello Auckland

Jotted down by matt on February 8th, 2012

2012 is off to a great start for us here at Lushai with two big developments to announce.

First of all we are proud to announce the opening of our Auckland office. Opening an office in Auckland will enable us to give our Auckland clients the attention they deserve and also widen the pool of talent we can draw on to keep up our standard of work.

Our second announcement is the appointment of a new director, Matt Gould, who will head up our Auckland branch. Matt has returned to New Zealand from a successful stint as a user experience consultant in London and brings to Lushai a wealth of experience providing user experience and strategy consulting to some of the world’s biggest brands and organisations including Tesco, The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Nomura and Societe Generale. As well as his consulting and strategy experience he brings a solid graphic design capability, helping us to towards our goal of building New Zealand’s best end to end user experience team.

To talk about Auckland projects please feel free to call Matt on 021 457 117 or email him at matt@lushai.com

Finally, both Lulu and Matt will be at webstock in Wellington this February so please feel free to bowl up and introduce yourself if you would like to discuss working with Lushai or even just to say hi.

We are expecting big changes and a large increase in our capabilities this year. Subscribe to our blog or register to get updates as we unveil our plans, other wise watch this space!