Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sketch and Unite

I was listening to a lecture by Bill Buxton that he gave at the IxDA Interaction '08 conference, that I really hated missing, and it really struck home. I have the luxury/burdon that most of these things apply to directly to me and my team's process as well as the product I design. Bill talked about team unity and how sketching can be the catalyst.

THe example used was the iPod. While ease of use and design are the attributes that are given all the credit for it's success, a lot more comes into play. The interface could be better and so could the industrial design. But because these are coupled with seamless syncing, an easy way to manage music and a huge easy to use music store plus a great set of ads, the combination of everything delivers a great solution for the customer. Users don't need to turn to additional software to close the loop. The ads and price point add a level of pride of ownership.

So it turns out that as designers we alone cannot delver a product that is going to make tons of money, we need the help of the rest of the team. For the most part, this requires a CEO that is willing to rally his team together and focus them around a single idea. It requires that they understand the value of closing the loop across the various realms. As designers, we can help this process along by involving more groups in the design process. Getting the team excited about the product and selling them on the user centered goals is a start. For the appropriate stakeholders, involving them earlier in the process and having their ideas affect the product will help them take ownership.

Sketching allows you to create many ideas very quickly, at a point in the process where little money has been invested, so why not. It also leaves holes for the rest of the team to fill in. It’s not just that sketchy keeps the conversation at the right level, it also invites the team to pitch in, to be part of a great initiative. Design is not about a great designer innovating, it’s about pulling the team together to deliver a killer package.

Some of this stuff may not be mind blowing, but boiling down the pieces and putting a language around it can be very helpful when selling UNITY around the office.

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