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Entries in Sketches (67)


UX Intensive Chicago 2007: Thoughts & Sketchnotes

UX Intensive: Interaction Design Sketchnotes 01

This week I attended Adaptive Path's UX Intensive: Interaction Design Workshop in Chicago. I've decided to share my thoughts on the event and my set of sketchnotes on the blog.

UX Intensive event was a 4-day series of workshops and lectures, and of those 4 days, I attended 1: Interaction Design. Here are my thoughts about that particular event:

The Speakers & Venue
Overall it was a good experience. Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox are both very smart, talented designers who know their stuff. I gleaned good ideas for tweaking my own design process, and was affirmed in the approach and process I already follow.

The Black Orchid was an OK venue. The room was relatively spacious, and the food was quite good. The tables, however, were designed for drinks while listening to jazz — not ideal for taking notes or working, and not positioned ideally for a conference. I got a bit of a cramp from sitting at an angle at my table, trying watch the speaker and take notes.

Workshop or Lecture?
UX Intensive was billed as a "workshop" even though Wednesday's Interactive Design session was actually a day-long series of lectures. Even though the topic very much interested me, by about 2pm I was having a hard time focusing, even after a second Starbucks cappuccino.

I heard from Matt and Que, 2 guys I met at my table, that Monday's Design Strategy and Tuesday's Design Research sessions were true workshops, with activities and interaction between the attendees — much different than Wednesday's lectures.

Concepts I Liked
There were many good ideas shared by Dan and Kim, some of which I'll note below:

• Research is useless in a raw, unstructured form. It's critical to filter the information and draw insights and conclusions from your research that can be applied to the project. I liked Dan's suggestion to use physical and visual representations of research, using post-it walls and drawings on various surfaces.

• Brainstorming for quantity and brainstorming in categories. Dan suggested brainstorming sprints with limited times and an emphasis on many ideas in that time. I also liked his idea of brainstorming within narrower categories, then displaying findings in a matrix or a grid.

• Failure is OK. A 50% failure rate was suggested as a good thing. I've noticed that in my sketches, the more ideas I can get through the sooner I usually find a solution. Trying out ideas that may fail, lead to a good ideas, so I find this to be very true.

• Good designers make better guesses. Intuition is important in design, and it's based on making good guesses. Dan shared principles and techniques for making better guesses and decisions.

• Living Documents. Kim Lenox talked about designing for suites and platforms, suggesting the use of living documents, sharing information and innovations, consistency and that interaction designers need to think about the integration of 3 key areas: the PC, the Internet and mobile devices.

• All products are broken. By starting with this premise, we're free to try and improve products rather than making them perfect and completely free of brokeness. Dan talked about good areas to focus on for fixes, breaking fixes down into smaller chunks, and the use of quick n' dirty wireframes with screenshots (I use this approach, and it works great!)

• Constant Communication. Use various tools such as blogs and wikis within your team, to keep communication lines open with each other, and to capture information as living documents.

View my detailed notes in my UX Intensive sketchnotes on Flickr.

I'll end this post with my thoughts on how the Design Interaction portion of the UX Intensive event could be improved:

• Call it a workshop only if it has workshop activities. I came expecting interaction and activities with my design colleagues and instead got a day of lectures. Workshop activities would have broken up the time, made it easier for me to focus on the ideas and apply them practically.

•  Add more breaks. We had breaks for lunch and for the morning and afternoon sessions, which were great. However, because of the day-long lecture format, by the afternoon I needed mini breaks in-between the individual sessions. By about 2pm I was losing focus on the topics that a few mini-breaks may have helped with.

• Show more real-world examples. We had some nice examples in the lectures by Dan and Kim, but I wanted to see more of them to illustrate the concepts presented. Having more examples might also have helped my focus in the afternoon.

• Go narrower and deeper. I think reducing quantity of material covered and focusing on deeper real-world examples, discussions on those ideas and workshop activities might improve the relevance of the information to attendees. So much info was presented, that I couldn't adequately digest, discuss or apply with those ideas to my own design practices.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to fellow designers, and might be useful to Adaptive Path in tuning and perfecting their UX Intensive series in Amsterdam in June.

Many thanks to MakaluMedia (my employer), for sending me to the event.

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Korean Soup Sketchtoon

Korean Food SketchtoonOn Wednesday I had a great visit to Chicago, for Adaptive Path's UX Intensive Interactive Design Workshop in Chicago's Old Town. I'm currently scanning in my sketch-notes from the event (which I will post tomorrow), but in the meantime I wanted to post a sketchtoon from my dinner in the evening.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Chicago with my friend Hyeon "Sean" Kim on the Amtrak Hiawatha to UX Intensive. After the event, I met Sean on the Brown line EL train at Sedgwick to Rockwell station to visit a Korean restaurant on the North side of town.

Sean had a Korean restaurant in mind, but after walking to Lawrence Avenue and searching, we realized it had closed or moved, because a new condo was sitting right at the corner where it should have been. It was actually good fortune for us to walk the neighborhood, since we came across Han Bat, a small, family-run Korean Soup restaurant, right on Lawrence Avenue.

Our Korean dinner was delicious. Sean was worried that old-school, hard-core Korean Seolleongtang soup might be too unusual for me. Now he knows I love unusual new things, including Korean soup, kim chee, pickled radishes and corn tea! :-)

The sketchtoon was created in my Moleskine sketchbook, while riding home on the EL. Sean and I contentedly recalled the details of our delicious Korean dinner. I colored this piece later on, to add just a little more detail.

Now I can't wait to try more Korean foods!

Related Links:
Drive Thru: Han Bat Review
Urban Spoon: Han Bat Info

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Doubt Sketchtoon Notes

DoubtA few weeks ago, Tom Slye, the youth director at my church gave an excellent message on doubt. He talked about what doubt is, and offered ways to think about and deal with doubt in a realistic ways.

I often take notes during messages, as it helps my mind process the words. Lately I've been toying with the idea of capturing notes in a graphical way — using typography for emphasis — to force myself to focus on the core of the talk within a limited space.

On the right is my one-page sketchtoon from Tom's talk on doubt, which I think turned out pretty well.

There are a few things I want to try on future talks, like mental imagery and drawings embedded in the text, even color if I can pick up a small set of markers or pencils that are easy to carry along with my Moleskine sketchbook.

In general, I find sketching out notes offers a different, more focused way of engaging of my whole brain, rather than just left brain.

Just yesterday I was inspired to explore this idea of sketching notes, when I came across Dave Gray's wonderful LIFT Conference sketches. His stylized sketch notes are another cool way to capture notes from a talk in a more visual way.

Here's a great talk by Dave Gray and Dana smith on Visual Thinking, with some exercises you can follow along with. Be sure to check out Dave's Visual Thinking School on Squidoo. All good stuff, check it out!

I'll post more sketch notes here as I do them, now that I'm inspired to explore this area a bit more. If you have ideas for me, leave them in the comments! :-)


Weekend Sketches

This weekend I made a conscious effort to bring my Moleskine sketchbook with me everywhere, having been challenged by Tommy Kane's Push Yourself post last week.

Below are two pieces I sketched this weekend:

Sketch 1: My son Nathan and I went to his preschool on Saturday for an Easter egg hunt. Part of the afternoon included giving the kids helium-filled balloons to bounce and chase around the church fellowship hall. The kids had such a blast — I had to try and capture Nathan's joy at play. This one was pretty quick and loose, with my focus on capturing the feeling I had, rather than being perfectly proportional.

Sketch 2: The right page was done Saturday night, after seeing the the film Peaceful Warrior. The film was a little cheesy and full of platitudes for dialogue. Still, the phrase "There are no ordinary moments" seemed to bubble up in my mind just before bed. I grabbed my sketchbook and let the idea direct my sketch, trying not to think too much about the technical details. My approach was to look at this phrase as a challenge to sketch those "un-ordinary moments" rather than lose them.

As I prepared the scan today, I realized Nathan's balloon-jumping sketch was one of those "un-ordinary moments" I'd captured Saturday morning, before the words themselves were spoken in the film, later the same evening.

Thanks Tommy for the challenge to sketch, especially when it's hard. If you're reading this post and are thinking about sketching again, or for the first time — do it! :-)


Leihu Sketch Challenge: Hot Tea Feet

Just at the end of my lunch break today, James Mathias, a fellow 9rules member designer and blogger, IM'ed a request: “What should I draw today?”

tea-feet-sm.jpgAfter a few moments pondering James' request, here's what suddenly popped out of my head:

"Hmmm... someone drinking a blazing hot cup of tea with their feet."

I have no idea where this came from — the tea part relates to having tea at my desk — but the part about someone in the sketch, drinking it with their feet (and their inevitably uncomfortable position for tea-drinking) came from who-knows-where.

I was inspired by my own weird thought, so I asked James if I could sketch the same concept and see how similar or different mine would be from his. James thought this was a good idea, so off we went. My sketch is shown here.

I decided to fully embrace the complete discomfort of someone balancing a cup, saucer and teapot of blazing hot tea on their bare feet. Why not imagine a poor guy with legs aloft, scalding tea spilling everywhere as he attempts to drink it? :-)

The drawing was done in about 5 minutes using a Faber-Castell thick-leaded pencil in a Moleskine sketchbook. I enjoyed the sense of serendipity and my self-imposed 5 minute limit, to help keep it loose.

Check out James' sketch, "The Great Tea Fiasco" on his Leihu blog, to see how very differently we interpreted the same concept.

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