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Entries in Sketchnotes (78)

Tuesday
Oct302007

SEED Conference Thoughts & Sketchnotes

SEED Conference: Sketchnotes 17Whew! I'm back from Monday's excellent SEED Conference in Chicago.

What a great event! The Illinois Institute of Technology and Rem Koolhaas' Tribune Student Center building, was an incredibly cool venue. Funky lines and the architectural space provided a unique backdrop for the sessions of the day.

Carlos Segura
All of the sessions were very good, though the most interesting for me as a designer was hearing Carlos Segura speak. He talked about taking risks and thinking deeper for clients and going beyond only what they ask to figuring out what they really need.

I was especially inspired by the Corbis Stock Photo case study, where Carlos' team changed the stock agency's overall approach to consider their clients (designers) and in doing so, changed an entire industry.

Segura also stressed keeping small, working on projects and with clients you really want to work with. Good work comes from these situations, and by staying small you aren't constantly taking jobs you dislike just to keep everyone busy. In fact, this turned into a thread that connected all of the talks of the day.

Jason Fried
Jason spoke very briefly, so he could open the floor for lots of Q&A time. He recommended these 5 items:

  • Watch out for red flags
  • Keep your team small
  • Make sure your staff has alone time
  • Keep meetings short and focused
  • Make tiny decisions instead of massive ones

Jason also recommended a small team size, though his perspective focused a little more on communication issues with small vs. large teams and scaling projects to fit your team size rather than scaling your team to fit scope.

I resonated most with Jason's call for alone time. I work remotely, but even though I work alone, there is always a temptation towards IM, email or phone calls, and I find that blocking out chunks of alone time makes a difference. I know this may be a tough one for the multi-tasking generation, but I think it really can help your focus.

Jim Coudal
I loved Jim Coudal's candor and relaxed approach, and especially his openness in sharing his firm's successes and failures. He shared several stories and films, and drew ideas from them. My take away:

  • Be curious
  • Choose people on their taste
  • Don't be afraid to fail

Jim talked about his curiosity and how many of the things he's been curious about have turned into business ideas. Curiosity helps with client work, since you can get to speed quickly and often see a problem from a different perspective than the client.

He also talked about identifying people and hiring them on taste over technical talent. Not untalented people with taste, but rather if you had to choose between two people and one had good taste, go with taste over talent.

Coudal suggested that failures are OK. They're learning experiences which often create opportunities that might never have happened otherwise. You have to learn to identify and capitalize on unexpected opportunities that often grow out of failures.

Discussion Session: Segura, Fried & Coudal
The most interesting of the sessions was the final hour or so of open discussion time with Carlos, Jason and Jim at the front of the room. They fielded all sorts of questions from attendees about their ideas. Questions about small teams, marketing, simplicity, community, building products while still managing client work, questions about creating apps that rely solely on other platorms (Facebook), and more.

Of all the sessions, this was the one I and the 4 other guys I met, thought was the best of all. Why? Because they had a chance to respond immediately and candidly to random questions. I also enjoyed hearing them discuss and explore ideas in depth that hadn't come out in their talks. Finally, it was interesting to hear their similarity of thought and subtle differences of approach and opinion on the same questions.

Sketchnotes
As mentioned last week, I took my pocket Moleskine sketchbook along and captured 17 pages of sketchnotes, from the entire day's talks and discussions, including Carlos Segura, Jason Fried, Edward Lifson and Jim Coudal.

I didn't try to capture everything said during yeterday's event, since others were probably doing that.

Instead, I took time to listen and analyze the talks, distilling and capturing the main ideas I was hearing. By doing a bit of on-the-fly processing, it forced me to boil down what was being said, then express it in ink on the page in a way that would be meaningful to me and to others who might read my sketchnotes later.

To make the notes interesting, I played with typography and images with the sketchnotes, to provide a little texture and depth beyond pages of gray text.

SEED Sketchnotes on Coudal Partners
Seems my notes have struck a chord. Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners emailed about my sketchnotes on Flickr and made mention in their Fresh Signals feed. Thanks Jim!

SEED Sketchnotes on Signal vs. Noise
Awesome! 37signals noticed them too: Mike Rohde's SEED Conference 2007 sketchbook notes. Thanks Matt!

Pretty cool to have speakers and sponsors mention notes taken during the event. :-)

Overall, SEED Conference was well worth the time and price to attend.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday
Jul162007

Back from Belize with Sketchnotes

Whew! I'm back from my service trip to Belize — I had an AMAZING time!

Belize Sketchbook Pages 9 & 10

The country was wild and beautiful, the people of Belize friendly and hospitable and the food was so very delicious. We all had a wonderful week.

Our Meadowbrook team was just incredible. Every student and leader stepped up when it counted and gave of themselves every single day. It was exciting sharing Jesus' love with the people of St. Margaret's Village.

The staff of Praying Pelican Missions, who managed our trip, did a superb job providing for our team. I have to send special thanks to Matt, Tatiana, Laura, Bree and John for a great week in Belize!

I have many stories to share: wild bus rides on the Hummingbird Highway, tons of village kids waiting for our bus to arrive every day, a visit with a Mennonite family, sharing their home-made pineapple juice, and discovering that the Internet reaches to remote Belizean villages. Those stories will come as I catch up at home and work.

Meanwhile, I'd like to share a set of Belize Sketchnotes. I'd hoped to do more sketching in Belize, but there just wasn't time in such a compressed week.

Thanks to all who prayed for us — we felt your prayers in Belize.

Related Links
Belize Sketchtoons Slideshow
Departing for Belize
Serving in Belize: 2007

Friday
Apr272007

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.

Suggestions
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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