Design is a fascinating industry to be in. It can also be an extremely confusing industry for clients. Is it what you see? Is it what you feel?
I had the pleasure of leading a Design workshop on the 30th March. It was part of a series of workshops run by Ladies Learning Code that focuses on encouraging design and development skills. A lot of the workshops are predominantly focused on picking up hard skills – things like learning a programming language, or technology framework. This actually presented a bit of a conundrum for me: If a design workshop is to follow the same pattern, what are the tools that should be taught?
It turns out that probably none should be taught. At least, not until you know why you should use any particular tool. So I alway find it helpful to explain just what is/is not User Experience Design, and there is probably no better concise explanation than a slide from this presentation by Whitney Hess:
10 points that are to-the-point. It helpfully explains that design is not only the veneer, the surface, what you see, but the architecture and emotional connection from the moment you set eyes on a product or service, all the way through using and experiencing it, to the point when you recommend (or not recommend!) it to other people. If you skip all this, and build a product or service, then from a business perspective it is really at your peril…
After rolling through some of these key points about UX with the workshop, the conversations switched from ‘tool talk’ to ‘enablers of good design’. Suddenly the group was eager to learn more, more about business value, more about crafting and guiding emotion. More about people. More about culture.
More about how Design is in actuality, the rigorous humanization of technology.
Written By Kharis O’Connell
(Welcome to “Short Sighted”, a monthly entry to the Global Mechanic blog that will highlight both new and classic animated shorts that have caught our attention through style or story… enjoy! -B)
Even though it was released over two years ago, Second Wind still garners attention for creator Ian Worrel. Rightfully so – the two main characters of the short, an old man and his giant cat, were classically animated using good ol’ pencil and paper… a rarity these days.
Notice the rough, down-to-earth texture that pencil gives our protagonists. Frames are missing in some of their movements, most likely due to time/budgetary constraints (this was Worrel’s graduation project from CalArts). But it allows us an immediate visual juxtaposition to the smooth CGI of the half-mechanical, half-magical creature they find.
That’s something lost in modern mainstream animation – even 2D work is mostly made on computers now.
Combine that with a concise, original narrative that’s told over only six and a half minutes… it’s no wonder Worrel found work on projects like Gravity Falls and Paranorman. Looking forward to seeing his future projects!
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CMF funds groundbreaking wine-tasting app
DECEMBER 4, 2012 – Vancouver, BC – Rachis Inc. uncorked champagne last week at their Gastown studio to celebrate the Canada Media Fund award for Rachis, their multi-platform wine tasting system. Rachis (pronounced RACK-iss, from the latin meaning ‘spine’, or the branched stems which gives a grape bunch its shape) is already shaking up the wine world by demystifying the tasting experience and democratizing wine ratings.
Rachis is an accessible digital method to explore the world of wine based on a vast range of preferences. A fundamental re-conception of conventional evaluation, Rachis has the rigour to become the professional wine tasting standard. At the same time, its ease of use and depth welcome enthusiasts to develop their tasting acumen and vocabulary.
“There is not a single app aimed at the wine tasting novice, and Rachis will fill that gap,” said Isabelle Lesschaeve, PhD, Director-Consumer Insights and Product Innovation, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. “The visual interface makes an otherwise orthodox tasting process engaging, entertaining and pleasurable.”
Rachis Inc., is a joint venture between local creative company Global Mechanic Media and Saskatoon-based sommelier and tourism industry consultant Tim Ouellette. The principals—oenophiles themselves—conceived Rachis to create a comprehensive, sharable database of all the wines in the world.
“We’re really excited about what this means for wine lovers”, said Tim Ouellette, Rachis Founder. “We will finally have a place to go to get recommendations based on our individual palettes, with a point system that actually gives useful information.”
“It’s perfect timing for this. Wine science, technology and design have all come together to create something really valuable for both wine consumers and the wine industry.” said Bruce Alcock, Founder and Creative Director at Global Mechanic.
Tina Ouellette, Executive Producer at Global Mechanic Media: “The real value in this project lies in the database. Yes, you’ll be able to taste wine like a professional; yes, you’ll be able to save and browse your opinions. But having access to wine evaluations with real depth and consistency – as opposed to the blogs and simplified star-rating approaches out there—then being able to share and compare them? It’s the massive reach of social media, but with a base of immensely rich data under it. We believe it will change the culture of wine. Globally.”
Rachis will launch in the fall of 2013 in both English and French. Other language versions will follow as wine drinkers enter their tasting notes and scores all over the world. Cheers to that!
For more information visit: rach.is and follow @RachisWine on Twitter.
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We do a lot of work with Denim & Steel, also known as Todd Seiling and Tylor Sherman. They’re really smart guys, so it’s no wonder their latest venture Available, is gaining traction all over the inter-webs just a week from launching. I sat down with them to see what all the hype was about.
Available launched last week and it’s already gaining traction. How do you think it’s going so far?
Denim & Steel: We’re really pleased. Just by word of mouth we’re seeing independent contractors, startups and agencies jumping in to use it for both finding work and hiring local talent. People not only tune into the novelty but seem to appreciate a job board that literally takes seconds to post. It’s very heartening.
Explain in your own words, what is it and why should we care about it?
Denim & Steel: Available is a minimalist job-board for Vancouver-based tech and design freelancers and the agencies who hire them. It works by communicating with @heyavailable on Twitter, and postings appear on heyavailable.com. That architecture lets people post without accounts or profile forms, but doesn’t sacrifice their personality in the process of answering what you need to know about working together: who are you, what can you do, where are you and are you available. It’s got hustle, it’s friendly, it takes literally seconds to use and its the first of its kind; just the sort of thing we like to build.
Why Twitter instead of just a website?
Denim & Steel: Traditional job boards have their place, but we’ve always found work through simple conversation. We wanted something online that reflected that natural interaction, to make it as easy as saying ‘hey I’m available for work, this is what I do and you know where to find me.’ Or on the flip side, ‘hey I’m looking to hire someone who does this and this, if you’re interested this is where to find me.’
Working through Twitter lets people use essential information that they already have in place: name, picture, homepage link and a point of contact. It also lets us avoid spam without having to force people to create yet another account or even to authorize us with their Twitter account. And of course, it helps us keep some limits on things: we’re interested in local so it only works if your Twitter location is set to ‘Vancouver’, and you have to say your bit in less than 140 characters. That lets us bypass all sorts of inconvenience: people just talk to the service and it flows from there.
Any early success stories you can share?
Denim & Steel: Not directly, but we’ve seen people connecting like this:
Hey @kaler did I read on @heyavailable that you’re willing to devote 10hrs/wk on an iOS project? We should chat w/ @jack_newton. https://twitter.com/oldgravy/statuses/255754954545971200
And that’s exactly what Available is for: starting the conversation.
We’ve also got a lineup of local sponsors helping us keep the service free. To keep things sane at the start we limited Available to Vancouver, but are looking for ways to bring it to other cities under the banner of local agencies in those places. If we can make that happen we think we’ll be hearing how Available has made finding work and talent easier in no time.
Anything else we can look forward to from you guys?
Denim & Steel: We’re heading back into a full load of client work until at least the new year and look forward to showing off what we’re doing with them. There’s no shortage of ideas for independent projects, but for now we’ll spend any spare hours on refining heyavailable.com. Every new thing takes some nurturing, and we want this to work for people doing good work.
Thanks a lot, guys! Looking forward to watching it fly.
Looking over Zac Green's shoulder, as he animates
As promised, here’s Part 2 (read Part 1) of my interview with Zachary Green and Kyle Sharpe, two recent graduates of CNA’s Digital Animation program in Stephenville, NF. Find out about what it’s been like for Zac and Kyle to work on Impromptu and in animation in general.