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Machines think different

I have written about generative systems on this blog a couple of times. I think generative systems are the most fascinating thing that is happening right now from the view of the computer as a tool.

I believe they are crucial to designers or other people who like to solve problems. It will change how we think, work and make.

Creativity or creation is often about ideas, iterating, try-outs, feedback, bounce ideas, see what sticks or clicks and continue from there. It’s why we organise brainstorms, design critiques and creative sessions.

It’s why a multi disciplinaire team works and why diversity creates better products. Different views, different angles make ideas stronger. The lone inventor is romantic, but it might as well be a myth.

Generative systems are like adding this person with a completely different background to your team.

A computer is something we know as being very logical, the more examples we see how machine learning comes up with alternative solutions for existing problems, the less logical this computer seems to be.

It’s like these systems operate in a parallel universe without any of the knowledge we have. They don’t respect our rules, or don’t really care about them.

Reasoning without prior knowledge of the problem domain, but a deep understanding of the problem.

To illustrate this two examples from the past days.

This is work on “generative” drug design, which as the name implies, is trying to generate new structures rather than evaluate existing ones.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2019/09/04/has-ai-discovered-a-drug-now-guess

The first one is a proposal for a cable holder, the other one a proposal for a new drug.

Different fields, similar results.

Computers think different and by doing so they broaden how we see the world.

What makes it most awkward is that confronts us with the often self-imposed limits in our thinking and creativity.

Who’s the one being open minded?

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Design in 2019

2018 was a year with some personal changes. In November I switched jobs from KLM to head up Product Design at Takeaway.com.

In 2018 I read, discussed and talked a lot about Product Design roadmaps and Design teams. On building career paths and scaling the capability of designers within companies that are more and more driven by technology in every domain.

I believe digital design is moving through some of it break through years and how we organise as a design community, share and learn will deeply influence the future of our jobs. It’s so exciting to just look at the challenges ahead.

How the role of the designers changes/d

Agile: The agile movement pushed design towards Product Teams within companies, not just tech, but all companies dependent on tech. Let’s call it the ‘incremental movement’, which is not only for software, but also for hardware and life styles. Everything as a service, long time goals, short term plans.

Back to technology, by decentralising design it created space for centralised support functions as design system teams, design research and designOps. Moving teams in house, even for companies that exist despite of technology, not because of.

Marketing: The disconnect of Product Design from agencies and marketing departments continued. This is both good and bad.

It’s good because it helps Product Design to grow up, be independent, close to product and customers and a driver for making a better product and experience.

Agencies found new ways of operating and adding value delivering teams as a service, joint-ventures, training or some other hybrid form. It only works when you work together.

What’s bad about this disconnect is that a company is a collection of people, who all deliver value on a certain level. For a customer, product, sales and services are becoming a single thing, the experience.

What’s the difference between web and social? When is it service, marketing or sales? And who cares? The customer doesn’t, only departments do.

The companies that do well are companies that connect or integrate verticals best and are in some sense led by a clear vision or goal. Where they use customer feedback to steer. A learning system.

Integration: Marketing is becoming product, product is becoming marketing, service is product and product is service. The digital split between touch points is evaporating.

Online stores are opening retail stores, why? Because once you start integrating both online (web, app, social, smart sensors) and offline (location, experience, people) there is a lot of additional value you can deliver.

We’re moving towards a system (brand) that delivers an experience. How you organise this behind the curtains makes all the difference.

Back to design

As a result design is getting out of control of a single group. There is no single experience anymore. It’s the a collection of interactions. Beyond the control of a person or department.

A lot of people get involved in the process of design. Through design sprints, business model design or some sort of a proposition canvas. It’s based on design values.

This image by Ideo ages very well: https://twitter.com/openideo/status/747564693678587904

This is why this is such an interesting time for Design. We can be the glue, between people, business and technology and contribute on a different more strategic level in companies.

That’s why it’s about the scaling of principles. Look at the overall experience and see how something small can have a big impact.

For me it’s most like a city. What makes a great city? It’s not control. It’s culture, rules or lack of rules, opportunities, safety. No single person or organisation controls the city, everyone contributes.

The big question is. How do you build a great city?

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KLM Mobile app; growing customer satisfaction by 30%

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Up until 2018 I worked as UX Manager at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Responsible for the Mobile apps.

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“Bitcoin desperately needs design”

The IDEO futures podcast interviews Andreas Antonopoulos, author of Mastering Bitcoin.

In the interview he is talking about design methapors and the problems surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain mass-adoption right now.

It’s interesting too see that a lot of the things happening in this space are inevitable. At the same time there is still so much too gain. From a design perspective there is huge potential in this domain.

Certainly worth your time to listen if you’re into bitcoins and design.

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Notes

Micro moments

Google will not own all the micro moments, shown in the video below. Although the movement to micro interactions is happening. We need simple and frictionless interfaces. The faster and more instant services are able to interact the more there is to gain.

Google about micromoments

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Why Obama on Buzzfeed Gives a Glimp on the Future of Distributed Media

Over the last decade media has been on the disruptive frontier of digital innovation, music, video and text. In this time we all got the means in hardware and software to broadcast whatever we want when we want. Our reading behavior has shifted from publications to personalization. How does this influence the media landscape?

The White House and atomized media
In this article Steven Levy interviews Dan Pfeiffer about the White House media strategy. The article really emphazises what’s going on in the media industry and how it’s changing.

“The penetration of the traditional press was becoming significantly diminished. We were having trouble getting the message we wanted to get out, but at the same time, because of the power of social media, the messages that other people wanted to get out about us were breaking through to people.”

Dan refers to it as “the age of atomized media”. When attention is atomized. Traditional mass media is at risk of being reduced to special-interest media.

Buzzfeed
This week Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti explained at SXSW how to operate as a mass medium in this atomized media landscape. It’s all about understanding and collecting data, learning from readers behavior and making money in the proces.

Is traditional media moving towards a tipping point? Something shifts slowly for a long time, and then it topples without realizing what just happended. Companies like Buzzfeed are operating on a completely different level.

Digital native media
Journalism isn’t less relevant. Traditionally centralized outlets that guarantee reach and thus impact are losing ground much more quickly to digital native companies like Snapchat, YouTube, Buzzfeed and Vice then we probably realize.

Design for Atomized media
Personally I love this transformation. We see companies that know how to use data, engage an audience and are working to sustainable digital business models.

Since I’m a designer, I’m also looking at this from a design perspective. Software driven companies like Buzzfeed are adding a layer of complexity and designers (if I speak for myself) love more complexity. The complexer the information, the more there is a need for great design and to gain from great design.

As a designer you will probably focus more on ‘tiny interactions’ that generate relevant user-data and dashboards that allow you to turn all this data into information. It’s a shift from editorial design to the design of tools and software.

Software is eating the world. Just like any other company, being a stellar media company today, is being a great software company.


Disclaimer: for those of you who don’t know, I used to work on digital & innovation at the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant.

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A List of Digital Design Resources

I design a lot of mock-ups and prototypes for products. Sometimes visual design is part of it, often it’s not. We design a product, make a business case with the client. Test it and start developing it. Most of our products are used within companies (B2B).

Last year I’ve been also “fixing” a lot of interactive products. Apps that technically function perfectly, but aren’t living up to the expectations in usage or behavior.

My favorite tools
I completely switched from Illustrator to Sketch last year. I use Keynote a lot and Invision to share prototypes within companies. The Sketch > Dropbox > Invision workflow works really well for me.

I played with Framer and this is definitely on my list for 2015. Since smart interaction becomes more complex, dynamic and difficult to explain without making interactive demo’s.

Here are some design libraries, references or prototyping software I bookmarked, it might help you. Want to add something to this list send me a tweet @wilbertbaan

Research
Typeform (forms)
Google Forms, use this a lot for getting a lot of insights, fast
Evernote, it’s the best way to combine notes, pictures of documents and photos

Prototyping
Pixate, prototyping tool
Mockuuups, Sketch & Photoshop mockups
Artefact Cards, Small cards for drawing and prototyping
UI8 wireframe kit
Proto.io mobile prototyping tool
Keynotopia, templates

Libraries
Sketch App Sources
Flaticon, icons
Facebox, Stock Avatars of real people
Iconic, SVG icon font

For journalists
Charted, make great looking charts from Google spreadsheets
Timeline JS, create timelines

References
A Designers Guide to DPI
MaterialUp, Material Design showcases
Physics based animations by Ralph Thomas
Pttrns, iPhone and iPad user interfaces
Google Material Design introduction
Cognitive Lode, a series of tips around applying Behavior Design in your design work
Zurb design triggers, more tips applying Behavior Design
WearUI.co, examples of wearable interfaces
Pinterest, there are thousands of interface and design examples on Pinterest
Brand identity style guides, browse through a large collection of identity style guides

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Notes

The Design Industry Finds Itself Disrupted as Design Is Becoming a Crucial Part of Software Driven Businesses

In 2011 Marc Andreessen wrote his Why Software is Eating the World article on how software is becoming a crucial part in any company.

Software changed from the design of forms and objects into the design of interactive processes and systems. Design is becoming an indispensable part of the (software) system, much like the technology itself.

Orders of Design
Buchanan’s Orders of Design, also called: 2D, 3D, Proces, Purpose. Image: NirandFar

Disrupting an industry
And with every disruptive change it has an effects on the industry. The (interactive) design industry is more relevant than ever before. Changing how business is done from being bought as a service (agency model) to being internalized as part of the company.

Although this is not an overnight market change, something is changing. Design studio’s starting incubators and using their product design knowledge to kickstart startups. Or design studio’s being bought by software companies.

Design becoming an integral part of software and business and this is great for designers and for products.

Suggested readings
Wired: The Rapidly Disappearing Business of Design

PeterMe: San Francisco Design Agencies Feeling the Squeeze

Khoi Vinh: The Shift Away from Design Agencies Has Started in San Francisco

In 2013 I wrote how design is moving from the design of objects and interaction to the design of systems (in Dutch). Check Buchanan’s Orders of Design if you’re interested in this.

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Join us for Behavior Design 7, part of the Amsterdam e-week

On november 4th, we’re organizing the 7th Behavior Design meetup together with Info.nl.

We’re really excited about this event. We have a great eclectic line-up. With presentations about Behavior Design in Health, light, spatial design and government regulation.

Behavior Design 7 meetup

These broad events are usually the ones where you learn the most 😉

2 out of 3 presentations will be in English. There are still a few spots available. This meetup is part of the Amsterdam e-week.

RSVP at meetup

Speakers

Location: Somehow (Bonte Zwaan) Haparandadam 7, ground floor
Doors open: 18:30, start presentations 19:00

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Notes

The morality of the designer

Last thursday we organized the 4th Behavior Design meetup. A gathering in Amsterdam where we connect designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to share ideas and lessons about behavior design.

Who’s in control?
We touched the discussion about the implications of designing behavior without people noticing it several times. Overal people are confused about this topic.

Nir Eyal – one of the speakers – said behavior design will have a wear out effect. The same effect you notice when you look at old commercials. “Did people really believe this?”.

Behavior Design Amsterdam 4 BDAMS

Attention as a business goal
In the digital landscape the design of a digital service that forces itself into your lifestyle can be an important business goal. Digital services are often focussed on attention and engagement.

Behavior design helps these services to succeed their goals. The addictive design elements in Facebook are an important part of it’s success (“you’re tagged in a photo, want to know what’s on the picture, come and visit”).

Is this right or wrong? It’s an interesting question because you usually don’t notice behavior design. The idea is to influence your behavior without you noticing. The result is that it changes something real. It changes the choices you make or it changes how you spend your time.

Making choices
A designer has always given meaning to a product or service by it’s design. Even if it’s not intentionally. Design is about making choices and choices are as much about what you do as what you don’t.

In the end behavior design is just like any other design tool. You can use it for good or bad. Designers can have a role in pointing out where it’s being used and what for. Since if you design this stuff, you’re likely better in noticing it.

The other thing that came up in the discussion is that effect or addiction in digital products is measurable. Facebook knows what group of people is unhealthy addicted to their service. You can design behavior for this group as well.