Your Brain on Cognitive Creativity – With Illustrations

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Ever wonder what’s going inside that noggin of yours when you experience a moment of insight that leads to a creative solution? I’m familiar with creativity and exercises to get those creative juices flowing, but, until recently, I hadn’t spent much thought, or any at all really, on the cognitive neuroscience of creativity – the neural connections and mental processes that occur during a creative episode. 

Design & Development in Tandem

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I had the privilege of attending this year’s San Francisco Smashing Conference in early April where I listened to presentations from founders, designers, and front-end developers.

Smashing Magazine is a fantastic online resource for professional designers and developers. They also publish their own books and e-books, as well as host conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

5 Essential Japanese Design Principles

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Traditional Japanese residential architecture

As a designer I’ve been influenced by many people and places. British designers Peter Saville and Vaughan Oliver immediately come to mind. As well, countries like Germany and Italy have affected me. Bauhaus, Futurism, Bruno Munari, the Memphis Group, and other forms of modernism and post-modernism have widened my vision and deepened my understanding. However, the country and culture that has influenced me most is Japan. I’ve always related to its customs, design, and philosophy, which are often diametrically opposed to Western ideals. After traveling there extensively over the past 15 years I consider myself somewhat of a Japanophile and want to share 5 essential Japanese design principles that have influenced me.

Prototyping with Interface Builder

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With the acquisition of Next in 1997, a new tool was initiated into the Apple family. Originally known as an enhancement of OpenStep, called NextStep, it caught the attention of the developer community under the name of Interface Builder, as part of the XCode suite. Now about to celebrate its 20th birthday, Interface Builder represents the most powerful IDE to design user interfaces in a development suite. It doesn’t matter if you are writing an app for iOS, Cocoa, tvOS or watchOS; when carefully used, it will save you hundreds of lines of code. For this and other innumerable reasons, many developers, like myself, love this tool.

Prototyping with P5

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When I wanted to create a proof of a concept project for one of the game ideas I had, I found many tools and gaming frameworks. However, most of them had a steep learning curve which required a significant time investment before the game could be played. Then I discovered P5, a Javascript library inspired by the Processing language, which made it very easy to get started.

UX Sketches: When to Share and When to Keep Them to Yourself

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Why Sketch?

One of the great things about Grio is that designers and developers often work together on projects. We have lunch together and tell each other jokes while collaborating to solve challenging problems brought to us by our clients. Some projects come with constraints that force the team to be savvy in the way we produce deliverables. As a result, sketches and sketched wireframes are often a suggested deliverable.

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide

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I’ve recently made it one of my goals to learn more about UX and design.  To that end, I read a book that was highly recommended by our Grio designers, The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide, by Lean Buley. The book is written for people who are or want to be UX professionals, with a focus on those who either the only person in their company working on UX or who are in some way UX evangelists in their organizations.  Although the intended audience of the book is UX professionals, there were also number of tips and ideas that a company like Grio can find useful.  On many projects, especially when budgets and time are tight, Grio takes on the role of UX evangelist for our clients.

Seeing With the Eye Vs. the Mind

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I recently gave a tech talk at Grio on the topic of Designing With The Photo: Cropping Methods and Other Techniques. One aspect of this talk covered different ways of seeing photos. I want to share this part of my talk in this blog post.

CSS Positioning 101

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Positioning an element on a web page can be tricky. You can specify the position of an element using left, right, top and bottom properties. But these properties will not work if the position value is not properly set. The positioning properties also display differently depending on the positioning value.

Expanding our Design Toolbox with Lean UX

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Recently Grio’s design team has adopted Lean UX that enabled us to expand our design toolbox in the following ways:

  • Conduct in-depth Discovery and Research to define the products
  • Inject a user-centric design focus
  • Incorporate “deep collaboration” internally, as well as with our clients