The Magic of Agile and the Design Process

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Over the past year, I’ve been working as the solo designer embedded in a team of mostly developers and one project manager designing web experiences and publishing software for one of our clients, Rivals.com. We follow an agile methodology and work hard to effectively and efficiently integrate design. This blog post breaks down the major phases of our process and illustrates, at a high level, the role of design throughout.

Developing for Web Accessibility

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HTML 5 represented in American Sign Language

When developing websites it is important to consider your audience and how they interact with your application. This can be even more significant for a person with disabilities. Even the most stunning visual presentation can lose its value when the content cannot be interpreted by an individual due to, for example, a learning disability or difficulty seeing. Therefore, it is important, when doing any development or design, we do not dismiss the 1 in 5 people that would benefit on an accessible web.

Design Synthesis: What it is and How to Apply it to a Design Process

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Design Synthesis

The Magical Part of Design

There has been a few occasions over the course of my design career when I’m asked how I come up with a design solution and know it’s the right one. I’ve never had a satisfactory answer for this because it’s too complex to explain succinctly, so I usually answer with something as simple as “creativity and validation,” which is not far off the mark, but rather vague. A better answer, at least in the context of product, software, and website design is synthesis, which is the magical part of design that uses insights from data to generate epiphanies and inform design decisions.

What is Pixel Density and Why Should You Care?

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Pixel density is the number of pixels per linear physical unit. Measured in pixels per inch (ppi or dpi). Pixel density and resolution are technically the same thing, but often people say “resolution” to mean “pixel count,” a related metric:

count = densityH * width * densityV * height

When other things are held constant:

Designing Cross-Cultural User Experiences

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Upon hearing the term cross-cultural UX design most people might be unsure what it means and find it a mouthful to say. As the name suggests, cross-cultural UX design is when designers create a product that can be an enjoyable user experience for all people of all countries and cultures throughout the world. It makes sense that this is a relatively unknown and new term as it has only been used in recent years as our world experiences rapid globalization. Below I put together 6 major points to take into consideration when designing cross-cultural user experiences.

The Internet of Things: Future Trends and UX Considerations

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What does the IoT look like in 5, 10, or 25 years?
We’re living in a very exciting time for developments in technology, and there are always new stories of huge funding rounds going to companies bringing us closer to the future we’ve all imagined. Looking at the graphic below we can begin to make some sense of the different forces driving these technologies. Why do certain startups land billion dollar rounds while others slowly emerge out of academic labs? Why do some emerging technologies mature rapidly, while other languish? What differentiates a breakout crowdfunding campaign from a VC darling?

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.