Design Literacy or the establishment of this discipline, is a designation that has become a typical expression within the arsenal of industry-laden jargon for Designers these days (on par with the lexicon which includes, Design Thinking, Omnichannel, Multi-Platform, among a few others). It’s typically associated with the process of educating and disseminating topics associated with the Design Discipline across an Organization, specifically across different teams, of different natures (including, but not limited to, Product, Development, Sales, Customer Support, among many others). The intent of this article, is to provide some reflection points, and hopefully some informed recommendations/suggestions on how to define a process by which Design Literacy is effectively done, based on past experiences, studying and observations.
Design Literacy. Wikipedia has a lengthy definition of Literacy, but I’ll quote this snippet as a form of clarification for the meaning of the word itself: “literacy is an ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” I first came to understand Design Literacy during my own Academic studies and post-college training, which I managed to deftly apply in one of my first jobs as an Educator/Teacher of Multimedia Programs and subsequently, diverse Design Software training programs. As a fundamental part of the curriculum of the courses, it was my responsibility to provide context to the Design Discipline, funneling the focus from Design as a broad subject, to Interactive Media in particular (which were primarily the courses I taught). The curriculum for these courses was rich and quite substantial, but one of the key aspects to them, was the creation of a common denominator level of understanding into the context of Design (Interactive Design), and how that was essentially being distilled into the program that was being taught. This required an obvious process of mapping out classes, and their respective content, thoroughly (both theoretical and practical aspects), always keeping in mind, that the information being shared, was aimed at an eclectic group of attendees, with different levels of knowledge towards the Design discipline in general, and the tools that were part of the courses in specific. The reason I’m outlining these past occurrences, is solely with the intent of building this analogy: context creation, education, mapping out Interactive Design training sessions, is in reality quite similar to the process that Designers currently take upon themselves in order to educate their peers in the organizations they’re a part of. I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a wide variety of companies, from large Fortune 500 to incredibly dynamic, and vastly smaller, startups, each one of them possessed of different levels of education when it came to Design, Designer roles, expected outcomes from Design-related initiatives, collaboration venues, communication processes, among many other Design related items. I worked with organizations where Design had already claimed its place, and started a process of disseminating its processes, its relationship building venues, and even in those situations, the Design Literacy topic, was always something being fine tuned and finessed. The way by which Designers educated their peers on the discipline, was in the case of these organizations, part of semi-established process, which included the utilization of tools such as Design Systems, solution driven Design Thinking processes, Design Sprints methodologies, and a variety of tools which essentially, documented and consequently, informed team members of the philosophy of the organization towards Design, and how to best utilize the outputs of that same discipline. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I worked with organizations where Design Literacy was barely existing. Design was in these cases, primarily contemplated as a service driven discipline, without much reach or depth, in terms of influence, impactful outcomes and overall healthy partnerships with other groups within the organization. In these cases, the challenge was, and has been, to create context into what the Design discipline is, how it integrates and ingratiates itself within the tissue of an organization, how it can revolutionize the narrative of Products, Solutions and Relationships with Users/Clients. Design Literacy is something that, much like any topic these days related to technology in particular, and society in general, is constantly evolving. Designers have the responsibility and duty to keep abreast of what is happening not only within their organization, but also in the sector they work in, the larger macro-economic sense of the reality of the world, the social responsibility associated with Product Design, with inclusivity, among many other factors, which permeate Design Literacy constantly, making it evolve continuously.
Reality Check. Establishing Design Literacy in an organization can be challenging, and time consuming. It’s a necessary investment, one that produces results across a variety of subjects, which include, more relevant and accomplished solutions, effective team integration (which as a side note, also implies swifter on boarding processes), brand awareness, among many others. Below are some points worth considering when tackling an endeavor such as this one.
1.Transparency — I’ve addressed the topic of Transparency in the past, but I’d like to reinstate that it’s a cornerstone of this endeavor. Design Literacy is all about being transparent and communicating with different teams, on a variety of topics, which includes definition of processes (specifically, what is Design Thinking, Design Sprints, Workshops, Research, User Interviews, Usability Testing, and the list goes on), team integration, how problems are defined, expected outcomes (of different natures, including for instance, artifacts produced by Design teams), assessing friction points (both external and internal), defining retrospective analysis (reflection on how processes have taken place and measuring their outcomes), and this list also goes on. Without transparency, there’s less ability for participation, for collaboration, for questioning, which dampens the process, warping the solutions that are created.
2.Communicate and Educate — Designers have to understand, now more than ever before, that their role has a large component tied to education, on top of the catalyst and alchemist ones. In order to be able to bring out the best of each team one collaborates with, everyone has to understand the journey they’re embarking on, and the language everyone is speaking. This means for Designers, detailing what Design Thinking processes are, discoverability processes, research processes (also topics I’ve written about previously), all neatly tied with effective documentation tactics. By documenting, by reinforcing collaboration, seeking participation, communicating expectations and requirements, Designers can successfully start educating and disseminating what Literacy is about, and how it informs the hopeful, successful outcomes of the initiatives taking place.
3.Listen — Literacy will never be achieved if Designers don’t listen. And listening comes from multiple sources, namely from clients, from internal stakeholders, peers, anyone that comes in contact with these professionals. Education is a relationship, and as such, it’s a communication, an interchangeable process by which information gets passed around, where Designers transmit, but also absorb knowledge about the tissue of the Organization, teams, and their users. The education process, the literacy that is accomplished, should never be done in a siloed context — it’s an eminently social process which requires Designers to understand the context where the organization lies, and consequently, where they’re inserted.
4.Outcomes — The output of Design Literacy can take a variety of shapes. As mentioned previously, being able to document and share what defines Design, its language, its vocabulary, its methods, is fundamental to this type of initiative. Design Systems, Style Guides, Design GuideBooks, Confluence Pages, Wiki Pages, all these different artifacts which are produced these days, are a manifestation of how this Design Literacy takes place. These are but a small outcome of this bigger endeavor, one that as the previous points urge and highlight, should be democratized across the entire organization.
Another Reality Check. Being a Designer these days is an enticing opportunity. It allows for professionals on this field to become aware of so many topics, not just for the sake of a trend or a superficial gimmick. Professionals are now empowered to understand more about the organization where they’re embedded, about the users they’re relating to, in essence, becoming powerful storytellers. These stories can only be told effectively, if we’re all understanding the plot and where we expect to be led. And nothing helps more in that path definition, than Design Literacy.
I’ll conclude with the following quote, from William Butler Yeats on the topic of education, which is one of the topics of this article:
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
The 1980s have gone down in history as the decade of excess (as if the gas-guzzling V8 cars of the 1970s or the rise of fast fashion in the 1990s never happened). But the 2010s have put it all to shame.
This was the decade where convenience crushed everything else. Prime two-day shipping became not a luxury, but a way of life—that would give way to one-day shipping, then same-day shipping. Grubhub, Doordash, and Uber Eats became the ubiquitous, on-demand service to have any delicacy delivered. We had the explosion of smartphones, built from rare, mined materials. These were the supercomputers in our pockets, but due to planned obsolescence, fundamental fragility, or just the promise of “thinner, faster, better,” they still mandated upgrades every 12 to 24 months (no matter the consequence). Over the past decade, so many of the consequences of consumption became invisible: We forget that every search we make or song we stream has a cost: The cloud is really a server farm that needs impossible amounts of energy—though that did nothing to quell the cryptocurrency boom.
None of this hit home until the last days of 2019, when I reached out to experts—who specialize in everything from packaged food to airline travel to architecture—asking them to share their predictions for their industries in 2030. And while I said nothing about the environment, it was top of mind for almost everyone.
How we’ll eat in 2030
“The products we choose to consume are more important than the clothes we wear or the cars we drive. People don’t post pictures of their cars, but they post pictures of their food regularly. They want their friends to know two things: 1) what new thing they have discovered, and 2) what the decision to consume it says about them. This spirit of sharing and discovery has made people more adventurous, but where it was once about a specific in-restaurant dining experience, it now extends to everyday consumption of snacks and beverages.
“Thankfully, advancements in e-commerce infrastructure have allowed our industry to make more product varieties available to consumers.
“The tension we will face going forward is balancing consumer demand for endless options with the inconvenience of having to actually make choices. Choices can sometimes create friction in the purchasing process. We will have to design and deliver indispensable offerings and provide consumers with the knowledge and guidance to select products that best meet their needs.
“Related: How will consumers balance the struggles of prioritizing sustainability with the need for convenience? Our consumers’ need for convenience is real, and it’s not going away—that’s why delivery is on the rise. However, convenience creates waste: bags, boxes, plasticware. When my team is innovating at PepsiCo, sustainability is one of the top considerations. In the future, packaging must be more responsible while still being portable.” —Dena vonWerssowetz, senior marketing director for global beverages, PepsiCo
How we’ll travel in 2030
“With absolute certainty, climate change will be the defining force in the next decade for all of us. There will be a growing earnestness to rethink how we live, work, and move around in response to conspicuous signals that we’re in trouble, from everyday tidal flooding to increasingly bizarre weather. Despite these alarm bells, the challenge ahead for designers will be to reconcile these necessary changes with our penchant for greed and laziness as consumers. This can be done, though, and here are two opportunities that fit this bill.
“First, not moving around as we much as we do now will become a focus, especially for private and public employers compelled to curb business travel in the interest of reducing their carbon footprints. The design opportunity here is to create all-new ways of replicating in-person collaborations. Forget videoconferencing, which is a cave person version of what’s ahead. Instead, there will be breakthroughs in extended reality, robotics, and smart surfaces that let us transcend geography.
“Second, we’ll have to be a lot more efficient when we are moving around. All transportation will become intermodal (meaning it orchestrates handshakes with other modalities) and multifunctional (meaning it does more than just one thing). Jammed city infrastructures will not tolerate one-dimensional vehicles that just deliver people or just deliver freight. This will require new vehicle form factors that are born of co-designing. Earlier in the decade, vehicles that are actually designed for both ride-sharing and delivering food and parcels will emerge. Later on, we’ll see wilder mashups between cars and non-automotive brands that offer entirely new mobility experiences.” —Devin Liddell, principal futurist, Teague
How we’ll value companies in 2030
“Whether it’s CEOs declaring the need to redefine capitalism or the climate movement sparked by Greta Thunberg, there is a reexamination of fundamentals afoot: of the place and purpose of governments, businesses, and individuals in society. As we look at what’s ahead, we’re seeing a groundswell of people—enabled by digital—exerting pressure on organizations to redefine their success in ways other than financial growth alone. People want their purchases to reflect the social, environmental, and political causes they care about. After a long streak of pure profit-chasing, this is an epoch-defining opportunity for companies to reimagine their business models, services, and products around new definitions of value—to switch from digital transformation to purpose-led transformation.
“We’ll see more leaders espouse purpose—and then get caught up because it’s not aligned with some element of their operation. This reality is going to be really hard to resolve because as we transition, everyone is open to critique about something. Social media may not make plastic or dig up minerals that cannot be renewed, but it is open to criticism that it is causing social and political distress. Retailers may shift to ethically sourced products, but ship from halfway across the planet. The important thing is to start—and that means with metrics. French corporate services giant Sodexo, with a number-driven emphasis on cutting food waste, is a great example. Could they reinvent everything they do? Probably. Should they start somewhere (and they have)? Yes. Ethical paralysis is not an option and will be called out. We believe it is better to be on the journey and admit you have a distance to go than burying your head. There’s a cynical game being played of looking at percentages as they are applied to contributors to global warming. There is always a sector more responsible than yours for CO2 emissions for example. But if we all take that approach, then nothing changes.
“Over the next few years the idea of ‘consumer’ will come to feel really backward as a label—like the idea of ‘servant’ is pretty awkward in the 21st century. As causes grow as a motivation for purchase, we will see companies try to grow a direct link between the purpose of their employees and that of their customers, and to grow that as a direct connection. If you look at Bo, a new U.K. bank from RBS—they are explicitly trying to help their customers develop better money habits—as they say ‘you do a little, we do a little.’ It’s not hard to imagine a next step that connects their employees directly to customer outcomes.
“As people begin to shift from a ‘me’ to ‘we’ mindset, tomorrow’s success stories will belong to organizations that design with all life in mind. As designers, we must begin to address people as part of a greater ecosystem, embracing a broader, more holistic systems mindset that starts to make the traditional user-centered design approach sound way too self-centered.” —Mark Curtis, cofounder and chief client officer, Fjord
How we’ll build in 2030
“In the next decade I believe experiential design will play a greater role and impact lives as people interact with the built environment. With the launch of 5G technology, the ability to create and transmit massive amounts of new content while we’re in constant motion and engaging—in real time—with the built environment will be a major disrupter in communities. Experiential design’s elevation to customizable and personal experiences that are built around individual behaviors and preferences will impact daily actions from a healthcare doctor visit, to educational experiences at two- and four-year institutions, to even vacations.
“Imagine if you’re a history buff, standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty. You’re presented—based on your profile and interests—information as to how Lady Liberty was created and built. Then you’re connected to details about Ellis Island regarding immigrant passengers, maybe even about your ancestors and the ships they arrived on. Instead of going back and researching, the information is curated and accessible in real time. Our engagement impact within the built world will be defined not only by what we see and feel, but with tailored experiences and information.
“I believe the next decade will couple and improve these individual experiences with a greater focus on personalized health. With companies designing more high-tech wearables that gauge and record data, knowledge focused on healthy lifestyle and well-being choices will shape physical spaces, from college recreation spaces to athletic performance and research facilities, where the built and virtual environments become more integrated and seamless.” —Bradley Lukanic, CEO, CannonDesign
How nothing might change by 2030
“While ‘tech’ boosters, hypemongers, and Davos dwellers continue to proclaim that we are living in a moment of technological ‘revolution,’ economists, historians, and other observers have been telling a different story over the last decade: that we have been experiencing an extended period of slow economic and productivity growth since the 1970s. One possibility is that this period of slow growth will keep on going for many years, a potential some economists are, in fact, predicting. Overhyped and buzzword-laden technologies—like today’s ubiquitous ‘AI’—will continue to underperform on expectations and incremental change will remain the norm.
“Part of what makes meaningful growth so hard is that we underestimate the amount of significant change that has taken place over the last 150 years. Uber and Lyft provide some improvement over taxis, but that advance is not as great as the ones humans experienced earlier through the invention of automobiles, concrete and asphalt roads, and, well, taxi companies themselves. The difficulty in creating deep change is reflected in companies failing to produce profits. Lyft and, especially, Uber have struggled to be profitable, but so have WeWork, Tesla, Twitter, Peloton, and several other hyped firms. Moreover, research productivity in general has decreased over the last 50 years—that is, it takes more human effort and money to produce new research—perhaps in part, because, as some argue, all of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of technological and scientific change has been plucked. While boosters will always argue that some revolutionary technology, be it nanotechnology or true AI, is just over the horizon, there’s really no reason to go along with such predictions or assume that our extended period of slow growth will end soon.
“In this possible low growth future, our infrastructure will continue to degrade, and we will persist in our mastery of not acting to stop global climate change. Designers might capitalize on this moment by creating cheap solutions for consumers to adapt to their ever-warming world. But designers might also find their work increasingly casualized and precarious, as employers turn to temp labor and Uber-like apps that define designers as ‘partners,’ not employees. Jobs will come and go, but wages will remain stagnant. This isn’t your grandparents’ dystopia, a Blade Runner-esque hellscape of skyscrapers, androids, and flying cars, but rather something not much different than what we live in now, just continuing to molder.” —Lee Vinsel, assistant professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech
Welcome to 2020, the dawn of the new decade. and us designers need to stay on top of the latest design trends and be ready to adapt and evolve our style through time.
These are design trends curated for you by our Vectornator designers:
Create the trend, don’t follow it
First tip, make sure to always keep a twist of your style and art in your creations; don’t let any design trend distract your inner artist from creating what’s in your head.
After all, rules are made to be broken, so do not consider these trends as a necessity.
As 2020 signals a new decade, we can expect designers to start exploring new areas in design, breaking rules and reaching new grounds. Here is what we think the main trend will be in 2020: Thinking outside the box.
Future is now:
Although it feels like 2015 was yesterday, arriving to 2020 seems too hard to believe. Designers can overshoot the future is now theme and use forward thinking, complex designs that signal: “The future is today”.
For example: 3D designs, material rendering, Purposeful 3d animations are all going to be big trends this year. This will depict real life materials and objects in your art. And there’s nothing that screams future more than realistic materials, liquids, fabrics and crazy renders that feel so good to look at.
“This is the year where 3D objects will be stamped everywhere onto our 2D Designs”
With less time spent looking at images on average everyday and new design trends will aim to catch the user’s attention, to be more straightforward and eye-catchy to the user.
With that, hero images will again be present this year. Humans decode images faster than text and this will help direct the user’s short attention span to what’s important. It can also highlight and direct users to call to action buttons and increase overall engagement.
With hero images in the spotlight again, digital illustrations will be more popular than ever. So get Vectornator on your iPad and prepare to draw a lot of beautiful, modern illustrations for your next website or design project to catch eyes and get the retention you need.
Influenced by Culture:
To be more specific, Internet culture. Yes, Internet culture will impact design this year. your design decisions and next poster idea need to consider the current internet environment and see what’s trending. The rise of memes surely became a worldwide staple and many industries have jumped on the hype train and used Internet (meme) culture to their own benefit.
The concept of meme advertising has already been adopted by many brands across the internet. With each brand twitter account tweeting memes that get far more interaction than a regular ad or post they used to make. For example, Elon Musk or Netflix’s twitter account use memes to promote and push their social influence even further.
Memes can certainly be a designer’s nightmare as most of them break so many design rules that make my eyes burn.
Yes. They are cheap, streamlined and fast to make. However, these meme formats, the typography, and imagery got so familiar that it will start influencing today’s design.
So go ahead and duck-tape a banana to a wall and you got yourself a new poster for your next art gallery.
With that, we predict fast, meme-inspired designs to start showing up in 2020. as they have proven to be effective in marketing. This also means that design trends will be fast, and ever-changing every few weeks. As most memes have short life spans than regular design trends.
Last year, Internet culture made its way to fashion design and dominated fashion week and it’s only a matter of time for memes to take over graphic design culture.
Black is the new black.
Dark themes started to prevail right after software companies started adapting dark UI modes last year, with Apple’s iOS13, macOS Mojave, and Google’s Android 10, most software platforms have joined the dark side. Giving the user the option to choose which side to take. Adaptive lighting modes started trending last year. But now with iOS13, expect dark-mode to be a default thing to include in your next user interface design.
Bezels be gone!
Evolution in hardware can be the main factor in software evolution. If we look at the progress and product design trends of devices released in the past year, we notice that most phones have lost their borders and thick bezels. iPhones have no buttons anymore and android phones even lost the notch with cameras that pop up from behind.
Apple’s new 16inch Macbook gets one inch closer to a full-screen design by shredding the bezels and increasing real estate.
In result, on screen device designs and mockups should move towards full-screen smartphones that are bezel-free, edge to edge and future-looking. Hiding these borders and visuals like the notch will put more focus on the interface that is presented in the mockup and will have a cleaner, more minimal look.
And this concludes our small list of design trends that we think you should consider following or checking out in 2020.
Design is an ever-evolving field. So much so that it’s hard to keep track of design job titles. Originally, product designers designed industrial products while graphic designers focused on print as a medium.
As a creative field, Design found its Analogy with architecture; it was required to be functional, usable, and predictable, while also being beautiful, emotional, and novel. Designers considered business priorities, user needs, and material constraints amongst other factors, and designed the solutions. These factors (or requirements) remained constant while the designers channeled their creativity to come up with innovative and perfectionist solutions for the target market.
The present: Create for the personas
In the digital world, Design borrowed tenets from the previous era but with one fundamental difference: the solution became a living entity. The digital “Product” of today constantly learns about the user’s understanding of itself and evolves as it learns. The requirement comes in batches and continuously builds on top of the existing solution.
Markers in the product give a quantitative assessment of the user’s behavior; We track metrics such as number of sessions, frequency of sessions, time of the day when sessions happen, activation through notification vs organic, session duration, most used buttons (or features), click order per screen, time spent per screen, scrolls per screen, number of list items consumed per screen, etc. A measure of each metric highlights high-level patterns and preferences of the users. I personally prefer percentile (80th) over averages to eliminate outliers. Eg: A “clickstream” visualization here shows patterns for user clicks in a session, we also used a similar visualization for “timestream” which showed time spent patterns in a session.
Now, in a data-informed environment, these numbers drive product and design decisions and experiments. These numbers impact product, product impacts user behavior, user behavior impacts the numbers, and hence product evolution is an ongoing exercise always.
Since we identify high-level patterns through these metrics, we are essentially designing for Personas. For example, if many of the users come online after 10 pm regularly, we will notice that behavior will probably include a night-mode feature. These users will likely be teenagers (hypothetically), so we are designing for the teenage persona in this case.
Also, even before starting to design a product, our ethnographic studies focus on bucketing users in personas. Hence, both our qualitative and quantitative indicators of the day help us in designing for these Personas.
The Future: Create for the individuals
You must have had some magical experiences with a product. Some feature, some text, or some graphic which really made you feel like the product really got you. I remember Google Home picked out the top 10 restaurants in my area for my anniversary. And Cleartrip highlighted a local holiday for me while making a flight booking for the said date.
What if magical experiences were a norm?
Personalization in content is ubiquitous these days. Netflix, TikTok, Instagram (discover), Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the spooky internet ads are examples of content based on personalized interests. But now, we’re on the verge of elevating it to the product itself. For example, with respect to visual design, here’s an AI churning out a whopping 400 million visual design permutations.
Design’s objective has always been about designing for users a.k.a User-Centric-Design. Techniques such as ethnographic studies, customer journey maps, validation exercises, surveys, product metrics, etc are all measures to understand the user better. However, the qualitative ones do not scale and the quantitative ones enable patterns at average (or percentile) level and not individuals.
Metaphorize AI as a childhood friend, one who understands you, and grows old with you.
In an AI-powered world, we can scale Empathy. We can understand individuals amongst data and truly design User-Centered solutions.
How AI changes things:
- Understand individuals at scale: AI empowers data analysts with better and deeper insights. We are able to understand more complex data and at a more micro level. We can profile users more accurately based on demonstrated behavior. Instead of focussing on users as a % of metrics (or funnel), we can reliably analyze overlapping journeys (click-flows) across the product.
- Identify opportunities: AI also transforms the field from being reinforcing tool i.e. answering what is being asked, to being a generative one i.e. highlighting the patterns and aberrations itself. Think of it as conducting ethnographic research instead of a feedback survey, the former is more prone to identifying new ideas and open new possibilities.
- Predict and personalize features: As we better understand and match user journeys at scale, we can predict user behavior and accordingly prioritize features. This is similar to how we personalize a content feed like Netflix. For example, users that are predicted to transact might see cart as the main feature of a product and users that are predicted to engage might see content/community as a prioritized feature.
- Optimize permutations: For features that are fed to the users, experimentation with flows will become automated. For example, if we have a checkout flow, say we have the option to use a single-screen long-form, or step-by-step full-screen flow, or a bottom-sheet flow; experimenting and matching the options to user profiles will be easier.
- New interfaces: AI will enable newer ways to interact with users. At present, conversational interfaces such as voice assistants and chatbots are the best examples.
How designers can adapt:
- Think at systems-level: Only data cannot do the job, interpreting it in the context of the user’s environment makes it relevant for the users. Think at the systems level and identify the core problems. Recent design titles such as systems designer and customer experience designer already reflect this change.
- Design the architecture: Imagine each user having their own version of a product but it’s still the same product at its core. For example, “stories” as a product is architecturally the same for WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and Insta. Though it varies in detail on various platforms, it’s unlike other content entities such as a post, a message or a movie. Focus on designing the architecture that suits the product flexibility will be key to a designer’s success.
- Design language system with flows: We have evolved from visual-style guides to design language systems. While the former focuses on creating options for visual artifacts the later focusses on creating UX components (and coding them as well). In the coming times, we should further include options for end-to-end flows as well in design systems. For example, a search flow can start with typing in one option, listing in another. AI can help us pick an option as per user profile and fit it in the architecture defined earlier.
- Design for delight: The better we understand user profile, the easier it will be to match delightful features to the users. In the ideation phase, it will be good to understand user personas and journey maps deeply and then come up with myopic but delightful solutions. AI can help us scale the same as we become more personalized with features.
- Integration with tech: a deeper understanding of tech and product analytics will be required to fully use tech capabilities and to analyze the infinite live permutations of a product correctly. Designers will gain by acquiring skills in coding and instrumentation.
- Set the ethics: Think of AI as a person, it can be a good one or a bad one. At present, there are enough examples of dark UX in present-day, none more infamous than Privacy-Zuckering. AI is more susceptible to exploitation than any other tech. It is up to us to set the personality and the ethics for the system. Digital trust will be a primary driver for retaining new users, especially in emerging markets. It is our responsibility, as owners of the experience, to keep it as transparent, honest and predictable as possible. Trust, once broken, cannot be regained. Design for long-term relationships, not for short-term gains.
Data will always be reactive, and (ethnographic) research will always be proactive. Use research to innovate and data to amplify.
Can AI replace designers? I believe, as long as humans are the users, we will need the human dimension on the creation side as well. As mentioned at the start, design is an evolving field, and it is quite stubborn at coming up with creative ways to keep itself relevant. Maybe we can expect a new title soon: AIXD!
This article was originally published on UX Collection by Sumit Dager, a design leader, and entrepreneur. Dager helps to grow startups transition into a stable product and an innovation culture. He’s interested in creating consumer products for emerging markets and accessible innovations for disabled users.
Typography accounts for 90% of website structure. The primary explanation that individuals visit a website is to understand the content, whether this implies finding information about the organization or perusing your substance. The words on your website matter, along these lines, how you present these words should hold equal importance.
Every website must pass on the goal and emotion of the business to its visitors, and in an advanced world, the most straightforward approach to do that is through the typeface. Typography is close to home and can be utilized as an expansion of a brand. It is essential to pick a sort face that is fitting for your industry, but likewise, one that praises your marking and image.
Typography maintains consistency all through a website, giving it a progressively professional tasteful. Necessarily, it can make your substance appealing and impacts the readability of your site, which all checks towards a positive client experience.
Why Typeface and Font Choice is Important
The explanation that typeface and font decision is so vital for your image or organization is that you want your fonts to bring out positive emotions and provide simple readability simultaneously.
With those two criteria driving your font decision just as your font pairing, how about we examine some other important factors you’ll want to consider.
Besides considering the emotions and readability of your font, the following factor to think about when picking fonts is your industry.
For what reason is your industry so important? It will dictate whether you pick a fun, easygoing font or a progressively genuine, professional one.
If you’re a professional web and graphic design company, you should pick a cutting edge, increasingly professional font. If you’re an online retailer focusing on young people, an easygoing, fun font may superbly suit your image.
Fun Versus Professional Fonts
How about we inspect a couple of guides to help pass on the meaning of what a fun font is versus a professional one to help direct you in your choice.
Take the Pinterest logo, for instance – it is an increasingly easygoing, scripted font that passes on friendship and fun, which are the ideal emotions that the image sticking site likely wants to inspire from their female, imaginative crowd.
Presently, how about we investigate the logo for an increasingly good organization, such as the accompanying IT managed services organization as referenced before.
This organization utilizes a progressively direct, present-day font that brings out less emotion and passes on an increasingly professional tone, the ideal feel for an IT managed service organization.
Pairing Visually Appealing Fonts for Your Website
You may be asking why you need more than one font for your image and website.
Furthermore, you may not require one, contingent upon your industry or if your website and advertising materials are more images driven than content-driven, for example, on online retailer that spotlights on product image versus portrayals.
But, by including a subsequent font, it frequently helps to provide visual signs to what information the content offers and simple readability.
In the occurrences where two fonts are utilized, companies typically use one font for headers and the other for body duplicate.
In the model here, the feature uses a serif font and the group of content, or passage beneath the feature, a sans serif font.
If a third font is utilized, it may be used in subheaders or a CTA (Call To Action) button to visually sign the peruser that there is a connect to more information.
Basically, by utilizing different fonts, you can make pages with a great arrangement of duplicate all the more visually appealing and intelligible and is essentially an aftereffect of good typography.
Presently, where to start while picking a font pairing?
The good news is there is a simple general guideline with regards to a font that can assist you with managing you in your choice; pick a serif and a sans serif font.
A sans serif font is a font without the utilization of a serif, which is a stroke added to each character or number.
To help demonstrate what stroke is and how to identify a serif font versus a sans serif font, the font pair.co site combines the fonts.
As you can envision, on occasions where you have a great arrangement of duplicate, a good font pairing improves readability and provides that visual signal for the kind of information that is inside the content.
If you don’t know where to start, your visual originator or the firm you’re working with shouldg have the option to help around there with a couple of proposals.
Resources to Help You Choose the Right Typography
If you’d feel progressively good doing some research yourself, this post by Visme is a great spot to begin.
They provide a few images that play with various font mixes, font-weight – which relates to letter thickness or intensity – or sizes.
If you’re to a higher degree a visual individual, here are two or three other great resources to assist you with getting moving:
Font Squirrel is a great website that you can visit to download fonts that you need or quest for fonts dependent on basic pursuit descriptors, similar to grunge or exquisite. You can likewise see classifications like “what’s going on” or “hot,” which are additionally useful to look at because there are consistently fonts that are in vogue, new, or well known for specific ventures.
Google Fonts is another excellent spot to begin that enables you to look by criteria like serif, sans serif, or penmanship. It provides a visual display of every font, including what every font resembles in a section, in the letters in order, or as a numeral. You can choose a couple of fonts that you like and view them combined.
Are you experiencing full wanderlust with a side order of burnout in the first week of the new year? Has the post-holiday gloom got you down? Are you starting a new decade in your office, wondering if you’ll make it to the next? Would you love to see a bit of the world before you’re too old to enjoy it?
Here’s the good (great) news: one of the best things about being a web professional is that we can pretty much work from anywhere — as long as there is solid Wi-Fi.
So, with this unmatched sense of utility, it begs the question: why not take advantage of that rare freedom?
A change of scenery can mean a lot, especially if you’re starting to feel worn-out in your current situation. Novelty has been highlighted as one of the key features needed to keep people motivated and engaged in their work. And, if novelty can’t easily be found in your career — it can definitely be found in your environment; that’s where travel gets its appeal.
Short-term vacations are often not enough to diminish pent up stress and tick that novelty box. It’s no secret that, upon return, the recuperative benefits of vacation quickly give way to the same level of work burnout experienced before the trip, regardless of whether you’re working for yourself or someone else. The better way to deal with this situation is to figure out how to integrate the short-term novelty and relaxation of going on vacation into an everyday practice. Meditation is the oft-cited means to achieve this end. However, if you haven’t quite yet reached the ability to meditatively separate yourself from all your worldly desires and anxieties like a zenmaster — a cowork/travel programme might be a more attainable solution.
There are a wide variety of ways to get you the environmental novelty you need (perhaps without leaving the friendly confines of your own country), and still allow you to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
From snazzy offices in Silicon Valley to cozy hideaways located mere steps away from the beaches of Phuket, the opportunities are indeed endless. Here are just a few good options available to you:
Work Abroad Programmes
Sometimes the idea of going abroad by yourself seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Navigating more complex items like long-term housing, tours to remote locations, extended visa arrangements, or cultivating a new support network, can feel quite daunting.
Over the years, numerous work abroad programmes have popped up to help you get all your arrangements in order. Similar to the structure of study abroad programmes for university students, these programmes help you minimise planning and organisational stress, and maximise your interaction with the local scene. Instead of being study-based, work abroad programmes typically consist of a mix of coworking and structured outings/itineraries to help you build a balance between work and travel.
From flights and accommodations to travel activities and professional events, Remote Year is a programme which does it all. Choose from 4, 6 or 12 month options which include extended stays in spectacular spots like Cape Town, Medellín, Split, Chiang Mai, and many other less conventional destinations.
If you’re looking for a more laid back type of programme, WiFi Tribe is exactly what it says on the tin, a tribe. Every 4 weeks, programme participants move to a new location where they will be provided with accommodations and guaranteed speedy wi-fi (with backups). Its low cost is due to the travel activities only being those that the tribe decides upon — and even those are entirely optional. There are also discounts for going to multiple “chapters” or locations. 2020 destinations include Florionapolis, Lima, Bocas Del Toro, Laz Pas, and many more.
Venture With Impact
Helping others can be a big boost to your system when you’re feeling low and burnt-out. Use your powers for good with Venture With Impact’s skills-based volunteering programme. Assist local non-profits using the expertise you’ve garnered from your career or elsewhere. They offer 30-day retreats to locations like Chiang Mai, Lisbon, Medellín, and San Miguel de Allende. Relax, enjoy the local life, and participate in some do-goodery, all without quitting your “day job”.
Be Unsettled was created to help liberate individuals from stagnation in their work/life habits. What better way to do that than by setting them up in a beautiful new environment like Playa Santana or Buenos Aires? Featuring goal sessions, workshops, and weekend adventures — all with the flexibility to do what you want, when you want to do it. Guests are also allowed for a period of up to 5 days — which is a huge perk if you have friends wanting to tag along for a bit.
Looking for a little more than just travel/work? There are programmes which offer professional development training in addition to the typical work abroad lifestyle. These mostly include the general “accommodation and planned tours” type setup, but also add in a healthy, yet relaxed dose of lectures, 1-on-1 mentoring, and hands-on experiences geared toward helping you further your career or business.
Hacker Paradise prides itself on giving you a taste of everything — but at your own pace, and in balance with your workload. HP’s workshop highlights include “How to not do crappy design” and “Marketing and advertising for dummies”. The programme also includes its fair share of travel and social opportunities as well. Locations rotate, and upcoming destinations in 2020 include Athens, Bali, and Montevideo.
Based in San Francisco, Startup Basecamp is a Silicon Valley focused coworking/coliving space that functions like a short-term startup incubator. With professional development offerings geared towards tech professionals, this could be a place to finally launch that great idea you’ve been mulling over in the back of your head.
Curious about moving to a full-time remote lifestyle? Wifly Nomad’s programme not only sets up prime accommodations in an excellent tropical location (Bali), but it also teaches you how to jumpstart and thrive as a remote worker. Through teachings and workshops on the digital nomad lifestyle, their programmes are set to help you navigate the transition to exclusively working remotely.
Cowork Paradise is an elite, 3-week entrepreneurial retreat programme set in Bali for individuals raking in $250k per annum. This programme is structured to get high-powered entrepreneurs out of their stagnated comfort zones, encouraging development and networking with other successful higher-ups.
For those of us who wish for more autonomy, or who have a bit more confidence in solo treking, there are coworking/coliving opportunities available in just about every type of destination imaginable. These offer a (sometimes) cheaper, less regimented alternative to the more structured work abroad programmes.
Cowork/colive spaces provide longer-term housing in an environment conducive to networking, often still being excellent resources for local travel related questions and supplying great Wi-Fi to boot. This gives you the perfect opportunity to work and socialise with other motivated and members of the remote workforce — only with a more freestyle approach to travel and daily itineraries. These types of spaces may also be better options if you happen to have a partner or significant other who is down for the adventure:
Selina is a hospitality network full of beautiful boutique accommodations that double as coworking/community centers across the world. Set up in fantastic locations in cities like Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Cartagena, Puerto Viejo, and Antigua, Selina is there to help you find a deeper connection with the world.
Boasting about its “strong and battle-tested internet connection” and sturdy Eames chairs, Roam is a collection of high-end and artistically designed cowork/colive spaces featured in top cities like Tokyo, London, and Miami. Roam’s offerings include private rooms with private bathrooms at a reasonable price, while still encouraging community and connection with its shared spaces and events.
A quaint and cozy space, Stash is located just minutes from the beach in Phuket, Thailand. With friendly staff ready to help you get into the groove of the Thai lifestyle, this accommodation also doubles as a stylish and peaceful work/coliving environment. Besides their extremely reasonable monthly stay prices of around €447 (approximately $478) for a private room and free scooter pickups, the benefits of Stash also include petting their resident cat free of charge. (Technically, it’s listed as priceless, which I assume means free.)
Sun and Co
Located in Javea, Spain, Sun and Co focuses on boosting your productivity and your connections with its high speed internet and curated shared spaces. The choice for team retreats of companies like Google and Shopify, this coliving facility offers a lovely living space in a gorgeous area. Just a walk from breathtaking Spanish beaches, Sun and Co features the peak of coastal coliving in Spain.
Playworking is a beautifully inspired coliving space in peaceful Montenegro, located quite close to restaurants, shops, and the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. With a variety of cozy and open-air shared work spaces, as well as their aesthetic, yet reasonable rooms, it could serve as the perfect backdrop to achieve both the relaxation you need to recharge — and the motivation you need to get work done.
A space to reconnect with people, land, and purpose — Hub Fuerteventura is a cozy, tropical, coliving haven in the Canary Islands. Offerings include bicycles for use during your stay, as well as weekly meetups and free surf lessons.
An oasis just off the coast of Spain, Mallorca and The Balearic Islands where BednDesk is situated, is the ideal environment for cycling, hiking, and so much more. Alternate between lounging at the beach and working in their inviting shared workspace. Enjoy the Meditteranean lifestyle from a new perspective.
With multiple locations across the USA, primarily in California, and in international cities like Bali, San Juan, Tulum, and Biarritz — Outsite offers modern, yet homey spaces that promote that beach-work, relax-play dichotomy. Their spaces are orchestrated to encourage social interaction, while also giving you the freedom and space to do your own thing.
Featured image via Unsplash.
Some designers and laypeople seem to think that Lean UX and Minimum Viable Products are an outcome. Instead, they are processes that when done well, result in the best possible products while saving UX designers time and resources. The end products serve business needs while also being optimal solutions to the problems customers present.
The Lean UX process (or Lean UX Loop, as it’s often called) is not unlike the scientific method—observation, forming a hypothesis, testing and collecting data, analyzing the results, and then accepting or rejecting the hypothesis. In Lean UX, the steps roughly correlate to Ideas (observation and hypothesis), Build and Code (testing), Measure and Data (collecting data), and Learn (analyzing results and accepting or rejecting the hypothesis). Sometimes, the Lean UX process is summed up more succinctly as Think, Make, Check.
Like the scientific method, the Lean UX process is a circular one until reaching the desired outcome. Unlike the scientific method, however, designers can start wherever they choose on the Lean UX Loop (most start new projects with either learning or ideas but work on established products that can more easily begin anywhere).
Minimum viable products fit well into the Lean UX methodology. The general MVP methodology is generally summed up as Build (or Prototype), Measure, Learn (and then repeat based on those learnings). It’s easy to see how those steps correlate to the Lean UX loop (especially the succinct version).
Some designers confuse MVPs with proofs of concept or prototypes (the first step of the MVP process is sometimes referred to as prototyping, which could explain that confusion). But MVPs are complete products that are ready for production, and Lean UX MVPs are no different. A Lean UX MVP should be a fully functional product that people can use.
Stop Thinking About the Final Product
When a UX designer looks at a problem, it can be tempting to jump ahead and think about the final product that would potentially solve the issue. Getting to a final, finished product is generally the goal, so why not start there?
The issue with starting with the finished product and working backward is that it stifles innovation and creativity. There might be a dozen different ways to solve a user’s problem. Designers who begin by thinking about the final result might miss the majority of these potential solutions and come up with one that falls short.
When designers let go of any preconceived notions about what solution will best serve the people using their product, they can come up with more innovative ideas. In his book Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience, Jeff Gothelf states that Lean UX “is about bringing the true nature of a product to light faster.” It’s a collaborative process that focuses on “building a shared understanding of the actual product experience being designed.”
That process requires designers to not only understand the needs of the people they’re trying to serve but also the business needs before they start. When embarking on a Lean UX design project, this understanding forms the basis for all of the other steps in the design process.
Focus on User Needs
When a designer approaches a problem, they often think they have a thorough grasp of what that problem is. For example, if the idea is to create a to-do list app, then the designer may assume that users need a solution that lets them add tasks to a list and nothing more. Their initial Lean UX MVP would focus on creating an app that provides that functionality.
But is that the best solution to the actual problem? People don’t use to-do apps solely to add tasks to a list. They use them because they need to keep their lives organized. They don’t want to forget to do something important. They’re afraid if they don’t keep a list, they’ll overlook things.
A list format may not be the best way for people to keep track of what they need to do. But if a designer goes into the project thinking, “I need to create an app for to-do lists,” they may never come across an idea that would better serve the people they’re designing for. By focusing on what the user needs and forgetting their own assumptions, the designer can find a solution that solves the real problem at hand, rather than just adding yet another to-do list app to the other options out there.
Designers should aim to challenge their assumptions about what they think a user needs. People often don’t even know what they need to solve their problems. So how can designers assume they know best before they’ve done user research and sought to understand what customers are struggling with?
One way to think about customer needs is to focus on their pain point. A pain point is the aspect of the problem that causes the most distress to the customer. When designers focus on that, they can get to the root of the issue faster and find unique solutions. For the to-do list app example, the pain point is likely worrying about forgetting something important or having to waste mental energy keeping track of things.
Once a designer has an idea how to solve a problem, it’s essential they test that solution with real people. They shouldn’t waste too much time trying to create a finished product from the get-go. Collecting feedback from people on the initial idea, before investing a ton of time and resources on a polished product, makes changing the details, scope, or even the entire premise much easier.
The first iteration could be something as simple as a slide deck or semi-functional mockup. Something that lets people get a general idea of the experience offered is a useful precursor to creating an actual Lean UX MVP.
These early pre-MVPs can also be useful for mapping out user journeys. Once some initial feedback is gathered, designers can get a better sense of what people really want in a product. That’s invaluable for mapping out how to get them from point A (their problem) to point B (the ideal solution). Designers may find that there are more steps required along that map than they initially thought, or less.
Designers may even find the original problem they were trying to solve wasn’t the actual problem. In the to-do list app, for example, the designer may find that a solution that helps people feel less stressed about the things they need to do is a more valuable end product than something that keeps their tasks organized. Without actively seeking feedback and creating new iterations that aim to solve the real problem, the designer may never discover that solution.
Think About Necessary Features
When a designer begins a new project, they often start with a list of features the product needs to have. A list of possible features to include isn’t a bad place to start. But it should be compared to what people express they actually want from a product.
Most people, however, won’t know what features they want. They’ll focus on the benefits instead. It’s the designer’s job to figure out what features provide those benefits. And there may be multiple ways to provide each benefit.
Writing down a list of all the possible features that address the benefits people seek is a valuable part of the design process. The list should include more than just the “good” ideas, though. Bad ideas can also serve an important purpose—they can lead to good ideas.
Writing down all the ideas that come to mind is especially helpful when a group is brainstorming. One person will throw out a bad idea, and it sparks a better idea for someone else. Even when brainstorming solo, the “bad” ideas can lead designers to travel down different paths and come up with innovative solutions.
Once a designer has this big list of ideas, they can start to narrow it down to which ones are technically feasible given the project resources and best address the customer’s pain points. From there, building an MVP and testing with potential users can begin.
Building an Initial Lean UX MVP
Thinking and coming up with ideas is the first step to creating a Lean UX MVP. But building real products should quickly follow. Both Lean UX and the MVP process emphasize building actual, usable products.
It’s important to try not to stuff every feature possible into this initial build phase. Instead, think about the minimum number of features that will alleviate the user’s most critical pain point. The first design should focus on what the UX designer thinks will be the features with the highest ROI. Whether that turns out to be true or not will be revealed once people start using the product.
Iteration Is Key
Collecting qualitative feedback and quantitative data from people is useless unless the designer acts on the feedback to create better iterations of the product. Remember, Lean UX MVPs are a process, not a result. And one of the most significant parts of that process is creating new, improved iterations of the product to better address people’s needs.
Each iteration of an MVP should be done based on feedback collected from actual users. That means each iteration should be tested, either in a production environment or by a smaller group of people. It makes sense in many cases to test with a small group first and then, based on how those people respond, test on a larger production scale.
With small groups, designers should collect qualitative feedback. Ask people questions about the product to collect information about what works and what doesn’t, as well as ideas for improvements or alternatives.
In a production environment, designers should focus more on quantitative feedback (things like bounce rates, time on page, and cart abandonment in the case of eCommerce sites). This quantitative feedback can tell designers whether the new iteration is moving in the right direction, i.e., are those numbers improving or getting worse?
When Is a Lean UX MVP Done?
When can a Lean UX MVP be considered “done” can be a tricky question for designers who are new to the process (and sometimes even for seasoned pros). It could come after five iterations or 50. It depends on the complexity of the product, the quality of the user testing and feedback collected, and how many iterations show no noticeable improvements. In many cases, there’s never a point where every person using a product is 100% satisfied with the outcome. It’s up to the product team to decide what level of dissatisfaction is acceptable given their business goals.
Designers and stakeholders should come up with criteria for when a project is “done” (or at least ready for a public release without ongoing testing and new iterations). These criteria could include things like:
- A higher customer conversion rate
- More time spent on the site
- A higher quality or satisfaction score from customers
- Fewer customer complaints
- An increase in customers or users
- More newsletter signups
The exact criteria and goals should be discussed at the beginning of the project and reviewed regularly. As iterations change according to customer feedback and user testing, the goals may need to change along with them.
In truth, a product is rarely ever “done.” Even after a final product release, it’s likely that things will change over the following months or years. Customer and business needs change. Design trends and new technologies emerge. Any of these things may prompt a necessary evolution of the design in the future. Designers and product owners should keep these things in mind and be prepared to launch a new Lean UX MVP cycle as necessary.
Lean UX MVPs have a lot of advantages over other product design methods. When UX designers and product owners want to create a product that best serves customers while also making the design cycle more efficient, it’s often the best choice.
The Lean UX MVP process—from ideas to building a functional prototype to measuring and learning from real people—can be implemented over and over again to create an optimal product. The process itself is simple and straightforward, and works well whether a designer is working solo or with a team.
The resulting product will address people’s pain points while also creating a pleasurable experience. Building products using the Lean UX MVP methodology gives designers a clean roadmap for the entire process. From ideation through iterations based on real customer feedback, this method makes design more efficient and less wasteful.
• • •
Further reading on the Toptal Design Blog:
A comprehensive list for designers who are looking for design events, meetups, and conferences to attend this year.
A great way of learning more about User Experience and getting in touch with professionals who share the same passion as you is to attend UX Conferences and UX Events happening every year around the globe.
Charge your smartphone, bring some business cards in your pocket, and consider adding one of these design events to your 2020 itinerary.
If there’s any event missing from the list, please add a response at the end of this article. Don’t forget to follow UX Collective on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter for more UX content throughout the year.
January 6-8, 2020 ✈ Sanibel Island, Florida, United States
January 16, 2020 ✈ San Francisco, California, United States
January 17-26, 2020 ✈ Toronto, Canada
January 18, 2020 ✈ Washington DC, United States
January 23-24, 2020 ✈ Tokyo, Chiyoda, Japan
January 23, 2020 ✈ Nottingham, United Kingdom
January 29-31, 2020 ✈ Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
February 5-6, 2020 ✈ Atlanta, Georgia, United States
February 5-7, 2020 ✈ Melbourne, Australia
February 7-20, 2020 ✈ Milan, Italy
February 8, 2020 ✈ Chandigarh, India
February 9-13, 2020 ✈ Sydney, Australia
February 11-13, 2020 ✈ Victoria Park, Australia
February 18, 2020 ✈ Istanbul, Turkey
February 20-21, 2020 ✈ Amsterdam, Netherlands
February 21-22, 2020 ✈ Hong Kong, China
February 23-24, 2020 ✈ Rishon Lezion, Israel
February 24-26, 2020 ✈ Denver, Colorado, United States
February 28, 2020 ✈ St. Petersburg, Russia
February 29-March 1, 2020 ✈ Milan, Italy
March 2-3, 2020 ✈ London, England
March 3-5, 2020 ✈ Seattle, Washington, United States
March 4-6, 2020 ✈ Edinburgh, Scotland
March 4-6, 2020 ✈ San Francisco, California, United States
March 10-13, 2020 ✈ Venice, Italy
March 11-12, 2020 ✈ Melbourne, Australia
March 12-13, 2020 ✈ Manchester, United Kingdom
March 12, 2020 ✈ Manchester, United Kingdom
March 13-22, 2020 ✈ Austin, Texas, United States
March 14-18, 2020 ✈ Vancouver, Canada
March 18-20, 2020 ✈ Bergen, Norway
March 18-20, 2020 ✈ Melbourne, Australia
March 19-20, 2020 ✈ Perth, Australia
March 24, 2020 ✈ Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
March 30-April 1, 2020 ✈ New York City, New York, United States
March 30-31, 2020 ✈ Copenhagen, Denmark
March 30-April 1, 2020 ✈ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
April 1-3, 2020 ✈ New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
April 2-4, 2020 ✈ Columbus, Georgia, United States
April 3-5, 2020 ✈ Dublin, Ireland
April 6-8, 2020 ✈ Breda, The Netherlands
April 8-9, 2020 ✈ Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, United States
April 10, 2020 ✈ Tokyo, Japan
April 13-15, 2020 ✈ Washington DC, United States
April 14–17, 2020 ✈ Austin, Texas, United States
April 14-15, 2020 ✈ Boston, Massachusetts, United States
April 14-18, 2020 ✈ New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
April 16-17, 2020 ✈ Toronto, Canada
April 20-21, 2020 ✈ Singapore
April 21-22, 2020 ✈ San Francisco, California, United States
April 22-24, 2020 ✈ London, United Kingdom
April 23-25, 2020 ✈ Barcelona, Spain
April 25-30, 2020 ✈ Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
April 27-29, 2020 ✈ Düsseldorf, Germany
April 27-29, 2020 ✈ Stratford, United Kingdom
May 4-6, 2020 ✈ Cape Town, South Africa
May 6-8, 2020 ✈ Stockholm, Sweden
May 11-13, 2020 ✈ Seattle, Washington, United States
May 13, 2020 ✈ Manchester, United Kingdom
May 14, 2020 ✈ Montreal, Canada
May 15-16, 2020 ✈ Porto Alegre, Brazil
May 17-18, 2020 ✈ Tel Aviv, Israel
May 17-20, 2020 ✈ Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
May 19-22, 2020 ✈ Lisbon, Portugal
May 20-22, 2020 ✈ Kraków, Poland
May 20-21, 2020 ✈ London, United Kingdom
May 20-21, 2020 ✈ London, United Kingdom
May 27-29, 2020 ✈ London, United Kingdom
May 28-29, 2020 ✈ Manchester, United Kingdom
May 28-29, 2020 ✈ Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
May 30-31, 2020 ✈ Berlin, Germany
June 1-4, 2020 ✈ Bydgoszcz, Poland
June 1-7, 2020 ✈ Ontario, Canada
June 3-5, 2020 ✈ Toronto, Canada
June 3-5, 2020 ✈ New York City, New York, United States
June 6, 2020 ✈ Bratislava, Slovakia
June 9-10, 2020 ✈ Austin, Texas, United States
June 10-12, 2020 ✈ San Francisco, California, United States
June 10-12, 2020 ✈ Edinburgh, Scotland
June 10-11, 2020 ✈ Madrid, Spain
June 12, 2020 ✈ Bristol, United Kingdom
June 17-19, 2020 ✈ Barcelona, Spain
June 18-19, 2020 ✈ Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 23-25, 2020 ✈ Baltimore, Maryland, United States
June 24-26, 2020 ✈ Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 26, 2020 ✈ London, United Kingdom
June 29-July 1, 2020 ✈ Boston, Massachusetts, United States
June 29-July 1, 2020 ✈ Amsterdam, Netherlands
July 19-24, 2020 ✈ Copenhagen, Denmark
July 21-23, 2020 ✈ Boston, Massachusetts, United States
August 17-19, 2020 ✈ Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
August 24-27, 2020 ✈ Berlin, Germany
August 25-28, 2020 ✈ Melbourne, Australia
September 7-8, 2020 ✈ Freiburg, Germany
September 17-18, 2020 ✈ Frankfurt, Germany
September 23-24, 2020 ✈ Copenhagen, Denmark
October 5-7, 2020 ✈ Orlando, Florida, United States
October 5-8, 2020 ✈ Oldenburg, Germany
October 8, 2020 ✈ Birmingham, United Kingdom
October 8-9, 2020 ✈ Dublin, Ireland
October 14-16, 2020 ✈ Mannheim, Germany
October 16, 2020 ✈ Budapest, Hungary
October 20-21, 2020 ✈ New York City, New York, United States
October 20-21, 2020 ✈ Graz, Austria
October 31-November 2, 2020 ✈ San Jose, Costa Rica
November 2-4, 2020 ✈ Munich, Germany
November 2-5, 2020 ✈ Lisbon, Portugal
December 14-16, 2020 ✈ San Francisco, California, United States
IxDA intends to improve the human condition by advancing the discipline of Interaction Design. IxDA has multiple groups around the globe that organize local events and leverage local knowledge sharing.
The User Experience Professionals Association supports people who research, design, and evaluate the user experience of products and services.
A great hub to search for local UX events around your area, or even to create your own. Plenty of UX groups that meet regularly in major cities around the world.
We’ll start this story with a disclaimer: It’s hard (impossible, really) to encapsulate all of the aesthetic whims that happen over the course of the year. Yet, as design writers part of our job is to think about the stuff we see and make connections to figure out what it all means, as best we can, anyway. Trends occupy a particularly fraught place within that remit. For starters, what does a trend even mean? Must a critical mass be achieved before the anointing happens? Does it have to tie into culture at large? Who gets to decide what qualifies as a trend, anyway?
We like to think of trends as a snapshot of a visual moment that’s swelled to the point of semi-ubiquity—at least in our small corner of the world. It’s not always easy to define. Sometimes trends are limited in scope but expansive in significance. Other times they feel almost omnipresent. This year, we charted a handful of aesthetic moments that felt ripe for calling out. Dive into them below.
In the same way technology is inescapable, so too are these illustrations that populate so many of the digital interfaces we see on a daily basis. In this piece, Rachel Hawley explores the ubiquity of the Alegria illustration, which she aptly describes as follows: “The incessantly joyful cartoon people are never static. They’re always in motion, dancing, painting, running, or hugging one another with the expanse of their oversized limbs arching away from their bodies like giant wet noodles.” Hawley tracks the rise of the trend, which likely started with Facebook, to its current day prevalence as the common visual language amongst technology companies. She also digs into the why these flat illustrations are everywhere—is their popularity a byproduct of replicability? Is it about the “everyone welcome” nature that technology purports to promote? You’ll have to read the piece to find out.
Not every trend deserves a deep cultural analysis. Sometimes something is deemed a trend by its sheer aesthetic qualities and the number of people who deploy it. In our new series “Spotted,” we take a breezy look at some of the graphic trends we’ve been seeing everywhere. The first installation was on “liquid metal,” a distinctly computerized look adopted by everyone from Jessica Walsh to Jonathan Castro. The look’s origins are hard to trace, but it’s definitely part of the acid graphics scene (keep reading for more on that). We’re betting that liquid metal has already reached peak popularity—give a trend a name, and it’s bound to die—but log onto Instagram, and there’s no doubt you’ll stumble across the shiny metal effect that runs like water.
Speaking of Acid Graphics, our all-things-music-and-design editor Emily Gosling penned an eloquent ode to the genre in the “Distraction” issue of Eye on Design magazine. In it, she takes us through the cultural history and etymology of the word “acid,” tracing its visual lineage from the 1970s to rave culture to our current fascination with blending futurism and nostalgia. Emily notes that this new style, popularized by people like David Rudnick, is “tinged with irony and a darker sense of humor.” And indeed, the style does evoke a rave-like feel with all its bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and illegible type. The style is found most often in the music world, on record sleeves and posters, but it lives just as naturally in editorial design, branding, and pretty much anywhere that wants to speak “youth culture.”
Graphic design’s aesthetic intent is often watered down by client concerns. You know, things like legibility, consistency, and other practical factors that determine its return on investment. This isn’t the case for design grad schools, where every so often the expressiveness alone is enough to validate a design’s existence. In this piece, Emily Gosling looks at how grad school show design often leads the way for a trend to break into the mainstream. Free from the grips of consumerism, students and faculty are allow to play with ideas and form. What comes out of those explorations is often visually exciting. In the case of Yale’s Open Studios event, students Bryant Wells, Julia Schäfer, and Orysia Zabeida hit a trifecta of on-trend design choices with their monochromatic identity that Emily describes as “blobby and kinetic.”
Pantone might say the color of the year is classic blue, but we’d wager otherwise. Lately, it seems like the neon green hue, dubbed “terminal green,” is everywhere—across books, posters, and editorial spreads. Once you see it, it’s hard to miss. To be perfectly honest, this trend is hard to miss period thanks to its eye-searing brightness. The acid shade of green has its roots in technology, though it feels utterly modern. As designer Sarah Boris told us of her choice to use the color on a recent book design: “If neon green helps us get the message across then it’s a winner.”