30 Sep

Idea Generation

It’s really odd being given a brief without a subject.

“Anything you want, within reason.” is quite a difficult task. There’s so many options and yet finding one that feels perfect takes time.

I know I wanted to practice my coding skills – HTML, CSS and JavaScript being the top 3 I’m interested in. Structure, styling and functionality are necessities for every front-end developer. I also wanted to combine the things I’ve learnt in other areas: usability, branding, maybe even a little SEO and marketing (why not?).

It’s very rewarding (and self-indulgent) to look back over the last two years and see just how far I’ve progressed. That’s one of the lovely things about this blog too. It’s very helpful to be able to remind myself of some of the tools I have at my disposal. No one has a perfect memory, and looking back at old work shows how I overcame certain issues in the past, saving energy and a lot of time spent on stackoverflow.com.

So after flicking through my old work, I created the following mind map (always a great starting tool) to expand on the following 4 points:

  1. What do I want to make?
  2. What do I want to learn?
  3. What am I interested in?
  4. What skills make me employable?

Initial mind map

I wanted to pick something that would combine an interest with other beneficial elements. There’s no point wasting time repeating old stuff exactly as I’ve done it before when I could be learning something.

Two ideas I pursued:

idea1

 

idea2

After some brief initial research into the two ideas, I decided to select the second for my degree project: an online allotment planner. It has endless possibilities, and hasn’t been perfected in a workable in-browser format yet.

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12 Sep

dConstruct 2015

“The first guy made me want to build robots. The last guy made me want to change the world.”

Ashley Nye dConstruct 2015

That’s what I said when we left dConstruct 2015, the absolutely amazing conference on designing the future held at the Brighton Dome yesterday. I always come away from Brighton Digital events feeling inspired. Passion, enthusiasm and excitement is contagious, and we’re very lucky to have such a great community of coders, designers, makers, and doers.

I got to listen to a whole bunch of really great people talk about things they love, things I love, raise questions, highlight opportunities and best of all, make me think.

Also I got to play with lasers, a giant 3D pac-man, send a postcard to my future self 5 years from now, try and fail to make an origami llama/unicorn, and meet some really cool minds.

IMG_5225

So here’s a brief overview of the talks:

  1. Brian David Johnson made me want to build robots. I want a robot I can teach to walk and wave at me because his robot, Jimmy, was just too exciting for words. He made it clear we can DO this stuff. All of us. Why aren’t we building more robots? Why isn’t that part of arts and crafts time at school? I want it to be right up there with playing in the sand pit, learning the times table, and building a robot. Mine would be called Dawn001, and yes, she would wear a cape because “every robot should have a cape”. And her skill and purpose would be to play frisbee, because everyone needs a cape-wearing, frisbee-playing robot.Dawn001 Ashley Nye robot illustrationThe technology is all there, our imagination is the limit. We just need to “change the story people tell themselves about the future they will live in”.
  2. Matt Novak, lover of The Jetsons and the comic Closer than we think! showed us by looking lovingly at past futuristic visions that the future won’t come all at once, and won’t come in the form we imagined.
  3. John Willshire gave an mind-boggling presentation about Metadesign, some really interesting card-sorting style techniques to create rapidly evolving ideas and the advantages of mapping.
  4. Josh Clark showed us why Harry Potter is magical (and even demonstrated some ‘magic’ himself). There is “one goal: the computer disappears into the environment” (Alan Kay) and that is what Clark envisages. A world with a simpler design and a more natural interaction with technology. This would be infinitely more satisfying, more social, and bring us back into the world again. He says we should use “phones to caption our lives rather than frame them”. This is music to my ears. I can’t wait for a world where we can have a conversation in a restaurant again…
  5. Chris Noessel took us through some very BIG problems with the user interfaces in popular sci-fi movies. I laughed, I was entertained, but essentially he’s ruined Iron Man and Star Wars for me. Thanks Chris – the designer in me is enlightened but I still want to believe that Tony Stark is as cool as we are led to believe and not just about to destroy everything around him.
  6. Nick Foster gave a talk on the mundane which was actually very interesting. The word ‘mundane’ used to mean ordinary, normal, even dull to me. Now I realise that ‘mundane’ also denotes ‘of the world’ and that there’s a real benefit to framing your designs in the context of the ordinary world. New products will be placed into an already existing environment. How will it fit in/interact with that? Also, I learnt from Nick the importance of planning for breakages. The thing you design will go wrong. How will you handle that?
  7. Carla Diana showed us some amazing examples of a storybook she designed, with characters that can be 3D printed by the reader. This is just one example of a use for the technology we have to create things to interact with.
  8. Ingrid Burrington made me think. She gave a wonderful talk about resistance, leading onto a whole manner of topics to think about, all framed nicely by the Terminator series.
  9. Dan Hill talked about the major changes taking place because of technology. Technology changes. It changes whole cities, and the way we design. There’s some very interesting developments in the way of transport, in particular train stations and buses driven by demand.
  10. Mark Stevenson spoke passionately about the need to change. There are so many opportunities for change now if only we would do something about it. Everyone needs to listen to this talk. He made me want to change the world. And yes, I’ll offset my carbon emissions because it’s the right thing to do.

IMG_5230

You can listen to all the dConstruct talks at http://archive.dconstruct.org.

Thanks to Clearleft for organising such a brilliant event.

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03 Sep

WordPress Project Update

I started building the final BOSHrun website around two weeks ago. I had done a lot of the work previously, including extensive research, planning and prototyping as can be seen in earlier posts about this project, as follows:

  1. Client worksheet
  2. Surveys
  3. Concept maps and cultural probes
  4. Probing part 2
  5. Competitor analysis
  6. Cultural probe results
  7. Personas, user scenarios, use cases and user journeys
  8. Task analysis and content inventory
  9. Functional and content requirements
  10. Card sorting and information architecture
  11. Mood board and wireframes
  12. Clickable wireframe
  13. Visual design for BOSH prototype
  14. Summary and clickable prototype
  15. Evaluation
  16. Building from a prototype

The existing BOSH site was rarely used, with the main bulk of activity on their Facebook group. This allowed me to take the site offline while I work on it. For this, I used the Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode plugin.BOSH under maintenance

As for the rest of the site, only a handful of volunteer testers will be able to see an advance preview. The final site is due to go live at the end of September.

 

 

 

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