Aug 12

Social Design workshop at UX Week

Next week I’m excited to be running a workshop at UX Week – an excellent annual event run by the good folks at Adaptive Path. I’m finalizing the details around what is in and what is out. Below is the draft agenda. If you are going I’d love to hear what you’d like me to cover. We’ll have lots of time for discussions around the topics below but anything big missing that you’d like me to talk to? Thanks!


1. Why social design is critical to UX professionals

- We are a social species and social interaction drives much human behavior

- The web is being rebuilt with people at the centre

2. Why current UX practices don’t work well for social design

- Why the classic UCD process doesn’t work well

- Why personas and goal driven design don’t work well

- An alternative approach

3. Doing research on social behavior

- Why 1:1 qualitative research has severe limitations

- Why front loaded qualitative research has limited value

- An alternative approach

4. A framework to use

- Identity + Privacy / Relationships / Connections / Communication

5. Design patterns around Identity and Privacy

- Designing for social versus personal identity

- Designing for consistency with past behavior

- Designing public interactions

- Designing for privacy

6. Design patterns around Relationships + Connections

- Designing for groups

- Homophily and designing around common ground

- Designing for strong and weak relationships

7. Design patterns around Communication

- Designing conversations and the power of lightweight interactions

- Designing to build relationships

8. Conclusion and discussion


Aug 12

A shift away from subjectivity in the visual arts

Little experiments like this one by Errol Morris point to a macro shift in the visual arts from subjectively assessing design elements to objectively measuring design elements. It will take years to fully manifest itself, and will not go down well in much of the creative community, but it’s inevitable. When it is simple and fast to test font A versus font B, or concept A versus concept B, clients will demand it, and designers will have to accept the results.

Michael Beirut explains the experiment:

But I also know that the ingredients used by graphic designers — colors, shapes, typefaces — are fundamentally mysterious. What do they mean? How do they work? Why does one work better than another? What criteria should we use to choose?…This ambiguity can be maddening, especially to clients, who in desperation will invoke anecdotes and folk wisdom to help control an otherwise rudderless process…

To Morris’s surprise, the results of the test showed a clear difference between the performance of Baskerville and other fonts — not just Baskerville and Comic Sans (no contest); or Baskerville and Trebuchet or Helvetica (a clear serif versus sans distinction); but even Baskerville and Georgia (a lovely, and arguably even more legible serif by Matthew Carter). Compared to versions in the other typefaces, the passage set in Baskerville had both the highest rate of agreement and the lowest rate of disagreement. This led Morris to the inevitable conclusion: Baskerville is the typeface of truth.

First seen on Kottke.