The word design is a very ambiguous word these days! It [...]
The word design is a very ambiguous word these days! It is bandied around in everything that we do, including the human body, which by the way is perfect with all its imperfections!
Frank Spillers in his blog, demystifying usability, gives some 10 definitions of design in the context of usability. Ideo, a global design firm captured my imagination many years ago, with their simple tagline, “…we create impact through design”. And I love the way they introduce their design through their concepts – my current fascination is with their idea of Nelson, the future of the book, based on 3 simple concepts, which has evolved through deep thought. And their products are not designed just for branding the product, but, for “inspiration” (when you have a look at what they have done, you will feel inspired, and thus know what I mean). There is beauty in the lines of each of their product.
Design is a simple thought giving way to action. Or is it? Whatever be it, design has changed the course of history in more ways than one, good as well as bad. Better medical instruments have helped in the portability of instruments to places that were inaccessible. Whereas, better designed ammunition since the days of guns and cannons, has caused more destruction than appreciation (except now when they line the walls of museums).
Prof. M P Ranjan, has a blog that invites all Indians to be participative in “Design for India“. His blog on, Design for Good Governance: A Call for Change, certainly takes design into a very different realm!
What got me started thinking on design was my “thinking chair” which led me to Jean Prouvé, who has been known as the poetics of the technical objects, (check out his industrial line designs)and is said to, “…… never sought to evolve his own unique style but consistently sought logical answers to desired functions and the available means for their realisation.” (What a beautifully designed string of words to describe someone)
There may be many more such interesting and fantastic people whose ideas on design evoke and inspire, (feel free to share here), but as design is meant to be simple and for you to realize the potential of design in all walks of life, I leave you with a beautifully designed definition of design in 41 answers!
Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56 on Oct 5, 2011 (1955-2011). A great visionary and inspiring individual, Jobs leaves behind a deep and lasting imprint not just on his products but also in the hearts of millions. His passing away comes a day after Apple unveiled iPhone 4S.
Steve Jobs was not just a visionary and leader, but a true innovator. He brought elegance and beauty to machines like the PCs and laptops. Despite the health setbacks, he continued working right up to August 2011. A man of few words, his humility can be perceived in his letter of resignation when he stepped down on August 24 2011.
Like many a startup, especially techie ones, Apple too began in a garage in 1976 with Apple-1 which was priced at $700. Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak sold only about 200 of the devices, making about $20 each. Success was to follow.
Not all Leaders are Visionaries, and not all Visionaries are Leaders. But, Steve Jobs carried this mantle with great humility and dignity. Tony Bradley has been able to pen down a few lessons on Leadership that we can all learn from this silent but strong individual, Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs has both a following of fans as well as Apple bashers, yet, he was able to quietly command attention not towards himself, but through his very products he designed and created. You may not want to own such a pricey piece of equipment, but you certainly turn green with envy, and drool at the sight of those awesome Apple beauties that he created. Brain Lam, ex-editor at Gizmodo, has been kind enough to share a slice of Steve Jobs through his emails (you can read all about Steve Jobs on the Gizmodo, the gadgets website, that has been kind enough put together a truly moving tribute in a series of articles and video)
Although adopted by Paul and Clara, as he was born out of wedlock in California in 1955 to a Syrian immigrant and an American from Wisconsin, he was given the best they could offer at that time, education. Steve, however, dropped out of college, but that did not stop him from rising to become one of the strongest pillars of American business!
Single handedly his visions have shaped technology so profoundly, that his ideas defined the technology industry. During the period of his absence from Apple, Steve created Pixar (eventually acquired by Disney), a small computer-graphics division of Lucasfilm. And the future, for decades, will watch the incredible and timeless movies, beginning with the original Toy Story and including The Incredibles and Up.
Steve Jobs has immortalized himself through the products he has created! He took technology to a completely different level -beauty embodied in machines! His legacy will stand the test of time.
May he Rest in Peace. Steve Jobs, you will be missed.
“The Customer is King” – an often and apt message that we often see on stores that try and drive home the message to both the customer as well as the seller, if the latter wishes to make a sale! Well Usability Engineering, as the name suggests, deals with the interface between humans and machines or products created by humans. Although, this does involve some aspect of design, termed as UXD (User experience field of design), usability engineering is more focused on the usability of the product rather than the design of the product.
Why is this so important? We use various products for a variety of tasks. The whole process that is involved in the creation of a product life cycle can be long and ardous. Imagine, if a single person is left alone to design the product, is handed over a list of dos and dont’s but has no interaction between the group that conducted the study and the users? Too little or too much can also ruin the focus of the products usage.
In the field of computer software and its usage, Agile Usability Engineering is stated to be “the way” to reduce the long and costly affair. How so? Well, imagine you create a software, but the user out there has very little knowledge of what to do with it once installed. So, a bit of intuitive knowledge of what the product is supposed to do, and some intuitive knowledge of how users will behave, is very essential to Usability Engineering. This. if set into the initial discussions of the idea itself, will help reduce costs and time, with regard to the product development and its evolution. Usability engineering is important to be integrated in whatever you do not just for a better product, but also for better processes and methodologies!
Interaction has a very important part to play here- between the ideator, the creator, the designer, the usability engineer, and most importantly the user or the customer! Two important factors are very crucial in this process of interaction – the Art of Listening and the Art of Observation. And this is essential in anything you develop be it a safety pin or even a nuclear reactor! Listening to your users, observing their reactions to your queries, can help you not just design but also engineer better products.
The basic tenets of Agile Usability Engineering does not have to be set for software products only. The principle behind every product is to create a small model and test it at every step, before it leads to a big problem. There is a saying in Japanese, ” Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain“. This simple thought when applied to any idea that needs to be implemented, can go a long way in helping you reduce waste of time and money, crucial for the success of any product. Besides, change is necessary for anything to evolve. And, this change can be tested among users who will use the product. It is vital to observe even those who will not, or appear slightly averse to using a product. Why? Because, it not only gives insight, but also challenges the barriers, guiding us on to provide a wholesome solution to the problem.
Interaction, is thus, not just action and reaction between two subjects, but involves, a whole lot of factors. And all this goes into engineering the usability of a product. So next time you are called upon to take a survey, don’t shy away- it is necessary for every user to contribute his reactions for a better and thoughtful product!
And, do remember, the human body too is a part of Usability Engineering, without which we would never be able to multitask!