Last week we had an Iconathon where Kelton taught us the basics of Adobe Illustrator and best practices for icon design.
What are the defining features of an idea we are communicating? Kelton explained that while the idea can be complex and specific, the icon that is perceived must be simple and universal.
Imagine you had to show to an alien what humans are like. Each person’s face has unique features, but if we want to represent people as a whole all we need are two eyes, one mouth, and one nose. The point of using an icon is to show the most important information.
Now, what are the defining features of a mustache? For the Iconathon, each of our designers made a mustache to put what they learned about icons and Illustrator into practice. The winner’s mustache will be in our final CUxD icon!
Our final winner will be announced at our next meeting! Thanks Kelton for an awesome session!
Ashley Sams | President
Last week we had our first meeting of the semester and it was great seeing old & new faces. We started out with the following question:
What does design mean?
Everyone wrote down his/her own definition on a card, which we collected and later turned into a wordle. Given the diverse group that showed up, we were excited to see the range of descriptions that were given. Here’s what we got in the end:
Afterwards, we talked about CUxD’s mission and our plans for the semester. For those who missed the first meeting, we have a range of meetings planned from design events to speakers, so stay tuned!
Now, on to the fun stuff: we wrapped up our meeting with a quick breakout session on brainstorming a redesign of an academic management system used by Cornell. We divided people into groups of 6 and asked them to brainstorm ways the system can improve based on user needs, goals, and problems.
Recurring problems with the system that people raised were clutter, an ineffective announcement/calendar interface, and inconsistent content between courses. Some of the proposed interfaces were a single calendar-based page and a course-based page with tabs to easily navigate between classes.
Our meeting next week will be a session on how to use Adobe Illustrator. To put what you learn to practice, we’ll also have an Iconathon!
Thanks for everyone who showed up and we are looking forward to seeing you next week!
Ashley Sams | President
Seeking HCI-related Projects for Cornell University Student Teams
This fall, the Cornell University Department of Information Science is inviting outside organizations and companies to connect with advanced level undergraduates by proposing projects for the Cornell Human Computer Interaction Studio (IS 4420).
This opportunity offers original solutions to concrete problems in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), combined with the chance to network with aspiring HCI experts who are about to enter the job market.
Selected projects will be executed by students from September to December 2012. For each project, students will prepare:
– a medium to high fidelity prototype of the proposed design;
– an extensive report documenting the design rationale;
– the result of the initial evaluation of the design;
The class will consider application oriented projects as well as more exploratory projects.
Examples of application oriented projects include the redesign of a reservation site for a concert hall, or the design of a smartphone application to promote an active life-style.
Exploratory projects are more open-ended, often considering the impact of a given technology on user experience. One example is the CHI’13 Design Contest (http://chi2013.acm.org/cfp-students-design.shtml), which focuses on the possible use of crowd-sourcing in design.
For best results, each submission should:
– Focus on HCI-related problems
– Provide a clear set of goals
– Be suited for a semester-long team project (2-3 students/team)
– Include a point of contact for the team to clarify design requirements. For a typical project the sponsor should expect to schedule 3-4 meetings during the semesters (either in person or via Skype);
If your organization or company would like to submit a proposal, please contact Francois Guimbretiere (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible to discuss next steps.
Final proposals will must be submitted by early September.
CUxD recently hosted a round table discussion with Scott Belsky ‘02, CEO and co-founder of Behance, during this year’s Entrepreneurship@Cornell celebration. As a designer, entrepreneur, and investor, Scott contends that design is, “a, if not the, main competitive advantage,” of a company. In light of this, the theme of “Design and Entrepreneurship” was a reflection on CUxD’s mission to develop UX design and promote design thinking at Cornell, on Cornell’s current home-grown efforts to promote student entrepreneurship, and the synergies between these. Participants in the discussion included students from all seven colleges, many of whom are involved in CUxD and the entrepreneurial community, as well as faculty from Information Science [IS] and Design and Environmental Analysis [DEA].
Scott began by reminiscing over his experience as a Cornell undergrad, particularly his honors thesis, advised by DEA Professor Sheila Danko. His research focused on on how to design a better resume for creative people, and eventually inspired him to found Behance. He also humorously recounted his stint at Goldman Sachs, and why he left to become an entrepreneur.
At this point, he turned to our participants for thoughts and questions. Here are some of the highlights:
Role of Design in Start-ups
Scott offered many insights into the proper role of design in a startup. AmpCloud founder Nick Fishman, ’11, questioned the “doer”-centric startup culture, and wondered how to achieve a effective progress without taking too many design shortcuts. On a similar note, PopShop co-founder Sam Sinensky, ’12, asked for advice on how entrepreneurs who appreciate the role of good design can better engage and work with designers. Scott noted the importance of not outsourcing design (which he underscored as the competitive advantage of a company), and stressed the potential benefits of bringing on a designer cofounder, rather than simply hiring one. He spoke towards his own experience working with Matias Corea, his cofounder, and how much he learned from this interaction. He advised technical founders to, “give [designers] more power than you feel you can give,” and mentioned that Bessemer Venture Partners, the Designer Fund, and several other VC firms look for teams with a strong design core. At the same time, he advocated balance, warning against the “intoxicated orgy of idea generation” that can result when, in his terminology, a team is dominated by “dreamers” rather than “doers”.
Paradigm Shift in Tech Entrepreneurship
An interesting conversation spawned from a question by Jeremy Blum, ’12 (PopShop co-founder and a founder of LibeTech), regarding the current trend of technology companies limiting themselves to software, and the role of hardware and physical design in this environment. Scott brought up evidence that, increasingly, technological barriers to entry are being broken down due to cloud services, 3D printing, and other enabling technologies, and envisioned a future in which companies could be mission-centric rather than medium-centric.
Collaboration in Design and Entrepreneurship
With the promising prospects of the PopShop at Cornell, we were very interested in Scott’s thoughts on co-working and sharing of ideas in design and entrepreneurship. Scott, a strong proponent of co-working, asserted that even individuals working in companies can benefit from sharing space with employees of other companies. He claimed that the benefits of idea sharing can greatly outweigh the costs, citing sentiments of founders he profiled while writing his book, Making Ideas Happen, and quoted one as having said, “if an idea is easily replicable just from hearing about it, it probably won’t scale anyway”. In response to this, Dr. Alan Hedge, Professor of DEA, broached the topic of patent law, patent trolls, and technology transfer within Universities. Scott brought up a new policy at Twitter in which patents are assigned to individuals rather than the company, which inspired him to enact the same policy at Behance. “I think it’s the way forward,” he remarked.
Design and Entrepreneurship was certainly a huge success in bringing together proactive entrepreneurial and design minded students, engaging in fruitful discussion and idea sharing, and tapping into Scott Belsky’s rich experience and deep insights. We look forward to his continued support of our efforts.
Spoiler: Stay tuned for the upcoming UX minor informational video, in which Scott endorses our cause as well as the proposed collaboration between IS and DEA!
Cornell University ’12 | Computer Science
Strategic Director at CUxD | LinkedIn
Hope everyone is enjoying this atypical March weather!
Last week, Najla and LaiYee hosted an agile/lean UX session with CUxD. Najla presented on the agile development process based on her summer experiences, and LaiYee talked about lean UX after having attended the Agile UX conference in New York City a few weeks ago. Following their presentation, CUxD members tried out the agile process for themselves by attempting to redesign the notorious Cornell “student center” while indulging in pizza (kudos to our treasurer Ashley)!
Najla went through the entire agile process and its benefits: as opposed to the more traditional “waterfall” method, agile development minimizes overall risk, promotes adaptability, allows for less documentation, and permits coders to spend a lot more time face to face. She also introduced us to the logistics of sprints and tasks, and a wealth of new vocabulary involving scrum boards and scrum masters!
LaiYee then taught us about lean UX’s focus on the testing experience itself rather than the more traditional emphasis on the flows of documentation, and how the development team is involved in testing as well as the more traditional emphasis on the customer.
After their talk, we split into two teams and followed the epic epic (pun intended!) “student center redesign.”
Thanks again to Najla and LaiYee for sharing their expertise with us!
This week CUxD focused on storyboarding! Yi presented on the basics of storyboarding.
You are at a semi-upscale restaurant with 3 friends. Tell us how you would figure out how to split the bill.
Last week Information Science PHD candidate Nick Chen gave us a presentation about typography. Nick talked about terms related to typography, the history of well-known typefaces, and design principles for typography. It was really informative and fascinating to see how typefaces have emerged to adapt to its age’s needs!
After the presentation, we had a typography exercise and split up into groups of two. Each group was given a prompt for a word and came up with a poster to depict the word in that mood using different fonts and colors. At the end, each group showed its interpretation of the prompt and how it matched the word.
Thanks Nick for an interesting and insightful talk about typography! We hope you’ll stop by again!
Last year at this time, an internship in UX seemed completely out of my reach. I wanted to pursue user experience design, but with no experience and coming from a school with little connections in UX design, it was going to be a tough start.
Thankfully, I got connected with Samantha Berg (‘09), a mobile UX designer in the Bay Area, who had graduated just a few years before. After a couple email exchanges, she quickly became my UX mentor, coaching me via email about how to present myself in a portfolio, how to interview, how to network my way into an opportunity, and sharing how she got to where she was now. These exchanges with her were invaluable to me as I pursued the first step in my design career. With Sam’s guidance, I ended up having several offers to choose from and spent one of the best summers of my life in California with my dream job as a UX design intern.
Cornell UX Design’s First Official Mentorship Program
Now I hope to bring back what I learned to the designers in this club. We are starting our first official mentor ship program, where we match UX industry professionals with an aspiring student designer. I’m happy to announce that Samantha Berg is back to mentor again, along with Tricia Comstock Bellatoni, James Gartrell, Karlyn Neel, Patrick Neeman, Andrea “Ajay” Revels, Anthony Viviano, and Alla Zollers.
Tips for Mentees:
Your mentor is has presumably been there and done that, so ask them anything you want. Ask them about their first job, the highs and lows of their career, what their lifestyle is like after work. If there’s anything you’re curious about, just ask
Be open to criticism
This is your chance to get an honest critique from somebody that’s volunteering their time to make you a better designer. Be a good listener and be willing to make changes in response to feedback.
Check in frequently with your mentor, when you’re applying to jobs, before and after interviews, when you get your offers, anything. Keep them in the loop with where you are at every step of the way, and don’t forget to respond quickly (less than 24 hours) when they email you.
Follow up and thank your mentor
Let your mentor know the outcome of their help and suggestions. When you move forward with your job search and career, always thank them and keep in touch about your successes.
Tips for Mentors:
Be real and authentic
Tell them how it is. You have experience that your mentee will be able to learn from so be honest about everything, the good and the bad.
Provide constructive feedback and critiques
Your mentees are about to be evaluated and critiqued by companies they’re applying to, so give them feedback to improve and iterate. Check out your mentee’s portfolio, social media sites, and web presence (anything you would do if you were considering hiring them), and let them know how they can improve. Give constructive criticism while simultaneously giving them confidence.
Share your network
If you know somebody that could give great insight into something your mentee wants to know, go ahead and connect them. Sharing your network will be invaluable to them as they start out.
Be very responsive and always email back within 24 hours. Check in your mentee if you haven’t heard back in a while. It’s easy to sometimes get behind in emails, but set aside some time to ensure that you’re maintaining communication
- Day in the life (discuss a day in the life of the mentor)
- Portfolio critique
- Mock UX interview
- Attend a conference or meetup together
Belated thank you to those who came out to our Stanford d.school Wallet Project! Jenn and I had a lot of fun moderating you (made me feel a little like we were leading a certain IDEO design exercise, if you know what I mean), and we hope everyone enjoyed running through one accelerated iteration of a user-centered design cycle.
For everyone who missed out on our fun little activity, here are the main lessons we got out of it –
1. Human-Centered Design: the whole exercise was to get a taste of Human-Centered Design where we learn the importance of empathizing with our users, instead of a typical problem-solving approach.
2. Experimentation & Prototyping: in our design process, prototyping is an integral part of experimentation and learning what works
3. A Bias Towards Action: the term “design thinking” should suggest more doing than thinking — it’s taking action and learning from mistakes that makes products
4. Show Don’t Tell: a big part of our design process is to share your vision through telling stories and experiences with the help of visual aids
5. Power of Iteration: iteration is good; successful outcomes are more often the product of refinement than not
We’d like to thank the Stanford d.school again for the exercise — CUxD certainly produced many interesting wallets! Hope you stay tuned for our next event!
Thanks to all who came out to Cornell UX Design’s first portfolio session! It was great seeing the results of everybody’s hard work.
We paired up and everybody got to critique and be critiqued. It was also a chance for members to get to know each other. For those who didn’t have a portfolio completed, they got tons of inspiration to get started on one!
CUxD members come from different backgrounds and have different goals, but everybody’s portfolios benefitted from a fresh perspective.
The session was a great success and we hope to see you at the next meeting!