If you follow Tim Brown’s work, you’ll already be familiar with the tenets of “design thinking”, a subject he talks about in his TED talks and on his blog. His 2009 book, “Change By Design” is basically the published version of these ideas.
The message behind it is that what Tim Brown coins as “design thinking” can truly, systematically change the way we design and innovate. I admit that I am a fan of Tim Brown, and I have probably watched his Creativity and Play video at least six times. I tend to be exceptionally moved by any story about social change brought on by design, and I love seeing real examples of the ways in which design can change the world.
"Change By Design" uses case studies to illustrate the method behind design thinking, and how its application to real problems with real companies yielded amazing, and in some cases profitable, results. The book is also infused with steps that anyone can take to become a design thinker.
The book is so full of gems that I can’t begin to list them all here. I can say that what I learned from this book will help me see design challenges through a more empathetic lens. That design thinking is first and foremost a human-centered approach is what I admire about it, and actually a key to its success as a tool for innovation.
Tim Brown mirrors my own experience with these words:
When I left art school, I saw design as a deeply personal art. I certainly did not worry about its connection with business, engineering, or marketing. Once I entered the real world of professional practice, however, I found myself immersed in projects whose interdisciplinary complexity reflected the world around me and began to discover aptitudes I’d never known I had.
3+ years out of art school myself, I am just beginning to appreciate the sheer complexity of what goes into designing something that truly speaks to me, and design has become a more gratifying experience because of this. I will continue to “design think” my way through life, and to embrace empathy and a desire to do good as I navigate a world of problems just waiting for solutions.
With CSS3, there are a lot of things to be excited about. When I read CSS3 For Web Designers, my first thought was that it could be an amazing illustrator’s toolkit. Here are two awesome sites that go beyond using CSS3 for box shadows and rounded corners:
BeerCamp SXSW 2010
SImple and brilliant, isn’t it? This site uses CSS to make lollipop trees and a block of buildings.
For the Record
I saw this in a .net showcase and instantly had to check it out. It is basically a series of infographics that illustrates the variety and depth of one person’s record collection. The content is interesting and the design is beautiful. The page tells a story without any extraneous nonsense. Love.
I make digital products, but a lot of my inspiration comes from product development in the industrial design world. I am a huge proponent of creativity in design, but I also believe in practicality, and this is a duality that I think can, and should, co-exist. I read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman and it was eye-opening. He talks about the everyday frustrations behind things we touch and interact with every day, and — most interestingly — how we are psychologically hard-wired to blame ourselves for misuse. We think that just because we pull a door that needs to be pushed, we are the stupid ones. Not so. The door’s design has led us to believe that pulling it is the logical way to open it, so when we instinctively pull on it, it is because the door is poorly designed, and not because we are incapable of understanding how doors work. This is a wonderful book that makes a strong case for why it is crucial that designers understand people’s needs, why a clever and thoughtful design does so much in improving users’ lives.
The great thing about this book is that it has aged remarkably well, even if some of the products and case studies mentioned probably wouldn’t apply today (like the way telephone transfers work in his office). Plus, this book does not delve into interaction or web design too much, as that field hadn’t been as developed at the time. Still, I think we can take the learnings from the book and apply them to the web. The important points to remember are that we design for the user, not for ourselves, and that design error and human error are inextricably linked, so we must not forget our users are real people.
This designer is one of my favorite dribbblers. I love dribbble! I’m a “spectator” there, which means I can lurk on the site and look at all the beautiful work. Someday, maybe, I’ll have the guts (and hopefully, a worthy portfolio) to make myself a prospect.