Getting started in, and keeping up with the world of UX

TL;DR. Please share with me, your recommendations for sources of insight and inspiration in the (broad) world of UX**, for people that aren’t into it yet, but that want to be. 

Think about the little details though, not just classic beginner books. What are the niche little resources that you perhaps take for granted?

Essential people to follow on Twitter, invaluable newsletters with links to articles, agencies with a lovely ethic and portfolio of work, big famous agencies, that everyone ‘should’ know about, silly blogs with funny observations, serious and respected writers, Instagram accounts, and so on. Tell me your thoughts*, so that I can share with my students. 

Once collected, I’ll compose another post or page of links. And do by best to keep it up to date. Like Yahoo in 1994, but with more humble aims. 

Thanks.

*Here’s an example of my links. Sources and people and agencies that I almost intuitively read and check in on, but that are not at all obvious or all that findable for students in study, and interested in UX, UI, service design, and user first design and research in general. 

  • twitter.com/louisedowne – On so many levels for me, Lou is really valuable to follow and be aware of. 
  • This deserves your attention, by leisa reichelt – Leisa’s links are like gold! Every reading list contains essential links that I only come across with her help.
  • bitzesty.com, clearleft.com, wearefuturegov.com – I’ve met people from all three, would be proud to work at all three, and feel it’s valuable to keep track of all three. 
  • ideo.com – To those that know, IDEO is perhaps obvious, but I’m still stunned by the number of students that haven’t heard of them, and so feel like I’m giving a gift when I help with the discovery.
  • grumpy.website – This one’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. So nice to see someone else getting frustrated by little details.
  • russelldavies.typepad.com – I wish he would write more. Like a more erudite and more positive version of grumpy.website in some ways, but like Leisa, very often the one to share ideas and articulate perspectives that feel too good to miss.

These are just a few examples, for giving an idea of what I mean by ‘sources of insight and inspiration’.

**Let’s not get into terminology and taxonomy here, suffice it to say, the world of design where we consider people, users, interactions, needs, services and experiences. 

Repair is as important as innovation

This article about the importance of repair, and a possibly emerging trend toward a celebration of maintenance (see Festival of Maintenance) has aligned with a few other philosophies on my mind of late.

Firstly, Kintsugi:

… the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum… As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Which (secondly) emerges from Wabi-sabi:

… a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

To a small extent, these ideas lead to a smaller, yet longer standing pondering, about iterative processes. In particular, how we seem almost biologically incapable (despite countless examples of brilliance only ever emerging from constant trails and refinements) to recognise that instant and ever lasting perfection is impossible. Great, or even just good things, need time and maintenance to emerge.

Fourthly, all these ideas point toward my simmering intrigue in the circular economy, defined and supported most impressibly by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

Design out waste and pollution.
Keep products and materials in use.
Regenerate natural systems.

And finally, fifthly, and perhaps most tangentially, all these points seems to resonate with positive aspects connected to the trend of mindfulness, which I’ve heard talked about in the context of self maintenance (though I’ll be damned if I can find where I’ve seen that).

Not too sure where all this is leading, but like with an old post about chains of thought, it feels useful and cathartic to get the ideas out, and grouped together in some way.

Design Thinking is a reframing of design

I previously tweeted this link, but adding here for reference. Shh! Don’t Tell Them There’s No Magic In Design Thinking by Jared Spool, is a wonderfully level headed read on the topic of “Design Thinking”.

To those of us who’ve been doing this for a long time, design thinking doesn’t mean anything new. But it also doesn’t mean ‘make it pretty.’ And that’s why it works.
It changes the conversation. When you add ‘thinking’ to the word ‘design, it’s no longer about color or decoration. It’s now about process. It’s about getting to a more intentional outcome. It’s about thinking about the experience of the customer, user, and employee.

This is it in a nutshell for me – clear, simple, and useful – and so the seemingly large community of design thinking critics truly baffles me.

The Box That Changed Britain (and the world)

I was sure that I’d posted about this before, but apparently not. The Box that Changed Britain (which can currently be seen on YouTube) is BBC 4 documentary about the shipping container.

Poet Roger McGough narrates the extraordinary story of how a simple invention – the shipping container – changed the world forever and forced Britain into the modern era of globalisation.

It’s a premise that sounds incredibly dry, but the history of the box, the ideas behind it, the economics, and the open source factor (an inescapable world wide web metaphor) make for a fascinating watch. Would love to see a part 2 that covers the current movement for repurposing shipping containers into shops and homes.