UI Development

projekt202 podcast: Delivering Web Tech to Keep Your Flight Running On Time

"The over-arching goal of this entire project is to get passengers to destinations faster."

projekt202 has helped on-time performance soar for one of the world's leading airlines.

In this podcast, projekt202 Solutions Architect Mark Sims discusses working with the airline's team -- through research, UX design and UI development -- to successfully deliver large-scale web applications to support millions of travelers daily.

Stay up-to-date on projekt202 news. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

CXO Q&A: Why the Future of UX is Greater than the Internet of Things

CXO Q&A: Why the Future of UX is Greater than the Internet of Things

In this conversation with the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of projekt202, Peter Eckert looks at his company's origins and what lies ahead for companies striving to deliver the best possible customer experiences.

projekt202's Thought Leaders Provide Direction on UX, Strategy and More

Some of projekt202's Thought Leaders -- representing key areas such as User Experience (UX) Design, Technology, and Experience Strategy, among many others -- broadcast their expertise in solving complex challenges facing today's businesses. Their presentations were recorded this week as part of projekt202's new Thought Leadership series. The videos showcase the experts behind projekt202's methodology and holistic approach to experience-driven application development.

Solutions Architect Ben Bays hits his mark for his recording session, as Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson looks on.
Solutions Architect Ben Bays hits his mark for his recording session, as Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson looks on.
Senior Experience Strategist Shannon Graf is one of the Thought Leaders in projekt202's new video series.
Senior Experience Strategist Shannon Graf is one of the Thought Leaders in projekt202's new video series.
Bringing focus to the ways projekt202 leads in experience-driven application development.
Bringing focus to the ways projekt202 leads in experience-driven application development.
Assembling a great design isn't child's play. Senior UX Designer Josh Christopher, UX Designer Anne Grundhoefer and Solutions Architect Drew Loomer share their creativity in helping companies deliver better solutions for customers.
Assembling a great design isn't child's play. Senior UX Designer Josh Christopher, UX Designer Anne Grundhoefer and Solutions Architect Drew Loomer share their creativity in helping companies deliver better solutions for customers.

Learn more about what we do at projekt202.

projekt202 podcast: A Conversation with Co-Founder and CXO Peter Eckert

"I believe that form also needs to follow empathy. We need to truly understand the things that people try to accomplish in their daily lives, how they do it, where they struggle ... and have that empathy on the deepest level for their situation. Once we understand what they truly need, then everything comes together."

projekt202's CXO and Co-Founder Peter Eckert
projekt202's CXO and Co-Founder Peter Eckert

In this podcast with projekt202's Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Peter Eckert sheds light on his company's origins, the principle of "form follows empathy" and his predictions about the evolution toward a global, connected Experience of Things.

Follow Peter Eckert on Twitter: @petroid

projekt202 Announces Executive Promotions in Austin

Peter Eckert, Michael Blakesley, Dennis Van Huffel and Paul Tidwell
Peter Eckert, Michael Blakesley, Dennis Van Huffel and Paul Tidwell


Fast-growing projekt202 has announced senior leadership promotions on its Austin team.

Michael Blakesley has been named Vice President of User Experience (UX), Dennis Van Huffel is Austin's new Director of UX and Paul Tidwell steps up as Vice President of Technology.

Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer Peter Eckert will take on added responsibilities as projekt202 Ambassador, increasing his industry outreach to actively promote the company's programmatic, observation-based methodology. Peter will drive strategic guidance for clients and present his renowned, industry-defining insights on national and international tech stages.

A Night of StartUp Stand-Up at Digital Dallas Comedy Roast

projekt202 sponsored a standout night of stand-up comedy on April 20.

The Dallas Comedy House in Deep Ellum was the site for the Digital Dallas StartUp Comedy Roast. Digital Dallas teamed with Launch DFW to host -- and then roast -- five new North Texas companies.

Each of the five Dallas startups had two minutes to impress the crowd. The DCH improv troupe then piped in with its comedic take for a truly unique type of user experience.

Embracing the Evolution toward the Experience of Things

Embracing the Evolution toward the Experience of Things

Over the next few years, many advancements in technology will unfold and dramatically shift our behavior and expectations in society. Just look at the IoT, the Industrial Internet, autonomous driving and flying, virtual and augmented reality, wearable devices, biometrics sensors and implants, among others. It is on us to bring these things together in a meaningful way. Welcome to the Experience of Things.

4 Reasons to Defend “Boring” Blue Calls to Action

By Josh Christopher
Senior UX Designer, projekt202

Originally published in Medium

Lately, I’ve heard many folks prod and poke at the poor, defenseless blue buttons and text links. That being said, I felt it necessary to stick up for our little UI components as they cannot effectively stand up for themselves.

It is not lost on me that we use orange links for our blog in following the projekt202 brand. There are instances where I completely understand blue is not the preferred option. My focus here, however, is that usability should ultimately drive the conversations around interactions. There are many instances in which the designer could and should use blue links and buttons as a starting point to determine how to style calls to action.

Below is a list of what blue calls to action have going for them.

Blue is accessible

So many companies today are doing this wonderful thing :  they are striving to make software products everyone can use, regardless of their abilities. Orange and blue are the two colors that tend to be visible to most humans. Utilization of blue makes sense if you are designing with usability in mind. If you do choose to innovate on color, there are some really great tools out there like colorsafe.co to help you find accessible color variations for your buttons and text links.

Look at all that blue iOS 9 UI Kit Template from http://www.sketchappsources.com
Look at all that blue iOS 9 UI Kit Template from http://www.sketchappsources.com

A conditioned response

For the same reason we now generally accept that a user’s understanding of iconography is based on previous experience, one could also make the case that users have become accustomed to looking for the blue text link or button and are familiar with the pattern when wanting to take action. It is used everywhere: iOS and Android regularly use blue to highlight a primary call to action, browser default hyperlinks are #0000EE, and I can go on and on. I won’t go so far as saying it’s a “universal pattern,” but I think it issafe to say, if you plan to select a color most familiar to your users, then blue will be your Huckleberry.

Color theory

If we go for a trip back to art school and revisit color theory (hang in there with me), blue is a color complement to warmer tones like orange. It is an analogous color to cooler colors like green and purple. Therefore, it is not only a color that most people will be able to recognize (accessible), but it will most likely either complement your brand’s palette or it will be in a similar family as your company’s brand color and will go nicely with it. As a general aside, if you are using a very prevalent color through your entire design and are A/B testing button options for throughput, your best bet may be to pull focus and create a hierarchy on them by selecting a complement of the color used most aggressively throughout.

it sublty siignals daytime
it sublty siignals daytime

It subtly signals daytime to your brain

High-level research by companies like f.lux (also the new Night Shift in iOS 9.3) suggests warmer colors are better for users’ health and can better prepare them for sleep if using devices in bed. Therefore, the opposite could be implied for blue light. Though possibly detrimental to your users’ sleep, it may help signal to users that they need to be alert.

I’m not "some grandpa" telling you to only use blue as if it is some sort of universal color choice for all calls to action. I am saying, however, there is plenty of good to be said for the arguably overused, but effectively hard-to-dispute, blue button.

projekt202 podcast: Coming to Terms with Design Thinking vs. Customer Experience

In this conversation with David Lancashire, the chairman and CEO of projekt202 shares his perspective on why some industry terms -- in particular, "design thinking" vs. "customer experience" -- resonate better with the business community, and the importance of uniting user observations with clear business goals to solve customer challenges.

Highlights from the podcast:

-- There's a fundamentally new approach to design and development ... We're calling that 'experience-driven' design and development ... It's all about new techniques that have emerged that allow us to observe the users and customers in context.

-- By gaining a much deeper and richer understanding of our customer at a persona level, we're able to design solutions that are able to really thrill and have them be much more enjoyable than was previously possible.

-- With 'design thinking,' people ... feel it's this creative thing that they may or may not even be able to understand and appreciate ... Whereas, a buzzword like 'customer experience' is a lot easier for a business-oriented person to consume, because they think in terms of an experience they're delivering for their customer. It's just an interesting quirk: What is the right name to call something and whether it's really helping the industry as a whole.

-- We need to help the rest of the world -- particularly the business community --understand that the essence and the frameworks that are behind these thoughts are actually things that drive real business value, real gains in market share, real gains in revenue growth ... How do these techniques -- these ways of understanding the customer in a more profound and detailed way -- potentially play into improving these financial metrics? They're very, very connected.

-- The methodology of getting closer to the user through these new techniques out of behavioral science should be incorporated into modern American business in a really systematic way. Companies that are understanding and gaining this clearer insight of their customers and the problems that customers are grappling with ... these companies are ... able to get design teams focused on solving the right problems.

-- There's a far more trustworthy, methodical, scientific program for incorporating ... this picture of what your customer or user really wants. It instills confidence.

-- That's the great news: what we're talking about is ... a very clear approach of observing people in the context of their everyday world. Through this observation, we're able to see that there are different personas, people acting and thinking in different ways.

-- projekt202 has a step-by-step framework for going through this process. You're empowering that designer to be focused on exactly the right thing, which means when the ideation process is in full swing, you're getting great ideas for solving these exact problems ... Our ability to tie these together is what sets projekt202 apart.

Success Story: Superior UX Delivers Over $1 Billion in Sales

Challenge: An unreliable workforce design needs to be terminated

A global workforce management company was laboring under outdated, convoluted technology. Its primary management resource had grown inconsistent, unreliable and difficult to use. The organization needed to improve customer interactions, keep competitors at bay, and create a new user-centered design and development process internally.

Recommendations: A redesign, UX support and a demo that silences the competition

projekt202 identified pressures from key competitors, documented users’ frustrations and perceptions, and interviewed stakeholders to capture the vision of the organization. Based on its analysis, the projekt202 team recommended a user-friendly redesign of the client’s 900-screen legacy application; hiring dedicated user experience (UX) staff; and unveiling an impressive demo at industry trade shows to spark word-of-mouth and sales.

Results: Superior user experience delivers over $1 billion in sales

When presented at an industry conference, a new dashboard solution based on projekt202’s design research caused an immediate sensation. Sales demand doubled as customers eagerly anticipated its release to market. Development strategy and priorities reflected the huge interest generated by the prototype’s unveiling.

In addition, persona-specific roadmaps for the legacy application were produced and validated, and mobile tools supporting key workflows across all personas were established and released. A consistent new visual design language was built across all applications and products. Design guidelines, principles and themes were created, along with interactive design and pattern libraries. To reinforce the company’s tech foundation, projekt202 helped grow the client’s UX team to more than 20 employees.

As a result of this collaboration, the workforce management company saw sales skyrocket from $240 million to over $1 billion.

The sales and marketing divisions continue to rely on projekt202-constructed resources. Providing this superior user experience has led to a sustained design and development partnership between the client and projekt202.

Success Story: Investing In a New Standard for Trading

Challenge: Taking stock of the ways customers actually use trading platforms

A leading investment and banking firm wanted to create a new standard for high-end trading by making its existing platform more user-friendly and engaging, allowing customers to become better investors.

Recommendation: Bank on a customized solution to make users feel powerful (especially in front of their spouses)

By observing the ways people researched and chose investments using resources from the client and its competitors, projekt202’s researchers gained several interesting insights. Customers wanted to feel powerful and in control by having the ability to customize the system to suit their needs.

In particular, men wanted the trading platform to look complex, sophisticated and important so they could impress their spouses. This vital emotional factor – which would have been overlooked by standard market research – was discovered through projekt202’s unique, contextually-relevant observations.

Based on these user insights, projekt202 recommended a new infrastructure that supported a customized trading solution to fit customers’ practical and emotional expectations. It needed to balance stability, familiarity, flexibility and reliability; maintain current customers’ loyalty; and add new generational users.

Results: Gaining an outstanding 97% adoption rate

projekt202 worked with the client’s development teams to create multiple concepts for the application’s UI framework. A fresh look emerged to complement the newly-designed tools. Throughout development, projekt202 and the client worked together to integrate controls and tighten layout and interactions.

This partnership created a world-class application that was stable, secure, efficient and fast.

The application was built to:

  • understand the complex work of trading
  • support users by giving them a market-wide perspective
  • guide their decisions in making solid investments

The innovative application achieved a 97% adoption rate in the client’s first quarter. It was also recognized in the trade media and by renowned industry analyst firm Gartner for its outstanding, forward-thinking design, development and adoption.

2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

projekt202's Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder Peter Eckert is regarded as one of the leading UI design visionaries. The following article illustrates why. Five years ago in UX Magazine, Peter shared his insights on the importance of meaningful interface design and usability, looking ahead to the state of technology in 2016. Looking back now, it's significant to see how spot-on Peter's forecasts were.

Following is Peter's original article, as published Feb. 24, 2011 in UX Magazine:

2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

Looking at the next five years, the role of interface design will only increase in importance as companies compete to win market share worldwide. Ease of use is essential to winning hearts, minds, and customers. With consumer product companies in heated competition, I anticipate a surge of redesign and new design in the near term. These designs will focus on usability, which means we are likely to see breakthrough products over the next several years.

Yet these new interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.

Converging Technologies, Diverging Experiences and Standards

For global companies, the next five years is a time to put their best solutions forward and integrate the UIs and capabilities of their own product suites. As companies work to independently to improve their products within the context of new technical and usability advances, we will see more diversity and incongruence in design overall. In the next several years, differentiation and unique ease of use will matter more than a common standard.

Technologies continue to combine and converge, but much of this convergence happens only within companies. Technologies and products developed by different companies will not truly interact across platforms any better than they do so today, or at least not in the near term. For every new process and device, there continues to be a lack of common standards, which requires that people learn device- and product-specific commands and functions. This problem is still acceptable to most people because that lack of integration and the individuality of interfaces has long been the norm.

Caught up in the daily flow of our lives, we hardly recognize we are in the midst of a rapid evolution in how we leverage technology. We barely acknowledge that we are slowly replacing ordinary and extraordinary functions alike with technology, including purchasing goods via phones, receiving on-demand GPS-based directions, and eliminating hard-wired phones altogether. And it is certain more innovation is just around the corner.

Today and in the next five years, those UIs will remain separate and disconnected from each other. But many decades in the future, we can expect to see shared protocols and standards that enable users to transition seamlessly between devices and appliances, which transmit information to one another to a far greater extent than we see today.

In the meantime, all of our incremental progress toward more usable applications is exciting for the UX industry as a whole. UI designers can rest assured that over the next five years they will not be out of work. In fact, as someone working in the field for nearly 20 years, my concern is there are not enough experts in UI design to meet the avalanche of design and redesign that needs to be completed. The process for designing UIs will continue to come from research related to behavior, and from evaluation of how information hierarchies and protocols can be more intuitively accessed.

Worldwide Vision

All this opportunity to design better experiences is not exclusive to the U.S. and Western Europe. In fact, much work over the next five years needs to be done to create UIs that are more in tune with the rising middle classes of China and India, each surging with unique demographics of potential technology users.

Companies will increasingly look to market consumer technologies to pockets of fast-growing populations that have so far had little exposure to technology as part of their daily lives. For these people, it will be critical that the solutions be highly intuitive to ease the abruptness of the transition.

In making these new technology products, leading consumer technology companies will be delving into new areas of UI design and need to think through language, cultural, and ethnographic particularities to create effective solutions. It will also be important to recognize how specific cultures truly interact with their social environment and technologies within the context of those environments.

Racing to market with products with long feature lists is not the only answer; in some cases, it may prove to be the wrong answer. The technologies must offer users an intuitive and tailored UI to give users full enjoyment of and access to product features within the context of their cultural experience. This is a new challenge that is rapidly unfolding as more solutions are offered to emerging populations.

A Seamless Future

New, improved UIs are part of a transformation that is happening worldwide in technology. As we have seen with Apple and others, the new measuring stick of quality and key to critical acclaim is not just about whiz-bang features, but also about the presentation of the technology and accessibility of features through sound design.

Over the next five years, UX designers will be increasingly called upon to create solutions that join the power of new technology with good usability. Their skills and vision will be put to good use as companies awaken to the new stakes related to intuitive design and strive to roll out a host of products that will be more engaging than ever before.

Conclusion

Consumer and business users alike will experience remarkable forward steps in the evolution of UI design, but they will also grapple with the lack of convergence and common protocols. It will likely be many more years before any common standards begin to emerge.

For emerging populations around the world, leading consumer companies will seek to capture market share. We advise these companies to go beyond the language barrier and truly evaluate the culture they are targeting as they have the opportunity to serve these customers through powerful design.

It is an exciting prospect to think of the millions or billions of more people who will be able to access technology, communicate globally and garner more information than they have before—all through intuitive, intelligently designed interfaces.

9 Basic Principles of Responsive Web Design

If you’re background is print, if you’re coming from a developer perspective, or if you’re a designer who just loves axioms, this quick and dirty primer will give you the key principles of responsive web design.

—Thanks to Eric Gehrman

The UX of Mobile Settings

Instead of focusing on redesigning apps and individual screens, this impressive article breaks down length, organization, screen real estate and a variety of other factors to determine which device settings screens present the best experience of the user.

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

Drag-and-Drop Interactions

Image by Mary Lou
Image by Mary Lou

Image by Mary Lou

While working on some drag and drop interactions, we came across this cool inspirational demo of several drag and drop interaction ideas. Beautiful, fluid animations to jog your interaction imagination.

—Thanks to Mike Townson

Materialize, a Material Framework

With the coming of Google’s Material design language, some folks at Carnegie Mellon have put together a responsive Material framework.

—Thanks to Jerehmie Cannon

PhotoMath, the World’s First Camera Calculator

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PhotoMath is the world’s first “camera calculator,” and it’s easy to use. Just point your smartphone’s camera towards a mathematical expression and PhotoMath will automatically display the correct result. Better yet, it demonstrates the step-by-step process of how to solve the problem.

—Thanks to Oscar Tellez

NPR: This Is Color

Image by NPR
Image by NPR

Image by NPR

There is actually a word that rhymes with orange.

—Thanks to Kijana Knight-Torres

The Carry-On Cocktail Kit

Photo by W & P Design
Photo by W & P Design

Photo by W & P Design

When air travel feels too much, when taking a plane back home from delivering stellar results for clients abroad – don’t settle for the standard jack & coke or vodka cranberries. This handy little kit (yes, it’s TSA safe) will let you mix up 2 old-fashioned cocktails at 30,000 feet, just order 1 mini bottle of bourbon and enjoy.

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

10,000 Mobile Apps and What We Learned

Image by Link Texting
Image by Link Texting

Image by Link Texting

TL;DR:We downloaded 10,000 mobile apps this year and we’re sharing insights on how we found them, examined them, lessons we learned about building apps, and a heuristic checklist for how not to screw up your own mobile app dev.

—Thanks to Mike Townson

‘Minority Report’-esque Office Chair Makes Computers Body-Controlled

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Creatures with creations and their segregation of joy‘ is the title of a design research on how to embed movement related to expression and emotional release in a daily life. Due to multi functionality of computers and their expansion most people spend their working hours while siting behind a computer. By making an office chair based on the dynamics of the body and linking these body movements to the control of the interface, work can become dynamic and expressive again. An attempt on integrating joy.

Govert Flint designed the Dynamic Chair to facilitate movement in all directions, then worked with programmer Sami Sabik to translate the motions made by the sitter into actions on-screen. “I started to think about how we make chairs that are disconnected from their activity. Working in the office is an activity we sit for. From then on I tried to design a chair based on body movements.”

Although the technology currently only allows for the operation of a cursor, the designer hopes to extend the idea so it works with the full computer interface.

The prototyping of the chair was done in collaboration with Sami Sabik.

—Thanks to Oscar Tellez

Apple on the “Hamburger Menu”

Image by Mike Stern
Image by Mike Stern

Image by Mike Stern

Apple details to developers (and designers) how they feel about the stacked menu and why it’s lazy—no cupboard stays free of clutter. Thinking about content strategy and information architecture will be of much better benefit than a catch-all menu in the corner that people wish not to interact with.

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

Google’s New Mail App

Image by Gigaom
Image by Gigaom

Image by Gigaom

Google is finally taking a stab at reducing Gmail clutter with its brand-new app, Inbox. The app uses context and its considerable smarts to automatically group and tag similar items, serve up location-sensitive reminders, and snooze messages to be answered later. It’s more or less the Google Now of mail.

—Thanks to Chip Wilson and Alan Koda

Aesop’s Fables with Google Fonts

Image by 25x52
Image by 25x52

Image by 25×52

Using hand-picked fonts from the Google Font project with text from Aesop’s fables showcases beautiful type design (that’s free) with great wisdom (that’s public domain). Go Webtype!

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

Yes, We’re Finally Getting Hoverboards

Photo by Hendo
Photo by Hendo

Photo by Hendo

It seems like it might finally be the future—hoverboards are real. Hendo has created a Kickstarter for both their hoverboard and their more stripped-down developer kits, and are well past their initial goal of $250,000. Set to go to market on October 21, 2015—just in time.

—Thanks to Alan Koda

How To Design for Thumbs In the Era of Huge Screens

Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez via Quartz
Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez via Quartz

Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez via Quartz

Now that Apple’s finally jumped into the larger screen camp, how does ergonomic design for human hands change? As this article explores, properly positioning elements for thumbs is becoming even more critical.

—Thanks to Mike Townson and Daniel Barbour

Universal Icons

Netherlands-based design group Lava, for Beijing design week, designed iconography for the Hutong neighborhoods around Beijing which are rapidly becoming very diverse. By using traditional Chinese pictograms as a base, Lava created a system they feel could seriously cut down on large, ugly signage around neighborhoods (currently everything is repeated in Traditional Chinese, English, and pinyin—Mandarin written in Romanized characters)

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

What Every App Dev Should Know About Android

Really great infographics on recent trends in the Android space that everyone should be aware of!

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

The Missing Scarf

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Narrated by George Takei, this whimsical story takes a dark, dark turn.

Want more on nihilism and despair? Hear this fantastic Radiolab story about this book.

—Thanks to Kijana Knight-Torres

The Top Color Trends of 2014

Shutterstock’s cool infographic illustrates the color trends of the past year, slicing the data by world region.

—Thanks to Stori Walker

Analyzing the New Apple Watch Typeface

Image by FastCo.Design
Image by FastCo.Design

Image by FastCo.Design

With the unveiling of the Apple Watch, Apples also introduces its first system font designed in over twenty years. We don’t even know for sure the typeface’s name. But why create a custom typeface for the Apple Watch at all? Why not just use Helvetica Neue? Legibility.

—Thanks to Oscar Tellez

Buy My Volvo

I grew up in a family with 4 Volvos, so this is very close to my heart. (The Swedish version is here.)

The car was sold. According to the small text on the start of this video, “Microsoft purchased this car and provided compensation for this video.”

Brilliant.

—Thanks to Kijana Knight-Torres

A23D: A 3D-Printed Letterpress Font

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This video starts out with a nicely filmed and narrated overview on the history and process of letterpress printing. Then we see the development of a custom letterpress font from initial design concepts to 3D printing and then ultimately being a working font in regular use on their presses.

—Thanks to Derek Rosenstrauch

How We Created Color Scales

Image by datavisualization.ch
Image by datavisualization.ch

Image by datavisualization.ch

An in-depth look behind the process of determining color schemes for datavisualization.ch’s charts and graphs, addressing issues such as color blindness and semantic meaning of colors.

—Thanks to Jerehmie Cannon

What to Steal From Destiny’s UI

Who says designers can’t learn from games? Lots of great little tidbits for UI designers to pick up from the massively hyped next-gen game Destiny.

—Thanks to Chris Williams

5 Timeless Marketing Lessons for Today’s Brands From Visionary Designer Paul Rand

Paul Rand’s approach to brand design, founded on simplicity and attention to form, remains profoundly influential today. With the reprint of his book Thoughts on Design, Michael Beirut lists five design principles that today’s brands can strive to follow.

—Thanks to Chip Wilson

How To Kern Type Perfectly

Image by Rob Sutton
Image by Rob Sutton

Image by Rob Sutton

A simple trick to bring a more discerning eye to your type kerning.

—Thanks to Alan Koda

13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations

Image by Havoc
Image by Havoc

Image by Havoc

The first time I presented design to a client I absolutely choked. I put the work in front of them and stood there like an idiot. It was humiliating. The next time was a little easier. And the time after that, well, you get the idea. I have done every one of the things on this list. I’m sharing them with you in the hopes that they’ll spare you a humiliating experience or two. It’ll take time.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

The Boring Designer

BoringOR
BoringOR

Whenever I’m looking at a product designer’s work, I find myself continuously asking the same question: which solution is the boring one? Maybe it’s born out of seeing apps choose flash over function, or trying to understand just one too many indecipherable icons-as-buttons. Whatever the case, here’s an ode to the boring designers among us. The designers who choose obvious over clever every time.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

projekt202 Labs: Die Tur

By Mark Power-Freeman
projekt202

We’ve assembled quite the collection of powerful minds here at projekt202, and, as the air finally starts to cool down in Texas, we’ve tapped into that power to launch an in-house innovation generator called projekt202 Labs. The projekt202 Labs initiative aims to give everyone at the company — not just the user experience design crew — a creative outlet to propose solutions to user experience problems without the constraint of platforms, code, materials, or devices. Two words sum it up best: What if…?

Although we have only the sky as a theoretical limit on the output of projekt202 Labs, we brought along our proven user-centered design research process for our first endeavor. You must start with what you know to go beyond what you know. So after gathering some generative research from the putative user base, we ideated, sketched, wireframed, applied visual design, and then presented to our target audience. For our first Labs project we decided to investigate whether there was a better way to manage conference rooms. In a nod to the origin of our company’s name, our answer to this particular What if is: Die Tür.

Before going into details about Die Tür, let’s rewind a few ticks of the clock. Like the Brady Bunch (or Voltron or The Avengers – take your pick, based on your preferred cultural milieu), we had to come together as a unit first and decide on a mission objective.

We see a lot of bumper stickers here in ATX exhorting us to keep things local. We took that to heart and thought about both our office and the general urban area when brainstorming world-changing ideas. Among the considered topics:

  • Traffic help – alternate routes to get around heavy traffic; solutions to company parking lot woes
  • Homelessness – providing/communicating services to the homeless; community partnership to end homelessness
  • Encouraging personal responsibility - Dirty dishes in the sink; stinky fridge syndrome
  • Improving plant health – Right time to water, fertilize, trim, etc.
  • Grocery – “Best-path” for grocery shopping (multiple stores, specialty items, etc.)
  • Street parking – finding parking spots; better ways to pay
  • Noisy neighbors
  • “The Gauntlet” – dangerous crosswalk in front of the Austin p202 building

Any of those would have made for a fun and exciting design challenge. But as the crew bandied ideas and proposals about, we noticed that the issue of room reservation and management seemed to elicit the strongest responses. We put it to a vote, and the room management issue won with a significant plurality.

We could have moved immediately into ideation from this selection. This was, after all, one of those rare situations where we could both design a solution and benefit from the solution as users. One of the strengths of the lab initiative, however, is that we drew members from across practices, and with Design Researchers on board, we thought it would be cool to use a simple survey to get some good old-fashioned user input from people who weren’t directly involved in the project. We also “observed” some of our office mates selecting and reserving rooms.

The survey results and direct observations both confirmed what we’d believed: nobody was happy with the way rooms are managed, labeled, and reserved…in any of our p202 office locations! Common responses included: not knowing which rooms were which, not knowing who had a room or for how long without having to go back to one’s desk to look it up in Outlook, and not having any idea about the suitability of the various conference rooms for the needs of a meeting.

We took these responses into account when we moved to the next phase: brainstorming solutions.

Which begat a presentation to our “clients” – in this case, the rest of the office. But we didn’t just want to put together the all-too-typical deck for this presentation. Since once of the directives of projekt202 Labs is “Have Fun”, we put together a film to showcase both the process and the solution, and we think it’s ready for Cannes and Sundance:

So far, the most common response to the video is “Can we have this right now?!” We researched the materials needed to bring something like this to life, and…who knows? Maybe the next effort from the Labs crew will be to build this and market it.

In any event, we enjoyed having this opportunity to stretch our minds a bit, and we’re confident this is only the first of many exciting and envelope-pushing ideas that the Labs initiative will produce.

Interface Design Wushu

By Mark Power-Freeman
projekt202

Among the many, many parallels between my development as an interface designer and Bruce Lee’s development as the creator of Jeet Kune Do is our understanding of and relation to the things that form the core of our respective disciplines. Bruce Lee once said about his study of the martial arts:

Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick.”

I went through something similar with interface design. I’ve been using computers in one form or another since the first grade, and for a long period, a button was just a button, a screen was just a screen, and a computer was just a computer. Nothing special — just silicon, plastic, and glass that could be as stubborn as a mule and only marginally less dirty.

Once I got my nice, shiny degree in design and I discovered “the art” of design, I looked at every interface with the zealously critical eye of a new convert to any philosophy or practice. A button wasn’t just a button, it was the summary and endpoint of all the user’s hopes and dreams and needs. The screen wasn’t just a screen, it was the window into the computer’s soul, the means by which the device and the user shared a gaze and meaning. <Insert Bruce Lee-esque kiai here.>

With several years of design under my belt, I’ve come back around to realizing that it really is all simple stuff. A buttonis just a button. Sure, it has button dharma, and my job as a designer is to help it fulfill its duty, but the act of clicking it is not some profound event that creates multiverses depending on the path it actualizes. (Or, is it? I will now ponder the chain of events that occurred in the universe where I clicked “Reply” instead of “Reply All” that one time….)

So, ultimately, I think as designers and developers, we all come to the same realization that Master Lee did: significant outcomes arise from a chain of simple actions. The trick is to figure out the arrangements of simplicity that give us our desired complex outcome so that we can replace the word “Jeet Kune Do” with “Interface Design” in the following quote from Master Lee:

Again let me remind you, Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one’s back.

XAML Organization

XAML Organization

We've worked on countless WPF and Silverlight projects over the past several years and throughout that time, we've refined both our process and the organization of our solutions.  We pass off front-end code to our client developers.  So clean, understandable organization is extremely important for an effective transfer of knowledge. Most of the development teams that we work with are well versed with c# code, programming methodologies, and best practices.  But typically we find that XAML is not something that they care much about.  Due to this lack of interest folks tend to not put much up-front thought into how their Resource Dictionaries are organized, nor is there much in the way of guidance from Microsoft.  So then 3 months into their development cycle the application looks great from a code perspective, especially if the Model View ViewModel (MVVM) paradigm is followed, but digging into the various styles, templates, brush resources, etc... reveal a lot of problems.

Beginnings

Beginnings

We've talked about having a blog for a while now and we're happy to have it go live.  projekt202 has a lot of brainpower and experience within our studio walls along with the call to share.  You can expect to see topics ranging from research findings, to interaction challenges and techniques, to my favorite, front-end technologies and the UI development problems we solve. So follow along on our journey.  We hope you find some level of inspiration and insight into our areas of expertise.