Inside the head of a designer

Graphics meet up
April 30, 2009, 4:55 pm
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Last night I met up with my old Graphics/Product department for dinner.  It is  a yearly tradition of going for a film or bowling followed by a meal, and every year former pupils attend too.  I didn’t think I was going to make it but I managed to schedule a meeting with the informatics department today for another project so I managed to attend, but missed the meal, just got the beer.

It was strange seeing pupils I used to teach when I was in 6th year as they must have been about 11 when they were in 1st year and now they are all around 18. Scary how time goes so quickly.

Jim Black, my Advanced Higher Graphics teacher runs a great website for both the department and a seperate one which showcases students work from The Royal High School, its called and a must see!

What is design thinking?
April 25, 2009, 3:55 pm
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Worth listening, discussion about the ‘design thinking process’ and how design has changed from making products look better and sell to tackle a whole new set of problems and design experiences.

SI Camp meetup
April 16, 2009, 8:22 pm
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Today Social Innovation camp and 38 minutes had a coffee meetup in Glasgow at Stereo.  Great to meet a wide range of people who all work in different sectors come together to discuss potential good ideas, the web and twitter and the programme house (never seen it).  I also bumped into Dawnne there who I hadn’t seen for a wee while, lovely.

SIcamp will be holding a 3 day event from the 19th June – 21st June where a multidisciplinary team will work together on  a submitted idea and develop it past the concept stage into hopefully something great.  Social Innovation camp is an experiment in using social technology for social change and tackles themes like distance, ageing population, public services, obesity and much much more.

I hope to submit an idea or two and join everyone on the workshop for day two, sadly the starting day falls on my graduation but perhaps I could make the morning.

Service Design Workshop II
April 16, 2009, 7:49 pm
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Yesterday was the presentation of the two day workshop undertaken by 13 students and 1 tutor from Auburn University. I have to say that I think the students did a fantastic job of getting to grips with what service design is.


I began by presenting the groups with personas to fill out, getting them to think about user centric design. I had started off statements and formulated questions for them to answer about their persona so that they could step in the shoes of them and really think what that person would need from a tourist service.

We then sent the guys out into Glasgow with locations for them to get to. The students had to think about how they would find the information of how to get there, what kind of transport would they use whilst taking on the personas they were given. Some of the groups shadowed people who were similar to their personas. The students also picked up on good and bad touchpoints which is something we had discussed as being important when designing services.



Once they had returned the we had the photos developed and we arranged them as a journey map which is a great way to visually tell a story of what happened.


We looked at emotional responses, adding notes where the ‘persona’ and the students themselves felt lost, frustrated, or perhaps when they felt good or happy. We discussed problems and added these to our maps.




From here we looked for what kind of opportunities we could take from this which would lead us to a service statement and from here a direction to take our ideas in.



I stressed that at the idea generation stage it was very important to generate as many ideas as possible and try to be as creative and fun as possible. I think its important not to reject silly ideas as they often turn out to be the best and can be developed into something realistic. I think the students did a good job of trying to be as visual as possible, at the beginning of the workshop there was alot of writing to convey and record ideas but by the end they were pretty much drawing everything which is a great technique to quickly communicate ideas and also catch attention. (graphic facilitation)

We only began idea generation at about 11.30/12.00 therefore our final outcome was pretty sketchy but for anyone from Auburn who saw the presentation via skype these guys had fully finished, coherent presentations and had designed a service that thought about it before, during and after use and had considered the touch points they needed.





I encouraged the students to produce story boards to communicate their service. So they set to work taking their persona through their new service. Storyboarding is a technique borrow from the film industry but it is a fantastic way of telling a story and how different aspects of the journey work.

I think that the workshop went really well. We ended up with a range of different services. We had a bicyle rental scheme with a bikeclub, a personal call a taxi service with different packages that tourists can pre order before they arrive tailored to their needs, a service for backpackers that included info touchpoints and roaming helpers, a business concierge service for business people killing time after meetings that involved hubs and loyalty cards and a spongebob tou bus service that looked after your children on a fun bus while the parents went off to other attractions. For a bunch of students who couldn’t answer the question what is service design when they arrived to end up designing them a day later through using research techniques and service design methodology I think they did a fantastic job.

Its also important to point out that these techniques and communication tools can be used when designing products, shadowing, using personas, storyboarding and using our who what where when how and why questions.

We ended the day with one or two, perhaps three beers to reflect and there was good feedback from the students so I’m pretty happy, and it was a learning curve for me too.

There are a lot of photos from the workshop so you can catch them on my flickr account.


GSA meets Auburn
April 14, 2009, 4:27 pm
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Today I had the great pleasure of conducting a workshop introducing service design to a group of industrial design students from Auburn University.

I think it went well today, it was mostly about getting the students to understand and think about services they use, how we can break them down and then generate useful insights leading to quick concept developments. We brainstormed services which we did and didn’t like and in groups chose certain service experiences, ending up with McDonalds, Gas Stations, Tiger Mail (the students email at uni), a cable company and Walmart. We mapped out user journeys formed around a specific task and looked for problems. We then quickly generated insights to build concepts from and I think they did really well.

The second half of the day we talked about techniques, especially how to be observant and what to look out for. We then developed a persona per group and then left to experience the city with the task of obtaining information on how to get to a specific location and then the transport journey itself.

I’m looking forward to see the results tomorrow.

You can view my photos of the day on Flickr.

For students checking this out tonight check out, the site I mentioned which has a useful list of techniques we discussed and five fundamentals to service design.

here is that co-design video by thinkpublic I mentioned;

Painting the tweenies
April 12, 2009, 12:23 pm
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So, a slightly random post but yesterday, I painted, with 3 other friends from art college a birthday sign on this massive set of windows just down from our art school.

The woman asked me to bring friends and I thought I could do it by myself, but it took 4 of us 12 hours each!  It was one of those high/low days and morale got pretty low about 5pm, especially since the sun was shining right through the windows but we got through it and are so chuffed with the results.  It was followed by one of the best beers I think we have all tasted.

I’m also rather excited because the space we painted is huge, and unused and I can see a huge amount of potential for it, one being a makeshift graduation party for our year in June so we have a place for family and friends to come along.  I also see it as a potential business fallen at my feet but we’ll see.

Ugh, my muscles ache.  If you’d like to see it it’s round the corner from the GFT, on Renfrew St next to mandors and the coffee lot.

Big Company meets grassroot level
April 9, 2009, 9:49 am
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Thanks to Tessy Britton via Twitter

A brilliant scheme by Campbells soup that provides customers with seeds to grow their own tomatoes.  A large scale corporation doing a little thing. Great!

April 4, 2009, 7:50 pm
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Just been updating two project blogs, it has taken a long time to catch up, got there though, hopefully I keep on top of them now.


First project is developing a game to help people learn sign language


Second project is to design a bicycle rental scheme but overly about encouraging people to get on their bikes for the Glasgow/Edinburgh area

Ethical Banking
April 3, 2009, 11:41 am
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A bank with a twist.  They invest in projects that promote social goodness and sustainability and all things green.  They came and did a talk at the GSA a couple of months ago, presenting some of their leaflets which communicate what projects they sponsor to customers at their bank.

They have invested in many business ventures in Glasgow including fair trade shops, artist studios and recycling initiatives.

Triodos Bank

Transforming Cities and public spaces
April 1, 2009, 1:24 pm
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Creative cities is an international project designed and managed by the British council.  It shares experience across Europe on the way in which creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation can help to improve people’s lives – making cities better places to live, work and play.

The site hosts several workshop ideas, some of which are taking place in Finland and Estonia quite soon under the Future city game.

Further to this is a pdf that hosts a whole range of ideas from the UK about creatively transforming public spaces, worth a look as there are some interesting ideas.