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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Design thinking for branded utilities

There's a lot of talk about branded utilities, and how they are the next level in the way brands will integrate themselves with people and their lives.

Designing them is not a straightforward process, so the more that we can learn about design and design thinking from elsewhere the better.

So in that spirit, here are some interesting pieces which I think should help frame your thinking when designing these services:

1. Google's user experience principles

These are the clearest explanation of a design philosophy that I've come across in a while. Note that number 1 is people-focused. Too many design processes start with the technological solution rather than who will be using it. I also like the reminder to add a human touch.

(via the Experientia blog.)

2. Tim Brown of IDEO on design thinking in the Harvard Business Review. IDEO is pretty much the world's leading design firm, so what they have to say about design is always worth reading. Their focus has gone beyond simple design processes to look at the idea of innovation process. but at root, it still remains a human-centered philosophy.

(via Nussbaum on Design at BusinessWeek.)

3. For some more nuts and bolts of designing interactions and experience, this collection of papers and presentations from the 'From Business to Buttons: Designing for effect' conference is worth a nosy around too.

And keep your eye on the documentation coming out of the reboot conference this weekend in Copenhagen. I suspect there will be some interesting ideas emerging.

PS: You might also want to factor into your initial thinking some of these meta themes or structural changes identified by various venture capitalists, as documented by TechCrunch. Not all will be relevant at the same time, but they do form part of the landscape you will be working in:

The decline of the firm and the rise of one-to-one commerce
Merging of cyberspace and real space
Unified identity (across different sites and services)
Generational shift
Global growth of the Web
Net Neutrality
Data Ownership
Atomization of content
The arrival of the mobile Web (finally)
Hyper-targeting of advertising
The coming of human-friendly interfaces
Cloud computing



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