A common question grants a canvas to an uncommon answer: ”So what exactly do I/does Avanceé do?”
Heard somewhat often because explaining “experience design” to those who may be around design tangentially is a dice roll. For those who are familiar with design and it’s many permutations, an explanation goes into some specifics and vernacular. For those who don’t have that association, syncing activities and intentions to a space they are familiar with grants the desired clarity. That said, coming via card/site/social media doesn’t always grant the same context. So, consider this a mild explanation of those bits talked about on the About page.
Mobile and Connected Device Subject Matter Expert (SME)
As it relates to mobile, wearables, and other connected devices, some work primarily centers around how to better understand behaviors and content going into those types of devices, what kind of services can be enabled from those devices, and what can be understood from the behaviors and analytics. Sometimes, this means merely looking at data streams and interpretation get next steps or gaps in existing flows. Occasionally, there’s room to concept better approaches which might improve customer experience, user experience, and technical performance. And sometimes, there’s just play — which becomes products themselves.
User Experience and Process Design SME/Consulting
At times, the work encompasses experience design for new or existing products, which often includes looking at the process by which those products will be developed and implemented, not just how those products look and function. These projects are usually not talked about directly because of nondisclosure agreements, or they fall under a slightly different window of access. However, the subject area for these projects is a consistent theme for nearly everything done to date.
Digital Life/Digital Humanism Coaching and Strategy
Through some of the more executive and strategy conversations, some work and consultation has also spoken to the prospects of what it means for digital and connected artifacts to enhance or degrade humanity. Digital humanism is a pretty frequent topic because many are looking at what it looks like to be committed with technology, while also being in a state of balance despite it. To date, work on this topic has been through posts and a few presentations. However, it’s because of this lens that “what exactly do you do” question gets asked the most.
Pattern Behavior Research
Pattern behavior research could probably be put under the same category with user experience and process design, but this work is a little deeper than what is traditionally experienced in either of those spaces. Also done with an executive component, pattern behavior research doesn’t just look at what it takes to build a product or service, but it looks at the underlying causes and implications of those products and services. To date, this has resulted in product scoping and market research for specific clients.
Wireframes, Interactive Decks, & Presetations
Thankfully, not everything has to sit behind a conversation. Some of the work that has been produced ends up in wireframes, interactive decks, and presentations. These are public facing, or publicly shared, components which allow a small glimpse into the finished products, while also not betraying some of the sausage-making which happens before and after these are produced.
Professional/Executive Innovation Coaching
And finally, there’s the piece which happens as a part of some projects/engagements, but doesn’t get as much publicity due to the intensity of the action - coaching. This has only happened on a limited basis, but has consistently drawn interest from executive-level supporters of Avanceé as a wanted serivce because of time spent in the other engagment spaces, and their enablement to take modern technology ans practices forward.
This is what Avanceé looks like to date. If there’s a common theme to most of it, it’s simply articulating systems by understanding design in order to re-engineer complexity. Perhaps a complicated way to say “see the forest and the trees while navigating in space,” but that’s how this endeavor has evolved.
If you think I/Avanceé can be of service to your teams/org, get in touch and let’s see how you will be able to move forward in your space.
To be mindful or to be inspired? That’s where aspects of the week land when we talk of themes. Perhaps that is not a bad thing — seasonal contexts notwithstanding. Where some might design a better experience, others themselves inspired to do a bit more than simply exist. Aims of some of our most recent work has reset some groups from Strategy-Implementation to Strategy-Focus. It is spring for more than just the trees and allergies (in the northern hemisphere at least). Mindful experience design draws you inside, whereas inspired experience design spreads to others. Spring forth.
Here’s some seed or pollen from the reads this week:
And a few from here:
Collaborative software is validated through collaborative experiences before its individual features
One of the challenges in training software and process is found in the disconnect of knowing the features of an application/service/device, and the context in which it wants to be best used by those being trained. In the past, it was single-user perspective software which opens to a collaborative element (for ex, MS Word to make the Report was by a single author, but “track changes” was meant to make the editing process inclusive of more eyes). Now, the world of productivity software has both that and collaborative-first software. The former can be learned features-first, but the latter, learning features first is the surest way to failure — especially when training/leading in new or infrequent spaces.
So, how does one get up to speed with collaborative products if the training industry still begins from a single-user, features-first perspective? Playtime. Intentional playtime.
Services such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are more or less useless without 3-5 people in the service concurrently. You need to not only have the largely, text-base conversations, but those who will use the app versus the website, those who grab add-ons to make aspects easier, and then a consistent-enough stream of activity. Now, if the latter doesn’t happen, then Slack/Teams becomes a wasteland. Or worse, your content management platform is another network file share, your collaborative word processor is no better than MS Word 97, and everyone wonders less about their competencies, and more about the focus of the technology leaders within the organization.
If something does take, you find new shapes of productivity forming, some of which has no present metric by the org’s existing performance standards. And at the same time, individuals will need to learn quickly how to manage the old way of doing things, and the newer ways the collaborative product has invited into the workspace. Groups start lifting styles of notifications, shortcuts to other features, or repackaging of binders/files/processes into a mastery of something more than what the outputs are — they strike towards a mastery of what it means to work.
A mastery of the features then isn’t even the mastery of the collaborative service — that’s just a mastery of a context within it. There are the secret commands, the bots, the use across other software platforms (for example, using Zapier to push info into and out of Slack based on triggers/commands). At that point, there’s enough mastery in to begin looking at teaching others how the collaborative product has value beyond their workspace. There’s only the words “innovation” here — risk and metrics are only defined by the features of what’s used, and the fear of what it portends.
So then, how can one evaluate the value of collaborative products if it needs others? That’s where your value system has to also update with the shape of the environment. Interdependent metrics such as friction to sharing, invasive/dismissive notifications, quality of communication, and resulting outputs are some measures. Should this be deployed to all groups? Maybe, depends on what value you think it will bring. It needs to be small enough to catch technical issues, and wide enough to get a range of users to identify gaps in what is and isn’t understood.
Expertise needs to be experienced — especially as it relates to the nature of collaborative software. Once it is, then there’s a canvas of possibilities towards its application to others.
As mentioned earlier this week, wanted to get back to letting the notable links/reads of the week sit on this pattern. It’s not that sharing a daily links blog is not important. But, it makes more sense through curation when you can figure out what some of those things look like, and how it impacts an audience.
Today, the theme is contemplation and breathing. Taking into account that not everything that we breathe in can be understood immediately, nor that everything that we breathe out will be something that lingers. There’s space. Space for contemplation in between the breath. And where that space is appreciated, beauty happens, life happens. And maybe, a return to a better rhythm.
With that, here are those items which stuck out this week; and just as previously, the order presented as a team just as important as the individual articles:
Just one piece authored this week:
Previously shared notable lists:
Some weeks back, started to share notable reads as a daily, rather than weekly supplement. And while this was a good idea from the standpoint of traffic (likely, don’t even look at the stats) and visibility, much about what this space is has gotten lost in the spreading. For example, part of the missing content here has been the long-form posts — item like this one where a few hundred words are spent expressing a piece of a lingering idea.
Those lingering ideas helped to generate the meaning for those reads, as well as served as fuel for concepts and projects as they happened. It also made for a space to continue to practice using the Tap wireless keyboard (of which am greatly out of practice) and other computing accessory items which point forward better than the cases, keyboards, and other tropes which bolster similar sites. Lingering ideas and continual experiments invite a fairer attempt to figure out what worlds sync with now, and which worlds have yet to be explored.
For example, there’s a form and shape to apps which want to help people write apps without writing code. These take the same shape and behavior of asking the person to stencil shapes together with logical statements, usually not looking like the language the person is readily familiar with (for example, Appdoo). Instead of starting with “what do you want to do” and getting embraced to getting there, they are starting with “here’s how this works, can you fit your problem into this.” Not right or wrong, but it’s a shape.
On the other hand, there are fewer experiences where people get a chance to leverage some understood analogies, and then create something programmatic with it. Products like LiquidText get towards this — and Ink and Switch’s Muse goes further still. These kinds of experiments and experiences push forward the concept of taking items which have been engineered as complex, and transform them into accessible spaces which better express the intent of the creators, not simply the abilities of the toolmakers.
Hence, getting back to this pattern — augmented by a simple program’s ability to do some neat things, and pushed forward thru contemplative leanings. To reflect again, and share a piece of what that does forward is what this space is for (in part). And maybe then what’s notable doesn’t just come forward more, but enables a little less complexity to get into the hands of others.
Moving back to the weekly share next week. Noticed a few things effected by the lack of better curation, especially from a retention-application standpoint.
Started to just skip the links for yesterday given the various pranks. A later sharing of the non-prank reads makes sense instead
Notable Reads for Mar 30
Notable Reads for Mar 31
Notable Reads from 24 Mar
Notable Reads from 23 Mar
Building a design ethos, one conversation at a time
In talking with people about Avanceé, one of the questions that comes up from designers, or those with a design background, is “how often do you work with other people versus how often do you work by yourself?“ This is a very valuable question, and it tends to be answered honestly — depends on the project. For many organizations however, the work that happens is actually not doing design artifacts (strategy, research, wireframes, proptotypes, and products), which might require individual or collaborative efforts. The effort/work that is design happens within conversations.
As unique as it might seem, design is not noticed by many people. They notice an aesthetic. They might notice friction when something that is favored turns unfavorable (“this is designed wrong”). They might even notice beauty that is their perspective only, versus beauty that’s a shirt perspective of a group or culture (appreciation and appropriation). Design is communication. It’s a particular mastery of communication. Design should communicate value. However, the value that design communicates is not a mastery of an aesthetic, as a mastery of an investment. Investment means data. Data means analysis. Analysis means communication.
Within some of our conversations, design is something that becomes understood as a way to attract someone to a product. But we often end up turning the conversation into “what is it that you want your product to communicate that’s valuable to someone else?“ When used in this way, the conversation evolves from an investment in some type of beauty, to an investment in some kind of clarity. This clarity often causes those organizations to revisit not only their request for design expertise, but the shape of the organization as a relates to what it is they truly are delivered.
If you look at design as the product that you are offering, you will end up focusing less on the value of what it is that you are communicating and more on the value of the shape of the thing you are communicating. However, if design is part of your very nature. That is, design is the very building block of how you make decisions about how your organization functions, then you communicate something a lot clearer, a lot cleaner, a lot more valuable to your prospective audience: you give them the ability to design their world instead of you designing it for them.
In the midst of putting this together, got into a conversation about parents vs parenting. The approach of fostering whatever might come next seems like something wel-suited for those who are parents. And yet, if we were to listen to the news of the day, it would seem like everyone has the opportunity to get into parenting themselves and their communities into a better state of being. Where does being land? Not sure. Though the ownership of what it means for humane decisions going forward means for a wider approach to living forward.
And a few from me:
Usually, the middle of the week has been used to share concepts or lingering sketches for current or past projects. Felt like taking things a different direction, reflection of a wider sort.
What’s been pandered about so far this quarter? What are the themes to be found?
”Deep Thought” As A Productivity Paradigm
Shape of the Next Technologies
The aim for this 2nd year of Avanceé has been to be clearer about who/what this effort is for. It is a soapbox, but a different one than perhaps what’s been shared on social media and blog channels by others (or myself really). It’s deliberately targeting a specific intellectual sect — those who also might be throwing about decisions related to trends and possibilities, but not giving the answers to what to do with them. Those who might have unformed perceptions, and still gathering resources to figure out what those perceptions might mean.
Yet this is also a portfolio of sorts — the work done for clients mirrors the strategy written, the concepts designed, the links shared. There’s a depth and breadth here that’s unlike blogging or email newsletters on purpose. Intentional friction? Perhaps. But, rarely is a way forward cut on an existing road.
Comfortable with where things are? Somewhat. But, not quite at the place where the scratchpad and scribbles are clear enough. Reflections are not always clear, sometimes, you need a bit of time before the ripples dissipate and what’s on the bottom makes itself known.