What makes good Inforgraphics – Juan Valesco

“You have to become an expert yourself to be able to explain this information to others” says Juan Valesco, an expert in Inforgraphics.

In this video by Gestalten, Valesco compares the work of designing an inforgraphic to the work of a writer for a newspaper, where precision, simplicity and clarity are key to its success.


IDEO – design thinking process – in the good old days…

This video is a beautiful demonstration of the design thinking process in product design. The IDEO team received a challenge to design ‘the shopping cart or the future’ (mind you, it was quite some time ago…).

Even though this video is from quite some time ago, core aspects of ‘designerly thinking’ are right there – focusing on the customer, getting to the heart of the problem by looking at it through different lenses, being optimistic about the possibility to solve the challenge, thinking creatively and practically together.


Behind the scenes of facinating technology and artwork by Liron Kroll


I recently had the chance to go to a Pecha Kucha event in Tel Aviv.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a unique presentation format that brings creative people together to share their work. I was lucky to get tickets as the 4 thousand tickets sold out within about 20 minutes!

It was a lovely event. One presentation in particular caught my eyes – an artist called Liron Kroll shared some of her work and I’d like to share some of it with you as well. She demonstrated a new technology she is working with, that transforms a normal-looking postcard into an animation when pointed at a camera. This video (although very rough…) explains it:

Another project I found interesting, was her way of depicting the reality that lays behind the “picture perfect” moments represented in family photos.

The animation is beautifully done. The first video shows a short clip, and the second shows how it was made:

You can see more of her work here.


The Collective Action Toolkit by Frog Design


A new Design Thinking resource is out. The Collective Action Toolkit from Frog Design is a resource that is designed to help people create change in their communities. It offers resources and activities to allow groups of people to design solutions together.
Your can download it for free from this website.

Notes from: The A-Z of visual ideas – How to solve any creative brief

This beautiful book by John Ingledew aims to ‘brainjack’ readers and lead them to a world of inspiration. Ideas emerge when you look at a challenge from different perspectives, and these a-z concepts help in finding them.

Some of my favorite quotes are:

“What are ideas? An idea is a sudden mental picturing of possibility – the realization that there is a possible way of doing something.”

“Imagination is the part of the mind where ideas are sparked and received, to transform inspiration into something new.”

“Other languages and cultures also have terms for fresh and exciting ideas…. Italy… ‘third horizon thinking’ and in France they have ‘jumped from one river bank to another’ while in China… ‘ideas that jump out of the frame’… Brazil… ‘from the magician’s top hat’.”

“It is necessary to hold two seemingly opposing requirements in the mind at precisely the same time.”

“Philosopher John Dewey said ‘A problem well stated is half-solved’.”

“Creativity should be like child’s play – truly pleasurable.”

“Ideas often solidify when we are not actively thinking.”

Another interesting element the book recommends, is to use a list of random questions to generate new ideas. Josh Harrison has a very nice interface that leads to a random question every time you click on it. You can also download an App in certain countries.

A comparison of Design Process Diagrams and attitudes

As designers, we are taught to follow the design process in order to find solutions to complex challenges. However,this process seems to be described in many diverse ways.

In this post I collected a few approaches taken to describe the design process. My aim is to better understand the emphasis and variety of angles taken in describing what may essentially be the same process. Hopefully, this will also allow me to offer an alternative way to describe the process.

#1. The Iterative “Step by Step” models

These models represent a set of actions to be followed sequentially, and suggest that the process is continues – when you reach a solution, you can probably make it better by following the process again. It is interesting to note the different actions the models highlight in the process:

Hugh Dubberly’s representations of Kobegr’s models

One 2 One Media Solutions

Global Ideas

Mint Creative Solutions


#2. Stepping back

The following models introduce are simmilar to the first group, however, they add arrows going back as well as arrows going forward. This implies that the steps are introduced sequentially, however, are revisited and refined throughout the process.

Chicago Architecture Foundation

Hugh Dubberly’s representations of Kobegr’s models

#3 The design process as more complex interactions between activities 

As described so nicely by Typographic Design – Form and communication (fourth edition): “…perhaps it is more helpful to think of the process as five fields of activity that overlap each other in a multidimensional environment of intellectual discourse. The process is not linear; rather, it is one of interaction and ambiguity where paths appear to meander aimlessly towards durable and innovative solutions.”

Typographic Design – Form and Communication

“A holistic approach to design requires attention to all three areas during every phase of the project. If we spend too much effort in any single area, we put our potential for success at risk.” – UX Magazine

IDEO’s model from MWO blog

#4. Partial iteration

Some models describe the prototype section as an iterative part of a linear process.

Emma Whiteside

Ponoko using a model from PBS design squad program 



#5 Re-framing the process

Design thinking process description from “Designing for Growth” by J. Liedtka and T.Oglivie, taken from Ingo Rauth’s website

#6 Highlighting user-feedback

Diana Stutz Design


#7 Using the term ‘design’ to express only a part of the process
In some cases, the term ‘design’ does not capture the whole process but rather refers to parts of it.



Graphics and Templates


After exploring some of the different attitudes towards communicating the design process, I share Benton Barnett’s notion that describing the process in boxes may be a bit far from reality:

Benton Barnett

However, I’m not giving up on trying to find a way to communicate the process in a way that would be meaningful to me and will hopefully make sense to others.

* What is your design process? Did you identify different attitudes towards describing the design process? Please add your comments or send me a message so we could continue the conversation. Thanks!

Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

This is one of my favorite TED talks! You really can’t help but smile…

I usually use this video as an example for the use of PREZI, which, if you are not familiar with it, is a presentation tool that seems to be used more widely everyday.

Many desperate PowerPoint casualties are seeking a change, a way to visually communicate their ideas in a non-linear manner. PREZI is proving to be the answer for many of them.

What PREZI offers is basically a large canvas into which you can insert text, images and other media. You create a presentation by marking the areas you wish to zoom into on your canvas, and the order in which you want to zoom into them. PREZI then creates a zoom-in and out movement between those areas when you present. This particular function is what captures most viewers in the first minute, and makes them totally sea sick for the rest of the presentation in most cases… This unique ability had also granted it the glorious nickname “PowerPoint on Steroids”.

Like in the video above, some presenters create a presentation that uses a full zoom out function at the beginning or end of their presentation to demonstrate the relationship between the different parts of the presentation.

Due to this function, PREZI is considered to be less “linear” than PowerPoint. However, I find that using PREZI on presentation mode,the “linear” aspect is exactly the same as it is in PowerPoint.

So, if I try to summarize what I think PREZI’s pros and cons are, this is it:

Pros: working on a PREZI presentation invites the presenter to think about the relationship between the different parts of their presentation. This is due to the fact everything is laid-out on one large canvas.

Cons: The transitions are incredibly destructing and it is very easy to create a BAD experience for your audience.

I’m looking forward to the day PREZI will make their transitions more seamless!

Until then, we can smile anyway (or eat a lot of chocolate…) enjoy the video!

Complex challenges in teaching: can design thinking help?

Last week I participated and presented in TERNZ (Tertiary Education Research in New Zealand) 2011 conference. Participants were higher-education lecturers and researchers who came from across disciplines and had a common interest in research into teaching and learning in higher education.

This conference has a unique spirit that asks presenters to present a research work in progress rather than final results, and look at the conference as an opportunity to discuss their ideas and directions with colleagues. In this way, conference participants are helping each other in the journey towards better understanding higher education.

Another interesting thing about TERNZ is its unique format. Instead of the expected 15min presentation – 5min for questions, each session lasts 45min and is compiled of 10min presentation and 35min discussion. After each session, you go to your “host group”, in which you meet with about 9 colleagues and reflect on what you’ve learned from the session you participated in. Since there are 6 parallel sessions, when you get to the host group discussion you get to hear about some of the sessions you have missed.

The discussions in the sessions and in the host groups were so inspiring and I am now left with many new understandings, and mainly – new questions.

The session I presented was called “Complex challenges in teaching: can design thinking help?”. The abstract for this presentation is available here under Day 1, 1pm.

The design thinking process according to how I see it

(Above is a sketch of the design thinking process as I see it).

Basically, in this session I tried to give participants a quick experience of the design thinking process, as well as some design tools they can apply for solving complex teaching problems/challenges (e.g. prioritizing their expectations for a solution under what Must/Should/Could this solution contain?, ideation process – using de Bono’s “random word” as an inspiration for a solution to help break your patterns of thought…).

The challenge that was raised in the session was “How can we help students develop critical thinking across disciplines?”. Obviously, we didn’t get to solve this question in the time-frame we had, however, we did use the process to address it and gain some of the strategies that are being used in the design world and can be applied to teaching.

Personally, I was interested in learning more about the thought processes teachers use to address challenges, as well as finding an answer to whether or not having an explicit thought process is helpful? If so, is design thinking a valid option for that?


Notes from – Reflexive Design Thinking: Putting More Human In Human-Centered Practices

Authors: Barton Friedland & Yutaka Yamauchi

Journal: Interactions, 2011, Volume 18 Issue 2

“To engage in the “design” of an organization means to address and reflect on these rules, whereas designing a technological artifact is done according to laws that correspond to the natural sciences. Because normative rules are reflexively understood and produced by people, any “design” of the rules necessarily involves the
people they affect. Thus, no one can design an organization for someone else. The only thing that someone can do for another is to design representations and constraints such as formal roles, staffing, processes, and hierarchical structures. Designing an organization therefore involves other activities, such as supporting members of the organization in reflecting and bringing attention to the normative rules of their own organization.

… On the other hand, actual professional practices in general and design practices in particular embody reflection-in-action. This means designers face each unique
situation and, at the same time, see it as something familiar. Through this, they frame the situation and test successive frames by taking actions experimentally and reframe the situation based on what they learn. To many in management, this kind of practice appears unstable and subjective.

Solutions are often framed in terms of decision making, where an option among given options is chosen. Design is form-giving, the creation of what has not existed. As such, designers often take a solution- focused or abductive approach, by which they explore solutions and problems together and often use a potential solution to better understand the problem [2, 3]. Resulting designs can vary from situation to situation, from designer to designer. In contrast, an emphasis on analyzing a problem and rationally choosing the best solution occludes design possibilities.

Designers simultaneously pay attention to the whole while designing the parts.

…practicing design differs from the theoretical understanding of what design is. Learning design thinking therefore requires actual participation in designing in which experts can “coach, not teach, learners,” to use Schön’s phrase.

Technology can be a tool for learning design thinking and facilitating cultural change. Instead of designing abstractions such as roles, communication paths, and strategies, they designed tangible artifacts. We believe this played an important role in helping them acquire design thinking. Therefore, to help acquire design thinking, as practitioners we need to constantly challenge people’s assumptions. In this relationship, we are always conscious about our relationship with the client. We do not take our relationship with them for granted and instead try to design the relationship as part of our project. Inherently we become part of the situation that we seek to change. Power is also an issue here. Because we are hired by the organization to deliver some value, members of the organization tend to think of design as our job. They believe they can simply say what they want and we will design it. The new research program should take this reflexivity seriously. In most studies in HCI, computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), and even participatory design, practitioners are seen as observers outside the situation. Much research is needed in this aspect of practice.

It is not clear in what process clients acquire such skills as design thinking while they initially have no idea and become defensive.

For this reason we would like to call for research that is sensitive to the issues practitioners really face. We propose a research agenda that incorporates a broader organizational frame, taking into fuller account how organizations actually change (e.g., cultural change and power relations), and one that still emphasizes the valuable roles of technology, communication, and coordination.”

What is the difference between design and art?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my colleague regarding the difference between art and design. We both felt they are clearly not the same thing, however, found it quite difficult to explain what it is exactly that separates them.

I always thought that the difference lies in the reason design and art are created. Art, from my point of view (as a designer) is born from someone’s need to express themselves. Design, however, is focused on whoever is going to interact with the design. It seems to me that you need to understand who your “user” is, who your market is, and who your client is in order to produce good design. You need to learn to understand yourself in order to produce good art. Naturally, you need to understand yourself to become a good designer, but I don’t think it is as crucial as it is in art. But I’m not an artist.

While my colleague and I were discussing this, we thought that it may also have something to do with constraints versus freedom. Artists seem to have more freedom and to be able to handle it better than some designers may. Personally, I find constraints to be a crucial creativity inducer. I don’t cope well with blank sheets of paper and no brief. In order to start creating something, I have to at list create my own brief. Do artists do that as well?

Looking for an answer to what the difference between the two may be, I came across this post. It suggests the following differences:

Good Art Inspires. Good Design Motivates.

Good Art Is Interpreted. Good Design Is Understood.

Good Art Is a Taste. Good Design Is an Opinion.

Good Art Is a Talent. Good Design Is a Skill.

Good Art Sends a Different Message to Everyone.

Good Design Sends the Same Message to Everyone.

I find these statements to be quite frustrating. I can’t agree with any of the statements regarding design. For example, I don’t think that good design is a skill versus talent. If that was true, every designer that had practice would have been a top designer. Also, I believe great designs have another layer to them – not just the layer someone can understand, but also one that someone can interpret. Does that mean it is art?

What I appreciated about the post is that it does not claim to know the answer, but merely to share a hypothesis.

I’m left with trying to make more sense of this, and I should probably sit down for a good conversation with an artist one day. Any volunteers?

What triggers our creativity?

There are small things I do to trigger my creativity. Whether I use well structured techniques like inserting ideas into a “must should could” scheme, or simply focus on something else until ideas “come to me” – my door is always open for creativity.

There is a certain magic in knowing that something new (to me) is going to come up any moment now.

However, I wonder if the more we practice the same methods of triggering creativity, the less creative they allow us to be? Also, I believe each person has techniques that work for him, and some that just don’t. This is why I’m always looking for more ways to trigger creativity. 

In this article I found some interesting ideas people have. I’m sharing my techniques on twitter under #TriggersMyCreativity. If you want to join the discussion and share your secrets, you are welcome to add comments to this blog or simply tweet and include #TriggersMyCreativity in your tweet :)

About Learning and Tweetting

Recently, I began using Twitter. I’ve known about it for years, but was frankly too afraid to try it myself. My pursuit to maintain some level of privacy in my life, had led me to the conclusion that social networking is just not for me.

For years I’ve been the “lurker” – enjoying the benefits social networking offers without actually contributing to it. I had a Facebook account only so I could see my closest friends’ photos and updates – and never put anything up there myself. I read numerous blogs and have learned hips from them, but have never bothered to write my own. I even avoided typing anonymous replies to posts I enjoyed. All, until the past couple of months. 

As I was starting a new research project (about teaching, learning and design) I recalled a conversation I had with a colleague regarding “open research”. If you have yet to encounter this concept, the main idea of it is that you perform parts of your research in an open-online environment (e.g. a blog). At the university, we tend to keep a lot of what we do behind the scenes, and only when we reach the final “answers” we were looking for – we publish them.

This behavior may lead to well-polished studies and results, but those are usually shared only through the academic channels of journals, books, or conferences. The unfortunate part of it is that a lot of the first stages of research, as literature reviews for example, are performed behind closed doors. 

“Open-research” suggests that by conducting as many parts of your research as you can openly, you can contribute to the community while receiving back from it. For example, if I write about what I’m researching/exploring I hope to create synthesis that would be of interest to others, while learning from their comments, discussions and links to further resources I wouldn’t have thought of or found myself.

So, going back to my small “social media revolution” – I opened this blog, and as I said in the beginning – I also recently started using Twitter. I did so when I wanted to get some feedback and tips regarding my blog, and thought to myself I should try and see if someone out there, in the #design community on Twitter could help me?

The pressure was on. As I was about to send out my very first tweet, I felt both anxious and excited at once. What is going to happen next? Who will be able to help me? What would they say?

And so I tweeted. That’s it – it was up there for the whole world to see!

Or………. was it?

By the time I typed #design in the search field to see my first post in its glory, I discovered 2 highly embarrassing facts:

1. The post wasn’t there. It took me a while to find that it was only showing the Top tweets (which naturally, my first post wasn’t a part of…).

2. When I chose to see All tweets (rather than only the top ones) I discovered that my post was already long down the list of tweets and, as we can all assume, probably wasn’t seen by anyone other than me.

Disappointing? I’m not sure… Something in me was quite relieved to discover I didn’t have to dive into the rush immediately, but rather take some time to learn the rules of this foreign territory. And so I started my Twitter journey.


After spending 1 hour on Twitter I can now say the following:

1. I can probably do this all day, every day. (How scary!!!)

2. I just had one of the most intensive learning experiences of my life! I’ve been exposed to more resources, ideas, projects, people and initiatives than I could ever imagine. I’ve deepened my understanding of concepts I was already exploring and was exposed to many new ones. (How exhilarating!)

3. Working in the field of Educational Media, I was familiar with the idea of Twitter being used in classes and conferences as a platform for discussions between participants/students. I have always found that to be rather annoying to be frank, and didn’t see the benefit of people typing their thoughts through this platform instead of raising their hands and speaking out to encourage in-class/in-session discussions. However, after exploring Twitter from a different angle, and learning so much, I can now see that it may have many possibilities to enhance teaching and learning. That is, if it is being used in a slightly different way if I may suggest (mainly, not as a discussion tool for people who are sitting in the same room together).

This is “a documentary exploring design thinking, a movement that tries to distinguish design as a ‘surface’, from its thinking ‘behind.’”

These guys are looking for support and donations, and are offering some creative ways of thanking their supporters. Learn more on: kickstarter

Thank you Stacey Sheppard for introducing this beautiful project to me.