What “agile” can actually look like in agency

Agile tends to be a buzzword we throw around a lot in agency. Buuuuuuuut, how is agile actually practiced? How does it make sense when we are usually marching to the beat of timeline/scope/clients?

Here’s a look at a few “agile” scenarios that I’ve seen come to life in agency…kinda-sorta. FYI: these are my very BASIC illustration skills…so be kind.

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Personas: Keepin’ it real

Who cares about where Silly Sally lives, how much she makes and what her favorite hobby is?

A fun and simple way to contextualize your research, or to put a face to your target audience, is to create personas. Personas are the anonymous (read fictional) users that were involved in your research—maybe you looked into demographics-based stats online or maybe you were lucky enough to work with the people you will be designing for. Personas have grown in popularity and come in a variety of styles; personas can sometimes be very detailed (sometimes too detailed) or very minimal (just keywords and maybe a sketch of the user).

Because personas are essentially a way for your projects to connect to real users, it is important that they aspire to be as faithful as possible to real (potential) users. Oftentimes, personas come into play after the ideation process, where novice UX-ers are simply fitting quick and dirty persona bios into already established concepts (for the sake of context rather than impact). Personas should not feel contrived and also should not package stereotypes …

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Tangible Wireframing: Responsive design made simple, fun and more accessible

Structuring your content is key to great design, especially in the growing world of responsive web. Limitations with organizing content or designing the framework in which content will be placed are often imposed by the content itself. While early conversations with clients lead to a general understanding of design priorities and goals, it is difficult to transfer these insights to wireframing without several back-and-forths with content strategy (whether it happens on the client side or within the agency). Bringing basic wireframe ideas into early conversations allows non-designers and non-architects to get their hands dirty and understand the parameters within which responsive web design occurs.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s Content Everywhere, a part of the Rosenfeld book collection, is both compelling and inspiring. Particularly interesting was an image that was used in the book under the heading “Structure Follows Substance” (see below).

Figure 3.6, Page 46, Chapter 3 | Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content, Sara Wachter-Boettcher | Rosenfeld

View book:

From a UX/information architecture perspective, a tool similar to that shown in the image above is …

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Mobile UX at its best: Why I love Flipboard

If you don’t already have it on your smart device, I encourage you to download this great news+social media app!

The UX:

Flipboard makes browsing content FUN and MEMORABLE.

An up-down swiping gesture that is so simple and intuitive is the essential interaction required to enjoy this app. While Flipboard doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking in terms of content and personal integration, it’s the way that the app presents itself to the user that makes Flipboard so much fun.

The THUMB is the part of the body that so easily affords interaction with a mobile device and Flipboard keeps the entire UX very thumb-centric. The exploratory value in the app is just as fun as navigating through your content; expanding an article you’re curious about and then scrolling through that and then finally returning to the main menu remains smooth and intuitive.

Norman-Maslow and the Pleasure Principle:

Sometimes people get good UX confused with developing a UI that is super simplistic and gets rid of all redundant features, in an effort to foster good usability. Of course this isn’t the case, …

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Meanwhile in gaming: Bad UI and Last-Gen Interaction

Okay, so I finally gave in and bought Need for Speed: Rivals, a game I was highly anticipating after last year’s great Most Wanted and its predecessor The Run (which was completely underrated in my opinion). I was going to wait until next year and get a next-gen machine before making the investment…but oh well, my Xbox 360 can give me what I’m essentially looking for.

My question to the developers of this game is: Why did you strip down the navigation/wayfinding?

The mini map is a horrible excuse for a proper navigation element in a game that is all about adrenaline-pumping speed and cataclysmic crashes that can sabotage any advantage you may have had during a race. Looking away from your vehicle and the route you’re on and towards the mini map tucked away into the bottom-left corner for even a second is enough to find yourself destroyed. What kills me even more is the unpredictable and low-to-the-ground checkpoint indicators…seriously, as if finding your way during a race wasn’t already hard enough. So many times I’ve driven completely off-course …

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UX/UI Review: My thoughts on iOS 7

Preface: I realize this post is somewhat late in its arrival, especially due to the fact that iOS 7 has been thoroughly dissected by everyone and their mothers at this point. Regardless, I write this post in a cathartic effort to rid myself of frustrations I’ve genuinely had with the latest of Apple’s big redesigns, and not simply to jump on a bandwagon.

I really do love the design direction with iOS 7. It’s relevant and allows Apple to remain competitive.

Thank god someone at Apple pushed this through–the pre-iOS 7 iPhone UI was becoming too boring and, overtime, dampened the excitement of having an iPhone. I assumed that Samsung’s Galaxy S4 lit a fire under Apple and pushed designers to make the iPhone feel competitive and have the same allure that newer phones now use to their advantage. Can we call it insecurity? Whatever it was, it was definitely needed. Every brand should innovate at least ONCE every year or two. This is how you stay competitive. You can …

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Design for Dasein: Integrity and experience in virtual reality therapy (VRT)

In preparation for the development of the interactive thesis project, theoretical research from a variety of fields, mostly interdisciplinary, was consolidated. Remaining to be more thoroughly explored however was the potential effectiveness of the planned design, a multimodal therapeutic experience mediated by technology based on holistic health practices, especially in comparison to that of its ‘real’, physical, in-person counterpart. Visiting with practitioners of these healing modalities invests the thesis research with a sensitivity to bring to technology an authentic experience that keeps in tact the integrity of the therapy. The concept of Dasein, borrowed from Martin Heidegger (Being and Time, 1996), was investigated through an in-class residency where it was applied to technologies that are perceived as playing a pivotal role in the disengagement of users from the ‘real’ world, presumably coinciding with a lack of interpersonal communication deemed essential in personal development (Turkle, 2012). Disengagement was understood, for example, as a user feeling more connected to a virtual world rather than his or her real world, resulting in the avoidance of real world interaction.

One possible approach to address …

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Applied Design Research: Sensibility Space

Can architecture react to your feelings?

I really enjoyed the way this project was demonstrated–amazing to see a physical structure react to your presence and in such a way that reflects how ‘it’ feels that you are feeling. This is yet another example of ‘slow’ technology that calls for engagement and learning with its use. Affective computing is a relatively new area of focus in ubiquitous computing that caters to users’ feelings and attitudes while relaying to them that computers have feelings too or at least the capacity to understand theirs. Sensibility Space is a large physical structure that talks to a computer to which assesses facial expression for emotion. Once the computer identifies the facial expression of an emotion in its database, it rearranges the architecture to respond directly to the users’ affect with colour and movement as visual indicators. The piece is still under development but what is interesting to question is whether a truly affective machine would respond to us or simply reproduce or identify our feelings. What would this response have the capacity to tell us …

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Applied Design Research: Autopoiesis

Ken Rinaldo’s ‘Autopoiesis’ work is an interactive piece that reacts to user participation and evolving as a result. The work is comprised of a group of large robotic arms suspended from the ceiling. The move and make sound in unison so as to suggest the performance of a symphony by members of an orchestra. Each robotic arm is equipped with a camera and has a wide viewing angle that detects human proximity to the machine–this leads to a change in the affected arms’ performance and this also changes the audio soundtrack of the piece. User participation is learned by the piece and it augments itself accordingly. Because the piece reacts and evolves on its own it is considered ‘autopoietic’, which is a buzz word for my thesis project.

I had been interested in the term and its presence in new technology because I believe it brings to light certain questions about our concept of what posthuman life entails. I feel that Hayles’ idea of the cyborg was one that involved autopoietic technologies that were associated with the human but not …

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Applied Design Research: Hylozoic Soil

One of my favourite projects which is a great example of research, theory, and provocation that meets technology includes the ‘Hylozoic Soil’ by Philip Beesley.

In this project Beesley presents a technological structure that is intended to ‘live’ and behave as though it were an organism. The many features of the piece mimic those within our own body; the reef is aware of the presence of people in a space and reacts accordingly, wet chemistry mimics our lymphatic system–in this case used as analogous to a filtration processes, microprocessors and memory serve as the life centre of the structure, allowing it to move, react and conform as it remembers and learns its environment. Overall the piece is reflective of a living material that responds as though it were living in relation to its context–this is the epitome of living architecture that adapts to its environment.

This project offers inspiration to the thesis project because it is working piece of technology that is both crude and refined and so, appears as an ideal blend of technology and nature while evoking responses …

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