Creative Review came to Manchester the other day to look at The Federation, a community of digital businesses we've set up at the Co-op. UsTwo, NorthCoders, NHS R&D, Liverpool Girl Geeks, Kainos and many others are already in there. More about that soon.
Anyway, I'm pleased with how it turned out so I'm putting it on the blog and linking to it - Ben Terrett on the importance of teamwork.
It's quite popular on Twitter. This is the best comment by far.
I'm surprised more places don't do this. There is such a proliferation of Uber drivers now particularly when things like football matches or gigs end. Airports would be another example.
I wonder if any new build offices or shopping centres are planning for things like this. How does a 5/10 year planning cycle react to 12 month / 18 month digital trends. Trends or bubble? Permanent or temporary change?
Digital demands changes to infrastructure faster than the pace of infrastructure.
Uber try and fix this with their suggested pick up and drop off points. That works well and co-ordinates the network, presumably based on data.
Desire paths in action.
People have always needed dropping off and picking up. In London there are still some of these lighted taxi signs outside hotels and posh blocks of flats. And parliament obvs.
Old problems new solutions. (Another episode from Tech is Neither Good nor Bad, just Different.)
This picture from R Chunn
16. Google Design released a guide to designing with machine learning.
I say released a guide, I mean published a Medium post. Such is the way of things these days.
There’s a lot of hyperbole talked about ML and this was the most sensible thing I’ve read about it so far. Called “human-centered machine learning” it’s simple, practical guidance. The bit about email attachments is lovely. If this is as successful and useful as Material Design, Google are on to a good thing here.
Essential reading Human-Centered Machine Learning by Google Design
Unusually Fast Company have written a good summary. Beware, it's one of those annoying web pages where everything moves around for five minutes before you can start reading.
Fast Company - Google’s Rules For Designers Working With AI
17. The Parliament Digital Service has taken photographs of every single MP. For the first time ever.
They photographed 90% of 650 MPs in just one day, shot against the same background as they were sworn in after the election. Each sitting averaging less than a minute. That’s impressive. They are all reusable under a Creative Commons licence. This is a simple but brilliant piece of work and exactly what parliament should be doing.
(Not everyone is happy obvs, but this twitter thread is an absolute joy )
18. Imagine having a bookcase named after you. Hello Billy Likjedhal if you’re reading this.
Naming is always fascinating. Ikea have a team of product namers, who assign names from a database of Swedish words. Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal).
19. Good article on car UX.
But, a long article about car UX that only mentions Tesla twice. Which I found odd. Makes me think no one is writing about this stuff openly. Which is maybe understandable, but I still find unusual.
Special mention to ustwo who are thinking and writing about it as ustwo Auto
20. Canyon is named Red Dot design team of the year.
The Red Dot awards are credible and Canyon are doing good work not just in bike design, but service design too. Worth watching this team.
21. BBVA has 150 designers in 11 countries, all with different specialties, not that unusual but they are also training 1000 design ambassadors. That’s interesting. Led by Derek White and Rob Brown previously of Barclays superb digital and design team.
22. Procter & Gamble cut $140 Million from digital ad spend and saw no effect on sales.
Lots and lots of reckons around this, obvs. Some context, P&G spent $2.4 billion on advertising last year, so $140M is around a 5% cut.
I’m sure most large companies could stop $100M of lots of things and have no effect on sales.
But still, there is a regular drumbeat of stories like this. And what I found most interesting is that the CFO explicitly called it out in the earnings statement. A shot across the bows, methinks.
This does the rounds every few months. Usually sparks a debate about Uber being or not being the new buses. Or something. Everyone gets very angry.
I get angry every time I see it.
I get angry because it’s such a bad piece of communication.
This version from the 60s is a London Underground ad that makes exactly the same point more effectively and more efficiently.
The modern one is so complicated. It adds two modes of transport that you don’t need to make the point.
The 60s one uses 14 words and takes a few seconds to read. The current one uses 33 words and takes 15 seconds before it’s finished playing. I bet most people need to watch it twice to understand it.
Abrams Games used to describe his design philosophy as a combination of image and text that communicates an idea with ‘maximum meaning' using 'minimum means’. The designer of the 60s poster is unattributed, but it does maximum meaning, minimum means really well.
In the era of twitter and dwindling dwell times I’m constantly surprised people don’t focus more energy on making communication simpler and shorter. We’ve had to wait until 2017 for someone to launch a 6 second ad format.
Maximum meaning, minimum means. More relevant today than ever.
But I’m not going to talk much about design tonight. So lower your expectations accordingly. I’m going to talk about teams and diversity instead.
Everyone who gets an award thanks their colleagues and mentors. Or their coaches and the left back and the goalkeeper. That’s not just being polite. It’s accurate. Individuals collect awards - but teams win them.
I mostly design for the internet and on the internet there are no lone genius designers.
The romance of the lone artisan in their garret coming up with the Big Idea is over.
And I think that’s a good thing. The design industry used to work like this. Back in the 50s and 60s it was more common for designers to work in multidisciplinary teams. They didn’t call it that of course - just worked with whoever they needed to achieve the end product. Names like Margaret Calvert of Kenneth Grange worked with a variety of different skills to achieve great things. This is even more important today. And our job is to make the organisations we work with better at doing that. Better at collaboration.
The toughest design problems in the world today require co-operation at a large scale. They need people with different talents and experiences working together to find answers that work. Design today needs teams that have lots of different perspectives.
That means we need to make it easier for people to become designers.
How I got into design is a really boring story. I studied art and design at school and graphic design at university. I’m sure lots of you did that too. But that’s much harder to do today.
This year is the 180th anniversary of design education in the UK but today it’s possible for schools to get an outstanding grade from Ofsted without teaching any art or design subjects, so 15% of schools have withdrawn arts subjects. And we’re seeing that kids aren’t studying art and design. Entries for GCSE Art & Design down 8% and A-Level 12%. I’m a Governor at University for the Arts London and we’re seeing a drop at Undergraduate Level too. (Stats from NSEAD.)
And Brexit means we’re getting fewer and fewer EU students applying. All at a time when we need designers who reflect who they’re designing for.
You can help by volunteering in an organisation like the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club.
Advocate a career in design to your friends. And your friends’ kids. And then to people who look and sound nothing like you.
(This is picture of the current UAL Students Union Arts SU. They are a talented, diverse group.)
Encourage and promote diverse, multi-disciplinary teams.
A hard problem, but a useful one to solve - because that’s what designers do best. If it's easy, make it look easy. If it isn't actually easy, then make it easy. Thank you, enjoy the rest of your evening.
(Huge thanks to Ella who helped write the speech. She is available to help you too.)
This is not a political post and so I'm publishing after the election.
Sam Blackledge, a reporter from the Plymouth Herald got to interview Theresa May a few days ago.
He asked four specific questions about the local area. Every answer started with “I’m very clear” and then went on to give a vague answer.He got bland answers without any substance. His write up of the encounter is scathing, he described it as, “Three minutes of nothing”.
Here’s one example:
Plymouth is feeling the effects of military cuts. Will you guarantee to protect the city from further pain?
"I'm very clear that Plymouth has a proud record of connection with the armed forces."
You can read the full article and watch a video of the interview here on the Plymouth Herald.
Theresa May is saying "I'm very clear" and then not being clear at all. (See Russell's advice on how to be clear.)
But this isn’t about Theresa May or politicians. This is how leaders speak in public these days. Grandiose sounding statements that contain no substance, no facts or distinct opinions. Statements that give away nothing but sound decisive. It’s a style that’s been honed over decades and is evident in almost all forms of media. Footballers speaking after a football game is another example.
There is one alternative, here is Mick McCarthy literally saying nothing when asked about Roy Keane.
There is a more up to date example from Sam here.