Mira Kirvesmaki

Design with heart


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Week 4 of project


Time again to look back and collage together what the past week has meant in terms of the project.


I am very happy to inform that this week has been a positive one. I’ve manage to take quite a big leap forward. This has some to do with the amount of thought power that has gone into figuring things out but a big thanks goes also to few exercises that I did during the week. I’ll introduce these in a separate post soon (promise).


So now for this hyped big step forward: I’ve decided to concentrate my efforts on looking at good deeds. How could I inspire, or challenge, people to do good? The idea draws inspiration from the progress principle and the basic idea would be to allow people the means to record any good deeds they do and thus inspire them to keep them up as well as maybe pick up some new ones along the way. To help people to feel more like they are actually making a difference and feel better about themselves and maybe even help others along the way.


This idea really ticks most of the boxes that I’ve been creating along the way. It plays to the idea that even small things can have a big effect, it promotes my values as a designer and really allows me to concentrate on crafting the experience. And above all, I have a very good feeling about it. I’m excited.


So this weeks board features a word cloud that tries to capture the concepts that have been relevant this week, with the most important ones highlighted in yellow.


Click to see the image bigger



 


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Looking for visual language


This weeks tutorial was about starting to look into finding our visual language. As I’m not yet at a stage where i could actually make informed decisions about what kind of visual language I want to use I started to look into few styles that I admire and think might be useful in the project.


As you might have picked up previously I’m a big fan of Pinterest and so to keep up my love affair I started my search there. Instead of looking for a specific visual style I decided to go through a myrriad of choices and pick out the ones that somehow appealed to me. I then put all these together and started looking for commonalities amongst them. I ended up putting together three boards that  represented something that I was particularly attracted to.


The first board shares the use of stricking geometry and bold colours. They use simple shapes to build something more complex.


Board 1



The second board mixes bold images and beautiful typography. I feel this combo is one of the best ways to get across a simple message.


Board 2



The third board might lean more on tone of voice side than actual visual language. But as the two of them are so interconnected I decided to include this here as well. I believe that a hint of playfulness can go a long way in making people really connect to what you are presenting them with. It can really break barriers and makes it all a bit more fun.


Board 3



The sources for all the images can be found on my Pinterest board.


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Week 3 of project


It’s Sunday and yes you guessed it: the week has once again whizzed by. I’ve dedicated most of this week to desk research looking into the fascinating area of behavioral economics. For those of you less familiar with this topic, in a nutshell it’s the study of what kind of behavioural aspects, social, cognitive or emotional,  influence our economic decisions. And no, I haven’t suddenly turned into an economist. These are important aspects that will help me understand better why and how behave in a certain way. For example: why they choose one service over the other, how to guide them through an application and what motivates people to do certain things. All of these aspects are highly applicable in the field of interaction design.


As is now a tradition (yes, the third time can already be called a tradition) I’ve made another inspiration board. This time outlaying the books I’ve been reading this week and for each book one quote that I thought somehow reflects the contents.



Click on the image to see it bigger

And here are links to the Google books page for each book:


Advances in Behavioral Economics edited by Colin F. Camerer, George Loewenstein and Matthew Rabin


Behavioral Economics and its applications edited by Peret Diamond and Hannu Vartiainen


Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel H. Pink


Seductive Interaction Design: Creating playful, fun and effective user experiences by Stephen P. Anderson


What the dog saw: and other adventures by Malcolm Gladwell


 


 


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Capturing lessons learned


This week we had the good fortune of getting a masterclass from Colin Burns. Here are few of the things I picked up on during this tutorial first represented visually and then explained in a nutshell. I can’t even begin to describe how useful this session was and have to say that these really are just few of the things I learned. I might get back on some of the other aspects later on.


Visualizing the lessons learned



Innovators need to be more like Indiana Jones, explorers who are curious about everything. Especially important for us at the moment, as we are choosing our own projects, is to choose something that we are curious about and will love. This curiosity can then be transferred into a design project alongside with few other aspects:


Innovation, exploitation of ideas to create value
Design, a process to manage ideas
Invention, the making of ideas
Creativity, lateral, non-reductive thought process
Playfulness, a behaviour that encourages creativity by smart failure


The designers job is to then look at the world in a new way, make ideas visible and tangible and then try them out in a low-risk way. This is something anyone can do really. It’s just that designers have more practice in it. An important thing to remember about design projects is that they are all full of failures, and that it’s okay. The important thing here is to fail as early as possible.


When applying for jobs be aware of your brand. Your brand is a promise, live up to it. When looking for employment you need to be different, have attitude and be authentic.


A key to good leadership is being transparent about the rules everyone plays to. I also feel that being transparent is part of being a good employee, not just employer.


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Teresa Amabile and the progress principle


As advertised previously I have found something that fits my current project outlines almost flawlessly. As I listed in one of the first posts of the semester the knowns and unknowns of my project, there have been few questions that really stuck with me:

  • Can solving smaller problems make big problems less intimidating
  • Can solving a small problem actually have a big impact

Now it would seem that Teresa Amabile, a professor at the Harvard business school, can provide some insight into these. She has studied how everyday life inside organizations can affect individual performance and has come  up with a theory called the progress principle.


The progress principle says that the single most prominent thing, found through multi-year research conducted by Amabile and her team, in being more productive, creative and happy in work is to make meaningful progress. This progress can be even very small, just as long as it has some meaning to the person performing it. This means that to promote a better “inner work life”, as Amabile calls it, people making progress need to be supported better and nourished. The way the team studied the progress principle was through collecting diary entries from creative teams through a cycle of one project. What they found as well was that this simple activity of recording these small wins and reflecting on them proved to be remarkably useful and make a difference.


Here’s a 99U video Track Your Small Wins to Motivate Big Accomplishments that lets Amabile herself explain this.


To me this is a magnificent example of how a small thing (recording and supporting these small progresses) can actually lead to something greater (creativity, happiness, meaning, productivity). Something small can actually be of big importance. What I am most interested about here is how this relates to other areas that just work. Can the same principle be transferred to tracking small wins throughout the day and feeling more productive and accomplished? And can celebrating and reflecting on these small everyday wins just on your own have the wanted effect?


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Week 2 of project


So here we are again, sunday has arrived. This week I’ve been trying hard to find that first stepping stone in finding the first step in creating the brief: a topic. While I have not succeeded in that, I am a lot closer and have now a lot better understanding of what I want and what I have to offer.


To summarize this week I’ve created another inspiration board and this time it’s filled with quotes that I find particularly interesting at the moment. They have mostly to do with small things becoming something greater. The whole becoming greater than the sum of it’s parts. I have found something quite interesting that fits this idea, that I’ll have to share with you, perhaps tomorrow.

 

The inspiration board of week two. Click on the image to see a larger version


 

Image source


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Emptying my head


Today I dedicated time to going through and really understanding what’s going on with the project right now. Instead of continuing to allow all my ideas and thoughts to swirl around in my head I decided to take the bull by it’s horns and force them out of my head and onto paper. Trying to really ground this project and hopefully get one step closer to finding that first stepping stone on my journey. In a way reproducing the knowns and unknowns exercise done during one of the tutorials, but in a more visual way.


I started by getting all the things I’ve been holding onto, all the things that have been thinking about, and getting them out of my head straight on to post-it’s (very designer of me, I know). Actually grounding all these thoughts, cutting their wings and identifying them for what they are really helped me to understand the bigger picture of where I am currently at. Getting a proper top-down view on the project.





After kicking everyone out of my head I did a bit of affinity diagramming by organizing the post-it’s that I thought were related into piles. I ended up having six different categories ranging from “what I can give to the project” to “what would I would like to get in return”.





The biggest aspect that arose from this exercise is the fact that even though I’ve figured out several details of what I would like my design response to look like (well crafted, people centered, etc.) and what I want to focus on and improve (my visual communication skills, understanding behaviours, etc) I really don’t have the topic yet. Something to start with, to concentrate on and that can lead to these other things or give the opportunity to do them.


Besides pointing out the, quite obvious, gaps in my thinking, this exercise also allowed me to really look at what drives me as a designer. I am really driven by my values, by trying to make a positive change through my work. I feel that my place is more in redesigning and repurposing existing products than in creating something new and novel. Trying to understand existing behaviours and being able to add new value to them or alter them for the better is something I feel passionate about. To me design has great potential to make a real difference in the world and I really hope I’ll be able to contribute to this during my professional life.


So all in all a very successful exercise. I now have a better understanding of the aspects that I really need to incorporate to the project, as well as what my next steps will need to be.