All posts tagged communication

  • Communication strategy as design

    Rough as this semester is, I had a really heartening experience today helping a CMU startup with their communication strategy that affirmed several of my beliefs on the impact of design and my process:

    1. You need to spend time understanding the problem—the whole system—to the best of your abilities. 
    2. Written communication is design and is part of the experience of an audience’s understanding your service.
    3. The team is not your audience, test your ideas with outsiders.

    I am working on their overall design strategy and user experience throughout their serivce system and will be studying the interaction design on one specific chunk of the product throughout the semester. I told them my first step really understanding their product/service. They are so involved and wanted so much to explain the entire system to me that it really took some time to separate all the information they were giving me and think about it as a designer and a user. To think about the core values their service was providing to their intended users and how to communication and refine those areas. I spent a long time meeting with the team listening to their conversation and really challenging different areas of the service until I felt confident I could communicate it with conviction—that means not just understanding in it, but believing in what they were doing.

    Notes I took to illustrate my understanding of the process and general notes on what I needed. This mess is how I think about things.

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  • Observer Portrait: Physical Description

    Narrative & Argument: 

    (Pre-draft, just setting up the physical presence of our subject)

    — —

    During one of those first-day-ice-breaker games, one of Evan’s 10 fun facts about himself was that he was “impressively white.” It was true that he didn’t just happen to be a person that was pale, but his lack of color became one of his features. True to his Swedish heritage, his fair skin and blond hair is rounded out by light blue eyes and angular features. He has a prominent sail boat nose, high cheek bones, and a square chin. At just under six feet four inches, most people would take notice of him anyway, but as look at his elongated monotone figure, he leaves and impression on you.

    The second thing people notice is his hair which is more white-blond than yellow. I most remember it as a wooly mass of curls, like a sheep. When he wears it short, it forms a textured wave. When it’s long enough it has these playful waves that make you want to touch the cloud-like shape or muss it up like a little kid’s. The longer it gets the more like a bleached Ronald McDonald wig it becomes as his tight curls really get start taking over. Right now, as it reaches down past his shoulders and gravity has pulled the ringlets of his once-fro down, it’s hard to compare it to anything familiar because even a janitor’s mop seems to be more organized. It gives you the same impression as the coat of the Hungarian Puli.

    Evan gives off a very disarming presence. This is partly because his lanky features make him look uncoordinated and harmless (which isn’t true, he’s actually quite athletic) and partly because he is very quiet when placed a new environment, again, not because he’s shy, but because he doesn’t feel the need to talk unless he’s responding to something. His smile is sincere and his beaming cheeks will allow the emotion to reach his eyes. He doesn’t hesitate to open up conversation with someone he thinks looks interesting and it’s that warm smile that I’ve seen charm whoever he was talking with.

    He’s always been very fit and lean, but his length creates the optical illusion that he’s gawky. Lately, he’s managed to put on enough weight (a uniquely male problem) in order to gain mass and now his arm and chest muscles easily show under a shirt. It’s still hard for me to remember these new proportions when I see him now.

    He can most often be found in a t-shirt with some bold graphic on it, either a drawing he’s made or one featuring an artist he admires. He has a slight curve of to his back and, compounded with his long torso, many of his shirts will form a small tent in the back and reveal his belt tightened as far as it can go in the front. The majority of his jeans have a rip in the knees, some of which have been patched up but most not. Inevitably there is a splatter of paint somewhere on him if he was trying to be tidy especially if he is wearing one of his dedicated painting shirts. Event still, he is quite controlled when he works and none of his clothes are ever coated in a paint like we’d like to imagine an artist to be. His hands, especially around the cuticles will sometimes have some colored residue left over or a smudge of black if he was working on a charcoal drawing. But most of the time he has a super natural diligence when it comes to washing all the paint or whatever off his tools and hands so they are usually clean but dry.