What is Design?

A simple way to talk about “design,” (without it feeling like a buzz word) Since Steve Jobs’ recognition with the re-emergence of Apple as a major player, “Design” has become fashionable. But the actual definition of Design can be a bit elusive. What does “design” actually mean in the modern commercial sense, and why is it so popular all of a sudden? Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it Read more…

Salvadorean Buses

San Salvador, El Salvador I may know that I’ve arrived in El Salvador when the smiling airport staff sticks the visa in my passport, but it doesn’t feel like El Salvador until we hit the road into the city. This is where the buses are. Privately owned, the buses of El Salvador have taken to unique decorations and declarations reflecting their religious beliefs – or maybe just to encourage more passengers to choose them over the steep competition. Read more…

Design Research Diary: Overview

“I know that we should be learning more about our users, but we have to go to market soon and we just don’t have the time or money for a huge research project right now!” Design research mitigates business risk by interviewing and observing potential customers in context. It can be expensive and cumbersome, however, to have researchers present with user group participants every minute of every day. How can we enable our test users to answer prompted questions and Read more…

Healthy Hexagons

In 2014, as MedicSana was still in the “coffee-shop” phase of early start-ups, Pablo Bucio designed a blue hexagonal logo. We used blue, a nice soothing (though extremely generic) healthcare color, but the box shape was more of a nod to the “box” aspect of our value proposition. The original plan for MedicSana involved the metaphorical “Cajas Fuertes,” or “strong boxes,” (like a safe) for storing money long term and “Cajas Populares,” or “Popular boxes” Read more…

Shopping Lists

Leave it to the designers to use post-its for everything. A close friend of mine who lives in Austin keeps track of her grocery shopping list with post-its on the fridge (in both English and Chinese).

DR V: Building the Script

In my previous post, I talked a little bit about the psychological theories that relate to design research. In this article, I explain how we put these into practice. If you haven’t yet, it may be helpful to go back and real my previous posts for context about what design research is and whey we do it: DR 101: What is Design Research? – What is design research? Is it the right answer for your business? Read more…

The Use of Knowledge in Society

     Welcome to Knowledge in Society – my personal blog devoted to the messy knowledge and human cleverness around us. I borrowed “Knowledge in Society” from the late economist F. A. Hayek’s pivotal 1945 essay The Use of Knowledge in Society, an essay that personally re-framed the way I understand the world and established a base for the research I continue to do today.      Hayek’s essay, a response to the growing analytical nature of economics, calls Read more…

Turrets and Razor Wire

Over the past few years I’ve visited El Salvador 4 times, spending a total of about 9 weeks in the country. Three of these visits were in 2015, a year of increased gang violence in El Salvador where it passed Afganistan to become the country with the most per-capita murders in the world. Now in 2016, the country of just over 6 million people is seeing an average of 30 murders per day. These places Read more…

DR IV – Three things we’re trying to learn

em·pa·thy ˈempəTHē/ noun The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.      In a fantastic new video, New Venture Mentor, Cate Costa, describes an interesting quagmire about asking customers the “right questions” when trying to make a decision that affects your business. “Let’s say you’re doing some market research before you launch your new line of cell phone cases and you need to choose which colors to produce. You go around asking your target customers Read more…

DRIII: In the room…

You’ve done some hard thinking to see whether design research is right for your project and spent some time preparing your design research team with the information that they’ll need to be successful. Now it’s time for the fun part: riding along with the team to hear from your prospective customers themselves! In this article, I capture some thoughts about what to expect from this process. This post will focus on the more practical aspects Read more…