Saturday, August 15, 2015

Design & Iteration (don't let your big head get in the way of success!)

I have an Idea!
So you have an idea and are now going to save the world with it......hmmm you think so do ya lol.

When I look around in the world today I see alot of sloppy design and it kinda worries  and makes me mad. Now I have a special interest in my example but I will try to stay nice and hope this educates and inspires.

 So in my previous post I mentioned higher learning and Mooc’s.
  The adventure and shot (s) that caused me to re-evaluate my thought process and thus summation was my bewilderment at some of the creative endeavors of my city’s council and subsequent projects designed (in theory) to make our community more attractive and (?) sustainable. Our CAO was a pretty astute individual but these things persisted and now he has been (illegally) fired. Upon receiving some very personal negativity to my queries at city hall I sought higher learning or an unbiased referee/ judge. As I had mentioned I did rather well (in my search) which gives me the confidence to write this (from a point of wisdom gained over 30yrs as a artist/designer).
  This place we call life is a rough experience and it is in our best interests since we are in the age of specialists to take that into consideration (and use said specialists) as we go about saving the world...

Now some of the idea’s put forward by me were used but only in a vague way and thus the end result is less than favorable! So to the topic of this post....

Just because you have a bit if design theory or have taken a few classes does not mean by any means that you are qualified as a designer. Ok you can arrange the living room too ...but still! You have a flare for the attractive but what you probably lack is experience and there fore you suck (just like I “did” in the beginning). That's not to say that you will always suck but when I look around I can see not much thought has been put into ( or maybe not enough thought) your project/designs.

 So new rules of thumb (as it were)

1) does your design visually enhance and balance in the environment it will be placed, displayed or will be used? ( you don’t want to over power anything....or do you?) 3 out of 5 random people must think your design “rocks” or its back to the drawing board for you! (does “your”solution fit the problem?)

2) Is it faddy? (like a “pet rock”) or cliche? if so your on the wrong track so start again. (faddy is not durable...notice pet rock sales are down lol...)

3) do you have the knowledge base to do proper or adequate research to be sure your design covers the who what where and why parts of ( ? ).......Will it meet the need or just your own magically thunk up issue? if you answer no to this start again or hire a better /more experienced designer.
4) Iteration is your friend and should be slathered very liberally all over your design in such a fashion that it is obvious to the seasoned designer that it was done. (couple things to keep in mind about iteration...what “you” want and what you end up with often will be something different than the original vision (which is good). Iteration is the key! When I design something I always draw/sketch out the idea(s) and then flesh them all out into something i can show people. The more iterations of your idea, product concept, image or ad etc the stronger it becomes. We do this to save money, ourselves from wasting time, and to ensure we have done the best job and covered all the bases within existing constraints.). Kind of like “measure twice cut once” only measure many times and test etc...before you commit to one design or direction
5) Geo-design is a term that in my opinion is “used to explain the relationship between geography and environmental design” in other words “geographical design”. But I think a better use of the word would be to not limit it to Geo spatial Intelligence, rather use it to describe the relationship between good design and the method used to achieve that end. In Geodesign we are taught that all things are related and or dependant on one another in a symbiotic way.....and thus the need for iteration & balance. An imbalanced boat has an increased chance of capsizing. Just sayin!

6) opinion other than your own is immeasurably useful and should almost dictate what you do in one way or another. Why you ask? well it may be your idea but the public that will use it, look at and potentially hate it ought to be consulted and taken seriously don’t you think (especially if they have skills & expertise you don’t have. Good design is about smart, practical, and durable/sustainable solutions to problems or gaps of service etc.... not about ego...oh and remember most respondents to you idea or market tests will lie about 25% of the time so if you get 3 of 5 to say yes can be sure of the value...demographic section tests are helpful too!

7) practice the word “No”...learn to embrace it....good design takes work...and lots of it!  Critique is not criticism its how you say, or are told “this could be better”. Remember “no ego”! Good design is about clean ergonomic form or solutions (imo).

8) This is the most important part..... Good intentions and enthusiasm do not a designer make. Some folks have it and some do not. There are many more things that must be taken into consideration when designing something than I have mentioned here, and just because you know them still does not give you the “skills “ you need to wield said knowledge. (here is where I will try to be nice....If you are an elected official please try to remember you have won a popularity contest....and in that end you are not a designer even though you can apply for and get a grant or lets think big and say you ran a hospital in your former life...sorry you still are probably not a designer.

So should the idea bug bite be prepared for an outcome you did not expect (within reason based on the kind of solution you seek), along with unexpected work and 11th hour changes. If you are going to make something make sure its sustainable, is a good fit according to data/test results, is beautiful and clean in form and does not reek of EGO!

 Good idea's require good design & execution, they (and buckets of money) also can be wasted by inexperience....

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mooc’s & Higher Learning.....

A little more than a year ago as a result of bashing heads with folks at city hall I decided to discover whether it was me or them so I went back to school as it check my facts. As it turns out I did rather well (imo) 75, 8?, and a 96 with distinction). To me I vindicated myself....but so far there is no movement from city hall in a direction that would suggest they understand what they are doing ....I’m more educated and they...well they are still just council....

The route I went in search of enlightenment was Mooc’s....oddly all the courses I was interested in were offered through Penn State in the USA. Now that I am kinda comfortable with this form of education I may pursue some engineering courses...just to be sure of a few other things.

Now the idea that you can take a course from a higher rung school without actually having to attend on campus is fab...but imo it is a bit much to expect me to “pay” for a course that is going to be graded by fellow (as of yet uneducated in this field) students. I didn’t pay for the courses I took so perhaps I am being un-fair in regards to how assignments are graded...In my case I think I did rather well considering I only did 2/3rds of the work (started all 3 courses in mid/end of week 3 of 8-10 week programs)...and still managed to pull the marks I did .....BUT!!! In each of the courses I did I had to give higher marks than I was comfortable with giving when the/a student did the absolute bare minimum in effort. In another case I received a low-ish mark for some very complicated work and felt that some of my peers lacked a basic understanding in the area and the techniques I employed. To me if I was paying for these courses I would be beyond mad at those particular grades or marks.

In the afore mentioned case my marks improved the more flesh the project took on and there fore required much less explanation for my peer’s to understand what they were looking at....(this would be my grade of 75 that I am referring to lol).  So I think should you pursue higher learning through Mooc’s and your going to hand over some hard earned ca$h you may want to make sure your work will be marked by some one that knows substantially more about the topic than you or your peers. Now this does depend a bit on the kind of courses you want to take...are they serious topics or fun kinda things  in which your mark is rather moot as long as you learned something and had fun.

To close this topic I can say that Penn State did a great job presenting the info and made learning the material enjoyable so I strongly recommend the Mooc route and in particular the “Geodesign: Change Your World” course through Penn State. Not exactly what I was expecting but a very enlightening course ....and also the “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society”. If you are a designer of any kind you will benefit from both of these course's regardless of how long you have worked in these two fields