Tuesday Toolkit 10/20/2020

 Good Morning. Let’s design for greatness.

Welcome to new subscribers. The Tuesday Toolkit is a newsletter covering tools for improving work & life and sharing a bit of fun. Thanks for being here. 

Tool of the Week
This week we’re talking design thinking. Design is all around us, yet we tend to only notice poor design. Poor traffic flow, ugly neon signs, confusing packaging, ugly t-shirts, the Tesla Cybertruck, and plenty of other examples come to mind when thinking about bad designs. But what makes a design good? It’s not obvious. That is where design thinking comes in.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what a good design is. The product, the use cases, the intended user, and the ideal experience one should have are just a few of the factors to consider. Design thinking is about being explicitly intentional about the product or service being designed in every way possible. The emotion someone feels when interacting with your item, the way someone uses the item, the duration someone uses the item, etc. Below is a framework for Design Thinking.Image description
An iterative process is one that is never truly finished. Design is not about making something once and leaving it be forever. After releasing a design, it’s important to watch how people respond to it over time and continuously iterate to make improvements. Design thinking is an iterative process that involves making mistakes and getting it wrong before getting it right. And even then, nothing is perfect from all perspectives. 

Four common approaches to design come in the flavors outlined below. User centered, activity centered, system centered, and genius centered. An example of each: 
User centered – The “upside down” ketchup bottle. By putting the lid on the bottom, users can store the ketchup bottle upside down, which means the ketchup is always near the lid. The alternative being users have to vigorously shake the bottle. 

Activity centered – A post hole digger. It’s basically two shovels connected with a scissor hinge that makes digging holes easier. There is only one activity a post hole digger is used for; digging holes. 

System Centered – Think thermostats. Thermostats require a control panel, sensors and an air handler. A user inputs an ideal temperature and sensors detect current temperature. Calculations are made and the results may automatically turn on a furnace. Multiple pieces work together to create a system. 

Genius Centered – The first iPhone. With no comparable phones on the market, Apple bet on themselves. They built a product based on what they wanted users to have and feel, not based on what users asked for. Image description
Source: Dan Staffer

The role the designer plays in the above frameworks is important to note as well. If you’re in the middle of designing something, taking a step back to define what type of designer you’re acting as will change the lens you’re viewing the design through. Being the sole source of inspiration is much different than taking in user input to make a design. 

What is the goal of design thinking? 
One answer is to inspire certain adjectives in the mind of a user. To make users think about your product in a positive light. Let’s look at common ones. 

Trustworthy – Whatever is being designed should linger in the mind of a user as being trustworthy. Think about a product you have used for more than 3 years. Why do you continue to use it? Probably because you trust it. 

Appropriate – An appropriate design is one that users can easily understand. A handle on a door that needs to be pushed open is inappropriate because it indicates the wrong action type (pulling vs pushing). 

Smart – A smart design takes the hard work out of the way. Power steering, for example, makes turning a vehicle significantly easier than without it. That’s a smart design. 

Responsive – We detect changes in light in less than .1 seconds. Anything taking longer than that is seen as a “stutter” and anything taking too long feels like a disruption. Scrolling, swiping, and clicking on modern smart devices needs to create a change in sub .1 seconds to feel responsive. 

Clever – A design that anticipates user needs or adds an unexpected benefit is seen as clever. 

Ludic – A Ludic design is one that inspires play. Social media, websites, and video games specifically are designed to keep users engaged for longer by inspiring exploration and playfulness. 

Pleasurable –  Users want to feel good when they interact with products or services. Creating a strong, positive emotional reaction or leading users to satisfaction (no, not that kind of satisfaction) is another reason to engage in design thinking.

If there is any take away from this, it should be that design thinking is an iterative & empathetic approach to creating your product or service focused on an explicitly desired outcome. So, knowing if a design is good or bad comes down to answering a few questions; 
Does the  item serve the intended purpose? 
Do users enjoy the interaction? 
Is there trust instilled when one interacts with the product or service? 
Does the design inspire play and exploration? 

If those questions are answered with an emphatic yes, then chances are really high it’s a good design. 

What’s the best designed product you have? Let me know on Twitter: @Quinn_Hanson22

Quote of the Week
“In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest”
 – Henry Miller

Trivia of the Week
Last week’s geography trivia was so much fun it’s coming back for a second appearance. 
Can you name all the countries that border the countries below? 
1. Honduras 
2. Chad 
3. Poland
4. Latvia 

(Answers below, but no cheating)

Tweet of the Week

I am disappointed the source of this is unknown. Seeing a young child immersed in note taking and presumably learning via smart phone is somehow heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. Image description

Article of the Week 
Tim Urban’s Wait But Why blog is one of the greatest treasures on the internet. His posts are often as long as short books (20,000+ words) and some are nearly 60,000 words. This week I want to highlight a post from 2013(!!) called “Putting Time in Perspective.” This particular article is mostly images, like the two below, and worth exploring in detail.Image descriptionImage descriptionSome quick highlights:
If the Earth formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm—1 second. And if human history itself spans 24 hours from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ

The beginning of writing around 3,500 BC marks the beginning of us knowing anything about what went on in history. 

Someone born in 55 BC who died in 35 AD (age 90) would have witnessed the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, the reign of Augustus and founding of the Roman Empire, Cleopatra’s whole reign and the fall of Egypt to Rome, and the birth, life, and crucifixion of Jesus.Thanks for tuning in this week! If you found value in this, please share it with your friends, colleagues, associates, acquaintances, family members, bowling leagues, partners, tinder dates and strangers. The larger we grow this audience, the more greatness can be shared. 

Trivia Answers
1. El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua 
2. Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya
3. Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia
4. Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus
How many did you know? 

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