Blog posts

Designing for social good

Posted by Lauren Tan in design, human behaviour, interaction design, social design, visual design on July 15, 2012 | 0 comments

By Lauren Tan

Since the beginning of the 21st century, many consultancies, programmes of work, online communities, conferences, exhibitions and projects have explored how design can be used to address and respond to society’s most complex social challenges.

The UK has been a leader in the use of design for social good. For example, the UK Design Council, who are tasked with promoting the value of design in the UK, have established and run a number of initiatives to explore design for social good. Public sector organisations, such as the UK’s National Health Service, also began employing design to help improve the patient experience in hospitals across the country. And several social design agencies have flourished in the UK, using design to address complex and critical issues in areas such as health and education. Read more »

10 tips to creating a great infographic – or a great film

Posted by Kelly Ann McKercher in design, visual design on July 13, 2012 | 0 comments

Infographics can be a particularly powerful tool in displaying complex and often high-level information at a glance. The better your infographic, the better your audience will understand the information.

Creating a great infographic is like creating a great film.

Writers of movies often draw from a wide range of sources to create their narratives. You wouldn’t write a screenplay based on World War II without doing your research first, right? As designers of infographics we can draw from a wide range of sources to create a clear picture of the situation we’re trying to portray.

Infographics are often described as telling a ‘story’. This story may be supporting or dispelling an argument, highlighting a trend, or explaining consumption of some kind. The possibilities are endless. There’s even an infographic about the trustworthiness of beards!

When looking at your data, consider if your ‘story’ is a nail biter that will keep your viewers on the edge of their seat, or like the infographic on Kanye’s love life: will it be switched off after the opening credits? Read more »

The 7 roles of the designer – Wellington

Posted by Amelia Diggle in design, human behaviour, service design, visual design on July 3, 2012 | 0 comments

Thursday August 9, 2012 – Thursday August 9, 2012

Odlins Square, Taranaki St Wharf

View MapMap and Directions | Register


In this briefing, Lauren Tan will present her PhD research findings on the seven roles of the designer as Co-creator, Researcher, Facilitator, Capability Builder, Social Entrepreneur, Provocateur and Strategist.

In 2007, the UK Design Council established a series of social design projects as part of a design innovation program called Dott 07 (Designs of the Time). Its vision was to use design to tackle some of modern society’s most challenging issues. For example in the areas of health, education, energy, mobility and food. In these projects designers used design in new and different ways, and in new contexts. They defined new and different roles of the designer.

Lauren will discuss a select number of roles and their corresponding Dott projects. She will show how investigating designer roles leads to a better understanding of what designers do, and better articulation of the designer’s value when they participate in multi-stakeholder environments to address and respond to our society’s most complex social challenges.

This free session will be held in Wellington on Thursday the 9th August at 7:30am at the Wharewaka – and breakfast is on us! If you are in Auckland, don’t worry, it’s your turn two days earlier on Tuesday the 7th of August 2012 at 7:30am at the Sub Rosa Café.

RSVP below!


Date: Thursday 9th August

Time: 7.30 – 9.00am

Venue: Te Raukura, Odlins Square, Taranaki St Wharf, Wellington Waterfront.

Cost: FREE. Breakfast will be provided

Speaker: Lauren Tan


UX London 2012 vs. Service Design 2012

By Leif Roy and Trent Mankelow

In April and May, we spoke at and attended two conferences on opposite sides of the globe – UX London 2012 in London and Service Design 2012 in Melbourne. Here are our highlights.

Service Design 2012

Attended by Trent Mankelow

I liked the intimate feel of this conference. With only 120-ish people it made the whole thing feel really friendly. The local case studies and content (there was nary a mention of Apple) helped to create a “we can do this” attitude. Read more »

How to put the ‘real’ in ‘realistic’ user testing – 10 tips

Posted by Sharon Cartwright in user testing on May 4, 2012 | 0 comments

The opportunity doesn’t arise for every user testing project, but occasionally the perfect project emerges that is a great candidate for more realistic user testing.

Generally user testing participants are pretty good at suspending disbelief and engaging with ‘make believe’ type tasks in a session, but seeing participants in a more realistic situation definitely returns richer insights. If the opportunity arises to make your testing more ‘real’ and less ‘make believe’ you should take it. Read more »

Generating smarter ideas

Posted by Kelly Ann McKercher in Innovation, social design on April 19, 2012 | 3 comments

May of us want to come up with brilliant, innovative ideas to make us millions. What about those ideas that are brilliant, but also do no harm to the people, cultures, and environments of which our ideas impact?

Critical design thinking is a vital component in the design process that allows us to critique the impact our design decisions will have on our world and the people in it. Allowing us to evaluate if we are really generating smarter ideas.

What is critical design?

Anthony Dunne first mentioned the term ‘critical design’ in his 1999 book ‘Hertizan Tales’. He introduced it as a form of design thinking in which designed artefacts are used as a medium to stimulate discussion around the cultural, social and ethical implications of emerging technologies. Since, the term has continued to grow in popularity and inspire various projects. Read more »

Public sector innovation. Pfft. Right?

Posted by Kris Nygren in e-government, service design, user experience on March 16, 2012 | 1 comment

By Kris Nygren

If someone had told me last year that the most innovative initiative we would be involved with in 2012 would be conceived by ACC, I would probably have laughed it off. Yet, for the past four months we’ve been involved with ACC’s Idea Nation initiative and it’s shaping up to be one of the most courageous and creative approaches to a big, hairy problem I have ever seen. Read more »

Quotes from Webstock 2012

Posted by Trent Mankelow in conferences and events, user experience on February 23, 2012 | 1 comment

Going to Webstock is like eating breakfast. A very large breakfast. Think crispy hash browns, creamy mushrooms, plump poached eggs, grainy toast, small but perfectly formed sausages. And slow-roasted tomatoes. And hollandaise.

Of course, the trouble with so much food is the inevitable food coma that follows. So it is with Webstock 2012. My brain is stuffed full of new ideas, and I’m going to be spending the next couple of weeks waddling around, digesting what I learnt.

There were a lot of highlights: the quality of storytelling (hardly a bulletpoint in sight), the mixture of melancholy and mirth, the down-to-earthness of everyone there. Also, Kapiti black doris plum ice cream. Read more »

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