How 5 of your favorite things explain the design process

Members of the design community use many terms like UX and design thinking to explain what they do and how they do it. But if you want to understand what these ideas mean, Nick Whitmoyer encourages you to look no further than pizza.
Whitmoyer, DC Whistle Studiosexplained about pizza and other things everyone can understand to illustrate the design process on Wednesday night at Betamore. (Here are his slides.) This was the last in a series of talks led by Refresh Baltimore.
Here are five real-life examples he used and a resource to help keep the conversation going:

1. Pizza

(Photo by Flickr user A.Currell, used under Creative Commons license)

There are many different approaches to pizza. Addict of dating, Whitmoyer has had enough Daddy Johns and Dominoes. Unlike these national brands, the pizza from Maria D’s at Federal Hill (which the crowd ate while Whitmoyer spoke) is authentic and really good, he said.
Elsewhere, Chicago has a deep dish and California has its own style. New Haven style pizza, anyone? Several approaches work, even if they are different. Same with the design.

2. Dan Deacon’s small office

Whitmoyer carried out design work with NPR. When he was there, he saw the organization doing a lot to change its content. One example is Tiny Desk Concerts, which provided a new way to listen to NPR. And Baltimore’s own dan deacon does a very good one.
New approaches can come from a variety of sources, which means letting new voices be heard. When it comes to design, many companies try to hire the most experienced people possible, Whitmoyer said. “I think every organization should have a place for junior-level designers to come in and grow,” he said.


(Photo by Flickr user Lil’ El, used under a Creative Commons license)

Whitmoyer said user testing is key to the design process. One way to get users to test the product is to post a flyer asking people to test a product at Starbucks. Just be sure to give them gift cards for their troubles, he advised.


(Photo by Flickr user jovino, used under a Creative Commons license)

Always think about results versus results, Whitmoyer said.
The result is the goal, and the result is how to get there. When something goes viral, think about how it got there and how your content can evolve. Look at the changes that have taken place at Netflix as it transitioned from a video store to a content creator: “They went from being disruptive Blockbuster to be on the same playing field as HBOsaid Whitmoyer.

5. TV in Betamore

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

“Failure is important,” Whitmoyer said. This is how a product improves and designers get insight into what is not working.
“It’s okay to suck,” he said. And then the Betamore television that was showing the Whitmoyer slides went off for a few minutes.


As you have probably already realized, the design process can apply to many different disciplines.
Whitmoyer referred to design thinking, which is an idea that creative, solution-based thinking can help refine normally complex processes. For a deeper dive, you might want to check out this month Technical Our editors and reporters delve into how design thinking is spreading around the world.

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Abdul J. Gaspar