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Hot Studio founder Maria Giudice and her exceptional multi-disciplinary design team "make the complex beautifully clear" for web clients like eBay, Gap, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Maria focuses the studio’s work on people-centered design to create amazing user experiences on the web and in print. See how they apply "collective intelligence" through the phases of discovery, strategy, design, and building. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers inside one of the coolest design firms around.
Henrik Olsen: During the discovery phases, there will be a lot of work going on with research and coming up with the overall user experience designs. Katrina Alcorn: It's about understanding the business needs, the user needs, any technology constraints, which we may or may not know. Maria Giudice: Learn about the people that you are designing for. Learn about the businesses that you are solving the problems for and learning the landscape to which you are designing against, and just collect all this stuff, we call it the sponge phase.
Renee Anderson: The user experience group actually does all of the research. So we interview the stakeholder, the clients, interview their target audiences. Look at best practices and make sure that we understand the space that they're in. Henrik Olsen: But at the same time, the visual design practice what we are doing is we're getting to really understand the brands in terms of color palette and typography and images, are the things that we need to understand about them. We will also be doing competitive audits. So we will understand what's going on in their industry. What's happening. We may even look in industries that are influencing that particular industry or web trends for best practices.
So doing a lot of the visual design research during the discovery phase. Renee Anderson: The discovery process at Hot is a collaborative effort among all of the disciplines, user experience, visual design, design engineering and project management, but it's really kind of owned by the user experience group and the reason is because the user experience group actually does all of the research. So we interview the stakeholder, the clients, interview their target audiences. Look at best practices. Make sure that we understand the space that they are in. The visual design group will also do discovery in the brand look and feel and the design engineering group will start understanding the technical landscape that we are going to be working in, and of course the producer, bless them, they are pretty much are the glue during the whole process but the user experience group does the bulk of the work.
SFMOMA is a great example of really deep discovery. They knew who was coming into the physical building. They had surveys that they would ask people to fill out. But they had no idea who was coming to their website and so they didn't know how to address the needs of the people walking through the door. Whether or not they were the same people, that they need to speak the same kind of language on the website as they did within the walls of the museum. We actually did what we call remote recruiting. We had little invitation up on their website and we basically said hey! You want to talk to us for an hour? You know, fill out this little questionnaire and we will contact you. It's a really great opportunity to kind of broaden your reach into accessing different kinds of people who, you know, they are visiting the website because that's how you got their information. So that was good.
Our main contact over at SFMOMA, she gathered all of these peers together from different web teams at different museums and we actually got to interview them as a team, as a group and learn about the kinds of things that they had tried at their own museums, on their own websites, and what worked and what didn't work and not to copy the same mistakes and so it was actually really enlightening because we never worked on a museum project before. We would look at other modern art museums, what were they doing that we thought were good or bad. There were some ideas they had about things they wanted to do on their websites that other museums weren't doing and that's quite often the case. We go outside of the industry to look for best practices.
So community, social networking for example. Most museums aren't really doing that very well, so let's go to Facebook. Let's look at some other sites that are doing these particular features really well and expose our clients to those ideas. They often live in their own world and we want to make sure that they broaden out beyond their own walls. We actually at Hot do not divide up research and interaction design into two different roles. The same person will do both of those tasks and we find that incredibly valuable because the continuum of knowledge between accessing all of this information and absorbing all of this information, we're constantly thinking of design solutions in that process. So by not dividing up those two things we actually have a much clearer picture of how things can evolve over time.
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