Creative Inspirations: Hot Studio, Experience Design
Illustration by John Hersey

Creative process: Strategy


From:

Creative Inspirations: Hot Studio, Experience Design

with Maria Giudice

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Video: Creative process: Strategy

Katrina Alcorn: Strategy is where we have to make sense of all the information we're hearing and actually put ideas forward. Henrik Olsen: The user experience group is putting together the initial schematics and high level site maps or application maps. Renee Anderson: Often in strategy, we are thinking really big and we often have to kind of tone it down a little bit but we want to make sure that we're on the right track.
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Watch the Online Video Course Creative Inspirations: Hot Studio, Experience Design
1h 2m Appropriate for all Feb 27, 2009

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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.

Subject:
Web
Author:
Maria Giudice

Creative process: Strategy

Katrina Alcorn: Strategy is where we have to make sense of all the information we're hearing and actually put ideas forward. Henrik Olsen: The user experience group is putting together the initial schematics and high level site maps or application maps. Renee Anderson: Often in strategy, we are thinking really big and we often have to kind of tone it down a little bit but we want to make sure that we're on the right track. Michael Polivka: In terms of the engineering efforts where we put in place recommendations for the type of work that we are going to do. Why is Drupal the right solution over others that could be pretty close, or others that are quite far apart? Henrik Olsen: We will have a visual design workshop where we get together with the client and that's the time where they can be heard and get their opinions out.

Renee Anderson: Does it support the business goals, does it support the user needs? Can it be done from a technical perspective and can you maintain it over time? So those are some big questions that we are trying to answer at that phase. Katrina Alcorn: What are we doing in strategy? That's always the phase that's hardest to describe because sometimes people talk about it as that's where the magic happens. So what do we do? We come up with the big brilliant idea and then we get everyone to buy into it, but what that looks like on a day-to-day basis can be different on different projects.

So on some projects, sometimes we will use a technique called Personas where we will take what we understand about the user groups that we are designing for and then research that we have and then we will actually create a set of fictional characters that represent those groups and then we use those as straw men when we are designing. We will say, oh does Betsy need this or does Harry need this and it helps us communicate as a design team. We often will do card sorting exercises, if we are working on a site that has a lot of challenges around organization. The ultimate goal is to just talk through different scenarios about how things can be grouped with our clients.

We spend a lot of time looking through notes and talking and sometimes we'll do some sketching in groups but the end result of that is that at the end of strategy, we want as designers, we want to have a strong point of view about what are the big five things that we can impact through this redesign or design project. So Cal Academy is an organization that we have been working with for at least the last year-and-a-half and the first project we did with them was a big redesign of their new site. The big ideas that came out of strategy were really around how to help the organization to tell the story of science and the environment through compelling storytelling and also how to bring the whimsy and the sense of fun that you experience when you are at the museum onto the website.

And so when you look at the website that's up now, the one we designed, there is the whole new section of content called Science Heroes. First, there is a bunch of videos and I think the first video is a scientist who, when you just see his image, he has this giant slug on his face and whenever I show that to people, they are always like, Ah! What's going on? So you can't help to click on it and find out what's on his face and why is he doing this and turns out he is an ant scientist and he talks about how he got involved in his work. But this is very compelling and personal way to get into this topic.

And then there is some just fun animated stuff. So, the homepage has this very subtle animation where you are looking at the new building, a bird's eye view of the building and then as you stay, if you stay on the page for a while you start to see these little tiny microscopic people coming out of the building and that's one of those things where it doesn't have to be there but it just sort of helps evoke the sense of like there is something going on here, things are changing. There are little animations where a penguin might walk across the screen, or a school of fish.

The idea is just bringing in that sense of spontaneity that you experience when you are there. So we really need to start and this is ideal to start with a vision that everyone shares, that says this is what we are doing, and this is what it's about and this is the feeling it's going to evoke or this is the experience that we want to inspire. And then the details of what's on a page or what new content gets added or what functionality gets taken away, all of that has to mesh with that big idea.

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