Friday, December 3, 2010

What I tell Designers to give me... Integrating and Digital Zen

Having composite teams with designers, integrators, dev's and the like on staff on the same time and working all in a unified set of tools like say, Expression Blend, Visual Studio, Silverlight etc etc etc for most of us is a luxary that we don't have. I have worked on teams like that and its awesome and all but not realistic all the time. Wirestone (the company I work for) is a great example what I would call the best interactive experience design firm in the world especially in the public facing/retail space (kiosks, touch walls, media marketing integration, social media marketing etc). We are truely awesome... But amazingly enough even though alot of these experience we build are based on some XAML related technology it doesn't mean that we have a zillion designers in blend for example. Like us it is not cost effective from a business standpoint to retrain all the designers out of Adobe, nor are most designers eager to switch...

Your response probably depends alot on your background. If you a ms zeolot you might think, why the heck not? if your a designer you might think 'dah' and there is a spectrum in between but as it turns out the biggest reason that its not cost effective is that there is a way... a straight and narrow path to a User Experience 'Zen' like team that works much like the above w/o using all microsoft coolaide (*gasp).

shhh... don't tell the ms ninjas...

As it turns out Microsoft did a bang up job with expression blend and probably the key thing is that blend does a wonderful job of importing adobe assets so well in fact that with a little bit of communication and learning to work together we still are able to achieve that zen state of designers, developers, IA's and the like working together at the same time on design and implmenetation. But there is a bit of a list I like to give my designers :) (don't worry there is another list for dev's;) for work on digital experiences

item 1. a pdf of everything they send me showing what they see looking at the assets (wiresframes, comps, redlines etc) native format is awesome too.

item 2. all typography with any font of any element that could maybe ever be dynamic as part of a digital experience I want a PSD typographic red line.

item 3. TTF's for all the special fonts that didn't come over in the PSD typographic red line.

item 4. all the UI elements are in AI (Adobe Illustrator). why? because it comes into blend almost as native XAML as its all vector based.

item 5. make sure all the elements are grouped in illustrator and named with something meaningful to humans... :)

item 6. illustrator elements must be inside the illustrator canvas or they don't work at all.

item 7. communication, communication, communication. talk about it. lets design together, walk me through the vision.

item 8. be nice to developers, not all of them understand the difference between Verdana and Helvitica nor do many of them appreciate the difference between padding=5 and padding=5.56793845. they are handicapped that way frequently.

now we can build some hot and sexy ui which is the only way I like my ui. if I don't have an emotional experience when I look at the ui the first time its not good enough.

From a business standpoint its not cost effective to re-train and re-purpose when we can do the same thing and still keep people in the tools they enjoy.

note: there is also a rumor aobut FXG files but I haven't tried yet but promises to be better the AI files.

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