Impact of design on stock market performance has news on the economic value of design that has been published by the Design Council UK:

Evidence for the link between shareholder return and investment in design has been scarce and anecdotal. An analysis of the British stock market has shown that companies that invest effectively in design, have outperformed the rest of the stock marked by 200%.

This analysis is available as PDF.

Design hypothesis vs. Scientific hypothesis

As a comment to the Rotman Management design issue (pdf) magazine Victor Lombardi quotes Jeanne Liedtka from page 12:

The most fundamental difference between the two, they argue, is that design thinking deals primarily with what does not yet exist; while scientists deal with explaining what is. That scientists discover the laws that govern today’s reality, while designers invent a different future is a common theme. Thus, while both methods of thinking are hypothesis-driven, the design hypothesis differs from the scientific hypothesis.

[via IDblog]

An MFA is the new MBA?

Beth Mazur on her IDblog:

The May issue of Design Research News has a very interesting promo about the Harvard Business School (HBS) declaring the ‘Master of Fine Arts’ (MFA) as the new ‘Master of Business Administration’ (MBA)… essential for a business career. But they point to the online publication [PDF, 19 MByte] of the Rotman school of management at the University of Toronto.

The PDF is 76 pages, and in a couple of scans I couldn’t find a mention of the HBS blurb, which you can actually read here (see item #9):
Businesses have come to realize that the only way to differentiate their offerings is to make them beautiful and emotionallly compelling — which explains why an arts degree is now a hot credential in management.
In any case, there are some very interesting articles in the Rotman magazine. Looks like it’s well worth the download.

MFA the new MBA because communication design skills got more important? There is more to that: It is not only the results designers create that can be more effective. In many ways it’s the methodology to generate innovations and think of alternatives as well. It has been observable for a long time now that university programs import design know how to limit negative effects of the growing importance of communication for their graduates.

Gurus vs. Bloggers

Andrei Herasimchuk has posted the first Gurus v. Bloggers Design Shootout, comparing the sites of Richard Saul Wurman, Bruce Tognazzi, Peter Merholz, Jakob Nielsen, Edward Tufte, Gerry McGovern, Donald Norman, and Andrei himself against design bloggers Jeffery Zeldman, D. Keith Robinson, Andy Budd, Didier Hilhorst, John Gruber, Greg Storey, John Hicks, and Josh Williams.

The Bloggers win 8:0.

Donald Norman on mental models

Here is an interview with Donald Norman about the concept of mental models. It contains an interesting (and longer) passage about the possible relation between mental models and emotion:

A mental model provides an immediate expectation about what you think is going to happen and the emotional system will evaluate that positively (positive affect or valence) or negatively (negative affect or valence). […]
It’s good if we expect something bad that doesn’t happen and it’s bad if we expect something good that doesn’t happen. That impacts the way we feel if we continue using something (like a device) and it may impact what we do about it (continue use or abandon the device). […]
At the intellectual level there is also the causality issue. That is, do we decide to blame the device or ourselves?

Between life and death: There are just three design principles

Students love to ask this question: “Is there any common strategy to design?”. Then I usually reply: “Yes, clearly there are three simple common strategies!”. They are:

  1. Creating order from chaos
  2. Creating chaos from order
  3. Copy from the best examples

Information designers usually have to create order from chaos. Information overload does not mean “too much information” but more precisely “too much information one can handle”. The information designers job is a) attach handles to the information (restructuring, contextualization and renaming) and b) reduce information that is not needed. This always is at risk to go too far and snuff out the life that was there.

Whereas the graphic designers job often is to animate dead things: Information that does not speak much. Attach handles and add context that make information live up. This is always includes the possibility to go too far as well: things turn back, start to live on its own life and hardly help anyone getting anywhere with it.

The problem is: there rarely is just graphic design or just information design. Mostly both ghosts sitting on each shoulder whispering into the designers ears.

That is where principle #3 kicks in: “copy from the best examples” does not mean stealing, but it means to look as closely as possible at how to balance life and death, so neither one can win.

Self reference

I found this year-old posting over at Mark Bernstein about Clement Mok writing this in “Designers: Time for Change”:

“In the ensuing years, the deadening effects of social turmoil followed by stagnation and, later, the sheer volume of work created by waves of economic expansion engendered an environment of complacency. Designers increasingly just scrubbed and brushed what they already had for each successive client and project. They added more bells and whistles as was required by their clients, and chimed all the way to the bank.”
“The design profession functions as if each individual designer is selling his or her services in some sort of terminological vacuum, with nothing more substantial than his or her personal charisma or taste to serve as the foundation for vast edifices of public influence.”

Clement Mok is right, but I can’t really see that this is a behavior of designers in particular.

Designers at Microsoft

Robert Scoble:

Are you really ready to know how Microsoft develops software for Longhorn? It’s simple: the graphic designers are now in charge.
Now, we don’t call them that. On the team I’m a part of we call them “Program Designers.” The title really hides what they do and how important they are.
The program designer I got to watch up close is David Shadle. He’s a guy who’d make Alan Cooper proud. He does all sorts of things at Microsoft, from logos, to signs, to software interface designs.
I first met David in a meeting about the Community Environment app (back then we called it “Vibe!”) right after I started at Microsoft. Since I was the blogger, I played the role of “customer” (er, PDC attendee). I told them the kinds of information I’d like to have access to. I told them I wanted access to information so that I could write a better blog. I wanted access to people. Slides. Schedules. News. etc.
Then David would get up, write on the board a potential interface, and ask “you mean something that looks like this?

That Tricky Word, ‘Design’

Peter Merholz talks about dismissing the word »Design« in the marketing language of his company Adaptive Path:

What’s wrong with “design”? Well, there’s nothing wrong with the practice, but plenty wrong with the word’s associations. […] Design, with a capital D, ought to stretch beyond tactics, and into strategy. Design methods are brilliantly suited to figuring out WHAT to make, not just HOW to make it.