Brad Becker Design Inspiration Transcript
Brad: Hi, I’m Brad Becker, Chief Experience Officer at buuteeq. I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the tools, techniques, books and other things that I have on my book shelf or my desk. I am slightly “pack rattish” in collecting things that I think are cool or shiny. I will walk through a few things that are fun. We have Designing Web Usability. This is the classic book. I’ve never read all of it. It was a little bit dry. For the time this was the book that you had to have. “Stop Stealing Sheep”. This is a book on topography and the right way to use topography. It is a good 2.01 level introduction to topography.
This is a great little book that came out recently. Steve Krug is great. Steve, forgive me if I mispronounce your last name. This is Rocket Surgery Made Easy. This is how to do and find usability problems and doing testing on your own. These books are great. They are generally short and easy to read and they are a lot of fun. They are useful. His first book was called “Don’t Make Me Think”. It looked a lot like this, except the words were different. It’s a great book if you are going to read one book on web design. If you are interested in web design and general usability of web sites, I would read, “Don’t Make Me Think”.
If you are looking for some fun reading, “Understanding Comics the Invisible Art” is really great, interesting thought provoking book. It’s all about how humans recognize things. How there’s the picture plain there’s language and there’s reality and why comics and art works for people. How humans process this stuff. When things are really complex we see it as something that is an exterior thing. This looks very real. It’s very 3D. It looks tangible and we see that as an object separate to us. When you draw things like a smiley face or a sketchy looking person, we tend to put our self in that place more. A lot of theory about Iconography and design and all of that in the form of a comic book by a comic book artist himself, a great book. A lot of people would recommend that to you.
I worked on Microsoft Expression Studio. I mentioned shipping before, that I like to ship products. These are the souvenirs from that. This was a custom version where the different team members contributed art work to the box. I don’t know how many these are. Not too many, but you can see the fun artwork on there that different team members worked, including developers. It wasn’t just the designers. I also worked on Flash. I was the part designer for Flash. I worked on the whole Studio UI team across the products and helped to implement and conceptualize the start up screens and different parts of the UI that went across all the products.
Another thing that I liked is the Idio method cards. Idio is an agency. The method cards were hard to get. I was living in San Francisco at the time. There was an architecture book store there. You could get these there and no where else, now they maybe more or less available. These are a lot of different funny looking pictures on one side. On the other side it’s different techniques. They have the different phases and different things to try with customers. How to do different user interviews and how to analyze what the problems are. Those are fun. You can use those to brainstorm when you are stuck on a particular design problem or usability challenge. What else do we have Brandon?
Brandon: What’s this on top?
Brad: Lisa snuck this book in when we weren’t looking, “Don’t Make Me Think”.
Brandon: It’s the same book, just different words.
Brad: It’s different content. It’s a common sense approach to web usability. If you want to know the basics of web usability, what his wife said is “if something is hard to use, I just don’t use it as much.” That’s what you need to keep in mind, software and technology needs to be usable and then it needs to get the job done for you. I think there is a lot of psychology, a lot of change. “Who Ate My Cheese” is funny and silly.
Brandon: You put a lot of knowledge about human psychology in the design and the finished product?
Brad: That’s right. A lot of this is how to help people deal with change, deal with new technology. Even if technology is fine you are still changing things for that.
Brandon: Predicting what they are wanting and delivering what they want.
Brad: Also, figuring out how to help them with that transition, how to learn new things, and how to expose what’s different about it. What’s exciting about it? I also have a lot of software development books. I was a software developer for a long, long time. I have a tool kit.
Brandon: Wow. A treasure trove of secrets over here.
Brad: This is a tool kit I got from Bill Buxton. At Microsoft I did a session with him. It’s a hot glue gun and some glue sticks and pens and tape and post its. There’s a really sharp Xacto knife. There is foam core board and a bunch of stuff so you can build models of things and try things out physically. It’s especially more useful when you are working in hardware and design not just software and web design. I also have both my micron fine line pens in five colors. Those are good for outlining things. I have Copic sketch pens. These are nice pens and the difference between these and the fine lie/ pens are the fine line pens are for precise drawing. These have brush tips on them. They have chisel tips. You can paint water colors with a marker brush. I love that. In fact, I just accidentally painted on my finger. Those are really good brush markers.
Brandon: A whole lot of knowledge and tools go into this. I’m impressed.
Brad: There are a lot of different tools and techniques that we use to come up with creative solutions to problems. At the end of the day, design is about intentionally and gracefully solving problems for people. At least in our application here as opposed to art which is more about self expression and emotionally appealing to other people or conveying a message. What we do here is a lot of user experience design. We try to solve problems for people and try to do a lot of hard decisions so that you don’t have to and the customers don’t have to.