Week 9

Design Q&A with Charles Eames (1972), Transcript


In class critique of week 8 projects.

Some Design Phases

Problem Definition, Ideation, Sketching, Storyboard/Wireframe, Proposal, Prototyping, Design, Specification, Development, Testing, Deployment, Maintenance, Evaluation

Ideation, Concepting, Brainstorming

“Just think about it deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face.” – Don Draper, Mad Men

Ideation is generating ideas. Ideation is an important step: even a great execution of a bad idea is ultimately unsatisfying.

When initially generating ideas, quantity and variety are the most important factors. Avoid evaluating your ideas, save that for later. Also avoid developing your ideas: as soon as you have a general shape or name of an idea move on to another. You don’t want to get “stuck on” or “married to” an idea at this point.

Focus is important. You are purposely letting your mind run freely, following wild associations. Make sure you come back to your center frequently. Don’t abandon your purpose.

Here are some approaches generating ideas.

  • Lists: A great place to start. Just list out ideas.
  • Mind Map: Mind maps are nested lists of lists (of lists) similar to outlines.
  • Research: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia, Google, GIS; Ten minutes with these sources can put your mind in the right place.
  • Foils: Consider your problem together with something, anything, else. Oblique Strategies, Online
  • Timers: Set a short timer, and don’t stop writing/talking until your time is up.
  • Alone/Pair/Group: Try alternating between working alone and with someone else.
  • Breaks: Sometimes its a good idea to have more than one session of pure Ideation, separated with breaks. It is very often a good idea to take a break between brainstorming and Ideation.

Keep notes as you go. They don’t have to be detailed, just words or phrases that will remind you of the interesting ideas you have. You want to find a note-taking style that doesn’t interrupt your process, but captures enough information to review.

Brainstorming Challenge

In class activity.

Constructing Meaning with Interaction

We talked last week about how design and presentation can have a major impact on communicated meaning. In your last two assignments, you have used interaction to support illustration and text. Interaction itself is a powerful tool expression. Interactive media demands a high level of engagement and participation from a user. Because of this, it is particularly well suited to expressing abstract and emotional messages. Consider the difference between seeing and being?

Interactions Charades

In class activity.


Interactions Charades is a design exercise in some ways similar to Charades, in that you are attempt to convey a specific secret prompt but are limited in how you may communicate.


  • You can use only the following elements: The arrow cursor, rectangles, circles, and triangles. Do not combine elements to create representational figures. You do not need to use all the elements. You do not need to use the cursor and you can have more than one cursor.
  • You can use only the following colors: Black, Blue, Red, Green, and White (the background). Avoid using colors for their cultural meanings.
  • Assume the user will interact by moving their mouse and pressing the mouse button. The user must be able to interact in some way, and this interaction should be core to the meaning.


  • How is interaction used? Interactions are strongest when the user is an active, essential element.
  • What is the role of the user? Point of view is very important in interactive media.
  • How is shape and color used? Avoid telling your story with shape and color, these should be used mainly to clarify relationships and support the interaction.
  • How is movement/animation used? Avoid complex sequences of movement. Movement should be generally be simple and directly related to user interactions.

Homework – Interactions Charades Storyboards

You will be given 4 prompts. For each prompt, concept and storyboard at least 3 interactive experiences following the constraints of the Interaction Charades exercise.

Storyboard Format

Print and use the provided storyboard templates. You will also need some fine point Sharpies (black, red, green, and blue); a pencil, and writing pen. Use the Sharpies to draw the elements in your interaction. Use the pencil to draw arrows and other didactic marks needed to explain motion.

The first frame of each storyboard should show how the scene would look when before the user begins to interact. The second frame should describe what interaction options are available to the user. The third frame should be used to describe the results of the interaction. Consider these as general guidelines: some ideas may require a different structure, or more or less frames. Use one page per concept.

Take time to make your sketches neat and clear. Provide written notes to explain each frame; the visual and written parts should support each other. Your storyboards should communicate your idea on their own, without additional explanation.

You will have 12 (or more) total story boards when you are done. Make sure each is clearly labeled with your name and the prompt. Bring them to class in a folder, also clearly labeled with your name, that you will turn in.

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