Tag Archives: professionalism

Dear Design Student, we’re here to help.

Design can be a difficult job to get a hang of. There are no apprenticeships, hardly any mentors, and people guard their experience jealously because it’s a competitive advantage.

Now there’s Dear Design Student, a new publication featuring working designers (including yours truly) who take the time to answer the questions that have been on your mind. The writing team includes Erika Hall, Jennifer Daniel, Dan Mall, Mike Monteiro, and Liam Campbell — all very talented people with a wealth of experience to share.

If you’ve got questions about the business and practice of design, head on over and ask a question.

 

Know your giants.

If we want to build, we have to know about our foundations.

The standard of work was very high at last week’s graduate exhibition for the Tractor Design School in Melbourne.  Some of it was exceptional. Tractor is getting good work from its students and, obviously, from its faculty.

I asked the graduates I spoke to the same series of questions I always ask young designers: What are you excited about? Where do you think the next three years will take you? Which designers have been an influence on you so far?

The last question always flummoxes people. Only one graduate had an answer for that question. That’s not good enough. It’s akin to saying you want to be a writer but haven’t read a work of Shakespeare, or a physicist who can’t be bothered learning the rules of thermodynamics. Read more

On design education, they said it better.

I’ve been talking (ranting?) to whoever would listen about the state of design education in this country for about a decade now. It’s one of the recurring themes of our podcast The Nudge.

Mike Monteiro has been giving versions of his excellent “How Designers Destroyed The World” presentation around the world for the past year.

Today, Jeffrey Zeldman had this to say about Mike and design education.

As Mike sees it (and I agree) too many design programs turn out students who can defend their work in an academic critique session among their peers, but have no idea how to talk to clients and no comprehension of their problems. We are creating a generation of skilled and talented but only semi-employable designers—designers who, unless they have the luck to learn what their expensive education didn’t teach them, will have miserably frustrating careers and turn out sub-par work that doesn’t solve their clients’ problems.

This is not a problem unique to Australian design programs. It’s worldwide, and we need to address it now.

 

Empathy for The Devil (or, why we do The Nudge).

Empathy is a powerful word, and a strong emotion. It’s the ability to understand what someone else might be thinking. It’s being able to understand how someone else might feel, or how they might respond to a given situation. It is rarely one’s first response; it requires a certain spark of selflessness.

And it’s fundamental to the way that we view design. To be able to do great work, we need to understand and empathise with our audiences, the users of the products and websites we design, and importantly, our clients.

We at Floate think that learning to better empathise with people who are not designers is a path to growth as designers. That’s why 18 months ago, we started what we think is an unusual design event – one where it’s not designers telling other designers about how annoying their clients are.

The Nudge is an on-stage conversation with someone who works on the client side; it’s a chance for clients to tell us what challenges they face, and for designers to find out what goes on behind closed doors. This way, we can get an understanding of how and why the decisions that affect our work are made.

The on-stage guests are never Floate clients. This isn’t a showcase for us. We do this because we want designers, including ourselves, to understand the context that we work in, and to start to empathise with what clients experience on their side of the project. In a sense, The Nudge is the antidote to the poisonous attitude that gave rise to Clients from Hell.

We’ve also expanded our reach a little and created a podcast where we talk to non-designers about their experiences working with designers, and listen to their views on subjects designers could know more about. We’ve spoken with Marketing Professors and sex workers, and a range of people in between. Even founders of startups. Through it all, we find we learn the most when we ask non-designers what they think designers ought to know about their world.

Tomorrow night (September 25), our guest is Sean Hall. Sean is the General Manager of Brand Marketing at Telstra –– he’s going to talk to us about what it’s like to work on a rebrand as large as Telstra’s, and the challenges that can arise when working with external design teams. We’re very grateful he can join us and hope you can come along. I’m buying the drinks.

 

You can RSVP to the event at Eventbrite.

 

The Nudge is also a podcast. Maybe you’d like it.

Officially announcing The Nudge podcast, and a call for guests.

The Nudge Podcast

Now that we’ve posted our second (or third depending on how you count these things) episode, it’s time to tell you about our podcast, The Nudge. Way back when we started The Nudge events, we wanted to be able to share the ideas behind them with more than just those people who were able to attend on the nights.

So we recorded the events.

And then we started thinking about a podcast where we talked about being a better designer (and making the world a better place). And the result is the Nudge Podcast. On our podcasts Josh Kinal, Jerome Lebel-Jones, and Ross Floate grapple with the issues related to being a better designer, and we ask special guests from around the world for their perspective as well. What kind of issues? Issues like inspiration, trust, being wrong, and the nature of responsibility.

As we continue to present our events, we’ll keep including the audio from the live interviews as special episodes to our podcast – you can hear Elise Peyronnet from Melbourne Music Week on Episode 0.

Future episodes of the podcast (yes, they’re already recorded and in the can) include Ned Dwyer from Tweaky.com, Chris Clarke (now of Black Pixel), Brad Ellis of Pacific Helm, Jayne Lewis of Two Birds Brewing, and Associate Professor Peter McGraw of the Humor Code. You can listen to the podcast at the websitefollow via rss or you can subscribe on iTunes.

Are you interested in being a guest on The Nudge? Do you have something you’d like to hear discussed? We’re all ears. Drop us an email, or let us know in the comments.