How to Design Social Experiences

Facebook’s Global Head of Brand Design, Paul Adams, on the complex task of designing social experiences.

The web is evolving, orienting around people rather than content. As a result, almost all UX professionals will increasingly need to design social experiences. Designing interactions between people is different from designing user experiences. For example there is often no clear task to design for, no set user goal, and no clear outcome.

To complicate matters further, people’s sense of identity and the social interactions they have with others are subtle and nuanced. This means you can never predict how people will respond to what you create for them. Not only does this uncertainty mean that we need a very different approach to product development to be successful, it means that we need to be ready to iterate in real time – to change what we have launched almost immediately after we have launched it.

Paul will talk about the social design process, how it differs from classic user-centred design methods, and will explain why he thinks UX professionals will need to change how they work to be successful in the future.

In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer… to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. Steve Jobs in a Fortune magazine interview

I spent half my time as a designer trying to overcome the design as veneer fallacy.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative.

When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.

Dr. Teresa Belton

Outdoor Kindergarten

Being happy, being outside, and getting fresh air is clearly important for today’s children. We’re competing with computer games and Games Boys. It’s important to give children the desire to be outside & motivate them to be creative outdoors.

Why not give a 5 year old a sharp knife? Or a box of matches? Or let them climb a tree? Are we really helping our children by attempting to remove risk from their lives? The benefits of outdoor preschool education, even in the Arctic north of Norway.

Via Robert Paterson’s Weblog

Las Calles de Borges

“Poets, like the blind, can see in the dark.”
Jorge Luis Borges

A little homage to the Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges, one of the greatest writers of all time. This video was shot in the winter of 2010 in Buenos Aires and Capilla del Señor, Argentina.

Art and music are the first things to go in schools. The role of art is disappearing. When we were kids, we learned about bakers and candlestick makers. We learned about cobblers and all these old-school, awesome things that people did their entire lives. They specialized in making one thing. … In archeology, the things that matter most are handmade: ceramics, glass, sarcophagi, paintings. The most valued objects of lost cultures are the things that were made by hand. We need to start making things with our hands again.
Ira Coyne, sign painter.

Sleep plays an important role in the brain’s ability to consolidate learning when two new potentially competing tasks are learned in the same day, research at the University of Chicago demonstrates.

Other studies have shown that sleep consolidates learning for a new task. The new study, which measured starlings’ ability to recognize new songs, shows that learning a second task can undermine the performance of a previously learned task. But this study is the first to show that a good night’s sleep helps the brain retain both new memories.New research from the University of Chicago

For most of the 20th century, professional designers had a clear project in view. Modernism was the order of the day, and functionality, simplicity and innovation were unquestioned virtues. Today things are messier. We have become more aware that different people around the globe want and need different things. Style cults come and go so quickly that keeping track of them is an industry in its own right. Progress itself is coming to seem a dubious prospect, given contemporary debates about the environment and the increased appreciation of traditional culture. These days who is to say what constitutes good design? Glenn Adamson enjoys a rapid-fire and illuminating ode to contemporary design

A new study by the University of Sussex finds that the repetition is important for little learners.

Dr. Jessica Horst and her researchers say that children who were read the same story three times back-to-back, instead of three different stories, actually retain 3.6 of the new words they’ve been introduced to instead of the 2.6 of the “variety” group.

Researchers point to the benefits of reading.

Though the study focuses on children around 18 months old and contrary to some advice I have received, I follow this same routine in my own language learning. I think it works.

Skipping Out On College And ‘Hacking Your Education’

The cost of college can range from $60,000 for a state university to four times as much at some private colleges. The total student debt in the U.S. now tops credit card debt. So a lot of people are asking: Is college really worth it?

“One of the great myths of the school system is that we tell people that everyone should learn exactly the same thing and exactly the same way, at roughly exactly the same speed. And that’s just not true. People learn in different ways, at different speeds, at different times. And so hacking your education allows you to learn what, when, how and where you want.”

Dale J. Stephens, author of Hacking Your Education and founder of

More at NPR.