Design, Technology

Mix 06 Presentation

I was a presenter at Microsoft’s Mix ’06 conference, held in Las Vegas March 20-22. Videos of all the sessions (including mine) are now online. I presented with my frog design colleague, Nelan Schwartz. The title of our session was “Better Design, Built Faster: Using New UI Technologies to Speed Development.” Here’s the session description:

Achieving complete separation between visual design, content, and logic has long been the Holy Grail of the Web design world. By keeping these separate layers loosely-coupled, they can be developed and changed independently of one another, resulting in faster, more parallel development and more manageable code. That is the vision, but in practice, achieving truly clean separation has been easier said than done. New techniques with AJAX and CSS, and new technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly code named “Avalon”), have made achieving the ideal of clean separation more attainable. This session dives into the experiences and lessons learned by Frog Design while using these techniques and technologies on real projects. We explore the impact (good and bad) on processes, collaboration, and efficiency.

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Design

The Power of Design

Business Week: The Power of Design (cover) The cover story of this week’s _Business Week_ is titled [“The Power of Design”][bw]. It focuses on the process and practices of design firm [IDEO][], a major competitor of [frog][].

For me, it’s an interesting look into the way a competitor does things. I think this article is good for IDEO, obviously, but also good for design in general, by exposing a broader audience to some of the current design best practices (contextual inquiry, rapid prototyping, usability testing), and the real business benefits to be gained from them.

The problem is, the article portrays IDEO as if it is the only company using these practices, which is far from the truth. frog, for example, uses many of the same practices–and some others–and we are not alone. IDEO is portrayed as the 800lb. gorilla in the design industry, while its competitors (including frog) are described as if we really aren’t much competition at all.

This paints a misleading picture of the competitive landscape (IDEO is only slightly bigger than frog, and we regularly compete and win against them), though I’ll concede IDEO is currently winning the PR battle. It stings now, sure, but ultimately this will be good for frog and our clients. Nothing like some strong competition for the “world’s greatest design firm” title to sharpen our focus and create opportunities to innovate internally, improve our processes, practices, and (ahem) our PR.

[bw]: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_20/b3883001_mz001.htm
[IDEO]: http://www.ideo.com
[frog]: http://www.frogdesign.com

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