I just came back from DesignUp 2019 which isn’t just a design conference, it’s made by designers for designers. This year it was bigger and better than ever. In the conference lineup there was a mix of data+design, the pluralities that exist in India with design for the social sector, design leadership and a number of varied workshops. Here are the sketchnotes of the talks I attended:
Jon Kolko: Creativity
Jon talked about four ways in which design leaders can help to enhance creativity of their teams – to acknowledge feelings, tame ambiguity, drive a vision and let teams run wild. For example, designers feel vulnerable when putting up their work for a critique, so respect and acknowledge that. In a critique, he said, there should be no hierarchy. The highest paid person in the room is equal to everyone else, it should be a democratic process so foster trust. Another aspect of a design leadership is to set a vision – frame the problem and humanize it.
“Show the team why there’s a reason to believe. Bring the design criteria to life.”
Dave Malouf: Design Ops – The power to amplify design value
Dave’s talk finally gave me a name to some of the activities I’ve been engaged in over 2019 – hiring and setting up the design team and the comms for Microsoft Edge Design in India. For a long time, until I heard from Dave, I didn’t really think I was doing real “design” – but I realized after this talk, that I was setting the foundation for the team now to start performing at their best.
Design Ops basically creates time for design teams by streamlining effort and communication, to focus and put their best energy on the most creative aspects of the work. For scaling a design team and ensuring a quality practice that creates quality experiences, design ops is a must. Dave’s talk focused on principles and values to guide with.
“So that we mutually understand and value what is quality design output, AND quality practice is. Design Ops carries the burden.”
- Socialise design quality
- Quantify it
- Critical design language
- Monitor to learn and adjust
The design process (and proud to say we use the shiny double diamond in our team) that helps to explore multiple approaches:
Dave also explained how should design teams use quantitative and qualitative data:
- Methods for collecting the right data as part of the design process
- Instrumentation to be built in to capture the right data
- Dashboards to turn data into insights
BTW, Dave founded the ixda – and that’s where I learnt how to be an interaction designer way back in 2004…
Andy Budd: An accidental design leader
I had been reading Andy’s blog since 2004, and he was one of the early designers, and his talk was about the roles and responsibilities of design leaders.
An absolutely fantastic talk that made we wish I had a design mentor back when I was struggling to understand how to lead design teams. Now after 5 years or so, I may have learnt all these, only with a few battle scars and heart burn.
Andy talked about 5 things: Hiring the right designers for your team, retaining them and helping them stay creative, giving them the space to thrive and managing up and down.
“Give your team the air cover to support learning and growth.”
For more guidelines visit his site Clearleft.
Panel: Roti, Kapda or Mobile
This panel, moderated by Ripul Kumar was about how Indians are changing as a result of their high mobile usage.
People will find a digital consumption equilibrium.”Navneet Nair of Phonepe
“People expect pleasure out of productivity.”Payal Arora, author of The Next Billion Users
Payal Arora: Design for the next billion users
Payal spoke about the 5 needs of the next billion users: Fun, Flexibility, Family, Fusion and Friction, and the need to understand the nuances of contexts.
“We need friction to protect people from themselves – to provide a pause before action.”
Design for Social Good: Devika Krishnan – Akshay Roongta
We are “maker-centric not market-centric” no matter what the project brief or design process is!
Devangana Khokhar: Data for Social Good
Arindam Mukherjee: Insights for Product Development
Another awesome talk which I couldn’t draw – because my pen had run out of ink – was “Design Leadership without losing your hair” by Param Venkataraman.
“The higher you go, the deeper you need to look.”
What was nice was that lots of speakers recommended books like Orbiting the giant hairball, Design the life you love, etc. There were so many more talks that were happening in parallel that I missed, including Alyssa Naples’s talk. It was really difficult to be at each of them. Plus there were all the wonderful conversations that happened at the edges of the conference.
All in all, a great conference – lots of validation, new learning, new ideas and new people to connect with! Looking forward to the next!