Recently in Adaptive Path Category

How to Run a Concepting Workshop

*** Originally Posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ***

Awhile back I wrote a post about how to run a workshop, in the general sense. I thought that I would write out the steps for a concepting workshop in particular. Concepting workshops are ones that we do a lot at Adaptive Path. They are great for when you need to generate a lot of ideas around an issue in a short amount of time. They can be done with large or small groups, with designers, developers, and managers.

1. Create the agenda for the day. Determine what it is you will be sketching and what your goal is for the end of the session. For a full day workshop, say from 10-4, plan on 20 minutes of sketching, then 30-40 minutes to discuss what was created. You might have four sketching heats in a day, each focused on a different topic or nuance of the issue. Be sure to include a hour for lunch and a break in the morning and afternoon, as people do get tired.

2. Gather your materials. You are going to need lots of Sharpies or markers, drafting dots or tape to hang the sketches up, sticky notes, and the paper to draw on. Give participants options with different colors and sizes of markers and different color sticky notes.

3. Use a Sketch Sheet. I've found that having stacks of Sketch Sheets (PDF: 12 KB) work really well. They are a half-sheets of paper, so they aren't as intimidating as full sheets. They include room for the sketch as well as a description (in words) of what it does and what it's like. This is very helpful since sometimes it's hard to tell what is going on in a quick sketch. You can certainly use blank paper for sketching too. Just be sure to always have participants title their sketches. It helps to focus the sketch and remember it later.

4. Capture the discussion on the board with the stickies. After everyone sketches, have them paste their sketches up on the wall. As a group go through and talk about them. Capture the discussion on sticky notes as you talk. You'll want to include things like descriptions for how the sketch works and additional ideas or concerns that are raised in the discussion.

5. Review and refine after the workshop. Once the workshop is over, the real work for you begins. You'll want to review all of the sketches and refine or redraw the most promising. Duplicate ideas can be redrawn into a single representation. You might also want to work in ideas from the conversation to strengthen the sketch.

6. Create a concept book. Not all of the sketches you produce in the workshop will make it into your design. But you don't want to lose the good ideas that were generated. Document all the sketches that were created in a concept book. Scan in the sketches and then add annotations to explain what is happening. This provides a great resource that you can refer to later.

UX for Good and the CeaseFire Challenge

*** Originally posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ***

This weekend I had the pleasure to attend UX for Good in Chicago. It was an amazing event, spearheaded by Jason Ulaszek and Jeff Leitner, that focused on solving problems for five social causes: unemployment, urban violence, public education, community mental health, and cross-cultural understanding. I was part of the urban violence team.

Graphic Facilitation Poster by at UX for Good

There were nine of us experience designers, a visual designer, and a kick-ass volunteer coordinator. We worked with a group called CeaseFire, based in Chicago. CeaseFire is a campaign that is tackling the problem of urban violence by treating it as a public health problem. Their premise is that if you can stop the violent behavior, and you can shift society’s norms around violence, there will not be as many shootings and killings. They have a network of interrupters, outreach workers and more who go into high-risk neighborhoods and work with the individuals most at risk for causing violence. They support those individuals however they need to, to get them to put down the guns. There is a movie called The Interrupters that just premiered at Sundance that focuses on the work that they do. Our challenge was to look at ways to educate the larger community about the work CeaseFire is doing, to change the larger community’s perception of violence, and channel their support of CeaseFire.

Our team spent the 14 or so hours we had trying to better understand the problems that CeaseFire has, how they work, and what kind of help they need and want. We developed a whole host of ideas of how Well Intentioned Individuals can participate and support CeaseFire.

Members of CeaseFire

We also developed a model for interaction and context. This model shows the different levels of engagement that can be taken in the different contexts. The model starts in the center with the actions a person can take in their living room, such as educating themselves, donating money and blogging about CeaseFire. It expands out to actions they can take in their community, the CeaseFire community, the client community, their city, and lastly the world. This model provides a framework that the various ideas we came up with can fit into.

Awareness Building in Context

Most of our team members are local to Chicago. They will be following up with different members of CeaseFire to see how these ideas can be put into motion. There is a lot of work to be done, but the initial connections have been made. I’m curious to see how things develop.

One thing for sure is that the conference has changed me. Listening to the stories and watching the videos of the work the interrupters and outreach workers has changed the way I think about my city, San Francisco, and neighboring Oakland. I think all the participants of UX for Good were profoundly touched by the causes and teams they worked on. While the organizations we worked with certainly benefited from participating, I think it’s the effect that work had on us individually that will prove to be the most important.

The Adaptive Path Library

*** Originally Posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ***

Adaptive Path has a lending library for its employees and interns to use. The San Francisco Library has been around for about four years and we have 488 books in the collection, plus periodicals. I am the Librarian for the San Francisco Library; our other studios are working on creating libraries of their own.

The Adaptive Path Library

The library is run as a small, special library, much like the scientific library at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, where I used to work. There are no due dates and no fines. People check out the books for as long as they need. A few times a year I send a reminder email of the books folks have checked out and remind them to return them if they are no longer using them.

I use Delicious Library as the library catalog. We are still in the process of getting the catalog online. Luckily the collection is small enough that folks can browse the shelves for what they are looking for, or they ask me.

The library uses real library supplies, such as plastic book jackets for hard covered books, checkout cards and book pockets. Each book is cataloged and assigned a Library of Congress catalog number. I decided on Library of Congress because of the technical nature of the books in the collection. Most of the cataloging is copy cataloging using the Library of Congress catalog or OCLC’s World Cat.

Checkout Cards

We don’t have a strong collection development policy. Many people donate books to the library. We have a monthly budget to spend on books. Folks will make requests for a title or I will order something that I think people would be interested in. I send out an email to the company with the new titles whenever I add books.

I think the most important principles for a studio library to have are:

1. A way to keep track of what books there are and who has what checked out.

2. A clear organizational scheme so people can find a book on the shelf.

3. Plastic jackets for hard cover books really does help protect them. The jackets get really beat up quickly otherwise.

I don't think it matters what system (e.g., Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, your own organizational system) you use as long as it meets those three points. I used a traditional library system because that's what I know and I knew it would scale. The important thing is that the books are there and people can find them and use them.

AP Library Shelves

Use It or Lose It Registration

Hot off the desks of the Adaptive Path Events Team! You don't want to miss these.


Don't let your 2010 education budget go down the drain. Lock in the best deal now, pay the difference in 2011.

Here's how:
1) Register to any event by December 31st using the "Pay-by-check" option.
2) We'll contact you to pay what you can now (minimum $350).
3) Pay the remaining balance by January 31st.
4) Do a jig that you just worked the system!

Questions? Need help? Contact us at apevents [at] adaptivepath [dot] com


MX 2011: Managing Experiences Across the Web and Beyond
A conference for people who take a leadership role in guiding better experiences into the world.
March 6-7 @ The Intercontinental, San Francisco
Early Bird pricing: $1,295 (through December 31st)

UX Intensive Amsterdam: Our popular four-day workshop for experienced UX folks wanting to take their practice to the next level.
April 18-21 @ Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam
Early Bird pricing: $1,695 all four days | $495 single days (through December 31st)

UX Week: The premier UX conference. Now with more awesome!
August 23-26 @ Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco
Early Bird pricing: $1,395 (through December 31st)

"I want it that way"

I work with the best people.

90 Mobiles in 90 Days Party

Adaptive Path invites you to come celebrate the completion of Rachel Hinman's 90 Mobiles in 90 Days blog project.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm

DESCRIPTION: Our resident mobile design strategist, Rachel Hinman, took on the challenge of exploring a new idea for the mobile user experience every day for 90 days. September 17th marks the completion of her project and to celebrate Adaptive Path will be hosting a party that will include a discussion with Rachel about her experience. Come and celebrate!

Read about the project on the AP blog here:

Check out the project site here:

Party info here:

Champagne and nibbles will be provided.
Talk will start promptly at 7:15

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you there!

WHERE: Adaptive Path
363 Brannan Street
San Francisco, California 94107

Comin' to Austin, Y'all

We've just announced the last date for the UX Intensive workshop series this year. We'll be in Austin, Texas from December 8-11, 2008.

This intermediate-to-advanced workshop series examines the four key elements that contribute to a successful interactive experience: Design Strategy, Design Research, Interaction Design and Information Architecture.

The information architecture day is a deep dive into the wonders of bottom-up IA. We'll look at metadata, controlled vocabularies, how to create vocabularies and apply them. And then how to use all that structure to build innovative interfaces and improve systems such as site search.

As always, use the code FOCF to save 15% off the registration price. Early bird pricing is good through August 31 (which is in addition to my discount code).

You Can Still Save Money on UXI

It's not to late to sign up for Adaptive Path's UX Intensive workshop series June 16-19 in Minneapolis, MN. We're taking a break over the summer and then will be in Copenhagen, Denmark in October and back in the States in Austin in December (dates for both of those are still being finalized).

UX Intensive is an awesome 4-day workshop series. You can come to any combination of days that suit your interests. Each day is jam packed with lessons, stories from the field, tips, tricks, and methods that you can take back to work and put into practice. The topics include:

  • Design Strategy with Brandon Schauer

  • Design Research with Todd Wilkens

  • Information Architecture with yours truly and Leah Buley

  • Interaction Design with Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox

It's going to be a great week. You can still save on your registration by using the code FOCF. Get's you 15% off the registration price. Hope to see you there!

Come to the AP AP!

Adaptive Path is hosting an IA Summit After Party Sunday night! We'll be at the Hyatt hotel bar from 10-midnight. Come on by and we'll buy you a drink!

We are always coming up with new names for things. It's what we do at Adaptive Path. You get smart, geeky, creative people together and wordplay is bound to happen.

A couple years ago now, Dan started advocating for "topless" meetings. All too often our meetings were blogged down by folks staring at a screen and typing instead of participating in the conversations around them. Todd took up the call in a blog post against crackberries last November that caused some stir.

Well, it seems that other folks have really started to take notice. Yesterday, the LA Times published a front page story about topless meetings. Next thing we knew, film crews from ABC, CBS, and NBC were in the office. They interviewed Dan and shot some background images of the office.

The footage aired last night and is already up on the web:

On ABC nightly news. You can see me turn around in the background of one shot.

On the local CBS news.  I'm in a lot of shots of this one.

On the local NBC station. I'm just out of frame on this one, but you get to see a lot of good shots of the office and my coworkers.

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