Design Log: December 2016

Thursday, December 21, 2016

I just finished Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley, and I’m so glad that Amazon recommended this book to me. I don’t think I’ve learned this much from a book before. Though every chapter was loaded with fantastic information, I think my favorite part of the book was Move, which talked about all of the different design activities that IDEO utilizes. Though all the activities sounded great, the ones I think I’ll continue to use the most are…

  1. Mindmapping
    • Mindmapping is an activity that helps open the mind to new ideas as well as map an individual’s thought process and record the evolution of an idea
    • Mindmapping also facilitates divergent or unconventional thinking and idea generation
  2. Empathy Maps
    • Empathy maps are based on what people say and do, and should help you draw real and valuable insights on what they think and feel
  3. Customer Journey Mapping  
    • Customer journey maps help an individual think through each step of what they would ideally want a customer to do
    • It’s helpful to be able to “journify” the process for both customers and stakeholders alike

I’d recommend this book to everyone – it’s not meant for just “creative types.” Regardless of industry or background, anyone can apply design thinking to their jobs.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Today, I spoke with a user researcher at Microsoft to learn more about how user research is conducted in other teams. Tools they use include Survey Gizmo, MAXQDA, UserZoom, UserTesting, and others. Microsoft also has their own participant recruiting arm as well as a team that’s dedicated to recruiting test users specifically for games.

In terms of how someone could get into user researcher, the most traditional way is getting a graduate degree – Masters or PhD – in computer science, human-computer interaction, etc. Post-grad work is generally research-heavy, so you’ll be learning how to do research in one way or another. Other ways of getting into user research (though not as common) include doing a product management role that works closely with research and design, or a product design/UX role that works closely with research. It definitely depends on your team.


Favorite Things of 2012: Typography

With 2013 just around the corner, I wanted to share with you all a rather new obsession of mine that I know will keep me busy during the new year: typography. Typography is more than just creating a pretty font. It’s about branding. It’s about marketing. And it’s playing more of a role than ever in terms of sustaining the print medium and adding that extra touch to websites and apps. An excellent font sometimes means the difference between an average product and an extremely attractive and marketable one. Here are a few of my favorite typefaces from 2012…

F37 Bella

If I were to nominate any typeface to be the savior of magazines and newspapers, F37 Bella would be that typeface. Designed by the talented Rick Banks, F37 Bella is based on the letterforms of American typographers and adds a classic feel to anything this font graces. Though F37 Bella will cost you a pretty penny, it’s an elegant typeface that is unmatched and is definitely worth purchasing.


A font that Emil from Behance made for a school project, Typometry is a geometric work of art. With subtle and sleek contours, the alphabet has never been more grateful to be given such a typeface makeover.


Frontage is a typeface that could easily be used for a classy menu or the logo for a cutesy cafe. Made by Juri Zaech of Paris, this font can be used and changed in various ways to create stunning visual effects.

Deco Neue

Another talented student by the name of Jonatan designed this versatile font for his typography class. With its unique look, Deco Neue could be used in just about anything – from magazines to clothing brands.


If you are a user of the Over app, you might recognize this fun and crafty font. It’s a featured font on the app and makes for a great way to spice up any photo as well as any letterhead. Made by the creative Jeremy Booth, it’s a typeface that is sure to stay around for many years to come.

And with that, Techvolo’s “Favorite Things of 2012” series has come to an end. Was there another topic you wanted to see more of? Do you have any type face recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Have a happy new year, everyone!

Favorite Things of 2012: Small Businesses

No blog would be complete without some kind of 2012 post to round out this eventful year, so I have decided to publish a post each day listing my favorite small businesses, apps, website designs and typefaces from this year! Without a doubt, 2012 was the year of innovation and rapid growth in technology and business. There has been an undeniable upshoot in start-ups, more movements than ever towards promoting STEM and CS education as well as a flurry of apps being created and brilliant minds coming together. It’s been a year of triumph, with its share of ups and downs. But with that being said, I present to you all the first of many more “Favorite Things of 2012” lists to come!

Best of… small businesses!

New York Mouth
Self-proclaimed purveyor of indie foods, New York Mouth is a Brooklyn-based distributor of inventive and tasty snacks and foods. They have a huge and diverse inventory stocked with such goodies as maple bacon lollipops, orange pistachio shortbread cookies, king salmon jerky and much more. Though these snacks are a tad pricey, if you’re craving for something unique and delicious, New York Mouth has you covered.

Ever loved a photo so much that you wanted to EAT it? It might not be the most widely-shared desire, but it’s now possible thanks to the people at the NorCal-based chocolate photograph company, Cocoagraph! Simply submit a photo to these chocolate artisans and expect a scrumptious and chocolatey version of your photo in the mail within 1-2 weeks! A cocoagraph makes a perfect gift or goodie bag favor for company get togethers, weddings or, really, just about any event!

Foldable.Me is a start-up funded by Kickstarter that allows users to customize and create mini foldable versions of friends and family. Founded in March 2012, Foldable.Me has come a long way since its earlier humble beginnings. Because this company is based in the UK, if you live anywhere else, shipping will take longer than a week. But it will all be worth it once your awesome cardboard friend arrives in the mail.

If you’ve seen an eight-bit anchor tattoo or a cowboy octopus tattoo on someone recently, chances are that you just saw a temporary tattoo designed by Tattly. Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder of Tattly, enlisted a bunch of all-start designers and illustrators to create beautiful and vivid temporary tattoos. Think you’re too old for tattoos? Wait until you get a look at the ones made by Tattly.

What other small businesses are out there that you’d like to give a shout-out to? Leave a comment!

Next up… Techvolo’s favorite apps of 2012!