Running design critiques

Many times in work environments, we confuse conversations, which should be exchanges of ideas, with opportunities to inflict our opinions on others…

Loved this quote from a great post about how to run a design critique. Thought it’d be useful to distil the recommendations and publish to clients – but also to get the whole team to read and implement in our next project. We need to work together more, instead of in silos, with each person producing some kind of artefact and then passing it on to the next. Very often this approach is akin to design Chinese Whispers – with what comes out not really resembling what went in.

Link was by way of Gavin Wye from UXBri – very helpful. Gavin’s suggesting that we form crit groups around projects and having read this post I’m much more keen to get involved – if only to learn the best way of doing it.


Simple set-up for simple videos explaining complex things


Originally uploaded by LeeLeFever

Completely inspired by’s video explanation of how things work.

Thinking about how to use similar techniques to help explain proposed functionality to clients. Will be particularly useful in explaining AJAX functions – as I’m already grappling with the difficulty of how these complex interactions can be documented – for testing, for client approval and for dev teams

I asked Lee at CommonCraft for some tips on how to get started. (I wondered if it was a bit cheeky, as they make videos for a living – but I received a lovely response really soon afterwards). Here’s what he said:

Hi Jenni.
Really quick run down – ready?

1. We write a script
2. We create a quick storyboard to establish the flow and artwork needed
3. We create the art work
4. We point a Sony Handycam (on a tripod) straight down onto a whiteboard and record all the scenes in the storyboard.
5. We record the audio separately

We use GarageBand to edit the audio and Final Cut Express to edit the video and create the final product.

Some info here:

Hope this helps.


What a nice guy!

I found a £50 baseboard on ebay – just the ticket, I reckon. Now all I need is a camcorder of some kind and away we go!

Dissatisfaction with WordPress

I’m used to WordPress – we build custom installs for clients and run the Nizomk blog off it, so it was a natural choice to go for a WordPress hosted blog when I decided to start blogging again. Sadly, I’m not that impressed though – same familiar admin system, but no support for the kind of widgets I want – no, only a crappy Flickr badge and no flexibility at all. The choice of themes that support widgets is very poor too. So, what are the choices – go back to blogger, or better yet , persuade one of my chums to build me a custom install… hmmm. Then I can style it to show my tipple of choice. Plan formed- now who’s arm can I twist?!

Beautiful holding page for Aviary – web based creative applications

Following on from the enthusiastic reception to Paul‘s Silverback landing page – and the homage he’s paid to Sonic the Hedgehog’s ‘parallax scrolling’ effect, I noticed the beautiful this morning. The illustration doesn’t use CSS wizardry to achieve the effect – but it is beautifully rendered and sets out the offer – web applications for creative people – in an exemplary way.

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anyone can draw

When I first started at Nixon McInnes I was concerned by a lack of confidence about the role of creativity within the team. This was quickly solved by the addition of Creative Director Josh van der Broek. However – I thought I still would like to encourage everyone in the team, whatever their job titles, to become more confident about their own creativity.

I pondered for ages what approach to take – but as usual the solution turned up in the bath when I was thinking about something else. I realised that all the children I know draw – none of them say ‘I can’t draw’ they just get the felt-tips and get on with it. I thought how great it would be to encourage my colleagues to return to this state of confidence and get back in touch with the pleasure of mark making.

I contacted artist Juliet Kac and formulated a secret plan. One Friday, instead of the usual team meeting we went along to meet Juliet at the Phoenix Gallery for a life drawing session. This caused an amusing degree of uncertainty and shyness amongst my normally confident colleagues – particularly when presented with a naked lady with blue pubic hair. However, we soon settled in by running through a series of drawing exercises. By the end of the afternoon we’d filled in many sheets of paper and revealed some surprisingly good drawings. Some of us were really fired up, some less so, but all got a fresh perspective on what we can do – and how easy it is set pencil to paper.

Since then we’ve been joined by Anna Carlson – someone who’s dedicated to getting everyone drawing, on themselves, on each other, using MS Paint or as a game. Below is my paella lunch and her ‘best BLT in Brighton’.

Paella for lunchbest_BLT