I've been busy lately.

For the past 11 weeks I've had my head down working on one project. It's a big fat whopper of a project which will hopefully start appearing in the world by the middle of this year. Because of NDAs and "market sensitivities" and all that crap I'm not allowed to share the details yet.

I can say that the project has encompassed the full UX design spectrum. I started by interviewing stakeholders and forming a topline UX definition. Then it was sketching and scenario writing. Then pair designing a range of UIs, which we did in Axure. We then took the Axure prototype in to user testing (at Foolproof). Then more wireframes and now I'm just coming to the end of the visual design phase (I've snuck a few bits, from this phase, out on Dribbble). Front-end development start a couple of weeks ago. We will be designing, building and testing various detailed interactions in a rotation for a few weeks yet. Each portion of the project has merge in to the next and we've been trying out new methods at each step.

It's been great to (almost) exclusively focus on one piece of work. But now I'm ready to step back, whilst the hardcore systems integration happens. I'm ready for a break. 


The Guardian's UX/Brand campaign

The Guardian has recently launched a brand campaign which positions them as a central, multi-channel news source.Under the banner of "Open Journalism" it is rolling out blog posts, print ads and ads (shown here).

The creative and the strategy work is of the high standard that we've come to expect from The Guardian. The notion of a newspaper becoming a user driven network of information is very interesting. However the aspect that intrigues is the end frame of the ad, which can also be seen on this press ad.

Rather than using a URL or some arbitrary brand tagline they have opted for 'Web, Print, Tablet, Mobile'. It's more than a 'call to action' it's a line in to the UX. By stating the multiple touch points they are sending a very clear message about the desired ways for readers to consume or interact. It doesn't say Twitter, blogs or email, it seperates mobile from tablet, it makes no reference to live events, the emphasis is purely on the tools that can used to interact - not the software. It's really a good example of the UX leading the Brand. More to the point it's a really good place for a newspaper to place itself. By distancing itself from the old world notions of printed daily newspapers it is squarely pointing itself towards the new generations of channel hopping, technically enabled users.


Jaguar, Homebase, 4Music - is brand design melting?

At first I wondered if this was clever piece of sarcastic reporting from Design Week, but sadly not. Today's three headlines are all press releases around 'rebrands' that don't amount to much more than tinkering with logos.
4Music gets filled and slightly rounded
Homebase gets locked in a graduated circle.
Jaguar has a polish and a typeface from 1985

Has the economic climate removed the spine of Brand Managers across the land? Or is there a surplus of cash in the city which has lead marketing teams to throw money at brand agencies for very little work?I'm sure behind the scenes there are piles and piles of life draining powerpoint presentations justifying the deeply significant strategic decisions behind these micro changes, but I would bet changes of this scale will not change the fortunes of these organisations.