Time for "Jesus Designers?"

Posted by: Matthew Vella on April 21, 2008

CONF.jpgAdaptive Path kicked off the conference on a lighter note this morning, playing a clip from the 1968 Steve McQueen film Bullitt as attendees settled into the ball room here at the Mark Hopkins hotel. The scene from the movie featured the iconic building and the crowd erupted in boisterous laughter as a tongue-in-cheek voice over asked about the location for the conference’s registration desk. (“You’re 30 years too early,” a clerk responded.)

More seriously, Adaptive Path’s Brandon Schauer and Henning Fischer opened the conference by framing the day’s events as an attempt to begin turning the relatively new domain of user experience design into a core business discipline. A quick, informal poll of the crowd showed that few of the designers in the room had a predecessor performing the same job, underlining the relative newness of this subset of design for most companies.

Throwing up a quote from the New York Times.com’s Design Director, Khoi Vinh, describing the multiple, overlapping demands placed on designers responsible for the user interactions of products, from software to consumer electronics. These include the ability, for instance, to work autonomously and in multiple channels – on the web, mobile, and in print for example.

Schauer and Fischer then made an analogy to the iPhone, which was of course nicknamed the Jesus phone for its all-in-one qualities, being a cell phone, touch iPod, and internet device. They followed up by asking, “is it time for Jesus Designers?”

Jokes and another round of laughs aside, their point was clear: even as C-suite understanding of experience design is still forming, the expectations on designers responsible for experiences are multiple and multiplying. The problematic is set, on to concrete examples.

 

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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