Dare 2016 – We were there
Do we dare to hold up a mirror to our digital design practices? We sure do. So we headed to Dare 2016: the Emerce conference for digital creatives. Through a diverse range of talks, we were challenged to look and think broader, bigger, and beyond our screens and existing patterns. Our top 3 dares of the day, in random order:
1. Dare to use natural behaviour;
2. Dare to let go of patterns;
3. Dare to look beyond the screen.
#01 Dare to use natural behaviour
In his opening talk at Dare 2016, Media Monks’ creative director Vincent van de Wetering spoke about people and behaviour. The aim of our work is generally to trigger some kind of behaviour, and we come up with all kinds of smart products with that in mind. We tend to look for solutions in the new and the innovative, but answers are sometimes easier to find closer to home.
Vincent suggested that you could tap into existing behaviour. Innovative is not necessarily the same as new. He explained that the threshold for people to start using a service or product is no longer the price, it is the time they have to invest. This is why it can be a good idea to make use of existing behaviour.
Let’s take a look at a real-life example: the Canon Gig App. Canon wants to sell its SLR cameras and uses people’s existing behaviour at music concerts as an entry. People widely take pictures at concerts using their smartphones to capture the moment. This generally results in lousy images that are not worthy of posting on Instragram. The Canon Gig App taps into this behaviour and lets concertgoers take pinpoint-sharp and Instragram-worthy photos through the app.
Tying in with existing behaviour is therefore potentially a powerful way of getting exposure for your service or product. You are saving users time and lowering the uptake threshold.
#02 Dare to let go of patterns
Eindhoven University of Technology’s Jelle Stienstra and Caroline Hummels surprised us with the other side of the spectrum. The talks, which seemed to mainly be about product design, all lead up to a clear digital message. Jelle illustrated this using the example of a soft drink vending machine. You see the product you want. To get it, you have to use a counter-intuitive keypad and bend down to grab your drink. What if you were to eliminate the keypad and let the user get hold of their drink in an intuitive way? What if you were to let go of the existing pattern?
Letting go of the current design pattern is exactly what the Concept Kitchen 2025 was all about, which asked students to design the kitchen of the future. This resulted in modular doorless refrigerators and buttonless toasters. Subverting the idea that an interface always requires a screen, and looking purely at people’s behaviour, leads to unique concepts that turn out to be surprisingly effective.
IKEA Concept Kitchen 2025
#03 Dare to look beyond the screen
Designer and Momkai founder Harald Dunnink dared to close Dare with his own philosophical views on design. His is a philosophy where the primary purpose of design is to create calmness. ‘So that you can just focus on content,’ says Harald.
Through their philosophy, the digital creative agency Momkai shows what they consider important and how they convey that. Both their clients and contracts and their design process are seamlessly aligned with this philosophy. It inspires design firms to adopt and stay true to their signature style and approach, so as to, on the one hand, stay passionate about what you do and make the best possible designs, and on the other to present a clear idea of what you stand for and how you operate.
Another lesson is that content goes beyond the digital platform alone. Use design to tell a consistent story, both online and in the physical world. From social campaigns to offline branding. And yes, even in print. Momkai’s pet project with this holistic approach: The Festival of Progress for an online journalism platform called The Correspondent. For this physical manifestation, Momkai took care of all the designs: from the speakers’ presentations to posters, menus, and festival wristbands.
Summarising: Think carefully about the complete story you want to tell and make sure the designs and interactions you create add value, i.e. reinforce your story. Avoid design for design’s sake and don’t be afraid to explore creativity. Dare to think and go beyond the digital screen and existing design patterns.
Written by Zjanna (Graphic Designer), Ilayda (User Experience Designer) & Mark (Visual Designer)
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