Book in Brief: Living in Information

Responsible Design for Digital Places by:   |  Posted on

Editors’ note: This “Book in Brief” feature here on Boxes and Arrows is from
Living in Information: Responsible Design for Digital Places by Jorge Arango.

We’ll publish an excerpt, up to 500 words, of your book. The catch is that we’ll only publicize one book a month; first come, first serve. Other rules will certainly occur to us over time. Hit us up at idea at boxesandarrows.com.


Cover art; white tiles of various sizes form a wall surrounding a yellow door. The tiles have icons on them of an apple, a play button, a coffee mug, a cloud, etc.

Chapter 4: Engagement

You walk into the kitchen with the intent of making a sandwich, when suddenly you hear glass shatter. You immediately turn toward the source of the sound. Your pulse quickens as scenarios play in your mind. Has someone broken into your house? Where are your kids? You walk into the living room to discover your son with a surprised look on his face and a ball lying on the floor next to the shattered window. Fortunately, he’s alright. You comfort him and discuss what has happened, and then take your phone out and Google glaziers. You find a company that seems reputable and call them to set an appointment for the next morning. You go back to the kitchen and wonder, “Now, where was I?”

Thus far in this book, we’ve been discussing tangible ways in which places influence our behavior. But there are also more subtle ways in which environments affect us. One that is of particular importance is how they impact our ability to focus our attention.

Sometimes our attention is taken away by an exceptional occurrence, such as the sound of a breaking window. This is useful; the ability to respond quickly to changing conditions can help us escape danger. However, most of the time, we want to be in control of our attention. An environment that nudges us to spend more of our time there—or keeps interrupting us—would make it difficult for us to get things done.

The places we inhabit can either allow us to remain in control of our attention or snatch it from us for purposes of their own. Unfortunately, many of today’s most popular information environments are based on business models that incentivize the latter. The term used in the technology business is “engagement”: the amount of time people spend looking at or interacting with components in the environment. Given how important our attention is, it’s worth looking at how designing for engagement affects it. Continue reading Book in Brief: Living in Information

Book in Brief: Orchestrating Experiences

Collaborative Design for Complexity by:   |  Posted on

Editors’ note: This “Book in Brief” feature here on Boxes and Arrows is from
Orchestrating Experiences: Collaborative Design for Complexity by Chris Risdon and Patrick Quattlebaum.

We’ll publish an excerpt, up to 500 words, of your book. The catch is that we’ll only publicize one book a month; first come, first serve. Other rules will certainly occur to us over time. Hit us up at idea at boxesandarrows.com.


Defining experience principles

If you embrace the recommended collaborative approaches in your sense-making activities, you and your colleagues should build good momentum toward creating better and valuable end-to-end experiences. In fact, the urge to jump into solution mode will be tempting. Take a deep breath: you have a little more work to do. To ensure that your new insights translate into the right actions, you must collectively define what is good and hold one another accountable for aligning with it.

Good, in this context, means the ideas and solutions that you commit to reflect your customers’ needs and context while achieving organizational objectives. It also means that each touchpoint harmonizes with others as part of an orchestrated system. Defining good, in this way, provides common constraints to reduce arbitrary decisions and nudge everyone in the same direction.

How do you align an organization to work collectively toward the same good? Start with some common guidelines called experience principles.

Continue reading Book in Brief: Orchestrating Experiences

Book in Brief: Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone

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Editors’ note: This “Book in Brief” feature here on Boxes and Arrows is from Kevin Hoffman’s Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone.

We’ll publish an excerpt, up to 500 words, of your book. The catch is that we’ll only publicize one book a month; first come, first serve. Other rules will certainly occur to us over time. Hit us up at idea at boxesandarrows.com.


How to Design a Meeting

When hundreds of hours of his design team’s sweat, blood, and tears seemed to go up in flames in a single meeting with a group of vice presidents, Jim could have easily panicked. So that’s what he did.

Image of the cover of the book, showing chairs around a conference table that is a flat, level surface on the left but turns into rising stairs on the right.
Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone

Jim is a creative director at a successful and highly respected boutique design agency—let’s call it “Rocket Design.” He found a fantastic opportunity for Rocket through a former coworker’s new job at a Fortune 100 client—they were ready to spend half a million dollars to build the best website expe­rience possible in a competitive market: online meal delivery. After several weeks of discovery, his team had assembled a design direction that they believed could be effective. Baked into a collection of mocked-up mobile screens were strategies guiding content voice, brand execution, photographic style, and user interface functionality. To move into the next phase, Jim’s job was to make sure that the senior leadership at the company believed in the proposed direction just as strongly as his team did. Project managers on the client side navigated the rat’s nest of the leadership’s meeting availability to find a standing monthly hour in which Jim and his team could provide progress updates.

At one of these check-in meetings, Jim walked the gathered group of vice presidents and directors through a series of screens, stopping to accent unique elements and key decisions along the way. Despite ask­ing people to hold questions until the end, there were a handful of odd interruptions, like this gem:

“That’s a really strong yellow. I just don’t know about that.”

Continue reading Book in Brief: Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone

Book in Brief: Digital and Marketing Asset Management

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Editors’ note: The second “Book in Brief” feature here on Boxes and Arrows is from Theresa Regli’s Digital and Marketing Asset Management: The Real Story About DAM Technology and Practice. Use the discount code ‘dmambanda’ to add this to your library; it’s good for 20% off.

We’ll publish an excerpt, up to 500 words, of your book. The catch is that we’ll only publicize one book a month; first come, first serve. Other rules will certainly occur to us over time. Hit us up at idea at boxesandarrows.com.


Since the turn of the millennium, digital media—photos, audio files, video clips, animations, games, interactive ads, streaming movies, and experiential marketing—have become an increasingly significant part of our everyday experience. The combination of inexpensive, highly functional digital still and video cameras (even as part of mobile devices); increased network bandwidth; decreased storage costs; low-cost, high-performance processors; high-capacity, solid-state memory; affordable cloud services; and the requisite digital media infrastructure has laid the foundation for today’s vibrant electronic ecosystem. Whether you’re browsing the Web, listening to a song on an iPhone, watching a video on a tablet, opening a rich media email on your mobile device, or recording a TV series on a digital video recorder, you’re experiencing digital media.

Continue reading Book in Brief: Digital and Marketing Asset Management

Book in Brief: Designing Interface Animation

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Editors’ note: We’re introducing a “Book in Brief” feature here on Boxes and Arrows. We’ll publish an excerpt, up to 500 words, of your book. The catch is that we’ll only publicize one book a month; first come, first serve. Other rules will certainly occur to us over time. Hit us up at idea at boxesandarrows.com.

Val Head kicks off August with an excerpt from chapter four of Rosenfeld Media’s newest, Designing Interface Animation: Meaningful Motion for User Experience.


Using Animation to Orient and Give Context

Book cover art

Animation has the power to suggest space and movement in ways that none of your other design tools really can. This makes it especially useful for helping to communicate the lay of the land in your screen-based interfaces through visual hints and special suggestions. It also has the power to suggest depth and space, two things we encounter regularly in the physical world but are often difficult to replicate on-screen.

Continue reading Book in Brief: Designing Interface Animation