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“If you’re looking for a first project, start with a problem that you’re facing — turn inward and identify a few pain points in your life.”
Brynn Evans is the type of person who everyone instantly likes. She’s personable, articulate, and has a mission-driven ethos about her work and life. She studied Psychology (BA) & Science and Technology in Society (BS) at Stanford University, Cognitive Science (MS) from UC San Diego, and spent time working at the legendary Xerox PARC, all before transitioning to user experience design where she now feels driven to bridge the gap between technology and people. She often refers to “social technology” to describe her passion — using technology and design thinking to address the real problems we face in society.
Today Brynn is a UX Lead at Google, managing four products teams in the “Communications” technology org including Project Fi, the Google-owned and operated mobile phone service. She’s also an avid community organizer and innovative leader in the field of UX — she co-founded XX+UX (a monthly meetup for women in UX), co-founded the Awesome Foundation chapter in San Francisco (that gives monthly grants of $1000 to people doing “awesome” work), co-organized an exclusive design thinking conference called Overlap, and regularly speaks at conferences around the world.
Brynn’s career has garnered accolades, awards, and published works, establishing her reputation as someone who everyone wants to work with. I caught up with Brynn about her feeling on current trends in the industry and what the future holds.
What’s your opinion on current trends?
“I see a lot of design trying to apply metaphors from real life to make technology feel more natural. Google’s Material design is about using cues from paper and physical materials to create an illusion of familiarity on the screen. Apple’s Force Touch is about using haptic touch in more natural ways. Uber’s new redesign is about connecting atoms and bits — uniting the physical and the digital worlds. These designs aren’t all equally successful (yet) but it’s a nice direction to be headed because many people still see technology as ‘hard to use’ or ‘not for me.’ We’re in an era of trying to bridge the gap between technology and real life.”
Where do you see the industry headed?
“Our industry is often criticized for being insular or solving problems that no one cares about (e.g., artisanal firewood??) Luckily, I’m seeing a shift towards focusing on real problems that people face, not just the surface-level problems of young people in urban areas. For example, the U.S. government has a design team that’s focused on issues like veterans, healthcare, and immigration. Startups like Wevorce are trying to make divorce more pleasant and swift. And in my own work, Project Fi (Android’s new wireless carrier) intends to make mobile connectivity accessible and fair. Everyone needs access to the internet to connect with friends, family, or important information online, and although this sounds like a “techie” problem, it’s not any longer.”
What would you tell someone who is just getting started
or wants to get into the field of design?
“If you’re looking for a first project, start with a problem that you’re facing — turn inward and identify a few pain points in your life. From here, focus on what’s at the heart of that problem and start designing out realistic solutions. Aim for 5-7 different solutions. Then test out the top ideas on yourself or with friends and family. See which solutions worked best and what you would change or modify about each. Rinse and repeat.
Although that might be sort of vague, we are all designers of our own lives so it’s easy to get started by finding problems that we’re intimately familiar with. Solutions will flow more naturally and you’ll see how this will you oriented towards solving problems rather inventing solutions. There are way too many apps today that are a half-baked solutions to no real problem — that’s not good design no matter how shiny or beautiful they may be.”
What is one Sci-Fi technology you want to have
right now, and what would you do with it?
“Well, Virtual Reality (VR) already exists today but I want next-gen VR, whatever that means. The best experience I had with VR was actually in an Uber, when I was sharing a ride with a friendly stranger. We were stuck in traffic, so he pulled out a VR headset from his bag and asked, ‘Do you want to go to Mars?’ I said yes! So I put on this headset on and suddenly I’m standing on the surface of Mars, looking all around at the dirt, crevices, mountains, and looming sky above. It was incredible. Then I advanced to a new scene, and then another. I started touring all the popular places around the world. I was teleported to Paris, Egypt, India, the Amazon…. all these beautiful places around the world felt so real and so present.
It reminded me that VR has the potential of making the world more accessible to people. If you can tour around places that feel as if you’re actually there, you could develop an appreciation for other people’s lifestyles and culture without needing money to travel. Of course there are other great applications of VR too, like helping people work through physical disabilities (e.g., learning to walk after an accident).”
Looking back on your earlier self, if you could give
yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Never think that you’re not good enough. I’m more or less a self-taught designer so I had a lot of moments feeling like I didn’t know enough to be a UX designer. I see this pattern in new grads and other people transitioning into the field from other professions. But the truth is, design is about solving problems in creative ways so we need different perspectives from different types of people. We need healthy debate. We need to always have an open mind and try out new things. That comes from expressing your opinion and not worrying about how good you are or how much you know. You just gotta go for it until you realize that your perspective is the perspective that everyone wants to hear.”
Read More at Google’s Brynn Evans Weighs In on Current Trends
1.Rugby Canada reimagined as the Canadian GrizzliesAlthough the maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada, the reimagined logo with a roaring grizzly bear is much more in keeping with traditional American college sports team logos, where animals are a common mascot.
2.Irish Rugby reimagined as the Irish CeltsThe revamped version of the Irish Rugby logo pays homage to the country’s Celtic culture with traditional Celtic knots and armoury.
3.All Blacks reimagined as the All BlacksThe name ‘All Blacks’ dates back to 1905 when the New Zealand Rugby team toured the British Isles, France and Canada dressed in black kit apart from a silver fern emblem. The fern is native to New Zealand, and the team has continued to use it as their logo to this day. The reimagined All Blacks logo has been used to represent the country’s M?ori culture of which the team is fiercely proud. Before each game, the All Blacks perform a Haka, a traditional M?ori war cry. Whilst both logos use symbols of New Zealand culture, we prefer the simplicity of the original.
4.SpringBok reimagined as the South African SpringBoksOne of the most recognizable rugby logos in the world (including two national symbols: the springbok and protea flower) has been transformed into a bold, modern design that would no doubt look great on club merchandise. However, the simplistic design of the original, showing the leaping springbok, is too iconic to replace!
5.Tonga reimagined as the Tonga ThunderTraditionally the symbol of a dove carrying an olive branch signifies peace. The reimagined logo for the Tonga team however takes a more ‘aggressive’ approach with the inclusion of a thunderbolt; which refers to both the island’s stormy conditions and the team’s characteristics of agility and strength.
6.Welsh Rugby reimagined as the Welsh DragonsThe original Welsh Rugby logo uses the Prince of Wales feathers as their main emblem but we can’t help but prefer the fiercesome dragon on the reimagined version, which pays homage to the logo of the Welsh flag.
7.Samoa Rugby Union reimagined as the Samoan SpartansThe reimagined logo for Samoa certainly looks the part but we’re not convinced of the meaning behind the symbolism. Although ‘Spartans’ conjures up the image of brave warriors, they were native to ancient Greece rather than modern day Samoa!
8.Scotland Rugby reimagined as the Scottish BraveheartsThe existing logo for Scotland’s rugby team is the thistle: the national flower of the country. Whilst the thistle might seem a meek symbol compared to the reimagined version, which uses Scottish warrior William Wallace, who was immortalized in the Hollywood blockbuster Braveheart, as the main emblem, the thistle is also said to represent Scottish defence. Legend has it that the Scott’s were alerted to a Norwegian invasion in the 13th century when one of their enemies stepped on a thistle, alerting the clansmen of an impending invasion. Whilst the symbolism of both might represent Scottish Rugby’s fierce defence and determination to win, the reimagined logo gets our vote for most iconic!
9.UAR reimagined as the Argentina WildCatsIt’s a shame the revamped version didn’t stick to the club’s nickname Los Pumas but the snarling wild cat on the Americanised version is certainly more eye catching. The original logo actually has a more complex design compared to those of other teams, so the reimagined version could work as a more flexible alternative.
10.Wallabies reimagined as the Wallaby WizardsNicknames were suggested for the Australian Rugby team around the same time that the New Zealand Rugby team became known as the All Blacks. At one point, the British press suggested the ‘Rabbits’, but this was quickly dismissed in favour of the country’s native animal the wallaby. The simplicity of the original logo means that it can be easily printed onto merchandise, but we do love the addition of ‘wizards’ in the reimagined version to create a catchy brand name. Whilst there’s no denying that the reimagined versions of these famous logos are more eye catching, the simplicity of the originals ensures that they can be used easily for a range of uses, thus making them arguably more effective. The simple shapes ensure that even when printed in black and white, or restricted in size, they remain timeless and functional. Which do you prefer? You can see more reimagined National Rugby Team logos here.
Read this book and do what it says if you want to build better products faster.” – Ev Williams, founder of Medium, Blogger, and Twitter
About the bookEntrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution? Now there’s a surefire way to answer these important questions: the sprint. Designer Jake Knapp created the five-day process at Google, where sprints were used on everything from Google Search to Google X. He joined Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, and together they have completed more than a hundred sprints with companies in mobile, e-commerce, healthcare, finance, and more. A practical guide to answering critical business questions, Sprint is a book for teams of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to nonprofits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.
The key to success, often, is building the right habits. But which habits work best? Sprint offers powerful methods for hatching ideas, solving problems, testing solutions—and finding those small, correct habits that make all the right behaviors fall in place.” – Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
Read more: The Day When Web Design Gets BoringBut why is this so? Let’s analyze the patterns of these websites and break them down. But first, let’s take a look at some Japanese websites and see if you and I are on the same page, with the same observations. Are you ready? Rakuten Kakaku Goo Livedoor Hatena Sankei Now, I’m pretty sure that we have observed the same things about Japanese web design. To cut the story short:
- Japanese websites are very heavy in text.
- Heavy, HEAVY use of whitespace.
- Tons of (blue-colored!) hyperlinks and URLs.
- Advertisements, lots and lots of advertisements.
- Nearly no images, or if they are present, they are very small ones.
- Absolute disregard for an easy flow for the eyes to focus on.
- Flash-heavy. For banners, advertisements and slideshows.