By core jr | Comments (0)


This is really all you need, and yes, there's an app for that.

See all of Lunchbreath and Fueledbycoffee's Core-toons here.

By Steve Portigal | Comments (6)


1. Embrace your participants' world view
Great research will help you understand how the people you are designing for organize and describe the world. Their words reveal their frame of mind. That means you must discover your own jargon, and let it go. Just because you are designing a netbook doesn't mean that your research participants will view it as anything other than a "tiny laptop." It's not the researcher's job to change people's language, so not only must you not correct them (directly or indirectly) you must take care not to even introduce the term "netbook" if you aren't certain that's the label they are already using. Overall, you must be open to giving your participants the chance to tell you their story and being able to hear what's important to them.

2. Think carefully about who you want to talk to
We're all for being opportunistic, especially when racing against the clock, and while co-workers and friends are easy to get to, make sure you consider the characteristics that will be the most fruitful for your research. Consider contrasts (i.e., a marathoner and someone who's just trying to lose a few pounds). Consider not only current customers (i.e., they are using your baby bottle warmer) but those who might be future customers (i.e., they are pregnant). Define screening criteria that you can reliably measure, typically around behavior (i.e., How many times a day do you pump breast milk?) versus attitude (i.e., Are you a Caring Nurturer?).


By Valerie Casey | Comments (1)


Here's why: The Designers Accord isn't a manifesto, and it's not about "green" design. It's not a trend or a website, and it's most decidedly not a professional organization. The Designers Accord is a global coalition of powerful change agents from every creative discipline across six continents, working together to create the future of design.

In an industry where we are expected to have all the answers, the Designers Accord gives you the right to ask for help, share your stories, and challenge each other, our schools, and our clients to think bigger and design better. All around the world, our members benefit from actively sharing knowledge with each other through real-world events and online activities.

When you are part of the Designers Accord, you have a new kind of permission. It's the permission to use design to tackle the most important challenges of our time: those around climate change and humanitarian issues. We're not overly earnest (this is a granola-free zone), but we do believe we have a responsibility to be more than stylists or storytellers. We believe designers have the most prepared minds and the right kind of optimism and creativity to change the world.

So how does it work?


By Lunchbreath & Fueledbycoffee | Comments (0)


By Andrea Pellegrino | Comments (0)

In recent years, there's been much discussion about design thinking or the design process as an agent of social change. As someone who is not a designer but has worked in collaboration with designers for quite a few years, I can think of no other profession that is better equipped to address and create solutions for societal challenges. However, as a business development professional, I see one critical issue often missing from the current discourse. How do we make this practice viable and sustainable?

Most current efforts in the "social design" space encourage designers to donate time and resources. Although giving one's talent and time is certainly honorable, it is not sustainable. How then does a designer go about funding non-client-based solutions? Like any other skill, the art of acquiring funding is equal parts DNA and experience. Generally, this skill does not come naturally to those in the creative professions and it is not often taught in design schools. This leaves us back where we started—with a potential pool of conceptual solutions to daunting social problems, but no plan on how to fund them or make a living engaging in this work.

There's no magic bullet here, but there are steps that designers can take to bring their non-client-based concepts to fruition.

Form collaborative relationships. The most strategic course of action designers can pursue is to partner with business development professionals—those with expertise in business strategy, relationship building, marketing and sales. In the current economic climate, there are many business development professionals available and open to working in consultation, either on a project-by-project basis or longer term. Their skill sets are, for the most part, complementary to those of most designers, and they tend to have relationships with a broad base of organizations that may have interest in funding your concept and experience in connecting projects to the appropriate funders. Most importantly, they are skilled in developing project-based business plans and funding models. My firm, Worldstudio, is an example of a designer (Mark Randall) and a business development professional (me) joining forces to create this type of complementary partnership.


By Liz Danzico | Comments (0)


At this point, you're web-sophisticated. You most likely engage some combination of online and desktop apps to Get Things Done, Get Real, strive toward a Four Day Work Week, or generally Life Hack. If you are prone to efficiency shortcuts, chances are fair to excellent that you're routinely looking for ways to improve the way you manage your business. But we all get attached to routines—sometimes so much so that we miss the opportunity to streamline. If you run a small business in particular, you need to be a bit of everything. Being process-aerodynamic is crucial. The way to be a jack-of-all-trades is to have the right tools in place so you can spend more time on the things you're good at.

Here are five simple switches that allow you to shake your fusty old habits and start using the right tools:

1. GThingsD
You've read David Allen, but still aren't sure how to put his ideas into practice. Your desk and messenger bags are flooded with Moleskines, Post-It Notes, and everything-bucket apps with lists—all intended to organize your worklife. Through the paper and digital of it all, you have a system. And it works (sort of). Sure, it's multi-faceted and tiered; it has icons and color-coding systems; and may involve secret handshakes. But after years of practice, your To-Do list gets done.

Add this to your list: consider Things. With both a desktop app and an iPhone/iPod Touch counterpart, Things is extraordinarily simple. It gets out of the way of the list on your mind, and lets you get your priorities down. Instead of complicating your goals with the bureaucracy of how the system works, it's nearly transparent while somehow being delightful to use. Since it syncs between desktop and handheld, you can be coordinated no matter where you are. And since you'll be getting things done, you'll look good too. It's just that simple.
See also: Remember the Milk

2. Streamline, straighten up, and travel
You've been booking your travel plans online for a decade, so you know how to triangulate an airfare, and eloquently talk your way up to first class. But when you show up at your destination for a key professional engagement, you still arrive with a slipshod, stapled pile of paper—your "itinerary."

These were the old days. As you book online now, just forward your travel confirmations for air, car, hotel, and more to a single email address. will organize your itinerary into Trips that you can view online or on your mobile device. And the inverse is true; stay put. When you add people you know—clients, colleagues, and potentials—you can track when they'll be in your town, so you can make that presentation (or pitch) in person.
See also: Dopplr


By Robert Blinn | Comments (1)


Raymond Loewy once quipped "the most beautiful curve is a rising sales graph," but most designers would rather busy themselves with a Sharpie than a spreadsheet. Even so, design and business have come to a confluence, with design increasingly viewed as a driver of business. Consequently, when looking over submissions of books to review at Core77, we've seen a profusion of design-meets-business books over the last year.

Most of these books are pitched toward executives to teach them about design strategy rather than the other way around. Industrial designers are supposed to know a little about everything—from materials science to engineering to art—but as design is increasingly brought into the boardroom, number crunching is making its way to the easel. Although CFOs have let their opinions on cost controls sway design thinking, it's finally being recognized that designers might have lessons to teach the number crunchers as well.

Business books have long depended upon war analogies. In the '80s, Sun Tzu's The Art of War made its way to more than a few CEOs desks and businesspeople saw themselves as warriors. While combat analogies may not be appropriate for this era, the division of thinking between "strategy" and "tactics" may still be of value. Success in business certainly does have competitive elements, but when examining the behavior of American businesses and consumers in the days before the "Great Recession," we can see that a series of understandable tactical decisions led to a strategic catastrophe.


By Sarah Rich | Comments (1)


When I was in first grade, the highlight of each week was Free-day Friday—a span of seven glorious hours when we got to choose whether to assemble tangrams, read Frog and Toad, or play tunnel tag. It was a simple redesign of the standard week but the benefits were far-reaching. As a tool for easing the daily grind, it's a hack we could learn from.

Among professional adults, engaging in leisure activities on a workday is called "playing hooky." Unless you are employed by the state of Utah. Just over a year ago, Utah launched an experiment, changing the government employee work schedule from five days per week to four, and increasing daily hours to ten. With a full 12-month cycle behind them, analysts were able to draw conclusions about how this system affected people, the planet, and the state's budget (also known as the triple bottom line), and it turns out that Free-day Friday is a win-win-win for grown-ups too.

According to Scientific American, by decreasing the need for lighting, janitorial services, air conditioning, heat, and electricity, Utah saved money and shrank their annual carbon footprint by over 6000 metric tons (not including the CO2 eliminated by reducing the number of commuters driving to work on Fridays, which bumps that figure up considerably). On top of all that, while the wellbeing of workers tends to be an afterthought in many sweeping employment policy changes, the 4-day workweek has left most state employees positively jubilant. With their free day they are able to enjoy more family time and relaxation, and to focus on personal health with some extra time for exercise, reducing the number of sick days they have to take during the year. A surprising number of Utah residents are also using their additional day to volunteer in their communities. Research shows that 43 percent of the state's adult population volunteers, compared to a 28 percent national average. For residents trying to complete an education while holding down a full-time job, the free Friday also affords time for study and daytime classes.

For design firms and studios looking for office-wide sustainable solutions, free-day Friday is the ultimate hack.


By core jr | Comments (2)


It's been around for several years now, and if you use the computer anywhere near as much as we think you do and you don't have Quicksilver, it's time you caught up. Quicksilver is the best productivity app out there, and after a short period of learning and adaptation, takes almost no thought to use.

So...what exactly is Quicksilver? In a nutshell, it turns your keyboard (rather than your mouse) into the most operative element of your computer. With Quicksilver, you can do almost anything from the keyboard: launch applications, upload files to different ftp servers, resize a batch of images and even append text to existing text files (todo.txt, perhaps?). Think about it: you'll never have to navigate to the Applications folder again! Just hit Apple+Space, type the first few letters of the desired app's name, hit Enter, and you're done.

To download Quicksilver or just learn more about it, visit Blacktree, who also host their extensive list of Quicksilver tutorials. But don't be intimidated; even 10 minutes spent learning Quicksilver will make your life infinitely easier. We promise.

By Joshua Klein | Comments (0)

If you're a design professional chances are good that you have at least a passing acquaintance with social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. It seems like getting along with others and being interested in design go hand-in-hand, and this is a big potential professional advantage. Because many clients are still trying to figure out how to use the CC field in their Outlook client you have a leg up in using what is normally an entertaining time-waster to make yourself look smart and to produce better work. It's not a huge feat of insight, but it is surprisingly uncommon, so here are a few pointers to get you started:

Ask Your Friends: If you've got a design project on your hands why not ask a few thousand of your friends for ideas? It turns out that everyone loves to share their opinion, and soliciting feedback is cheap and easy. In a recent book project my boomer co-author phonecalled 200 of his peers to interview. I emailed 6,000 and asked them to interview each other, with amazing results. The Internet is, like, big.

Find a Professional: One of the big upsides of the internet is that the real experts are readily available. Curious about a new kind of translucent cement? Email the inventor—it doesn't matter if he's in Slovenia or down the street. Not sure if you can really embed LEDs in load-bearing cement? Ask that German guy who's been doing it for years. Having deep expertise to back you up not only makes your projects viable, it leads to all kinds of information and insight you wouldn't ever get any other way—and gives you a larger resource base to draw on later. At one point I emailed the world leader in biogerontology to ask about storing cloneable cells, and a couple months later was inexplicably able to produce some convincing arguments about hydrophobic mitochondrial DNA to a client.

Wear Their Shoes: An ancillary to being able to contact anyone is that it means you've got to try to fit yourself into the mindset of some very different folks. Spending the time to do your homework on what motivates someone means you can get some pretty interesting results, and can also produce some amazing cross-tautological collaborations. One of my favorite examples of this is when I introduced actress and Paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins to Museum of Natural History Paleontologist Will Harcourt-Smith over coffee, with the result that we're now looking at pitching a wheeled prosthetic legs project to Nike.


By Steven Heller | Comments (0)


Everyone wishes there were more time during the day to work (or play). So here's a way to actually make that happen:

Set your clock twenty minutes ahead of the actual time—eg. 4:40 a.m. becomes 5:00 a.m. (Yes, this is called setting the time ahead, but there's more to it.) This technique works best in the early morning when it is still dark out. Make sure to remove all other timepieces from the bedroom showing accurate time (tape over the clock portion of your cable box, or any other digital appliance). Set your alarm, preferably to radio or CD mode, for fifteen minutes before you want to arise—let's say 4:45 (that's my optimum wake-up time), which on the reset clock is 5:05. Don't turn off the alarm, but rather listen to the music, restful, knowing you have 15 minutes more before actually getting out of bed. If your significant other complains, simply turn the sound down—but don't fall back to sleep.

At the appropriate moment leap out of bed and do your toilette but make certain you do not look at any accurate timepieces. After you've finished dressing, leave for your office. If you leave at 6:20 a.m. manufactured time and your office is 20 minutes away like mine is, you'll be there by 6:20 real time. When you sit down to work, you'll have beat the clock, adding time to your workday, and you won't even know it.

This system works even better for me since I found a Timex clock/radio/CD player that adds, on average, a minute or two every week. Most people would call this a critical design flaw, but for me, the malfunction is a huge advantage...over time.



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Why Does the Firm Own Everything I Do? Intellectual Property & You
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Sick of Being Your Co-Worker's Tech Support?
Core Jr

Dirty Weekend
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Core-toon Bonus! Design Management App

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Steve Portigal

Join the Designers Accord
Valerie Casey

Core-Toon: Cog+Rockstar/Process
Lunchbreath & Fueledbycoffee

Is Social Design Sustainable (And Can It Be Profitable)?
Andréa Pellegrino

Get Quicksilver Already!
Core Jr

The Most Beautiful Curve: Communicating the Value of Design Strategy to Tactical Number Crunchers
Robert Blinn

Consider the 4-Day Workweek
Sarah Rich

5 Simple Ways to Let Go and Give in to New Digital Routines
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Social Media + Design: How to Work Your Network
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Beat The Clock
Steven Heller


How to Win a Design Competition
Julie Lasky

How to Pitch Me
Linda Tischler

Hero Shots, Money Shots, and Process Pages: How to Present Your Work Visually
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Hack2Work Contributors

Not quite a design professional yet? Miss those halcyon days around the quad? Check out Core77's Hack 2 School—the ultimate student tips and tricks guide!