Rachel Inman

Interaction Designer at Google

Rachel Inman

Interaction Designer at Google Episode 43

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

Gary:
Hello, and welcome to episode forty-three of Design Edu Today, the podcast series discussing what is necessary to be a successful designer in a contemporary, screen-based interactive world. I am your host, Gary Rozanc, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In this episode we will be discussing the education necessary for a someone to become a User Experience Designer. We go into specifics on the different education paths open to students, and what is specific to User Experience Design that can be applied to all forms of design from graphic design to industrial design. Finally, we talk about the types of information gathered by the UX team and how it could be a basis to start graphic design projects.

Today’s guest is Rachel Inman. Leading UX design for Project Sunroof and Earth Outreach at Google, Rachel works on a diverse set of projects across the Google Maps space. She’s focused on elevating high-impact data atop maps, putting beautifully visualized aggregated information in the hands of scientists, policy makers, advocates, educators, and community members. Rachel has also worked at the innovative digital agency, R/GA, where she created better user experiences for Nike and Samsung. She’s been honored to speak about her work on stage at IxDA’s Interaction South America, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture & Design, San Francisco’s GIS Day, and in written form with Net Magazine and Look At Me.

Welcome Rachel.

Rachel:
Hey, Gary
Gary:
Thanks for being a guest, I really appreciate it.
Rachel:
Yeah, no problem.
Gary:
So, before we dive into the questions, I want to give the audience some background on why I asked you to be a guest on the show. Now that it’s almost going on two years of doing this podcast, I’ve seen a trend where the visual designer and the front-end developer unicorn isn’t as prevalent in the industry as I thought. I personally see a bigger need for the Visual Designer/User Experience Designer hybrid unicorn. And I’m also seeing a huge need for User Experience Design training; hence the proliferation of institutions such as The Iron Yard and General Assembly. And I’ve also noticed that there’s been no real pattern to how my previous UX guests got their training, so, for example Rachel has an education in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University, and quite frankly, I’m surprised I’m not seeing more Industrial Designers entering the User Experience Design field. So, my first question is, how did your training as an Industrial Designer prepare you to be a User Experience Designer?
Rachel:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I first entered Carnegie Mellon knowing that I wanted to study Industrial Design. I was really interested in sculpture and architecture, but I was also really interested in kind of the technical aspects of design and I felt like Industrial Design was a good marriage of those two parts. Once I got into the Industrial Design curriculum and was in, I think it was probably the end of my second year in the Industrial Design program, I started to realize that these problems that we were briefed on at the beginning of projects really dealt with more than just a physical object; so the problem might be we’re trying to build kitchen utensils for a blind user, or we’re trying to design a water faucet for a particular context, like a pet store or a nightclub. All of these things to me, it felt like we were kind of isolating this object in this larger problem space.
When I would approach a problem that I was given in school, I would kind of outline all aspects of that problem space and one of the aspects would be this kind of like physical artifact solution but oftentimes looking at the macro view of things, the solution could come in many forms, kind of like a multi-pronged approach to solving this problem: it might be an object, it might be an interface, it might even be for some of the problem spaces we were tasked with. It might even be designing the conversation between stakeholders and I was getting a little bit frustrated towards the end of the second year of the program because I felt like we just weren’t addressing the larger problem space and at the time I had become friends with another UX designer who you should definitely interview on this show, Molly Nix, she was my room-mate at the time, and she was double majoring in communication design and HCI and we just got to talking about some of her projects in the HCI space and it felt to me like the problem spaces and the problems that they were solving in the HCI classes were a more holistic approach…sorry, the problems that they were solving were broader and the approaches that they were using were more holistic and that really appealed to me, I was like, finally there’s this group of people, this group of designers and engineers who are thinking about all the ways a problem might be solved rather than kind of shoe-horning a solution with a physical object, so that was kind of the first time in my design education where I kind of thought a little bit broader in terms of what being a designer might mean and maybe if it’s not just an Industrial Designer, maybe it’s kind of an Experience Designer who’s concerned not only with the physical artifacts but also the physical environment, any interfaces the user might touch and kind of how all of these things might fit into a larger service design model.

So, once I kind of like had that “A-hah” moment around the end of the second year, I started just kind of in an ad hoc way adding these kind of elements to the solutions that I would present to my design projects. One project in particular, junior year, I remember was about designing something that would re-invigorate a particular neighborhood in Pittsburgh, so each team was tasked with kind of looking at a particular neighborhood that maybe had been neglected on the city planning side and could use something, some artifact or some system to make it better and more lively. And our team, I think our team that was working on this particular problem, looking at the neighborhood of Lawrenceville and this particular block in Lawrenceville. We all kind of came at it from this same perspective of really having the desire to holistically solve the problem and not just present a solution that was isolated to physical artifacts and I just kept doing that and I kept…I took HCI classes on the side; I didn’t double-major in HCI but I took HCI classes on the side; I took Architecture classes on the side, I think I was giving me academic advisor a headache because she was like, these don’t really add up to anything but OK, you can add some credits…

Gary:
Really?
Rachel:
I mean, they would add up to stuff but taking…I would basically use all of my extra credits to take classes across Architecture, HCI and Urban Design because I really had the strong desire to try and truly be an Experience Designer and not just think about these solutions in these really siloed ways. Yeah, so I graduated with an Industrial Design degree and a Business minor, but I feel like I walked away from that educational experience, having a much greater range in terms of what I was used to solving, I don’t know, I guess I kind of like constructed my ideal design education. The Industrial Design program definitely laid a wonderful foundation for design thinking and understanding the design process, understanding how to get to the bottom of user needs, their goals, how what you’re designing works in their daily life and then this journey that they’re going through.
That structure, whether it’s for a physical artifact or a building or an interface, that structure can apply and be useful to really any context, so I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage at all by having Industrial Design as my background. I actually feel like it kind of helped because in the same way that if you major in UX Design today, you might kind of get a narrow view of what solutions can be. Maybe you take a General Assembly class and you’re just focused on…I get Mobile Design, right, I got to get Responsive Design, right, I’m really focused on screens, but you kind of run the risk of not realizing that there’s this whole ecosystem of solutions that play with the interfaces that you’re designing and I think that the Industrial Design education that I kind of built myself….I built up from laid a really good foundation in that way. That was a really round-about way of answering your question!
Gary:
Well the reason I was like, well really? was my own students: I tell them to do exactly that.
Rachel:
That’s awesome!
Gary:
If you can take…so anyway, I tell my students, that’s why I was like shocked that any advisor would say what you were doing was not valuable.
Rachel:
Well I shouldn’t say on record that my advisor was giving me bad advice. I think she was just surprised at the diversity of these interests. I think I had a clear idea of what I was doing by taking these classes. I even took classes in the Public Policy School within Carnegie Mellon. I was just taking classes that kind of contributed to this ideal type of designer that I thought I wanted to be and it’s kind of funny because I feel like I’m getting closer to that ideal today. At the time I was kind of wondering myself why I signed up for a Public Policy class but today in my work with Project Sunroof I deal with policy makers and trying to figure out what their needs are relative to this tool we’ve built, so it’s starting to kind of make sense. I think at the time I was doing the best thing I could do which was kind of gravitate and sign up for classes that seemed in the direction that I wanted to go.
Gary:
Yeah and I’m personally surprised that not more Industrial Designers don’t end up as UX Designers because I really feel like Industrial Design training, the process of identifying problems, working through solutions to the problems, they apply very specifically to a product, something very physical, but the process they use is…it goes beyond that. It could be applied to anything.
Rachel:
Totally
Gary:
And so I’m just shocked and this will be kind of a follow-up question before we talk a little more about Project Sunroof is that…so, what portion, I’m trying to think of a better way to ask this now that I’m sitting here staring at the question. Graphic Design or Visual Design doesn’t use that investigation that happens in the Industrial Design process, and I’m going to get a bunch of people saying, yes we do, we do it all the time and I’m going to argue that they don’t. But that aside, how much of that Industrial Design training do you think is relevant to a Visual Graphic Designer or a Visual or Graphic Designer, whatever you want to use that term.
Rachel:
Yeah, that investigation that I learned in the foundation year of Industrial Design in my Industrial Design education, that same investigation I feel like is prevalent in UX Design, it’s hard for me to separate what I think should happen with what does happen, I guess. I think if I were purely a Graphic Designer and I think that Graphic Designers do do this; it just might not manifest itself in the artifacts and outputs that we use or that Industrial Designers use. I think there is an investigation that’s going on; it’s a lot about kind of observing people and observing how people move through the world or solve problems in an ad hoc way themselves, looking for opportunities to make that experience more seamless and that could come…making that experience more seamless could come from designing better signage, designing in a more engaging ad campaign. And I think that investigation can still happen if you’re a Visual Designer or a Graphic Designer…sorry…going off topic…
Gary:
No, no, you’re not.
Rachel:
Let’s see, can you repeat your initial question again?
Gary:
No, it’s…all right, I’ll ask it a different way, not re-phrase it, because traditionally, in Graphic Design we’re like, OK, here’s a rock concert: you need to make a poster or it’s a conference and you need to make a promotional poster or, you know, there’s always this…here’s the problem, here’s a solution, now visually design the solution. So there’s no investment or understanding of that solution beyond just aesthetics.
Rachel:
Yes.
Gary:
Industrial Design, the process of Industrial Design doesn’t allow that, because you don’t approach it that we need to make a…we need to make a potato peeler. No, the problem is, we need to help elderly do this task and then you decide what it ends up being, and so I’m curious on your thoughts of how would you think…how should Graphic Design educators or Visual Design educators, how should they apply that Industrial Design, but it’s also User Experience: I look at it as User Experience training.
Rachel:
Yeah, so Industrial Designers and UX Designers come at things from a problem first, task first approach. We have to make sure that what we’re designing is the most efficient, the most usable, there’s going to be user research to understand those problems thoroughly in the beginning and there’s going to be usability testing before launch to make sure what we’re putting out into the world is truly doing the best job at solving that problem or making that task easier. I think that in Visual Design and Graphic Design there’s this room for personal aesthetic and part of your job, it’s not only to communicate this information about this concert, the example you gave, but it’s to add kind of an artistic take on that information, which I think is amazing and in many ways, envy Graphic Designers and Visual Designers for being able to have that creative license in combination with solving the user problem of conveying this information. I think that because Industrial Design and UX Design is so rooted in measuring how efficient something is, how effective the interface is, it’s hard for us to take that same kind of creative license and take those same kind of risks so at the end of the day, in most cases, success is measured by is the user able to get the task done in the best way possible, in the most seamless way possible with the least amount of friction. That’s how success is measured for us and I think it’s true for Industrial Designers as well. Obviously in Industrial Design there is room for creative expression and in UX Design, you could argue that game design is kind of all about straddling this line and I think Industrial Design as well, I have a chair in my apartment that probably isn’t the most durable, most effective chair I could own but I love the way it looks and it makes me happy and so maybe in that way, it has solved one of my user problems. Yeah, you get in kind of this gray area of wanting to help the user accomplish a task or feel a certain way but also part of your job as a Graphic Designer, a Visual Designer, is sharing your own personal perspective; that’s what makes it interesting.
Gary:
Yeah, and I dabbled around a colleague of mine, her background was in Graphic Design but she also had a background in Architecture and so Architecture has a lot of that similar problem-solving process that Industrial Design has before it gets off into, hey, this building actually has to support weight before it gets into the nuts and bolts and in the class, we made the students just go investigate a problem long before they would even talk about how we’re going to visually design it and the results from that class were just substantially better visually because the more they were informed, the more…yes, they were taking artistic license but with a purpose, so there was that difference between let’s just have artistic license but artistic license that’s really trying to get at something and I just think that UX leads to that and that’s why I really want Graphic Design programs to start incorporating more UX.
Rachel:
Yeah, it would be awesome if at the beginning of every project in Graphic Design program, you’re tasked with doing an initial user research to understand the problem space that you’re about to tackle.
Gary:
And I literally was thinking about that today as I was thinking about what I’m going to be teaching in the fall and so I didn’t have a chance to pre-give you this question, so I apologize, but OK, in…and you can use Google as an example or you can use wherever you’ve done this before. Is that information, that user research that you were talking about just now, is that handed off to the Visual Designer or…so, how did they get about it and so I’m wondering, so I’m thinking to myself, the idea would be to make my Graphic Design students actually do that research, but there’s only so many credit hours in a program so I was wrestling with, would it be while not as good, but would it be equally effective and also indicative of what’s happening in the industry if I gave them a more detailed user research brief to start the project? Hopefully that just made sense?
Rachel:
Yeah, I mean some of…you’re right, there’s only so many hours in the day and we do have to kind of segment what we work on in order to get things done. There have been cases and if people have time, we try to encourage this where anybody from the Product Team can sit in on user research sessions or if they get trained, conduct some of the initial interviews; that’s awesome. As much as that can happen, that’s ideal. I think that the majority of the time, there might not be bandwidth for people to engage in that way, so typically what we do, whether I’ve done the initial research or a UX Researcher has done the initial research, we create a summary of that research and present it to the full Product Team so that everybody understands what the results were, understands where the really critical pain points were and the opportunity areas for our product to solve and if possible, we can show our raw study notes so they can see in more detail user quotes or anything that will kind of help them empathize with the users that are going through this task,

So I think an initial deep dive at the start of any…sorry, I think an initial deep dive of the user research at the beginning of the design process or a feature or a product is really useful; if you can’t be there in person, you still need to be immersed in the findings and I think often pulling out quotes is really powerful; not pulling out all the quotes that you gathered from the study but really key quotes that speak concisely to these pain points that users are having, those can be really powerful. And then, if you do that with the process in mind that you’re going to craft personas around some of these pain points you discovered, some of these users might even be the inspiration for personas that you create, that becomes even more of a vehicle for evangelizing what you’re going for. We did a persona exercise a couple of months ago with our engineering team and it’s funny; they’re not real people, they’re personas that we made up, they’re kind of aggregated people that speak to the goals and pain points that these users have but the engineers and everybody on the team; I do it too, kind of talk about these personas, like Becky would never do that or does this really solve for Jane’s problem, which I think is great because it gives you, even though it’s not truly a real person, it gives you empathy in the same way having a real person in mind would.

Gary:
No, I think that’s super-important and that’s one of the things that I noticed the work greatly improved where I made my students create a persona and then when we were critiquing their design, I can easily say, well, what does your personal think? I got a hunch this isn’t visually going to appeal to them, and it’s a good reality check and way to make them think critically about what they’re trying to do.
Rachel:
Totally. And whenever possible, we print out these posters that have the persona’s photo and their needs and goals and maybe a few quotes from the persona; we print these out and put them around our workspace so they’re always top of mind when we’re designing the product.
Gary:
Those are great little Visual Design exercises within themselves for the students to do. You did the research, now design it. Kills two birds with one stone. So, I’m going to ask then, for the past year you have led the UX Design for Project Sunroof and Geo for Good, both of which sit in the Maps product area of Google. Can you give a very brief overview of some of these projects for the listeners and also but more specifically, what does a UX Designer do on these projects and what does the Visual Designer or Graphic Designer do if they are actually a part of the team and specifically maybe start off with Project Sunroof.
Rachel:
Sure. So, Project Sunroof is an effort that lives with Geo for Good or as it’s called sometimes, Earth Outreach. Project Sunroof lives within this family and actually I’ll explain Geo for Good because that’ll kind of help orient Project Sunroof in the realm of Google Maps. So, Geo for Good, or Earth Outreach as we also call it, is within the Geo Maps product area of Google but it occupies this really unique space, this really kind of amazing space where we’re using our great Google data and information in combination with partners, non profits, scientists, using their data to tell these really powerful stories about issues that we all care about and solar is one example.

Other kind of verticals that we work on, we work on oceans so Global Fishing Watch kind of came out of this Oceans Vertical that exists within Earth Outreach but really the goal is to empower users and often they’re third-party non-profits, empower them with the data we have to help them do and communicate the way they need to in order to make these issues known to share information with others, to empower policy makers to make better decisions, to really just put in the information in the hands of people who will take it that next step further, making sure that information is as clear as possible they can use it as a tool for good, so Project Sunroof sits within this family, within Earth Outreach and it was born out of actually what we call a twenty per cent project, so like a side-project, Project Sunroof was born out of a side-project of an engineer based out of the Cambridge office named Carl Elkin and he had been working on this and he really thought it had legs and could be a fully staffed product; this idea that we could use our great satellite imagery in combination with some other datasets in order to really accurately tell users about the solar potential of their own roof, a profess that until Project Sunroof existed meant that you had to hire somebody to come up to your roof, take measurements and pay them money to do all of this and it would take some time so he thought this process could be made a lot more seamless and could really remove some of those barriers to entry that exist or existed in the going solar process so what Project Sunroof tries to do is address the needs of several user groups; homeowners of course and we have a homeowner tool where you’re able to enter your address and then see the solar potential of your home and we’ve simplified the financial information, the financial options that you have within the state that you searched for; we simplify the metrics that you might be curious about, if you’re wondering, if my electric bill is this per month, how much could I potentially save by going solar; really aggregating this information that previously was really in disparate places and the user would have to go hunting for all of this information and there was also a problem of, is this information that I’m looking at across the web, is it reliable?

I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell, so we’re trying to remove a lot of those friction points, aggregate this information so that it was really simple for users to understand whether going solar was right for them, make that process a lot easier, so that’s the home owner pool and we recently launched, I guess the end of last year, we launched the data explorer which is really geared toward those more expert users that care about the larger solar potential of geographic regions; so that could be a state, a zip code, a county, a city; any large geographic swathe of area. That’s been a really powerful tool for policy makers for solar advocates, for scientists and really anybody who’s invested in or interested in the solar potential of their larger community. So those are kind of the two target groups, sorry, the two target groups that the Sunroof site reaches today but there are probably even more users that I’m not listing; we’ll get responses or emails from users who are using these tools in ways we really didn’t even think of like the data explorer, it’s used to show…solar potential information to city council members who might not be familiar with a city’s solar potential. We didn’t quite think through, oh this site will actually be used as a tool for users to present to other users to explain the solar potential of their area in a city council meeting; that’s kind of amazing, that’s going to be a teaching tool that users are going out and using for that purpose.

Let’s see, we also made some great Sunroof data for home owners accessible in the search experience so if you search, if you have a query related to, is solar right for me or something around solar panels, you’ll get an elevated search result where you’re able to have that same sort of home owner Sunroof site experience but in your search experience, so being able to enter in your address there and see a financial breakdown inline, not even having to leave search, which is really great for that initial research phase that people go through when you’re probably looking at a lot of sites, you’re looking at solar providers in your area so we really wanted to help user in that moment of research as well.

Gary:
So, where do you as a UX Designer fit into that whole spectrum and Visual Designers, if there are any?
Rachel:
Yeah, so I’m the UX Lead for Project Sunroof and Geo for Good, Earth Outreach and my role is…I wear a lot of hats, it’s a large space. For Project Sunroof it really means working incredibly close with our PM and our Eng leads to just scope out these ideas we have from the very beginning to initiate research that we might want to do to understand these user problems further. We have a really tight working relationship; I think it’s an effective relationship, there aren’t really siloed roles in the sense that the PM is like, OK, this is my job, this is your job. I think we’re kind of doing product definition together which so far has been really effective and enjoyable. What else? For Earth Outreach, that’s kind of a unique position because we’re Google and we have our perspective and our PMs and our UX Designers and Engineers, but we’re kind of building tools and interfaces and in partnership with these third party organizations but it, in the case of Global Fishing Watch which I worked on and we’re working with Oceana and SkyTruth and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation; we’re working with these third parties and we want to make sure that we’re still delivering a Google caliber experience to the user, but knowing that this stand-alone tool has its own identity and has its own identity because it’s made in partnership with these other organizations so that’s been a little different than building a tool that’s completely owned by Google, like Project Sunroof is; the products that we work on across Earth Outreach can kind of vary in the way that they manifest, just because they’re done in partnership with other organizations so it means that my role as a UX Designer kind of shifts depending on what those other partner organization bring to the table and how they would like to implement a tool or an information out into the world.
Gary:
OK, so, let me think. I want to go back to, I don’t know if I read it in an article or you mentioned it but can you talk a little bit more about, you said, I really love this quote from the Earth Outreach Director, Rebecca Moore. And the quote was, “I really believe that when people have the information, when everyone in society is empowered with this information, people will make better decisions...I think we can change how we live on this planet. I really believe we can.” Can you tell me from a UX perspective, how can you empower that quote, I guess?
Rachel:
Yeah, I added that quote in there because I look back at it, Rebecca is the Director of the Geo for Good Earth Outreach team and I think that quote speaks to our ultimate goal in Project Sunroof and Global Fishing Watch and all the projects we do in this product area. We have this great information, we have all of these resources being Google and I think that everyone on our team kind of feels this responsibility to use this data in the best way possible, to use this data for good and I think Rebecca, that quote from Rebecca, speaks to that completely. If we’ve done our job, then we’ve given tools and clear information to the people who will go off and make these great chances so the person, the local politician who finds the Data Explorer and is able to understand the solar potential of the area that they represent and they’re able to go forward with that information in hand, that information is easy to understand because we’ve designed it well; that information that is easily shared because we’ve designed the experience well. That’s like the ultimate success is if our users can go forward and use this information for a greater good or contribute to this larger effort, yeah.
Gary:
All right. OK, so another question then is, as the need for User Experience Designers grows and the profession becomes more defined, because I think that’s where it’s going, it’s becoming more defined, do you see a bigger need for four year universities and colleges to create specific UX Design programs? Or do you think Graphic Design programs simply incorporating key UX concepts is enough?
Rachel:
That’s a great question. I looked recently at how Carnegie Mellon had re-designed their curriculum I think to address part of this problem. Thinking of Designers as broadly Designers and teaching them, structuring the curriculum that will teach and empower Designers to tackle a wide variety of problems I think is really valuable. Having a curriculum that just kind of deals with the interactions that we’re familiar with today, the screens that we’re familiar with today, having a curriculum that just concentrates on that I don’t think does…I don’t think it would be doing its due diligence for students simply because once the students graduate, they start the program, four years later or however many years later, they graduate and the paradigms have been shifted and the interactions that we’re used to have evolved and if all you’ve designed for is this mobile first, it’s very now, it is what will get you a job in that moment but we haven’t asked these critical questions about experiences of the future; Sorry, I’m talking in circles, but I think that what needs to be instilled is this mentality, it seems like you kind of do this with your students, this mentality that if you’re a great Designer then you have this curious mind, this mind that wants to kind of investigate all sorts of problems and it’s not constrained to a medium so a solution, like we said, could be in the form of a mobile app but being comfortable with the idea that the solution could also come from designing a physical experience, like an augmented experience. That’s OK and I think the only way that…it’s like there’s no good way to totally prepare students for the experiences of four years from now but I think the best we can do is teach them and kind of instill this flexibility of thinking that will allow them to apply this effective design process and investigation process to a wide range of problems.
Gary:
All right, so we’re getting a little bit close on time, so I only have two more questions to ask you and so this next one, so this is going to be a recurring question that I’ll be asking all my guests. Again, I’m coming from the I teach in a Graphic Design program, and one problem I continually see in student portfolios is an inability for them to not make design decisions based on their own personal aesthetic, so no matter how hard an educator tries, students will always default to designing to their own personal aesthetic. So, organically is there a process, a UX process, that Graphic Design students should be using to help them break from that designing for themselves, but still keep that…give them some artistic license but ground it, I guess?
Rachel:
Yeah. I think it would be really interesting to use the same kind of user testing methods that we use in UX Design for something like Graphic Design; putting a bunch of options that students have designed in front of people that are not close to that work or who do fit the persona of the project. I think that would be really enlightening to have these real users kind of respond to these visual approaches that the Graphic Design students are creating; I think nothing kind of answers the question more than a direct quote or a direct response from a real person who is not a designer, who’s actually somebody who’d use the information or engage with this piece; you can’t really dismiss the fact that somebody finds information unclear or they’re turned off by the way the information is presented. I think that would be really valuable to borrow some of those user research and user testing methods in the Graphic Design space.
Gary:
I think that would be really…I mean, let me see, I’m going to try to paraphrase to see if I’m getting it. A lot of rapid prototyping and testing. Create a bunch of designs, the prototype and put them in front of the audience to see if they’re actually working the way you think they’re going to work. If that’s the case, that’s actually hugely beneficial, especially early on, because how do you get better at doing something? Doing it a lot.
Rachel:
Yeah, totally.
Gary:
So, throwing a bunch of things out there to see and then the gain, the feedback from it will really help, so is that kind of what you’re…
Rachel:
Yeah, I think that fail early and often is something that we say a lot around here and I think that applies to anything you’re trying to solve, but better to get a lot of options in front of people, get their response, understand if it’s really been as clear as you want it to be; is it really achieving the goal that you had in mind and then responding to that, I think that’s a constant cycle, here is…we’re not designing in a vacuum; we’re designing for people and people respond to our work in any number of ways but we need to see that and understand it and empathize with it.
Gary:
OK, so Rachel, before I let you go, is there anything that you are working on personally that you would like to share or is there something you want to promote or is there anything that I forget to ask that you think we need to…you know, like, darn it, he didn’t ask it?
Rachel:
Anything I want to promote? Our team is really excited about this Data Explorer tool within the Project Sunroof site. I think it’s a great tool for individuals like ourselves to show to our local politicians and share this information with them that has been made kind of really clear and really easy to use. I’m super-excited to see how users of all types, experts and non-experts, use this tool down the line because it is really one of those things that not only teaches the individual user that’s looking at it in that moment but can be this tool for exponential good so yeah, if you haven’t checked it out, definitely go to the Project Sunroof site and explore that, explore the Homeowner tool, both of which are really great.
Gary:
Great, so that’s all we have time for today on Episode 43 of Design Edu Today. I want to thank today’s guest, Rachel Inman, for being so generous with her time. I want to thank the audience for listening and I want to thank the DesignEDU Today hosting sponsor, Digital Ocean, and CDN sponsor Fastly, for making the hosting and distribution of these podcasts possible. I also want to thank the AIGA and the AIGA Design Educators’ Community for their generous support of my research that led to this podcast series.

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