We have run into it at one point or another… the inspiration wall. With a plethora of blogs out there suggesting motives and methods to us on a daily basis it can be hard to lose sight of things.
Inspiration can be hard to come at times. I am always reminded of this fact when I listen to Faithless where Rollo sings ‘You don’t need eyes to see, you need vision‘.
To me, vision and inspiration are related. Where the latter forms the catalyst of my ‘visionary moments’. Alright alright, I have to admit that my visionary moments are subjective, but I am just building up to the real purpose of this post.
So, if you are like me, human, it might not seem too unfamiliar to find yourself desperately in need of some inspiration, a push towards a vision to help you get back on track. We might not be doing much physical labor behind our computers, but being inspired and/or inspirational can take a lot out of us.
Thank goodness there are some great iPhone apps out there that will help us regenerate some of that inspiration for us. Give us ideas on what to try or do next. Creative inspiration, exercise suggestions, quick recaps or simply taking a step back to see the whole picture again.
I have been using the following apps for quite some time now to help me keep sharp while working. Leading a UX team can be a challenge but I find that the apps generate plenty of options for me and my team to keep our ideas fresh, our minds focused and our opinions objective.
The five apps cover some, definitely not all, critical aspects of User Experience and I am sure that many other practitioners will benefit, too, from using them. Those five aspects being:
1. Gamestorming Card Deck (Collaboration)
The Gamestorming Card Deck app is based on the popular book ‘Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers‘ by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and Dave Macanufo.
Now, as the site states, the cards will not show you how to play, but how to stack them for meetings, so make sure you have at least one copy of the book lying around.
Gamestorming is a 101 lesson in visual communication. When words or long ‘everybody-should-read-it’ reports just don’t suffice, try games and improvisation to solve those real problems.
Gamestorming will change the way you conduct meetings forever. So make sure that you’re the one leading the pack and organize those meetings with the useful app today!
2. IDEO Cards (Empathy)
In the talks that I give, I mention this aspect the most… EMPATHY. Unless you are someone working for 37Signals, you don’t need to conduct much research to understand the product you are working on.
If however, you are like the rest of us, understanding how the user experience’s our products will take some effort from our end. We need to wear the user’s shoes. We need to understand the user mindset, what makes them want to use our product, what makes them want to through Molotov cocktails at us for having created such a poor experience?
Quoting from the IDEO website: “IDEO’s human factors specialists conceived the deck as a design research tool for its staff and clients, to be used by researchers, designers, and engineers to evaluate and select the empathic research methods that best inform specific design initiatives.”
Again, just like many of the other apps presented to you here today, this methodology will help you dust off the creative thinking caps. Not just yours, but everyone you involve. There is no limit to your vision as long as your vision doesn’t limit you!
- App: http://bit.ly/ai_ideo (Free/$3.99 in-app)
- Website: http://www.ideo.com/work/ideo-method-card-app/
3. Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack (Creativity)
Roger von Oech, although the name make me think of The Sound of Music, he is probably more popular among Americans as an author, inventor and speaker.
Roger created the Creativity and Innovation Whack Packs quite some time ago and since around last year, the card has been available in the form of an iPhone app.
The original 83 cards included in the iPhone app are divided into four sixteen card suits: Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior. These represent the four roles or types of thinking of the creative process.
The cards are to be used to, as a figure of speech mind you, whack you out of your creative slum. The purpose of the cards are threefold:
- Understand and remove mental blocks
- Shift focus and changing any generally accepted perspective
- Break habitual patterns
Edward de Bono: “…the mind is habitually uncreative – it is usually preoccupied with organising masses of incoming data into convenient patterns. Once this pattern is established, then the mind tends to rely upon that pattern in future situations, in order to facilitate decision-making & action in an otherwise complex world…” (The Use of Lateral Thinking).
So get up, use the app and break those old habitual patterns. Let’s get creative once again!
4. Luke Perman’s UX Techniques (Methodology)
Luke Perman’s app, UX Techniques, turned out quite nifty. Although the app focusses less on the creative side when compared to the other apps, Luke’s app reminds of of the various UX research methods we can use at work.
The app is a quick reference guide for all to use, breaking down the methods into 5 main categories containing 9 methods each:
Each method is described briefly on the ‘virtual’ back of the card, explain ‘What’ the method is used for and Why/When/How it should be used.
5. Dan Lockton’s Design with Intent (Influence)
101 cards group into 8 sections, or lenses as Dan calls them. Cards for inspiring, generating and challenging creativeness with the sole purpose of influencing behavior.
Quoting Dan from his personal Wiki: “All design influences our behavior, but as designers we don’t always consciously consider the power this gives us to help people, (and, sometimes, to manipulate them).
There’s a huge opportunity for design for behavior change to address social and environmental issues where people’s behavior is important, but as yet little in the way of a guide for designers and other stakeholders, bringing together knowledge and examples from different disciplines, and drawing parallels which can allow concepts to be usefully transposed.
The Design with Intent toolkit (the cards and wiki) aims to make a start, however small, on this task.”
Dan’s Design with Intent toolkit has been around for several years now, all for FREE! That’s right, you have to pay *zilch* to make use of it all.
James Christie took it one step further (with Dan’s permission of course); he turned the cards into an iPhone/iPad app for all to use.