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photo1I’m sitting in on Marcia Lausen’s Design Colloquium class at University of Illinois Chicago today as students present their designs for a personal experience mapping project. The students have taken a variety of—mostly mundane—life experiences, from the micro, like “what I do in the morning before school” to the (relatively) macro, like “friends I’ve known over the last ten years” and developed graphic interpretations of them. I’m seeing some outstanding solutions using thoughtful information design and we’re having a vibrant discussion about what lies at the essence of a story—a process which is, of course, at the core of what we do as communication designers.

As you know, I’ve been struggling with how to integrate business planning—on the surface a rigid and mundane process—into the entrepreneurial experience for designers and creative thinkers. Today I’m seeing that experience mapping is part of the solution to this dilemma—I’ll be writing more about this soon.

Here is a selection of designs from the student work:

Detail from "Life in Audio" by Marta Wlodkowska

Detail from "Life in Audio" by Marta Wlodkowska

Detail from "A field of travel" by Eric Cervantes

Detail from "A field of travel" by Eric Cervantes

Detail from "My Morning Flow Chart" by Nicole Stormer

Detail from "My Morning Flow Chart" by Nicole Stormer

Detail from "Why my wrist is broken (again)" by Kuri Alamillo

Detail from "Why is my wrist broken (again)?" by Kuri Alamillo

Detail from "Circle of Design" by Sana Ahmed

Detail from "Circle of Design" by Sana Ahmed

sad-logoThanks to Marcia Lausen and the students in her Design Colloquium class at University of Illinois Chicago for a great session this morning. Marcia is an old friend through the AIGA leadership and is the director of the School of Art & Design at UIC (as well as the founder and principal of the firm StudioLab in Chicago).

I was invited to speak about our experiences building the HealthSimple business and, as often happens at these presentations, it was during the Q&A discussion with the students that we really got to the good stuff. These students have a great feel for how design and designers can play a strong role in solving complex social problems—they may not fully understand what it will take to deliver on that potential but they’re on a great track. In our discussion we examined that gaping hole in the healthcare experience that exists between the clinic and the home—why are healthcare compliance rates so abysmally low? This is a classic design problem—and one that communication designers are uniquely suited to solve. The healthcare industry in general is phenomenally void of smart design, which stinks—but it also means there is a huge opportunity for designers to make an impact.

I’m continually impressed with the program at UIC which, as long as I’ve know it, has been infused with a strong component of entrepreneurship. There seems to be an effort to break down the walls between academic departments, which can be a real key to teaching the skills of collaboration and can expose designers to some of the smart people who will help get their ideas off the ground.

Marcia is also the author and designer of Design for Democracy an excellent book on election design that initially was a response to the ballot design fiasco of the 2000 presidential election, and has grown into a national movement as part of the broader AIGA Design for Democracy program. As if that weren’t enough, she also chaired the recent AIGA Future History design education conference in Chicago.

I share a lot of common ground with Marcia and I always feel like my time with her is too short. I hope to reconnect with her soon and bring some of her ideas to merge.

For the students in the session this morning, here’s a link to a PDF of my presentation (the video won’t be included). Enter the temporary password vrutu4ikw when prompted.

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