I had no idea how big and beautiful the Albatross is. 

I attended Squawkathon a design jam held to come up with solutions for the unintentionally killing of seabirds due to fishing activity. It took place over 2 days. The first being an evening event where we were briefed by experts and broke into teams.  I joined the team that hope to find a solution that utilized incentives. It was a pretty great time. I enjoyed jamming on something completely new that didn't involve a digital solution. I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting with the experts. 

I had a great conversation with Howard McElderry, vice president, EM technology development, and a founding member of Archipelago Marine Research, about the amazing amount of data his company has collected since it's inception and how due to privacy concerns they can't do much with it directly but that he is hired because he is a walking big data machine. Smart guy and fun to talk with.

 Dr. Phillip McGillivary Science Liaison for Coast Guard PACAREA, was on our team and man he's a power house of experience, knowledge and energy. If you ever bump into him don't hesitate to take him out to coffee and hear his stories. 

The rest of the experts were engaging and super smart. I was reminded how much I like scientist. I need to find more opportunities to work with them.

Squawkathon was an experiment organized by Context Partners for their client the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. They were testing the idea of using hackathons and design jams to develop problem solving ideas. I thought it worked ok although to get the greatest amount of value I would consider providing more information upfront and paying the participants to come ready to work having gone deep in to the research materials. As someone who practices Informed design it felt like we were ill equiped to spend the two days doing our best work when the issue was so complex and outside of what we normally do. I would also suggest that the teams should only be made up of no more than 5 people to take away the need to manage and just focus on doing.

Overall I enjoyed myself. The Context Partners folks were awesome! The prize money and water bottle were very nice cherries on top. I'm interested in how the Packard Foundation folks felt it went. Hopefully they will do some follow up with the group!

So here is a snapshot of our solution which I'm pretty proud of. 

I love that we found a multifaceted approach that looked at finding new solutions but also focused on looking at what the fishing companies needed to comply with solutions that are already available and work well if implemented properly. 


The Problem:

  • Marine birds are subject to accidental death due to current fishing practices
  • Fisheries require more tools for marine bird protection
  • Solutions already exist but are not widely adopted due to the difficulty of implementation and lack of incentives

Our process lead us to build our solution in this way. We had a product idea, realized a service arm was needed to support it, then realized that there was a larger business model that could and should emerge. 


Enter Hydra. Our solution is a new business who's mission is - 

Create and bring to market sustainable innovations that support the fishing industry to preserve the lives of seabirds.

The idea is this: There is a need for a self-sustaining system to support continuous innovation and product development and to leverage the larger fisheries to assist the smaller boats with their compliance initiatives. 

We had our first product idea the Smart Streamer, an innovation that removes the barriers to Streamer Line deployment. It creates a bird free area behind the vessel

Seismic survey vessels already use smart streamer technology that maintains even streamer spacing.

•SmartStreamer creates a bird free area behind the vessel

•Streamer lines equipped with precision spatial positioning

•Near real time data of streamer line deployment

•Potential upgrade for additional data


We realized we could build and deploy this product but how could we support it's proper and continuous use?  And how would we make sure we had the resources to continue to innovate.

Our idea was to create a service that installs and maintains this solution and others, including monitoring systems, so fisheries don't have to integrate this into their existing work flow.  We make it easy to comply.

The profits from the product sales and service side of the business would go into more research and development and also support smaller boats in their efforts. We would provide incentives to use the service like providing access to resources and relationships, worker enhancement activities and the most important would be making it super easy to report to the labeling organizations that you are in compliance which gains the fisheries access to special consumer labeling. 

Not bad for a day of work :)


Lastly, learn a bit about The Albatross Task Force

AuthorTyesha Snow

Hey Big Fish is our gift to the SXSW community.It helps you engage in a more meaningful way during and after the event. It creates a record of  SXSW 2013 that represents what happened and what the community valued.

The Story

Our team came together with the goal of designing a product to launch as SXSW. The idea was to create a little gift for our peers and bring some attention to the great work our organizations are doing.

The first step was to find a technology partner and fellow Portland, Or company Little Bird was an obvious choice.  Their product quickly became the spark of inspiration we needed - We could use Little Bird’s technology to add a layer of smarts to whatever we come up with.


I stumbled upon this sweepstakes campaign HP is running and found it interesting.  It raised the question we all struggle with designing campaigns. How much is too much to ask of users? In order to enter you are asked to watch multiple videos then perform a one question comprehension test in order to enter.  I feel like I'm in 3rd grade. Comprehension Test!

Does this seem like a bit much too you?  I was about to do it until I realized that the answer would be hidden somewhere within the four videos. Did I really want to watch all of them? How long are they?  Do I still get to enter if I get the answer wrong?

With further investigation I found that the videos were under 30 seconds each. That would have been nice to know.  I would have also enjoyed seeing that other people had participated and found value or at least enjoyed the exercise.

This campaign highlights a current challenge in digital marketing strategy. How much can we ask of users?  How much should we ask?  What trade-offs are we willing to make to attract and engage a more quality set of users or increase the value of the impression?

I do like the idea at it's heart.  I enjoy the fact that a company is attempting to teach me something I may not know and provide a solution. What better way to sell something? The videos are actually entertaining even if the content is a bit suspect. And why shouldn't we try to get users to actually pay attention?  I'm really interested to see what people actually typed into this little box.  Care to share HP?


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Lumber Room 3 panels

Curtain from Lumber Room


I enjoyed reading Barry Johnson's detailed account of The Felt Hat's presentation at last weeks Designspeaks. He, unlike me, took some great notes and I think his perspective on the lessons, themes and high points of the night are spot on. This  particular statement resonated with me "...when we are trying to generate creative outcomes, we have to start messing around with the process" Although I might change "creative outcomes" to "quality outcomes" or "successful outcomes" fueled by creative intention and energy, h nails it that the grand take away from the evening was that great stuff is accomplished when we mess around with the process and are open to where the process can take us.

The Felt Hat is obviously living this particular creative dream and I was inspired to hear them talk so passionately and proudly of the work they have been  part of.  Damn that water bill was sexy and I don't think that could have happened if they set out to make a sexy water bill.

So like I said I didn't take a bunch of notes that night instead I choose to listen and absorb, but I did jot down one thing.

"conceptual thread"

I don't remember exactly who said it or in what context but it has stuck with me.  So I thought I'd tell you what it means to me after listening to the presentation. (Dear Felt Hat folks forgive me if I get it wrong, correct me for sure.)


The Conceptual Thread

When we try to accomplish something, intentional or not, we participate in a process.

If we acknowledge the positive effect of letting the needs of the project direct or define this process how do we insure that the process continually adds value and that the eventual outcome rises above the limitations of our minds?

Custom Process + Creative Thinker does not necessarily equal Brilliant Design.

There is a something else need to bring integrity, focus and heart to the work.

The process can fail or change, the designer can get lost or  frustrated, but paying continuous attention to maintaining the conceptual thread is paramount in achieving great design.

Have  the courage to follow it wherever it leads you. Find a way to realize what manifests.


Well maybe that's a bit heady and silly but I was inspired to think about this stuff. Mission accomplished Designspeaks.

Great night overall. I'm so happy to be included in the group of brilliant people organizing Designspeaks. I hope whether  you made it out this time or not you will follow us on Twitter and keep up to date with the exciting stuff on the horizon and join the conversation about design.

I'll leave you with a great tweet quote from that night sent by @cre8tivegirl "In order to start with nothing you have to have hope to be begin"


-photo credit


Tyler Thompson has redesigned the Delta boarding pass. I love it!  Who among us hasn't noticed the awkward, missed opportunity that is this piece of paper millions of people interact with everyday. His new design is clean and pretty. He thought about how he uses it and how it could become a useful tool for navigating the airport and boarding the plane.


It's successful for the most part, although I think the target audience for this is me, you and Tyler and maybe not the general public, as we are used to seeing design like this, it may be a bit sophisticated and hard to read for the average flyer. Actually let me correct myself,  the non-average traveler, the most general of the public.

I was thinking though, aside from solving usability issues which would be great. There is an amazing missed opportunity in boarding passes.

Boarding passes represent a specific moment and place in time.

I'd like to see the airlines take full advantage of this. Let's see the day's news headlines or 'It happened today' facts. How about local history, art and statistics. What about statistics or facts about the relationship between the two locations you are traveling. Ooooh, the poetry of local poets on seasonally appropriate topics. I could keep going, but you get the point.

Some airlines are using the unused portion of the print at home boarding pass to provide travel information, this is nice, but my ideas could turn these into collectibles, kinda like posted stamps. Have some imagination Mr and Mrs Airline.



Empathy Map- Xplane I recently worked on a project that ran into a few issues when we got to the design comp phase. Essentially when the comps were circulated internally, a number of stakeholders felt their needs where not being met. You may ask how we got all the way to comps before this came up and I could talk through the entire project identifying places where the process could have been improved, but I'd like to bring the focus to the beginning of the project where I think we missed an opportunity to succeed.

The responsibility of a User Experience Designer are vast. We take a leadership role in project definition, we gather, validate and nurture the needs of not just customers but of the business and the stakeholders. I've distinguished the business from the stakeholders on purpose because I think this is where the problems on the my project began.

At this point in time most clients and most creative project teams have a pretty good understanding of the differences between users and their needs and the some times conflicting desires of the business. Clients usually arrive at a kick off meeting with a fairly clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish from a business perspective and are looking for us to perform a number of exercises to help them understand their customers so they can better achieve their business goals. Many have written and I could talk for quite a while about the flaws of this approach but this is not the point of this post...

So as a UX practitioner I am brought in to bring the user perspective but I'm also responsible for further defining, focusing and tending to the goals of the business, this pieces isn't always directly acknowledged, but it is expected that we will do it. What is even more over looked is that we are expected to understand the internal stakeholder's needs and perspectives and balance all of these with both the business needs and the user needs. It's a balancing act that takes a good plan and lots of creative, complex thinking.

This piece, discovering, understanding and becoming empathetic to the needs of internal stakeholders requires the same rigorous approach as we apply to understanding our external users. We can't assume that the business requirements we are given or discover during project workshops are meeting the needs of everyone in the company. I have often created an internal user Persona but this is still looking at from an end user perspective.

Just as I was thinking about how I could have gained a better understanding of the perspectives of my stakeholders (separate from the business goals ) and could have made sure my direct client understood that we shouldn't proceed without a incorporating their needs, ideas and goals,  I came across this article,  Empathy Mapping from the blog Knowledge Games.

Here's what they said:

GOAL: The goal of the game is to gain a deeper level of understanding of a stakeholder in your business ecosystem, which may be a client, prospect, partner, etc., within a given context, such as a buying decision or an experience using a product or service. The exercise can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You should be able to make a rough empathy map in about 20 minutes, provided you have a decent understanding of the person and context you want to map. Even if you don’t understand the stakeholder very well, the empathy-mapping exercise can help you identify gaps in your understanding and help you gain a deeper understanding of the things you don’t yet know.

What I like about this exercise for understanding internal stakeholders is you can use to to test specific business goals or tactics. For example you could pose the questions, "How would adding live chat to the shopping cart process effect your job?"  or "What would be the impact to your department if we merge two of our sites into one?"

I can also see a possible big win in presenting these maps back to the actual stakeholders. Seeing their specific concerns being acknowledged and considered by the project team would go a long way in winning the trust of people company wide.

I'm going to try to articulate a specific process for stakeholder discovery in my next project and not just bury it in business and user discovery processes and reports. Had I outlined a process for working through the needs of a few particular stakeholder groups separate from the needs of the business on this last project, I would have been able to show my client the shortfalls of the design approach we ended up taking.

Have you had success in this area? What approaches did you use?

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DawnAd600 Have you seen this commercial from Dawn?   Dawn Commercial, Wash Away: Help Dawn Save Wildlife

It such a perfect marriage of brand, product and cause. When you first see it you get that "of course" feeling. We all know Dawn cuts grease and is mild on your hands right. Why wouldn't it be the best thing to remove oil from animals fur and feathers.

The interesting thing is that the campaign idea was brought to Dawn from the people who actually work on recoveries, see this  NY Times article, they found it was the best product to use and brought it to Dawn's attention.

I think they've done a nice job with the campaign. It's on brand, reinforces the value proposition of the product and is telling a true story.  There is conversation on the web about Proctor and Gamble's continued use of animal testing, but that's another issue. This campaign I like and it is raising money for an issue I think gets way too little attention.

If you buy Dawn go here to make sure a dollar of your purchase goes to save wildlife.

CategoriesBrand, Strategy
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ww1guy I'll be doing a little presentation at next week's Show n' Tell.  The theme for the night is "What are you doing to change the world?". While I'm not sure I'm quite changing the world (yet) I am formulating approaches to my work that will contribute positively to the world and at the very least avoid causing harm.

In the presentation will be talking about Strategy.  It's a word that is thrown around so much in business and in particular in the marketing/advertising/creative industries world, but what does it mean? What are the implications of creating and implementing one?  I will talk about the underling spirit of the term and introduce ways we can avoid doing harm when we create one.

I hope you will come on down.  This event is part of the very first, The New Communicators event.  Check it out. Come on out.

Thanks Substance

photo credit



The story of iSnack 2.0, aka Vegemite, is so interesting (and it is so hard to type iSnack 2.0 without laughing).  I'm not even sure how I feel about it or what the most important lesson of the story is.  Pop over and read Idsng's article about it.

Are you back? Ok.

From the perspective of a creative professional there are so many things wrong with this story and it's obvious that the public wasn't immune to the ridiculousness of it, but what really bothers me is the underlining assumption that everything must be continually improved. It's troublesome that a product that was clearly doing fine and has the affection of a nation could be vulnerable to this ugly side of business.

Constant unquestioned unending growth, optimization, updating to try and sell more has never set well with me. We've seen what can happen when the economy became addicted to growth.  I think that same crash'n burn can happen to a brand when it looses sight of the intention and limitations of a product.

Why can't companies just leave things alone. The product is special, it brings in a good profit, it strengthens your other brands by bringing stability and trust, people identify and consider it part of their life. What else could you ask for?  To sell more?  I guess so.....  but my approach would be to enrich what is already there. To dig deeper into what people feel and what they need and see what ideas come out of that.

I'm working on talk about Strategy as it applies to the creative industries, digital focused of course, this story is strengthening my resolve to get it done and out there.

ps I don't think you are a bad guy/gal Kraft. Just a little misdirected. I would love to work with you sometime.


cupcake party Just as for-profit companies are trying to figure out how to exist, persist and grow in this world of new communication so are the not-for-profit organizations. It's time to use our power for good and put some creative energy around this. Many have started and there is room for more.

I've worked with a hand full of non-profits over the past few years that I've noticed that there are some things that are the same across the board. The biggest "same" is the need to raise funds.  Each time I engage with a nonprofit client the bulk of the discussions and energy are spent working on ways to optimize the effectiveness of  the "support us message" and the process of making a donation.  But you know what? Optimization can only go so far.  At some point we need to design new ways to draw people into donate.  We need to design ways to cultivate the donor/organization relationship and take it to the next level.

My best ideas have revolved around the idea of creating an army of evangelists and giving them the tools to go out and raise the money for you. I believe this is the the most powerful way an organization can raise their participation level. I also believe that for-profit companies have known this for years and continue to use the tactic no matter how distasteful it feels coming from a corporation, so it's bound to work for the for-good organizations of the world.

So here are my top 5 things to consider when thinking about redefining and revitalizing the ways you raise funds.

The 5 rules for succeeding in the new world of fundraising:

1. Harness the energy of current supporters, this isn't about acquisition of new supporters (at least not right away). 2. Put your old rules and goals away. People will give money more freely if the cause is endorsed by their peers. So put the old rules away and see how you can redefine your expectations and set a plan to support them. 4.  Let us tell the story in our own words.  You can't and shouldn't want to control the message. Let your supporters talk to their people in their own words. You will learn something and maybe even see your organization in a whole new light. 5. Let us have fun. It's nice to be serious and there will always be the set that wants a straightedge giving experience, but there's a whole crop of people who will be attracted to a good time, especially if this good time results in something good.

There are a few companies working in this space, designing products for individuals and organizations to use for fund raising. I recently came across BeExtraodinary, they are right in there with what I'm talking about.

There's a lot of room for good thinking, design and problem solving in this arena. I would challenge you to think about it a bit. I'd love to hear your ideas.


Hey NIKE!  I would like to talk with you about using NIKE+ as a fundraising tool.  Call me.

photo credit: group cookery


social pharam graph I read Josh Bernoff's article How to create a social application for life sciences without getting fired a while back and I found myself thinking about it again this weekend. I think the above chart is excellent and the perfect tool for illustrating how social media tools may or may not be appropriate, beneficial or wanted by different users.

You know that point in a project where you have the big list of ideas and have to start slimming them down.  I think this chart is an excellent piece to start the meeting with, it kinda greases the mind into thinking in a critical way about real people, their needs and current habits.

Yes, those with Cancer have a lot to gain by connecting with other Cancer suffers but it's easy to see why they don't currently spend a lot of time online in these communities.  Cancer treatments take a lot out of you and many people still have to continue their normal lives while under treatment.  So, if we wanted to give them social tools, they would have to have high, immediate value and would need to be embedded into a process they already participate in or really really easy with a low barrier of entry.

Josh actually created this chart to help understand whether the risks involved with implementing social tools in the health care industry had strong enough value to the users to pursue. He says, "I decided to focus on who has the most to gain from social applications. Because if you don't have a lot to gain, the regulatory issues mean you may have a lot at risk, and it's not worth it"

He's right on and really asking the right questions that will ultimately protect his clients.  There is also a much broader lesson in this statement that we can and should apply when working on our own projects. What risks will your brand or campaign be taking by implementing particular social tools? There may not be a large regulatory body like the FDA watching you but there is risk involved with implementing these tools.

Is this something your target users even want, will use or, find benefit in?  If no, why would you expose the company to the obvious complications, risks, and at very least management responsibliites of emplimenting a social media tool? How will your users react to the new functionality?  Will they backlash and decided to go somewhere else? Will they be irritated and loose trust in the brand? or will you fullfill all thier dreams?   I will hope it's the later but I know doing research and analisys such as this will get you a lot closer than you might have been.


This is nice. Instead of just a video still, the designers of this site took the opportunity to tell us a little about the video and encourage us to press play. This is a good example of staying on our game, little things like this can go a long way towards accomplishing our strategic goals but opportunities like this can be easy to miss when we are working on larger layout, architecture and interaction parts of the site.

I like that the message sets your expectations for what you are about to see. I would speculate that the quality of the view is much greater if you are prepared or already feeling engaged when you start the video. I also like that the real estate taken up by video player adds some value even if you don't want to watch the video. Just reading the message relays information and strengths brand perception.

Quality of the view is an important metric to measure. The definition will vary depending on the purpose of the video, but understanding what a quality or successful view is, is an important step in creating the interaction and even the content of the video.

Is it successful if they watch 50%? 20%? Turn up the volume? Send to a friend? Watch more than once? Only watch the first 10 seconds but then navigate to exactly the right place in the conversion funnel? Is it a less than quality view if, they finish it then leave the site? Send it to a friend but as a joke? Navigate to a page that takes them further from conversion?

Just something to think about.