Vancouver User Experience Awards 2016

(guest post by Ziwei Wang)

The third annual event Vancouver UX Awards was hosted by Vancouver User Experience Group on Wednesday, Nov 16th at Imperial. Professionals in the industry and students joined together, excited to see what projects the talents would bring to the table this time.

After amazing food and drinks, the gala kicked off with a presentation from Kharis O’Connell, the Head of Product at ARCHIAT, UX for the Future. He talked about his experience in designing for mixed reality, and dived into the difference between prototyping for 3d space to the known approaches of designing for 2d interfaces. While there are pages of results when people google prototyping tools, there are not many answers for prototyping for Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality; how current designers tackle this problem is through theatre acting and paper prototyping. Successful UX designers will combine this emerging model with a new type of development mentality.

(photo credits: VanUE and photographer Jef Gibbons)

The awards highlight outstanding work across several categories: Enterprise, Marketing, Non-for-profit, Products, Students, Emerging Experiences, People’s Choice, and Best UX. All solutions were evaluated and scored by the judges on how they satisfied these five criteria: Joy, Elegance, Clarity, Innovation, and Impact. Throughout the night, the panel of judges shared their insights into great user experiences. User experience isn’t just about designing a great interface: It digs deeper into researching users’ needs and defining the right problems. Winners of this year emphasized the Vancouver lifestyle and demonstrated the ability to focus on user problems, from Burnkit’s interactive touch-screen solution that created an educational and fun experience for visitors at The Port of Vancouver Discovery Centre, to student online platform IKEA STAY that gives IKEA customers the chance to test products through an immersive Airbnb stay and web experience.

The event was excellent, well-organized, encouraged young talents to join the industry. It’s great to see the importance of UX has been fully embraced in Vancouver, I look forward to attend more events like this.

 

NOVEMBER 2016 DD SLAM Winners

Last week, we held a 45-hour Digital Design SLAM. These fun and intense collaborative design challenges take place three times per year. They provide opportunities for students to test their design skills and to build their networks as teams are formed from all three intakes. Slams also allow students to potentially gain another portfolio piece in a short time frame. Deliverables include both motion and interactive design elements. Here are the winning teams that captured the prizes for the People’s Choice and the Critics’ Choice categories, respectively. Congratulations to the winning teams!

People’s Choice winners:

Team Gift Receipts (from left: Pablo, Rajeshwari, Tais, Crystal, Mateus)

Critics’ Choice winners:

Team Turkey Stuffing (from left: Denita, James, Amar, Nizami, Marly)

THE ROOKIES: WEB & MOBILE WINNER

Ainara_Rookies

We had a chance to speak to Ainara Sáinz Gutierrez about winning the Web & Mobile category of The Rookies, an international competition for young designers, creators, innovators, and artists.

Can you briefly summarize what your project is about?

FRAME is a space that showcases artisans in Vancouver, presents an intimate look into their creative process and strengthens the local art community. It keeps you updated about upcoming events, local businesses promotions, and encourages you to translate the digital experience into a tangible one by promoting art crawls around the city.

What was your 1st thought after finding out you won the Rookie of the Year in the Web & Mobile category?

I got super excited, and my first thought was that all the hard work paid off.

What do you think set your project apart from the rest of the nominees?

That’s a tough question… I want to believe that it was because the project was born from a real need inside a small community in Vancouver. Besides, I tried to stay focused on delivering a feasible solution that would really strengthen and spread the word about our local art scene.

What inspired you to create Frame?

FRAME is a project that was born from the difficulty of discovering Vancouver’s local art scene. I moved from Mexico, a country with strong folklore culture, and found that looking for artisans here wasn’t easy. After talking with them, I realized that they are more focused on creating their pieces than in advertising themselves and that opportunity is what made me create FRAME.

FRAME Case Study from Ainara on Vimeo.

What is your approach to solving a design problem?

I believe that it depends on the goals of every project but my general approach is to start with research, competitive analysis and interviews in order to understand the user needs. After that I will start exploring different solutions, I will test and refine until the design offers a clear solution.

How did you define success for the project and how did you measure it?

Success for me in this project meant to learn as much as I could while I was presenting high quality deliverables of every stage of the project. I went out and learned from my user research, implemented strategy and logical thinking in the user experience and had a lot of fun with the branding and the interface design.

Did you, at any point during the making of Frame, felt lost and unsure on how to proceed? If so, what helped you get back on track?

Yes, and it becomes very difficult to have an objective point of view about the project’s different stages when you’re working on it every day during 4 months. Every time I felt lost I tried to take a step back to ask for feedback, look for design inspiration and review the earlier stages on the project to understand how I needed to move forward.

Where do you find inspiration for your creative design process?


Everywhere. I’m an art addict so I constantly go to museums, art galleries, conferences and read a lot about artistic movements. I listen to design podcasts and get lost in Behance, Pinterest and Vimeo.

What are some of the tools you used? Are there any tools you would recommend?

I mainly used Adobe Creative Suite software: Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects. I highly recommend to use a prototype tool to test the project throughout the entire process such as Axure or Invision and, if I could go back, I would definitely use Sketch to create the entire interface design because of its precision and efficiency.

Looking back, what would be one part of your project you would have done differently?

I would have devoted more time interviewing potential users and testing low fidelity prototypes instead of adding precise and refined details on every wireframe I created.

Do you have any advice for current students when it comes to choosing a topic for their grad project?

Choose a project that comes out of a real need and that challenges you. A topic that you love and that reflects the passion that you have for what you do.

What is next for you?

Right now I’m working as an interactive designer at Unbounce and I love it! At the same time, I’m in search of joining a non-profit to help the community through my career. I would really like to stay in Vancouver for a couple of years and then move to another city to continue improving my professional skills.

Thanks, Ainara!

 

UPCOMING DD TALKS EVENT: The Design Sprint

Our next Digital Design Talks event will be held on Wednesday, November 9th at 4:30pm!

Ainara Sáinz Gutierrez and Alejandra Porta from Unbounce will be presenting on how research makes great design possible.

Ainara’s Bio:
Ainara is a Vancouver-based Interactive Designer with a background in Graphic Design, who currently works in the Marketing Team of Unbounce. For the last four years she’s been working in multidisciplinary teams to convey intuitive digital experiences and products across web, tablet and mobile devices. She’s an art addict and believes that by experimenting and playing with design you can improve people’s lives.

Alejandra’s Bio:
Alejandra Porta is an Interactive Designer at Unbounce. She loves branding, typography, illustration and user research to create better UI experiences. After working as a surface designer and a soft good product developer for a few years, she realized she wanted to improve her digital design skills and this led her to VFS. Vintage shopping, art, bikes and lattes bring her joy as well as meeting and connecting people. She values being a great team player and is known to have a big heart.

 

INDUSTRY IQ STUDIO TOUR: GIANT ANT

(guess post by James Mulligan, DD36)

On a Sunny afternoon, September 29th our class, the DD36s, left school to go on an industry visit to the renowned Giant Ant studio. We walked excitedly through the streets of historic Chinatown until we eventually came to their building, a storefront off the beaten path.

As you enter the nondescript front, you enter a small hive buzzing with activity. The world we entered was warm and inviting. It was well-lit and the hardwood surfaces were polished. Staff were busy at their Macintosh workstations. We were welcomed by Jay who had a friendly casual demeanor and we didn’t realize until he told us that he is the co-founder and partner of Giant Ant. He ushered us into what looked like a glass-fronted log cabin nested into the larger room. Once inside, Jay showed us some of their projects and spoke about their creative processes including the inspiration and direction that went into each piece.

As he showed us some of their recent work, some themes emerged. Giant Ant uses positive framing, and they incorporate aesthetic beauty. They have a unique and original way of framing their subject matter; this allows them to prioritize creativity over following trends. Giant Ant has earned its reputation among clients, and this keeps the phones ringing. Many of their clients are from Silicon Valley and they have to turn many down. Giant Ant is a self-described family of animators and creatives who pick and choose their work, they are happy with the size of their team and feel no need to expand.

“Everything we put into the world is a statement of our taste,” Jay told us. He and his wife got into this business by making videos on YouTube originally. They showed us one of their charming originals. Seeing their skill level develop in earlier work was inspirational for the motionographers in our class.

As we left the building, I think we shared a general impression that Giant Ant is what a successful business can look like. They can be choosy with their clients, the workplace subs in as a family, and they get to use their creative skills. It gave our class something to aspire to.

 

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