Event Report :: The Future of Digital Product Design

10 Dec 2004 - 10:37am
710 reads

Dirk Knemeyer is an excellent speaker with a flare for the dramatic and put
together a great presentation on "The Future of Digital Product Design."
Showing a very interesting diagram that illustrated all of the forces at
work in product design--marketing/engineering, the business vision/the
product's functionality and its enabling technology/people and their
experience of a product--Dirk discussed the anatomy of product design. His
talk then touched on the evolution of digital products--including digital
convergence and next-gen digital products. Building on the same diagram,
Dirk described the key elements in the anatomy of user experience
design--information, interaction, and presentation. He then showed the roles
that contribute to user experience design, placing the Principal Designer at
the center of this diagram.

Dirk also talked about current trends, including the global knowledge
economy, innovation, user-centered design, the expanding possibilities for
functionality in digital products, sustainability, invisible design,
emotional design; the evolving market for digital products; and future
trends, including the demand for simplicity in digital products,
optimization, the convergence of science and business, the reduced role of
emotional design, on-demand access to centralized content, and the
resurgence of specialized products. He discussed the multi-disciplinary
nature of digital product design and the necessity for redefining problems
and solutions; broad, cross-disciplinary knowledge as well as specialized
knowledge; and collaborative mindsets. Again within the context of his
evolving diagram, he showed the anatomy of digital product design and the
many roles that impact digital product design. Finally, Dirk suggested some
things that we can all do to sharpen our skills and sustain our value in the
increasingly competitive international arena of digital product design.

The panel, which comprised Sarah Allen, Neil Day, James Leftwich, Luke
Wroblewski, and myself, then engaged in the promised lively discussion of
the issues that Dirk's talk had raised. Frank Ramirez moderated. The
audience also joined enthusiastically in the discussion, which focused
primarily on what companies and digital product design teams need to do to
compete successfully in today's global competitive marketplace. The
discussion touched on offshoring, the creative economy, fostering innovation
and collaboration within large corporations, the role of startups in
innovation, and the importance of cross-functional teamwork in digital
product design. During the panel discussion, some panelists and members of
the audience made the point that there are a lot of people in different
roles who would place themselves at the center of Dirk's diagram. I made the
point that we should put the product at the center of the diagram and
cluster the members of a collaborative team around the product. Great
products come from great teamwork.

We all thought the event was a great success. Yahoo! made a great venue for
this event. Everyone who worked to make our event happen did a great job. I
really enjoyed myself, and the topic obviously hit a chord with the
audience. People feel very passionately about many of the issues that we
discussed. We were very pleased by the turnout. About 160 or 170 people
attended the event, even though Tufte was speaking at Stanford the same

Ji Kim videotaped the event and, once post-production is complete, we'll be
making the video available on the IxDG Web site.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
IxDG Face to Face Co-Coordinator for Silicon Valley

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