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IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 4 User Validation

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine and I have picked up the task of going into detail on each topic. Today: User Validation.

In Mixology

Have you ever spat out a cocktail because it was too strong or just tasted awful? I have. And I have thrown out more drinks that I have made than I have ever ordered. Not everything comes out right the first time. Even more, not everything that I enjoy is accepted by my friends and family. Not every cocktail is for every person.

Just because I followed a recipe or made something I like, does not mean it will be a popular drink. Remember the old design adage “The user is not like me”. It applies to design as well as mixology.

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IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 3 Iterate Iterate Iterate

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. I’ve gone into detail on Education and Process. Now let’s focus on iteration.

In Mixology

Iteration is key in mixology. Even before starting this personal journey I mixed my own cocktails. By that I mean I mixed gin and tonics, rum and cokes, and I had a jungle juice recipe that landed you flat on your ass. How hard could it be to create some custom cocktails?

I should have eaten my words then and there. All drinks, all recipes, all skills require practice, they require iteration. In mixology I relearned the hard way the value of testing my experiments in small batches. The value of failure and that ‘each hurt is a lesson’ as Arya Stark would say.

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IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 2 Process & Methods

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. While I initially planned on frequent posts following the presentation, I got lazy (not excuses, I forgot and got slack). Let’s get back to the topic and today discuss Process and Methods.

In Mixology

I have defined two camps of bartenders and mixologists. Those that use traditional materials and methods and those that utilize newer technology.

Traditional tools include muddling fruit and spices to extract flavors, combining liquor and ingredients in a shaker and straining over ice or into a glass. Pretty basic and straightforward combination of ingredients.

More modern methods include using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze liquid, molds to combine various ingredients, and the study of microbiology in food to combine flavors and to evolve a recipe over time.

These two camps typically don’t intermingle. Bartenders and restaurants are known for their process to make cocktails and bartenders in both camps are aware of the merits and reasons for the other’s process.

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IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 1 Education & Training

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. Over the next few weeks I will expand on my talk where I highlighted similarities between my hobby and my career. Today let’s discuss Education and Training.

In Mixology

When I started out in mixology, it was on a whim. I wanted to homebrew and wasn’t confident in making the financial plunge. I was concerned for the carpet in my apartment, and the fact that I had an electric range. (It is significantly easier to homebrew on gas than electric.)

I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to infuse but I remember thinking a cucumber gin and tonic and basil gin and tonic would be amazing. And that was all it took. I didn’t buy any books or fancy equipment, I didn’t even do much as far as initial research. I dove right in. It wasn’t until after I realized other people do this too and that there is A LOT to learn.

So I asked myself, where do I go to learn about mixing drinks? What are the best books to learn from? Do I need a certificate from a bartending class so people know I am not full of shit? What tools do I need in my home bar?
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Announcement: Next Steps

The last two and a half years have been an incredible professional journey. I moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia as I transitioned as an in-house designer with PNC Bank, NA to consulting with Electronic Ink.

While at Electronic Ink I learned more skills and got to challenge myself in ways I never expected. That is why it is bittersweet to announce at the end of the month I will be leaving Electronic Ink and joining Bresslergoup. This is an exciting opportunity for me where I will be going back to my roots in a matter of speaking. Bresslergroup partners industrial designers with interaction designers while continuing in a consulting capacity.

I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that await. I cannot thank my colleagues and friends I have made at Electronic Ink enough for the experience, exposure to business challenges, and friendships. I hope to be able to share more as I start this next step in my professional journey.

Interaction Design Through Mixology, Chapter 0

I recently had the opportunity to present Interaction Design Through Mixology at Midwest UX in Columbus, OH. This is very exciting for me as I presented in front of my peers on a topic that is passionate to me and not directly tied to a product or design. This was a chance to draw parallels to design while not focussing on a specific deliverable, tool, or method. As I crafted my presentation, I found there is a lot I could cover. I started with a list of 5 chapters that grew week after week. With only 20 minutes to present, I cut the list down. Over the next few weeks, I will go into each section of my talk, and those I did not include, to to continue the conversation.

For those interested, my slides from the presentation may be found here.

My plan is to release a new section every 1-2 weeks in addition to any other writing I might tackle (I know, it’s been some time since I’ve written). Please share any thoughts regarding the posts and feel free to use the #DTDD hashtag (define the damn drink) on twitter to continue the conversation.

2011 Year in Review

It has been a while since I have posted and what a better way to start again than to write my 2011 year in review. And what a year it has been, both personally and professionally. And while I will focus this piece on the professional know that this has been an amazing year personally and I couldn’t be happier.

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