W(h)ither World on The Living Principles

The original article had been written in 1997 and the following is an excerpt from the post that was edited for The Living Principles.

Design sensibility as applied to sustainability and appropriate technology exposes new dimensions that embrace environmental concerns: habits and cultures of native people(s), potential for building indigenously on acquired technologies, protection of native heritage, promotion of craft, eco-friendly issues and the like. Design thinking plays a crucial role as a qualitative audit mechanism for adaptation of ‘preferable’ over existing fiscally ‘preferred’ packages. The prime concerns for sustainability are contextual relevance in native settings and the present-future availability of skills and material resources. The benefits of such auditing are evident and must be accrued cumulatively for true impact.

Looking back, I am amazed to find that the thought is still very relevant. Infact, it’s probably more relevant today than ever before.

Read entire article here

UI Design Patterns – Our Recommendations

More often than not, a good User Experience is not about reinventing the wheel but putting together in a logical (and aesthetic) manner, interactions that the user is already familiar with. UI Patterns are a great way of incorporating well researched and established rich interactions into your application without getting into extensive research or testing.

There are a number of sites which compile commonly used UI Patterns, indicate what the pattern should be used for and also show you examples of how these patterns are applied across different examples. As a designer, it is then up to your discretion to see which pattern fits your requirement the best and adapt it to your solution. Most UI Design Pattern Libraries are also a great source of inspiration – keeps you up-to-date and also shows you how other designers are implementing them.

Having gone through a number of UI Patterns sites for projects in the past, I will list a few that I find the most useful.

Design Pattern Libraries

Yahoo! Design Patterns

Yahoo Design Patterns Library
Yahoo Design Patterns

One of the most useful Design Pattern Libraries for me is the one from Yahoo!. They have categorised their patterns into useful sections like Layout, Navigation, Selection etc which makes them easy to browse. They also tell you which Design Pattern solves what problem which further helps in selection. Helpful resources – like related patterns and pattern code examples – for both developers and designers have also been provided.

Designing Web Interfaces (by Theresa Neil)

Designing Web Interfaces
Designing Web Interfaces – Theresa Neil

A 3 part series of Design Patterns – Screen Patterns, Essential Controls and Common Component Patterns . This one is especially recommended for beginners as it explains in detail which screen pattern should be used in certain cases and also provides multiple showcase examples. Download the pdf for Standard Screen Patterns and keep it as your handy quick-reference guide.

UI Patterns

UI Pattern Tap
UI Pattern Tap

A good compilation if you want to see a design pattern applied across different examples. Another great source for inspiration would be Pattern Tap – select a interaction pattern and quickly see multiple examples of its usage.

Go through these patterns and soon you will find yourself talking like a pro UX Designer. Beware though; these patterns can just give you guidance and offer tips & examples on how to use them. They are not a ready-made solution for your particular requirement. You will need to do your due-diligence for that. Or just bring it to us and we will do it for you ;-).

[Since we are developing a lot of mobile applications now, I am also researching Mobile UI patterns now and will share if I come across some good resources. Do drop a link if you know of any.]

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More often than not, a good User Experience is not about reinventing the wheel but putting together in a logical (and aesthetic) manner, interactions that the user is already familiar with. UI Patterns are a great way of incorporating well researched and established rich interactions into your application without getting into extensive research or testing.

There are a number of sites which compile commonly used UI Patterns, indicate what the pattern should be used for and also show you examples of how these patterns are applied across different examples. As a designer, it is then up to your discretion to see which pattern fits your requirement the best and adapt it to your solution. Most UI Design Pattern Libraries are also a great source of inspiration – keeps you up-to-date and also shows you how other designers are implementing them.

Having gone through a number of UI Patterns sites for projects in the past, I will list a few that I found the most useful.

Design Pattern Libraries

Yahoo! Design Patterns – One of the most useful Design Pattern Libraries for me is the one from Yahoo!. They have categorised their patterns into useful sections like Layout, Navigation, Selection etc which makes them easy to browse. They also tell you which Design Pattern should be used for what which further helps in selection. Helpful resources for both developers and designers have been provided along with the patterns.

Designing Web Interfaces (by Theresa Neil) – A 3 part series of Design Patterns – Screen Patterns, Essential Controls and Common Component Patterns . This one is especially recommended for beginners as it explains in detail which screen pattern should be used in certain cases and also provides multiple showcase examples. Download the pdf for Standard Screen Patterns and keep it as your handy quick-reference guide.

UI Patterns – A good compilation if you want to see a design pattern applied across different examples. Another great source for inspiration would be Pattern Tap – select a interaction pattern and quickly see multiple examples of its usage.

Go through all of these patterns and soon you will find yourself talking like a pro UX Designer. Beware though; these patterns can just give you guidance and offer tips & examples on how to use them. They are not a ready-made solution for your particular requirement. You will need to do your due-diligence for that. Or just bring it to us and we will do it for you ;-).

[Since we are going to be doing a lot of mobile application work now, I will be looking for Mobile UI patterns and will share if I come across some good resources.Do drop a link if you know of any.]

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Entrepreneurship and kite flying

Kite-mountainboarder
Image via Wikipedia

Entrepreneurship is like flying a kite. You wait for that gust to launch it and then you watch it soar, manouevring it through a series of slacks and tugs. Just like a kite, the company you founded sways and rolls and one day you realise that you have to let it go.

Or you bring it back to earth, cut the string and then attach a brand new kite. The way you fly the new kite will not change, except that you may have become a trifle more skilful. The new kite will look different, behave differently and entertain the world in ways the old kite never did.

Entrepreneurship is as much fun and just as challenging.

At Ideafarms, entrepreneurship is always on offer. We enjoy uncertainty. And we hope it rubs off on those who work here. Building a culture of entrepreneurship means much more than defining some processes and plastering walls with ‘feel good’ quotes. It means providing the freedom to take ownership; handing over the reel to someone else and watching her fly her kite.

Now we’re experimenting with ‘outsiders’ that have the makings of outliers to test new frontiers of entrepreneurship. Just like flying kites in outer space. Calling all MBA types and geeks that are not looking for neck’ties’ in a Bank job. Come fly your kite at Ideafarms.

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Ideafarms going mobile

Having seen some cool examples of Mobile applications and especially those using Location Based Services and Augmented Reality, we had been tossing around quite a few ideas of our own. We didn’t want to lose the enthusiasm or some of those precious ideas. So we decided to finally do something about it. One fine day, four of us locked ourselves in the conference room and brainstormed the day away. The result was a bunch of ideas which range from simple utility apps, to location-based apps (some of which apply specifically to the India context) and some fun game ideas [afterall, all work and no play… 😉 ].

Going Mobile

As far as the Location-Based apps go, we are excited about creating valuable services based around the current context of the user. We have worked on such concepts in combination with social-media platforms for social innovation in the past. What is exciting about the mobile platform is that such information would be accessible to the user on the go.

To test the waters, we have decided to kick-off with a pilot project which will be a location-based app on the Android platform (later to be extended to other platforms). Similar apps may already exist — we can further add value using our Rapid Prototyping and UI Design capabilities to design a seamless experience for the user.

If any of this sounds exciting, feel free to reach out. Be it to join our team, or to contribute more ideas, or to volunteer to be a guinea pig (read test user) or simply collaborate with us. We are always looking for exciting ideas and excited people. :)

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United Colors of Ideafarms

No don’t adjust the color settings of your monitor…

 

We usually look quite normal. Look we even took a picture to document as proof.

 

The festival of colors is celebrated with much gusto around the world by all Indians, and we Ideafarmers are definitely not the ones to be left behind. We look forward to it each year. Afterall, what better occasion than this to leave your co-workers looking black and blue 😉

 

Infact, such was the eagerness that for a change, the scrumptious spread laid next to the pile of gulaal (powdered color) was ignored and we decided to attack each other first.

 

It’s a little difficult to describe what happened next because there was just a cloud of colors flying around. When the haze settled, the result was the very colorful bunch of human beings you see in the following pictures. (No, none of these pictures have been photoshopped.)

 

While some gave in easily,…

 

… some tried to threaten with a dirty look …

 

… and yet some tried to hide behind each other …

 

None of which worked of course :D.

 

… and we all came out of it grinning …

 

… well almost all of us 😉 [Camera shy?]

Amidst all the chaos and strangely scary looking people we all had a lot of fun throwing color at each other and messing up the whole office. It was a grand celebration!

 

 

 

And now that the color of our faces matches the color of our walls, we wish a very Happy Holi to all.

 

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Tennis on Table

“A healthy mind lives in healthy body.”

We too believe in that and that’s the reason why Ideafarms organized a table tennis match at Siri Fort complex for its employees …

apart from the most obvious reason of having fun and yes we had loads of fun.

Every one was supposed to be in sports wear but… well every theory has some exceptions ;-) .

 

Even before the event started everyone was in the mood, everyone warming up and thinking like they are themselves Wang Hao …

 

We were pretty excited about it as such events give us a break from our daily routine and also a chance to interact with our colleagues outside the office.

 

All the fixtures were already decided and its was a knock out competition … with men and women competing separately.

During the starting rounds you could clearly tell who would win and also sometimes by how many points ;  even though it was table tennis most of us treated it as lawn tennis and the ball seldom touched the table :P .

 

As the competition progressed the matches started getting more intense and got us all excited …

 

and as for those who lost in the early rounds … they started their own league championship .

When we were down to our final rounds, that’s when the competition in its real sense became entertaining.

 

Tip : don’t play after eating or you might feel sleepy.

As for the results

Women’s Table Tennis Fixture :

1st prize : Mita Majumdar

2nd prize : Manpreet Rai

Unfortunately  the men’s table tennis event never came to a conclusion due to a muscle pull with one of the finalist(Sunil Malhotra) but since it was finals we decided that they deserve their prize.

Men’s Table Tennis Fixture :

1st prize : Rajiv Malhotra

2nd prize : Sunil Malhotra

All said and done one important lesson that we learned is to work out on daily basis or events like this can leave your body aching.

Balance and symmetry

This workshop is one of a six-part series of Basic Design workshops,

Balance and Symmetry are essential components of design that can often be overlooked.  When designing a logo, webpage or product it is important to keep these concepts in mind. Ideafarms recently held a workshop for its employees that explained the concepts of balance and symmetry down to their simplest level. The goal of the workshop was to have the team leave with a better understanding of the concepts and an orientation to applying them to daily work.

Participants voted on which composition best portrayed balance and which depicted symmetry.The participants then entered into a lengthy discussion on how and why the pieces were successful.

 

After a round of discussions, examples were presented to the group on how Balance and Symmetry work at their best and how they can be used to make attractive compositions.
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Internship @ Ideafarms

Patrick J. Shea an art major from the College of Architecture and Planning at Cornell University, USA had first visited India in the summer of 2008 for an internship at Ideafarms. Well, we must’ve done something right because he decided to come back this year to learn and work with us for a full 3 months. On his last visit, Patrick had left with an impression of the role of design thinking while conceptualising a solution and how technology and design work together. Right after graduating from Cornell, Patrick headed back to explore Industrial Design as a career option. In Pat’s words –

“During the months of June and July of 2008 I was given the opportunity to intern at Ideafarms.  I gladly took advantage of the opportunity to learn about their company and business platform. Over the 40 days spent living in New Delhi and working there, I was assigned a mock website for the company. I began by learning about what Ideafarms was all about, and the image that they had created for themselves.  Only after truly grasping what the company stood for was it possible for me to create something that suitably represented them.

Overall I got to learn a lot about the creative and technological aspects of IT. The internship was an opportunity for me to open my mind and begin to grasp concepts new to me about the business world and allow me to be a part of a day-to-day office experience.

In July of 2010 I was given the opportunity to head back to Ideafarms for another internship of 90 days.  Having just graduated college and feeling a little more confident and mature I felt that it was time to go to Ideafarms and learn as much as I could and get a feel of what it would be like to work in a creative environment. There are a number of projects lined up for me this time round which include, designing a website, working with a team for the design of a web application and a physical product. This time around I feel that I will be about to take my experience further and learn more than my previous visit.”

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The Marshmallow Challenge

20 spaghetti sticks, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 1 marshmallow and 4 teams with diverse areas of expertise competing to build the tallest free standing structure in 18 minutes with an entire marshmallow on top. Sounds simple?? We had thought so too.

The marshmallow challenge was first introduced by Peter Skillman, but we came to know about it from Tom Wujec.

It may sound easy but we were surprised by the complexity we experienced in those 18 minutes – Planning, designing and building, deciding the approach, making up our minds and then changing it when peeked at another team’s strategy.

The moment of truth was when the marshmallow was placed on top of the structure that each team had created and the teams were asked to let go of their structures and let it stand free. Not too many spaghetti towers stayed standing beyond a few second.

One’s approach to the marshmallow challenge can easily be compared to how they would go about approaching any task. This activity was a fun way for the team to learn the importance of creative thinking, planning and teamwork.

 

Every project is a metaphorical marshmallow which looks soft, weightless; harmless and mostly goes invisible until its actual weight makes the whole project crumble. This exercise brought back to us some fundamentals of project planning and design – Plan before you proceed, keep material properties and constraints in mind and improvise as you go along.

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