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When you don’ start with design research, what do you do? Many design processes prescribe your work in a linear fashion: starting with design research to discover the problems you’re ultimately solving for, ideating on the solutions to that problem, prototyping and testing them. And you repeat that process for several rounds, where applicable.

Depending on where in the design process you are, design research unlocks so many things. It helps you define the problem, it can inspire a solution or a new opportunity area, it helps designers empathise with the users and it helps you prioritise decisions. I’m sure some designers would add a few more definitions to the list. At the end of the day, design research helps to move the design process forward. …


In this experiment, we wanted to add possibilities for controlling smart objects in our homes. By using Noodl as the “glue”, we quickly orchestrated several small sketches by combining various technology building blocks:

  • Wekinator for machine learning
  • Amazon Alexa for voice control
  • Harry Potter wand for gestures
  • Ikea Trådfri smart lights

For example, make Amazon’s Alexa and the wand work together to change the colour of a smart light bulb.

Noodl in combination with machine learning creates a flexible prototyping environment where we can teach the system how it should work. Without using code we can iterate on complex inputs such as gestures by giving the system live examples of desired input. …


Since the dawn of time, or at least since Gutenberg invented the printing press, our visual language has been contained by frames — books, prints, the magazine, PCs, video games, smartphones, even the basic notebook have all been rectangular.

Most of our design patterns and best practices are built on a 2-dimensional surface being closed on all four sides. Both visual and interaction-based design practices are rooted in this basic shape, but we’re finally being challenged to go beyond the rectangle.

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From PCs to web to the smartphone, digital screen-based design has accelerated its reach and impact over the past 30 years. We have been entrenched in the “rectangle”, so challenging this basic assumption about the container of our experiences is more disruptive to an era of designers and product developers. …


We have been seeing an increasing interest from companies outside of the Nordics in learning about everything from how we run workshops to how we build teams to how we plan a multidisciplinary project — many of the successful qualities are drawn from Swedish culture.

Combined with an acceleration and urgency around digital transformation within large enterprises, the qualities that getting Sweded might bring to a team are being recognised as strategically important.

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Topp Design & Innovation was founded in Malmö, Sweden — the third largest city in Sweden in an already small country with a population of only about 10 million people. Yet despite its diminutive stature, Sweden is the home of some impressive global brands such as IKEA, Volvo, Spotify, Skype, H&M, Minecraft, TetraPak, Ericsson and even the Pirate Bay. …


Four voices on the current state of design practices and their roles in product development, innovation, and design engagements.

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Our head of design, Roger Andersson Reimer, recently asked four people at Topp what the state of our design practices looks like — how have their responsibilities evolved, and what perspectives make them successful in projects and organisations.

Though their titles may sound familiar, their roles seem to keep evolving.

  1. Design technology: the future of design technology is a creative practice
  2. Visual design: the future of visual design goes beyond the screen
  3. Research & strategy: the future of research and strategy is about…


How teaching a class helped us map out the future of UX.

by Roger Andersson Reimer, Head of Design

One of the joys of working in the design field for more than a decade is getting the opportunity to share what you’ve learned. Often, it’s an informal process: the casual give-and-take, review-and-advise rhythm that tends to emerge in an active studio. And sometimes it’s more formal.

Topp is fortunate to be located near several excellent design schools: Lund University is a quick train ride away, Malmö University is practically across the street, Hyper Island is down the road in Karlskrona, and the renowned Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) is just over the bridge in Denmark. …


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Working with nonprofits and NGOs is an incredible opportunity to deliver on your ideals. But it comes with its own challenges.

by Anna Oscarsson, COO at Topp

You want to use design to make the world a better place. So do I. So do most of us. Few designers enter the field because it’s lucrative. We do it for the opportunity for creative expression at a high level, and because of frustration: that things aren’t as good as they could be, not as beautiful, not as responsive to human needs, and in many cases, not as good at solving the problems of society.

Designing for a nonprofit offers a chance to deliver on those ideals.

The realities of corporate design can pose a different sort of frustration. A lot of clients share the designer’s love of thoughtful, human-centered solutions, but in the corporate world, they’re joined by other considerations, like customer engagement, marketing traction, growth, and profitability. And while these present interesting design challenges of their own, the link between those early ideals and the current reality can sometimes get hidden. This is why working with an organization with primarily non-commercial goals can seem heaven-sent. …


by Emil Wasberger, Design Technologist at Topp

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Designer + Developer. It’s a pairing as natural as right and left hand, or the two sides of a coin: both are necessary to create great things, but they’re also very distinct. The tech world has come to realize that coding expertise alone isn’t enough to deliver a great user experience, so there’s been a rush to bring design talent into the fold. That’s a good thing. We’ve even acknowledged, mostly, that it’s not enough to build an app or device and then hand it over to a design team to make it pretty. Design should drive the vision.

What if the traditional designer/developer dichotomy is undermining our creative process? …


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We could do anything, but research tells us to do something that sounds boring — so how do we get clients on board?

By Pernilla Danielsson (Schibsted Media) & Kajsa Westman (Topp)

When clients hire design agencies, they expect to be wowed.

Good research helps us identify design opportunities that are anchored in actual user reality. By looking at their current situations, the problems they face, and the hacks they use to get what they want, we can pinpoint where to apply design efforts for maximum effect. This kind of research is a starting place for innovation — and it works quite well.

But research is more than that. It’s also a tool for telling stories about the opportunities we find. …


Making a prototyping platform from scratch took us more than two years, and it was worth every minute.

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The genius of modern, digitally-connected products is that they’re malleable: able to be formed, reformed and modified until they’re as good as we can make them. This flexibility, and the fact that most designers now prefer prototypes to theories is probably the main reason why product and service experiences have gotten dramatically better over the past few years (example: Do you still use Netscape? How about a Zune? There you go.).

How we build prototypes is still a subject of much debate though. Some designers do it in code, cobbling bits of Javascript and Python together with widely available web services to make something that gets the idea across, resulting in something fairly “real”, but at a considerable cost in time and effort. This approach also tends to drive designs down familiar tracks. Other designers prefer hacking on graphics-oriented programs like Photoshop, Illustrator or even Keynote, using clickable overlays to simulate interactive experiences — this gets you quickly to a convincing visual, but limits how “smart” the prototype can be. …

About

Topp

Topp is a Swedish design & innovation studio. We help forward-thinking clients worldwide to shape future products and services. www.topp.se

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