Exercises for Fostering a Positive Design Culture Across Your Entire Office

A positive design culture is built on great problem-solving — skills every office needs, from designers to editors and project managers. We spoke with Washington, D.C. designer Nguyet Vuong who shared a few strategies for fostering a positive design culture across the office and within the design team.

Teaching design for non-designers

Designers can share and foster a positive design culture by regularly reviewing work with teams outside of the design pod and using the opportunity to explain the nuance of making decisions that impact the user experience. A well structured design review session can be eye-opening for colleagues who are new to the practice of design or interested in learning more about it.

Designers can also help non-designers learn to think like designers by putting the practice in a new context. A useful exercise for teaching anyone to think like a designer is to ask him or her to document a process that might seem straightforward at first but in fact is more complicated than they might think. By breaking down familiar activities into their component parts and thinking about how, when, where and why a person would undertake each step, the person is beginning to think like a designer, who is trained to recognize motivations that most wouldn’t.

Keeping designers sharp

Designers can hone their skills by flexing their creativity outside of client projects. Daily user interface challenges are a fun way to practice. As part of the challenges, a creative prompt is emailed to the user, and they are asked to create a design element for a web or mobile platform inspired by the prompt. Participants can interpret the prompt in different ways and then share their solutions with the world via Twitter or Dribbble, a platform where designers can showcase their work. Browsing others’ solutions can also be inspiring!

Another favorite activity is to watch videos of conference talks. It’s a great way to update your skills on software, tools, and industry trends. Since the talks are usually an hour long, you can watch them during lunch time or in between projects. Best of all, they’re free.

Here are a few of Vuong’s favorites on creativity and design:

  1. The 2016 Adobe MAX conference videos cover talks about the future of creativity and design.
  2. Designer Philippe Starck’s list of Ted Talks cover the intersection between science and design.
  3. An Event Apart is an annual conference of designers and developers associated with A List Apart. Their videos cover specifics of web design and user interface.

What are some of the ways you foster a design culture in your office? Share your tips in the comments!

Nguyet Vuong has led product strategy and design for award-winning experiences including the American Cancer Society, World Lung Foundation, and Bank of America. Previously, she created user experiences for Sabre Hospitality Solutions and Aol. She is currently the design lead at ConsenSys.

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