Subject to Change

adaptivepath-subject-to-changeI picked up a copy of Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World by my Adaptive Path friends Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, and David Verba. The book presents a toolset for a “flexible design process” to embrace user behaviours and motivations and an ever changing, unpredictable environment.

Instead of approaching new product development from the inside out, companies have to begin by looking at the process from the outside in, beginning with the customer experience. It’s a new way of thinking-and working-that can transform companies struggling to adapt to today’s environment into innovative, agile, and commercially successful organizations.

The process reminded me of the outstanding work on Charmr – A Design Concept for Diabetes Management Devices. Charmr is Adaptive Path’s response to an Open Letter to Steve Jobs from Amy Tenderich asking for some of that Jonathan Ive magic to redesign insulin pumps. The Charmr Project was a 9 week long project completed by an Adaptive Path team including: Dan Saffer, Rachel Hinman, Alexa Andrzejewski, Rae Brune, Sebastian Heyke and Jamin Hegemin.

The process and timeline:

The most interesting part is that before the concepting and design work, is the creation of the six primary design principles:

    1. Wear it during sex. Make the product elegant, discreet, and comfortable.
    2. Make better use of data. Have the product use the data that is generated (blood glucose levels, amount of insulin dosed, trends) in smarter ways.
    3. Easy to learn and teach/No numbers. A broad cross-section of diabetics will use this product, so it cannot be overly complicated, nor difficult to teach. And while numbers are important, we didn’t want to solely rely on those for indicating status and trending.
    4. Less stuff. Diabetics have to carry around a lot of stuff. We wanted to be sure that whatever we created wasn’t just one more thing to carry around.
    5. Keep diabetics in control. The people we spoke to weren’t interested in automatic pumps for the most part. They wanted to retain control of their insulin dosing.
    6. Keep diabetics motivated. Diabetes is a difficult disease to have. Diabetics, in the words of someone we talked to, “never get a day off,” so keeping motivated is a challenge. We wanted our product to help diabetics set goals and be so easy to use it helped keep them on track.

The principles themselves aren’t interesting beyond diabetics. But that they were derived from the observations and interviews with patients and experts. How often to we discount the basic user research and analysis?


In moving beyond the features and functionality, and looking at behaviour and experiences companies are able to build compelling solutions like Nike+. Amazing, runners listen to music when they are out pounding the pavement. Understanding the experience has let Nike partner with Apple to build a great experience.

Nike Plus “combines the physical world with the digital world. We put a sensor in the shoe that speaks to the iPod, and you can hear how far you went, how long you went and how many calories you’ve burned, pretty simple thoughts. And then, when you dock it, you have a world of information at your fingertips. You get to see all that you’ve done, all your runs stored in a very simple, intuitive web experience where you can set goals for yourself.  – Trevor Edwards, VP Global Brand & Category Management, Nike

Nike+ is also really interesting because it is software above the level of a single device. Using the iPod, Nike shoes, iTunes, and the web to create a community to share playlists, running trails, and maps, Nike has successfully created an enduring, engaging brand experience.

Both Charmr and Nike+ are great examples of building products based on understanding and analyzing behaviour. Check out Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World for a toolkit for using “customer experiences to inform and shape the product development process”.

Nokia – Interactive Media Designer

Burnaby, BC, Canada

Position Description
Interested in joining a small team of highly motivated usability and user interface design professionals? Excited by the prospect of bringing best-in-class user experiences to Nokia’s next generation of devices?  If so, we are currently looking for an individual with talents in creating stunning interactive experiences to join our team.  You must be creative, passionate about what you do, and able to thrive in a highly collaborative team environment.

Your role and responsibilities will include:

  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams to brainstorm new design concepts for future music-centric software and services, translating them into mockups and simulations using best practices for visual and interaction design.   
  • Supporting usability and user research efforts by creating and iterating on simulations that may range from a single feature to an entire application.
  • Understanding and aptly applying Nseries and Ovi style and branding guidelines, working with other visual design teams to help evolve those guidelines.
  • Engaging in the user experience design process by producing quick concept designs & prototypes of candidate solutions, demonstrating a flexibility to iterate frequently.


  • Minimum of 3 years of professional experience in a commercial product environment, ideally related to mobile and web applications
  • Expert in using Flash/Flex/ActionScript or similar tools to code robust and extensible applications
  • In-depth knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Strong visual design sense and graphical/illustration skills
  • Understanding of user experience fundamentals, including user-centered design process, information design, and industry UI standards
  • Must be a highly collaborative team player who will thrive in a fast-paced environment
  • Willingness to travel to collaborate with partners
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • BS degree or equivalent experience in human-computer interaction, interaction design, web design, graphic design or a related field
  • Must have excellent portfolio to demonstrate media design expertise

To apply, please visit the Canada/Vancouver section of our careers website at:

We thank all applicants for their interest, however only those selected for interview will be contacted.

Open-Source Icons

The great news is that the number of choices for open source icons has continued to grow. There are a variety of icons sets for designers and developers to incorporate into their projects and applications.

Steven Garrity has launched the Tango Project which is a set of icon style and naming guidelines for the Linux desktop. The project includes a great base set of icons licensed under the CC Share Alike

Brent Simmons post from May 2002 attrached a number of great comments for sources for open-source icons.

I’ve also posted about non-open-source but very inexpensive and professional icons.