This has been Graphic Mint’s most inspiring and fulfilling year to date. So we have made a demo reel featuring a selection of the wonderful projects we have worked on in 2014.

We have been expanding our UX and Service Design offerings, providing compelling and cohesive brand experiences to our existing clients. We have worked with plastic surgeons, national utility companies and Smart Home technology providers, to name a few.

Our Graphic Mint Team members have volunteered for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) Interaction14 conference in Amsterdam and the early planning of Interaction15, San Francisco. Locally we won the Design Challenge at Defuse Dublin 2014.

For more details on our services and previous work please visit our portfolio or contact us today.

(Music credit: Paradise Engineering by Yacht) 

Posted in Design, Digital Marketing, ID2015, Interaction 14, IxDA, Service Design, User Experience, Year of Irish Design | Leave a comment

As we approach the end of the year it’s time for designers to accelerate projects towards delivery before Christmas, think about ways of thanking our loyal clients, and reflecting on the gargantuan amount of work we created within the Irish Design Community in a booming 2014 (and the subsequent daunting task of updating our portfolios).

Year of Irish Design 2015 It’s been a busy year! Recently, at the wonderful IxDA Defuse 6 event during Irish Design Week, I had a great time catching up with my peers. These are other Designers working in Dublin for agencies, corporate and education, each of whom expressed how great business was and how slammed they were. Design is thriving in Ireland and we are close to a tipping point that’s been long overdue.

For years, the active and vibrant Irish Design Community has been bubbling just beneath the surface of everything that Ireland is best known for; beautiful scenery, music, the arts and traditional crafts. But in 2014 there has been a sea-change, most notably measured by the Craft Council of Ireland changing their name to the Design and Craft Council of Ireland (DCCoI), thus extending their remit towards the realms of Design in Ireland.

Irish Design 2015 Graphic Mint

In the past, many have tried and failed to organise from ‘the ground up,’ a governing body for all of the Irish Design disciplines – which is by no means an easy task. So the DCCoI’s intent to take Irish Design under their wing and to help the local Design community flourish and to gain the recognition it deserves is a welcome gesture, especially as they are already an established and very well connected entity (from education to business to government) for all things craft in Ireland.

I’m excited about one of DCCoI’s first big initiatives for 2015, an entire year dedicated to Irish Design. Think of The Gathering for Irish Designers. Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) is a year-long programme exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish Design in just about every form. The ID2015 programme includes “events across the island of Ireland, as well as activities and showcases at design weeks, fashion weeks and architecture biennales in international design capitals such as London, New York, Tokyo and Paris.” There are four themes: Sense of place, Sustainability, Creativity and Well-being.

I have great hopes for Irish Design 2015 and believe it has the potential to provide a much needed focal point for Irish designers across all disciplines to rally around and organise. The rising tide lifts all boats but it is vital that ID2015 doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, it must build upon past efforts to organise Irish Design that have gone before. A good example would be PIVOT Dublin and its bid for World Design Capital 2014 (WDC14). This initiative may have not succeeded in its primary purpose of winning WDC14, but the journey of seeking this goal resulted in a better organised Irish Design community with a stronger identity, a more cohesive history and a richer portfolio. The PIVOT Book is available in public libraries, and I recommend a read, as it is a tome of all things Irish Design.

ID2015-GraphicMint

Irish Design 2015 will also be helpful in making necessary inroads to getting government support. I remember during the planning of Interaction12, a Dublin conference I co-chaired with 800 designers from over 30 countries in attendance; how impossible it was to get a Minister to attend our event to promote doing business in Ireland. I was surprised as I had attended many business, technology and healthcare events where a Minister opening speech was a staple. Luckily, in the end the Lord Mayor of Dublin did a great job of welcoming our global Design visitors but the lack of support from our government was evident, at least to me. I still believe they missed the boat on capitalising on value of Design, as an emerging, fast-growing sector in Ireland. This will hopefully change as Irish Design 2015 seem to be adopting a practical, job-creation angle as part of their initiatives positioning; a good move, which will no doubt align with Richard Bruton’s goals for the country as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (and Design?!).

I’m hoping that ID2015 will act as the necessary advocate to our Government (and the European Union) on behalf of the Irish Design Community, to highlight the Value that Design brings to any table, so that in the future, Ireland as a country, will better utilise Designers and Design Thinking to solve the big and wicked problems we face as individuals, communities and as a society.

I have been evangelising Irish Design for a long time, and now it appears our moment has arrived. Let’s grab it with both hands and support ID2015 and its mission to elevate Irish Design at home and abroad. Happy New Year Irish Designers!

Information about the ID2015 programme for the year and how to get involved can be found here – www.irishdesign2015.ie

Posted in Defuse, Design, Events, ID2015, Interaction12, IxDA, Life In Ireland, User Experience, Year of Irish Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Impassioned stories about customer experiences feature in most day-to-day conversations between friends, coworkers and even strangers. To earn praise for an expectation met and surpassed is the ideal scenario for any brand but many users are unfortunately less impressed. The torment of unsolvable phone problems are top of the list. Customers are widely baffled not only by device issues but also by the limited powers of store staff, the difficulty in navigating relevant websites and the arduous process of repairs. All of the above can be ascribed to poor user interfaces and disconnected service design, leading to a negative impression of the brand. A similar (but questionably positive) example comes from a friend in her mid-forties. She raves about a particular supermarket chain because she is consistently asked for ID when purchasing wine. Shopping is indeed the highlight of her week to the credit of humorously strict policies obliging staff to perform silly interactions.

Such narrators are often unaware of how deeply engaged they are with issues of UI. With 2015 approaching as the Year of Irish Design, one sees valuable opportunities materialising for designers and users alike. To better understand one’s place in systems of interaction makes those systems easier to navigate, discuss and enjoy. My personal accounts of UI have undergone positive changes recently for this very reason. I am now observing design from behind the lens of Graphic Mint as their newest team member. With an academic background in philosophy, literature and film, I am relatively new to interaction design and have noticed an exciting shift in my perception of what brings real value to UX. Whilst observing the process in a brilliant design studio isn’t an option for everyone, scores of literature are available for even the most basic of introductions.

Dan Saffer’s ‘Designing for Interaction’ (2009)

An early step in the Graphic Mint initiation is a debrief on the studio’s book collection—a vital resource to be enjoyed by every new employee with pages full of excited notes and scribbles. Some circle terms of design theory, others playful sentences on comic book evolution and yet more marvel at behavioural insights. Dan Saffer’s Designing for Interaction (2009) is particularly decorated and from here I have taken a few key points which rebuff common (and indeed my own) misinterpretations of interaction design.

Firstly interaction design spreads far beyond visual talent and calls for everything from researchers to actors depending on the project. Secondly any digital, physical or theoretical design takes more than a single geek and a vigorous night’s work to produce. Weeks of sketching, role playing and paper prototypes bring about the essence of user interfaces. Lastly the penultimate goal of an interaction designer is to innovate upon the emotive context of the user to ensure positive, consistent experiences, not just a product or service. From here I now understand those interactions in which I don’t notice complexity are the ones which boast the best design. If an electronic kiosk can take my order, process a payment and narrate its steps without causing the slightest irritation, it is an experience to be valued. The sensory and physical design of the machine meets my expectations as only a well researched, carefully designed product can.

Because interaction design exists literally everywhere, an attempt to summarise its general impact on our lives would be a trite and limitless post. Instead I am going to relate to our readers the most rewarding re-evaluation of UX I have had since becoming acquainted with Graphic Mint. I ran The Dublin City Marathon 2014 which evidences the role designers play in any great event—advertising, banners, content strategy, jerseys, print collateral, signage, sponsorship, web design—the list goes on. In an hour’s waiting at the start line, 26.6 miles of running and a week of following news coverage afterward, one brand impression stayed with me. Lucozade covered a water point on the course at mile 20, a stage when runners are tired and emotions are high. They constructed a giant blue archway across the track emblazoned with ‘Wall of Support’ in the brand’s yellow typography. Upon running through the wall and accepting a bottle, a fatigued runner naturally hangs their head. Spray painted across the tarmac was the message, ‘You met the wall and beat it.’

The first layer of thought this produced was, “That was great. I’ll keep going.” In examining why the moment stayed with me one sees it comes down to smart interaction design. Lucozade researched the overall context of marathon runners to deliver an emotional gesture which states, ‘We understand you are afraid of hitting the wall. We support you. You can do this.’ This brought about a definitive moment of connection between brand and runner. The essence of the event was captured and a thoughtful, lasting impression was made.

The Graphic Mint Astronaut

With an insight into design I now appreciate the efforts behind this level of empathy in UX. This is ultimately why Graphic Mint’s primary image is an astronaut. A universe of technology and behaviours is evolving around us with constellations of brands and users inevitably interacting with one another. Understanding and embracing interaction design can bring real value to these daily experiences. Think Journeys, think communications, think technology, think people.

For a look at Graphic Mints’s work in these areas please visit our portfolio.

 

Posted in Branding, Design, Events, ID2015, Irish Design, Storytelling, Uncategorized, User Experience, Year of Irish Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We have a satisfied UX customer strutting out of the Graphic Mint studio this morning with a bullet proof vest under his shirt! Mr. Klaus Vampiro tucked into the re-vamp results last night and thought your answers were bloody brilliant!

We are proud to introduce to our portfolio a hybrid bullet resistant, garlic-defying solution this Halloween. #PlugPower #GoodKillHunting

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Have you got the neck to help Klaus Vampiro?

A Vampire client of ours has commissioned our UX team to find the most efficient method of sourcing blood. As part of the project we have created a 30 second survey on a timeless problem: How would you avoid getting bitten by a vampire? Take the survey>>

Findings from our survey will be published on the Graphic Mint Blog and our social media channels on Friday the 31st of October. Thank you and Happy Halloween!

 

Posted in Design In General, News, Uncategorized, User Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lean, basic, and minimalist – no-thrills, no-frills kind of messaging app.

As opposed to Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, or Viber; Telegram Messenger is an app that allows users to send encrypted messages, making these completely private and secret, or so this is the claim.

Messaging and texting apps are all the rage at the moment, with Facebook launching Facebook Messenger; an app for messaging alone about a year ago. Not only that, Facebook also recently purchased the messaging app, Whatsapp, for $19 billion!

Although generally usable, Telegraph Messenger at times borders on the slightly unresolved. The use of iconography is clear and effective, but apart from that, there are a few usability issues and the terminology used to describe certain elements around the interface is conflicting and inconsistent; for example: Chats, Message, or Conversation. Couldn’t all these be one in the same? Continue reading

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Intuitive microblogging app, easy-to-use, uniquely stylised, but not over designed.

Overall, the app feels very clean with hints of gray and Twitter’s equity blue, with opacity changes and hovering highlights, compelling transitions and animations indicating activity and usability while interacting with the interface. All in context.

In the world of microblogging, clearly Twitter is king. Twitter has gone through a few changes and transformations in it’s relatively short lifetime. Most recently Twitter became a publicly funded corporation and oddly they also redesign their website portal to be more content heavy, advertising-clutter focused, and definitely more “Facebook-like.” I suppose those ads need to go somewhere on the page, right investors? However, one thing about Twitter is constant, their concise 140 character snippets of sometimes very critical and other times unusually cryptic information. Continue reading

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Irish app for buying, selling or renting residential or commercial properties

The MyHome.ie iPhone app is a regional mobile app that helps users find property rentals and properties for sale in Dublin City and throughout Ireland, with an additional listing-saving feature for future reference.

Despite the fact that the latest public release to the App Store by MyHome.ie is less than a month ago (since writing this review), this app simply looks and feels outdated, clunky and uninviting.

Although there is a clear structure and architecture, there is an overwhelming amount of options and information available to the user from just about any screen, thus navigation and choice-making is cumbersome at times and not particularly intuitive. There are a series of icons that are repetitive and don’t necessarily represent the same category, which causes further confusion.

Upon making a selection from the main page for either Rentals, Sales, Commercial, etc., the user then has the option of further narrowing the search results to display a filtered amount of listings based on the criteria selected. There is consistency in terms of page types and interaction flows from the various categories in the main navigation, allowing the user to become familiar with the app’s system for interaction, thus setting a precedent and guiding user’s expectations.

The arrangement and visualisation of listings is also consistent with other design patterns that deal with similar content or types of apps. Once a property is selected from the list of search results, a clearly defined and detailed listing page is served, containing categorised information, such as: Image Gallery, Agent Contact options (Email / Phone), Property Description, Features, a Property Location Map along with sharing options like “Send to a Friend.”

The best thing about this app is that, as a user, you have the ability to “Add to Favourites” any number of listings, allowing for the creation of lists and save properties for future reference. This, as a result, makes a returning visitor’s browsing experience more streamlined and less cumbersome. An account has to be set-up with an email and password for accessing stored information at a later date. 

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Making the search for a holiday rental a more enjoyable experience.

Airbnb is a clean, easy-to-use and straight-forward app that can make a daunting experience, like finding a place to stay while on holidays a much more enjoyable one; all from the comfort of your own iPhone.

To have an optimal experience with this app, the user must first go through a simple registration process that takes less than 2 minutes to complete. Upon login, the user lands on the “Discover” category which features various locations, promotions and sharing opportunities in exchange for “travel credit.” Continue reading

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Whatsapp icon

Most people in Ireland send free messages through WhatsApp, which is considered the biggest chat app in the world. However, things go very differently in Asia, where people from different nations have their own preferences in terms of chat apps. For example, we Taiwanese people favor Line. Continue reading

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