Month: December 2016

Product Design, Implementation & Evaluation.

We started this module off with an IBM workshop in design thinking. This was a very exciting method of brainstorming to develop solutions or products through many iterations.

Here are some images from the design thinking workshop. Getting to work with a group of people with differing backgrounds on a common goal was a great experience & an insight into how collaboration can work.

20161012_113701 20161012_120129 20161012_121522-01

The next step in this project is the “Find the Gap” task. This is where I worked through a number of questions such as listing everyday problems & suggesting solutions, then listing my wish list of projects that could have solutions where if I had a wish I would start on straight away. This is the result…


1.1 Find the gap


List 1: Add in here your list of 5 to 10 everyday problems with possible solutions.

Remove paper receipts from stores & replace with digital receipts.

Paying for parking – Linking a payment app to your phone.

Bad parking – Parking sensors on the ground & in the car.

Missing/Planning travel connections – real time location app a la aircraft scanner.

Library opening hours – Automates/self checkout of books

Finding parking – gps linked parking assist

Shopping, finding products – Trolley mounted live map

Wheelchair access – portable foldaway ramp.

Wheelchair tipping – spring loaded roll cage/bar.

Flooding of property – Portable flood barrier.


List 2: Add in your “wish list” of your 5 to 10 possible design projects.

Portable flood defense.

Portable wheelchair ramp.

Book design.

Subdermal communications.

Civic redesign of traffic system in Dublin.

Building wayfinding system.

Change from paper to digital receipts.


1.2 Design project definition

Write your project idea(s) in the following format. You may pursue more than one idea at this stage and could choose one idea from your list 1 or list 2 from above.

In what way might I use graphic design to Create a portable flood defense.

  1. Analyse the causes.
  2. Break down the pain points.
  3. Identify goals.
  4. Generate the big ideas.


  1. Analyse the cause

I would first look at the issues surrounding the problem:

  • Floodplains
  • Causes of flooding
  • Frequency
  • Property being damaged.

Flood plains – should housing be moved from the most at risk zones. Are we shifting problems further up the source.

Causes of flooding – Are there issues at the point of flooding the contribute to flooding.

Frequency – How often does the problem occur & will a temporary or permanent solution be required.

Property being damaged – Can property be modified to protect against flood damage. Are there any quick response actions that can protect people & property. How can property be recovered after flooding.


Breakdown the pain points

  1. Cost
  2. Displacement
  3. Knock on effects
  4. Sourcing materials

Cost – How to produce the most effective protection while keeping it affordable to property owners.

Displacement – Will the protection works cause displacement to residents & property owners.


Identify Goals

Develop portable flooding defense.

Protect Lives & Livestock.

Protect property from flooding.


Generate the big ideas

I want to be able to design a method of protecting buildings from flood risk by placing a portable barrier in front of all water ingress points. This barrier can be erected in minuets & will be stackable to cover any height or width.

Stackable interlocking barrier.

Built-in water pump.

Protect all ingress points.

2.1 Persona

My target client can be from any area subject to flooding. For the purpose of this project I am focusing on a family in the East Wall area of Dublin which is vulnerable to flooding & has been affected on a number of occasions in the past.

This is a mature family with an age range of 40-80 years. It consists mainly of a widowed mother & her son. There are often guests of all ages down to newborn. While the son is living in the house & provides constant support there are also occasions when the mother would be left alone & vulnerable if caught in a flash flood situation.

3.1 IBM Design Thinking Process Starts


Having completed this task I have since decided to add another possibility to be explored. I have redone the Find the Gap task with this new project in mind.


1.1 Find the gap

Increase the profile & marketability of the college.

Proposed solution – Creation of college magazine to promote the work of the students, the work the college does to prepare the students and raise the profile of the college within industry.

1.2 Design project definition

The main goal of this project is to create a publication that will raise the profile of the college & the students within industry circles. This will be accomplished in the form of a magazine showcasing work & aimed at potential employers & agency’s.

The publication will be designed as a print ready document in case a budget is found to print, however, the most likely outlet will be digital in nature to allow for maximum delivery on a minimum budget.

Input will be sought from all departments with students preparing to enter the workforce or higher education.

In what way might I use graphic design to raise the college profile.

  1. Gap analysis.
  2. Identify the key client.
  3. Identify goals & set targets.
  4. Generate the big ideas.
  5. Creative publication layout.
  6. Consider possible outlets.
  7. Communication skills.
  8. Design thinking.

As is chart

Current information outlets for the college include:

  1. Website.
  2. App.
  3. Student emails.
  4. Moodle.
  5. Noticeboards.
  6. Posters.
  7. Student Union.
  8. Digital internal newsletter coming online in 2017



Pain Points

  1. Equal communication across multiple campus’.
  2. Common policy on promotion.
  3. No take charge personality.
  4. Budget.
  5. Resources.
  6. Media channels.
  7. Lack of industry attention.
  8. Student numbers.


Breakdown the pain points

Equal communication across multiple campus’. – There isn’t always a common communication thread across the 3 campus’ and information can often be lost. Also, take up on events can be low due to a lack of notice or enthusiasm generated.

Common policy on promotion. The college team tasked with promoting activities has limited time & budget to spend on a consistent promotional drive.

No take charge personality. –  The promotional team could benefit from being more visible & perhaps seeking help from the student body.

Budget. – There is a very limited budget available to promote the college. Effective low budget methods of promotion need to be found.

Resources. – Budget constraints mean that resources are limited.

Media channels. – Current media channels Could perhaps be utilised more to get content online in an effort to promote the college.

Lack of industry attention. – Greater efforts have been made to encourage links with industry partners such as IBM by the introduction of events like the IBM Design Thinking workshop & guest speaker events.

Student numbers. – Each year presents the same problem of maintaining or increasing student numbers.


Identify Goals

  • Promote student work.
  • Showcase the work the college does.
  • Generate industry attention & links.

Generate the big ideas

Industry contribution via articles.

Generate online content thru Video, Audio, Imagery, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Website.

Printed magazine.

Digital newsletter.


Reach out to past alumni.

Alumni contribution via article or guest speaking.


2.1 Persona

Initially my target persona was going to be based around an employment agency character. I created my persona chart on “Bob” from this agency, shown below.

Agency Bob

However having considered this process again I believe I have misidentified my target persona. I now believe my target persona is actually the college principle whose job is to oversee the efforts to promote the college & ensure its success. This is the person who needs to ensure there are efficient methods & channels to guarantee the success of the college from year to year.

I have redone my target persona in the section below.

3.1 IBM Design Thinking Process Starts

Persona creation.

My persona target is the head of the college whose responsibility it is to oversee all aspects of the college to ensure it is successful year after year. My persona’s attributes are here.

Head of College
Head of College

I refined my character with an empathy map using the headings Thinks, Feels, Says & Does. This was very helpful in giving me an insight into the thought process of the college head & perhaps a better understanding of that role & its responsibilities.

Character Map

After this stage I progressed to an As Is chart. This helped me to better define what my steps are & even what problem I was attempting to solve.

  1. The headings I used are:
  2. What is my intent.
  3. Who are my intended users.
  4. What problems am I trying to solve.
  5. What do we stand to gain.
  6. What’s blocking my success.
As Is Chart #1
As Is Chart #1

Next I grouped together the key points from the 1st chart into the As Is chart proper under the headings



  • This project will progress in 4 stages.
  • Exploration
  • Design
  • Experimentation
  • Reflection. You can find the reflection at the end of the post.


The Design Brief.

My aim for this project is to produce a proof of concept for a travel book, charting the journey of a city through time, in this case Dublin.

The eventual end result of this project will see a book with an accompanying digital aspect, however, as there is a limited time frame for this project I will produce just the prototype book & imagery.

I researched a little about other designers and how to put together a design brief. Some of the links for that research are below.

This is my final design brief for this project but you scan see some more process below.

Graphic Design Brief.


Having conducted initial research into the type of children’s books & children’s travel books on the market I found there was very little in the way of variety. There was a large number of books aimed at the children’s market, and while the number of books aimed at the travel market is huge, only a small percentage of books are aimed at the younger age of travelers.

Most of the books aimed at the younger market are either very light on actual information, or just verging on the fiction scale.

There is a problem with the amount of information that can be communicated in a book due to a number of factors such as physical size and the attention span of the intended audience. By introducing the digital aspect of this project I hope to address both the attention span issue while also extending the age at which this book remains useful to older children & even adults.


My intended audience include:

Children from 10- 14 years up.

Adults, as an aid to engaging their children on a visit to the city.

As a possible teaching aid for schools introducing children Irish/Non-Irish to the city & to help them gain a sense of identity with Dublin


What are my aims, objectives & prospective audience.? My prospective audience is initially new visitors to the city, however, it serves just as well for people who are from the city to help them to both learn and also teach their children about the city in which they live.

What are the potential visual outcomes.

The possible visual outcomes include a colourful, hand illustrated book.

A book of imagery using edited photographs.

Possible developments include:


An interactive website providing access to further information.


Interactive Info graphic

Possible expansion of the product to include a series covering different cities or the country as a whole.


Generate multiple ideas.

History book

Travel book

Kids fictional travel book

Factual travel book with minimum of facts

Factual travel book with medium facts but with links to further information online

Intended Market:

Marketed to the home market.

Marketed abroad.



Evaluate & select the best ideas from the ideas explored through the divergent stage.


How do children perceive books

Percentage of kids who are online.

Theory regarding creativity being taught out of children in the school phase.


To start this project off I looked at the history of Ireland & Dublin in terms of the original settlers, industries & culture. It probably wasn’t necessary to go back as far as I did to find material for the project but it was very useful for setting the mood & tone in my own thinking when I approached the work.

Here is a selection of the children’s travel books I found on the market. There is nothing along the lines of what I want to produce as yet on the market.

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Some early images for inspiration.

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Here are some samples of the research & sketches I did while researching. I was looking to get a sense of style for the character illustrations, something along the lines of a hand drawn detailed illustration with a rough look.


Having looked at using hand drawn illustrations for the entire project however, I feel it might be a little unrealistic to attempt to draw all the characters, instead I am looking at using photography to produce a lot of the geographical content such as buildings etc. These will be edited in Photoshop to produce vectorised almost hand drawn style.

Here are some early images used to produce my sample booklet.

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Here is the sample booklet.



The map page is at this stage very rough. I have added a number of images that were not taken by me to get an idea of how the pages might look, but they have not been treated to look hand drawn. It’s not the way I saw the end product looking but does give a general idea of how it might look.

Page 2 is a lot more clean looking but is lacking a lot of interactivity I am aiming for in the finished book.

The results of my early idea generation & research were presented in an informal critique to the class and feedback was given.

As the project started to develop I realised that rather than using hand illustrated images which is not one of my strengths, I found I could present a more uniform theme by using photographic images, which is.

I began by playing with an image or two that I had of Dublin to see if I could develop a style or a look that could carry through the project. I came up with a few different looks such as a type of Cross Processed look, then a highly artistic look that looked more like a pop art drawing but I began to feel like the images were trying too hard.

I tend towards the more minimal end of the scale, kind of “Less is more”, so the style I settled on was a type of line drawing effect which removed the colour & a lot of the mid tones and left the outlines of the image as in the example below.


When considering what type of book to design I had a number of questions to ask.

  • What size would the book be.
  • Would it be portrait or landscape.
  • Would it have a hard or soft cover.
  • What printer would I use.

From my earliest days of photography I have always loved the square format image and this has carried through to a lot of my work. I think the square offers a lot of options when designing, whether you want to introduce balance, or a lack of balance into your image. I also feel that when you leave white space in a square image it always seems to me to have an energy to it.

I went ahead and designed a proof based on the square book and was really very happy with the layout and general energy in the book. However….

However, I needed to consider my print options and cost before I settled on a shape. I initially looked at using blurb to print the book and had downloaded the plugin for InDesign. I found that Blurb was quite limiting in what they could output, for instance they only printed square format on the more expensive products.

What I found with blurb was that they had a Trade book, which seemed to be very inexpensive, but they only did Upright format, and they were only in a rectangular shape. So this ruled out my square format, and it also ruled out a landscape book unless I went to the more expensive range. This would increase my unit cost by a factor of about 6 which was totally unacceptable.

Here is an example of one of Blurb’s templates for a portfolio book.

Blurb Template

I did a bit more research to find an alternative printer and found a few interesting options.

The printer I settled on however was as they had a really good range of products, provided the option of a landscape format and were also the least expensive option I could find while maintaining quality.

I requested a free sample pack of paper from them and within 2 days it had arrived. I requested one from Blurb as well but it wasn’t as good as from Digital printing Ireland and cost nearly €10. Heres the sample pack.

Digital Printing Ireland Sample pack.



Having decided on the format of the book I began to make a shortlist of sites and images to shoot. I took this from my original mind map of Dublin’s timeline of interesting dates which you can find here. Dublin Timeline.

Here is the shortlist of sites I chose to focus on.

Once I had created a collection of images I began to edit them to find a suitable style for the book. Because I had originally wanted to have a hand illustrated look to the images I decided not to stray too far from this so in the end I developed a look similar to pencil drawings. Below are examples of a before & after version of Trinity College.

Once I had my images edited I began to lay them out in my document.

I began the design process by sketching out a rough outline of how I wanted the pages to flow. I then crated a document at A5, using InDesign, setting up my bleed & margin lines. I imported my images and placed them in the order I had set out above.

The design process was actually the easiest part of the project, being very familiar with the software I didn’t have much of a learning curve to deal with. The biggest issues were caused when I had trouble with the print size of the book. Other than that it was just a case of placing the imagery and text in a manor that sat well when flicking through the book.

I decided to lay the images and text out in a very clean looking spread. With the text overlaying as few of the images as possible. For the most part I wanted to place the text to the side of the images leaving the images to stand on their own.

As the project progressed I found that the sepia toning was resulting in a different look for some of the images, I also felt it might age the book very quickly too.

When I printed a sample booklet to review the layout I did so on a black & white printer, after seeing how it looked in black & white I actually thought it better represented the images than the sepia tones images. I removed the sepia tone from the final images and just stayed with B&W with the exception of some colour added in to certain pages as you will see later on.

Here is my first text booklet.

First B&W sample booklet.


The font I chose was Viking Normal for the headlines, introductions & table of contents, and I used Calibri for the body text as Viking Normal is tough to read at smaller and denser sizes. Calibri is also a very easy font to read and is the font I have chosen for my own personal brand.

I used a drop cap of 1 line for the beginning of each text box as I felt it was reminiscent of old manuscripts and would add to the feel of old Celtic.

As the project progressed I made a number of sample books just to see if the flow of the pages looked ok and perhaps spot any other issues. I printed these & hand bound them. You can see them here.

As an extra-curricular opportunity I attended a book binding class where we had the chance to play with a few different creative methods of book binding. You can find my post on it here.

Here is an image of the Japanese book binding as applied to my brand manual.

Japanese Book Binding

While I don’t believe we were meant to bind our Journey project manually like this, the experience did bring to the front of my mind the question of how the book would be bound and finished.



The printing process was pretty straight forward using my chosen printer. I was able to choose from all the options for paper type & weight from the online order form, and even get a quote instantly from your chosen settings and see what difference there is in cost when you choose a different paper type etc.

The finished product arrived within about 3 days of ordering and looked really good.

Center Spread
Front Cover.


Having received the finished product there are a few things that I would perhaps change.

The Process of choosing format & orientation of the product should always be one of the first considerations on a project. I should be asking myself “What is the end use for this”.? This is a question I learned to ask a long time ago but failed to do so sufficiently on this project before proceeding to the design stage. As a result of this I had an extra 2 builds of the book that I had to discard before my final design.

While it was good to use the photographic skills I have to create something like this book, I would like to revisit it with my original idea in mind for a hand illustrated book. This however will take a lot longer than I would ever have in an academic year. That being said, I am quite happy with the resulting look of the book, It is very clean for the most part with perhaps one exception being the spread with O’Connell Bridge. The overlaying text in this spread is confused a bit by the underlying image.

There is a lot going on on this page and it doesn’t really fit with the spacious feel of the rest of the book. As a feature spread this works great but I could perhaps have placed the text on a separate page.

The physical book works very well I think. The size is perfect for a light travel/informational booklet. It’s not too big to fit in a bag and has just enough text on each page to be read quickly enough.

The cover paper I chose is a heavy enough weight for the size of book, however, I would probably change to a gloss laminate finish as the non laminate marks very easily and looks a little like I bound it myself with cardboard.

I would also place my brand logo on the product, possibly on the inside back cover.

The feedback I got from people I have shown the prototypes and finished book to have given generally positive feedback. Some of the comments however included changing the title from “Dublin – A City Through Time” to something else, it has now been change to “Dublin – Set in Stone”

Also, The text on the O’Connell bridge page was a bit too small to read so I had to resize and re-position it a little.

The younger people I have shown it to commented on the nice images and the good information with them. The ages I showed it to range from 8 – 14.