What we're about

Portland Design Thinkers is a community of creative problem solvers advancing human-centered design literacy through high-quality events, lively conversation, and practice-based development.

We're made up of all kinds of people: professional practitioners who use human-centered design methods and mindsets every day, UX designers and researchers, service designers, design strategists, Agile scrum leaders, urban planners, and lots of newbies who've only just discovered it.

Typically, we've scheduled in-person meetups every month. With physical gatherings not possible during the Covid pandemic,, we're leaning into the current moment by moving all of our programming online -- and accelerating it with weekly events instead of monthly.

Since April 2, every Thursday evening we bring our design community together for Dial-In Design Talks: casual weekly happy-hour confabs, webinar-style presentation, and skills-based deep dives into design thinking methods. We all need more social interaction right now. Why not do it with our tribe and maybe pick up a few pro tips while we're sipping?

But we're about more than just meetup events. We also have a private Slack workspace with 330+ members. Please join us there -- it's quickly becoming a thriving online discussion space for all things design thinking. Pop over to this link and sign up: https://bit.ly/2JuQ2V6

For those newer to human-centered design, we regularly host orientations for anyone keen on enrolling in IDEO.org's free multi-week online Intros to Human-Centered Design course (offered several times each year) and help them form teams.

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user's latent needs and desires through qualitative, ethnographic field techniques, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods. One of our favorite explanations of design thinking is one from the Interaction Design Association: "What is Design Thinking and Why is it so Popular? (https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular)"

Popularized by the U.S. consulting firm IDEO and the Hasso-Plattner-Institute of Design at Stanford University in California, design thinking is quickly becoming a foundational approach for creating better user experiences, products, services, environments, facilities, business strategies, and organizational outcomes of all kinds

Upcoming events (2)

Dial-In Design Weekly: XPLANE's Rafa Vivas on How to Be a Visual Thinker

Visualization has been called "the mother of all design tools." It makes our thinking tangible and concrete, sweeping away ambiguity with the stroke of a pen. Visual thinking underpins every stage of the design thinking process: We use it to document and make sense of our customer research and their experiences; it turns impenetrable spreadsheets and data into compelling stories about people; it helps us generate and develop new ideas, and it allows customers to help us test and refine those ideas. For Rafa Vivas, Visual Thinking is a way to organize our thoughts and communicate, but also it's about alignment. For our 11th Dial-In Design event on June 11, Rafa will introduce us to the different skills that a visual thinker should have, from the most basic to the most professional. We will work with short exercises that will help us understand our own capabilities and our scope for improvement. Rafa Vivas is the Creative Director for Spain & Latin America at XPLANE. Prior to that, he worked for 10 years as a children's books illustrator and is the founder of VISUALIZAMOS, Spain's first Visual Thinking consultancy. In 2019 VISUALIZAMOS was acquired by XPLANE to expand its operations to Spain and Latin America. XPLANE is a design consultancy that for more than 20 years has applied visual thinking to help organizations create and implement the strategies, experiences and tools that drive performance at scale. In the meantime, join Portland Design Thinkers' growing Slack community. Just pop over to this link and sign up: https://bit.ly/2JuQ2V6

Narrative Prototyping: Using Stories to Make Better UX Strategy

You’re designing a new service, product, app, website, etc., and you want all the parts to work together. You want it to make sense; to be seamless. You want it to be *meaningful*. But where do coherence and meaning come from? In Carl Alviani's experience, it’s narrative: the most meaningful experiences have the strongest stories, and a clear narrative arc makes for good strategy. Carl will discuss the psychology of storytelling and why humans tend to think in narrative. More importantly, it presents a concrete approach for turning written and visual narrative into a robust UX planning and prototyping tool, that enables rapid conceptual iteration early in a project (rather than burning hours on premature Agile sprints). Drawing on numerous real-world examples, this talk demonstrates Narrative Prototyping can inform user journeys, scenarios and service maps, and get design teams communicating and working in the same direction. Carl Alviani is Co-Founder, Narrative Lead at Protagonist Studio in Amsterdam, where he helps creative teams build the stories that bring structure and coherence to complex user experiences. He also writes articles about design practice and the hidden ways it shapes everyday life, and he works with creative professionals to get their ideas out into the world, often through major business publications.

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