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[Podcast Transcript]

Welcome to Screen Space your podcast about creating usable, accessible, effective, and efficient web, blog, and digital media design for the everyday (and non-expert) designer. This is episode 13 of Screen Space “An interview with Lars Söderlund on “Gradual Growth Web Design: Guides, Regularity, and Product” (or “Guns Ruin Picnics”).”

I am your host, Dr. Jennifer L. Bowie. I teach and conduct research in areas related to digital media, web, and blog design. For those listeners in the United States, Happy Fourth of July! I will be running in the Peachtree road race today—the biggest 10k in the US. A big warm welcome to my new listeners from Kentucky, Texas, and California. And equally warm welcome to my new listeners from outside the US in St-Lambert, Canada; Chu-Tung, Taiwan; and Singapore.

In this episode, I present my interview with Lars Söderlund on “Gradual Growth Web Design: Guides, Regularity, and Product” or what he calls “Guns Ruin Picnics”. This interview occurred at Computers and Writing 2010.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the interview.

Summary of the interview:

Please note: the transcript for this podcast is limited as I do not have time right now to transcribe the interview. If any of you want to, I welcome your help. I did provide a brief summary of the interview for my audience that has difficulty with sound.

His presentation was about a semester long project where he gives students the resources and regular work to create the best website. He suggested to begin with necessary guides, to be held to a regularity, and to make sure there is a product. “Guns Ruin Picnics” is the acronym he used for this: Guides, Regularity, and Product.

For  you, our everyday designers, he suggests consistency. Work on your web, blog, and digital media with consistency—every week or month. He has found that repetition persuades people and impacts people. Persistence ends up becoming the highest virtue. Also:

  • Make a habit of the work
  • Understand what we are attracted to of the things we make habits of
  • Tirelessly seek out resources we will find most effective and use these to experiment.

He found that collaborating with peers is the most helpful to the students. This may work for you too.

He suggests it is important to recognize the requirements and why you are doing what you are doing. This is what should bring you back, and you can use this to make awards and punishment around regularity. A vague sense of “why” is not enough. Give yourself reasons for focus, immediacy, and investment. Make it real.

His tips for everyday web, blog, and digital media designers:

Apply “Guns Ruin Picnics” is the acronym he used for guides, regularity, and product, but in order of importance:

  1. Regularity: creating something on a regular basis is the most key. Repetition is helpful. A time slot can be very helpful to getting the project done.
  2. Resources: Find the resource’s you need. A website with great tutorials. Consider including sites that refine your aesthetic. Identify what you’re attracted to. Identify what you like and why you like it. What does it mean about you?
  3. Product: Being able to post work. Satisfy your requirements and do not be too precious with your work. Post it even if it is not “done” or “perfect”. Post, learn from mistakes, then move on.

The resources Lars suggested:

And that concludes that fascinating interview with Lars. When preparing this episode, I gave Lars a chance to listen to the interview again and comment further. He had two more things to say, which I will read to you.

First, Lars states:

I still stand behind the ideas of repetition and satisficing (and The CSS Anthology by Rachel Andrew, which I think I accidentally misnamed in the interview). As I worked through my dissertation after our conversation, I realized that the importance of repetition in design is all about immersion. My suggestion that designers discover websites or designers that they are attracted to (or want to imitate) was driven by the idea that the circumstances people become immersed in have a profound effect on their behavior. Just as it is easy to find ourselves using the same words and speech patterns as our friends, the design that we surround ourselves with has a way of seeping into us and affecting the way that we do our designs. For this reason, taking a good look at the sites we visit regularly can tell us a lot about the way we conceive of design, and the sort of designs we are likely to create. Immersion does not have a one-to-one correspondence with our behavior, of course, but our experiences can be good predictors of our actions, and if we are consistently wrapped up in experiences that do not resonate with our goals we should try to rearrange our habits (to the extent that we can consciously do so).

Next, Lars talks about satisficing:

It is an approach to decision-making that aims to fulfill the needs of the situation as opposed to creating something perfect. I do think that such non-preciousness is central to being a good, practicing designer. Being “good” is one part of the equation, and “practicing” demands that we actually work on and produce final drafts rather than get mired in permanent revisions. The utility of repetition, I have found in my research, is not in the identical recapitulation of something but in having different experiences with a common thread, and so we need to create multiple projects over time to refine our skills.

That concludes Lars’ additional comments. Thanks Lars, for such a great interview and follow up! If you would like to contact Lars check out his website at http://larssoderlund.com/ or send him and email at lsoderlu@purdue.edu. I’ll provide those as links in the transcript.

That wraps up “Lars Söderlund’s interview on “Gradual Growth Web Design: Guides, Regularity, and Product (or “Guns Ruin Picnics”).  Join me next week for the second of the Computers and Writing interviews. We will hear from Sarah Brown on “Personal Branding and Online Identity Construction.”

If you have questions, comments, or thoughts on what you want me to cover please send me an email at jbowie@screenspace.org or check out the Screen Space blog—www.screenspace.org. You can also follow @Screen_Space on Twitter for hints, tips, advice, news, and information on  designing websites, blogs, and other digital media texts. Also, check out the blog for a transcript of this podcast complete with links and resources.

Have fun and design well!

Screen Space is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. So, feel to send a copy to someone who needs Lars’ advice on Guides, Regularity, and Product, but don’t change the podcast, do give me and Screen Space credit, and don’t make any money off of it.

Screen Space’s opening music today is “African Dance” by Apa Ya off of Headroom Project and the closing music is “Survival” by Beth Quist off of “Shall We Dance”. Both these selections are available from Magnatune.

Episode 13 Links and References:

Lars Söderlund’s contact information:

Links and references Lars provides:

Other links:

 
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