:::: MENU ::::

In Salt Lake City for the National Arts Marketing Project conference

I’m in Salt Lake City for the first time in 25 years, for the National Arts Marketing Project conference (woo #NAMPC!!). I spoke at this conference four or five years ago, but haven’t been back since.

In part I’m here because Graham Dunstan of Americans for the Arts, the organization that produces NAMP, promised me I’d have a blast. So far, he’s been right; I’ve already run across two dozen people I know, heard energetic speakers, and am enjoying the perfect weather of a Utah fall.

I have to say SLC is much more energetic and much bigger than I remember. It reminds me of Phoenix, but more optimistic and with better weather. I’m going to see more of the city tonight and tomorrow. If you’re here, say hello!

Teaching “Transformation Design”

FlexitarianismThis week my colleague Daniel Kalick and I were guest lecturers for two sections of Transformation Design, a studio course in the Pratt Institute MFA program in Communications Design here in New York City. Daniel had never stood in front of a classroom of students, and I hadn’t in a long time—so long that the age difference between me and two dozen young graduate students is noticeable. At my ripe old age of 50, though, I start to be excited by these generational differences rather than just sobered by them. The fact is that current graduate students in their early 20s are so culturally distant from me in so many ways that, for all the things they say that seem evidence of callowness and inexperience, they also put ideas together in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of. So on the whole, I’m bullish on this whole “invasion of the new generation” thing.

But I digress.

“Transformation design” is a term I hadn’t heard until we were graciously invited by instructor Diego Kolsky to lead a session of his course. But it sounds an awful lot like the civic engagement and community-building work that we do at BSD. Basically, the idea is that changes in behavior can be engineered—and that design (including both systems design and visual design) is one of the most important levers we have in engineering them. Sound familiar?

Basically, transformation design is the translation of the tactics of engagement into the realm of design. In a sense, it’s a high-level structure for the practical work we do in laying out web pages (and, more broadly, developing communications arcs) so as to induce people to take the actions we want them to take, in service of program aims. So when Daniel and I spoke to these Pratt students about the practical design tactics we use to drive people to click here, or respond there, or spend more time on a page, they could see the relevance to their own work.

Some projects by last year’s Transformation Design students