Xconomy: Aaron Marcus, Berkeley’s Bard of User-Centered Design, Battles “High-Order Crap”

Aaron Marcus, President and Principal Designer/Analyst, Aaron Marcus and Associates

By Wade Roush: Aaron Marcus, watching from his perch on Euclid Street in the Berkeley hills above San Francisco Bay, has seen the business world’s infatuation with design rise and recede, rise and recede.

Ten or 20 years ago, if you’d traveled to San Francisco or Silicon Valley in search of help designing a consumer product or a software interface, you’d have been directed to one of two marquee firms: Ideo or Frog Design.

Both companies offered industrial design and user-interface design services; both had histories that intertwined with Apple Computer and the revolution in personal computing wrought by Steve Jobs back in the 1980s; both employed a panoply of hypertalented artists and creative types; and both had showcases full of the famous products they’d helped to create, from the Apple IIc computer (Frog) to the first smartphone, the Handspring Treo (Ideo).

Ideo and Frog are still around today, each employing hundreds of people at their offices in the Bay Area and around the world. But these days, Marcus notes, they have a host of smaller competitors, like Carbon Design Group, Essential, Lunar Design, Smart Design, and Whipsaw. On top of that, there’s a new vogue at many Web and mobile companies for shipping “minimum viable products” that are hardly designed at all. In response, Ideo and Frog have scaled back their design practices and moved up-market into organizational consulting and “innovation consulting,” competing with larger firms like McKinsey and Deloitte.

Marcus, meanwhile, keeps doing what he’s been doing for the last 34 years in his consultancy, Aaron Marcus and Associates: the hard work of helping clients visualize and manage information effectively, using an approach that, in his words, “combines reason and emotion, with design as a middle ground between art and science.” See more:

Posted on 26 February 2014 in AM+A Blog, Articles, News | No Comments » You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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