November 4, 2017

Design Talk at AmuseUX

"It’s a given today that design responds to our devices, locations, and preferences. But do we expect it to be responsive to cultural differences? Senongo will talk about factors that can affect how design is perceived in places with different cultural norms, as well as how visual and cultural diversity can be built into every stage of our projects. He will also talk about steps we can take to design for a worldwide audience, in a wholehearted and occasionally subversive way."

The organizers and crowd at AmuseUX were wonderful, and I learned so much from our conversations, and from the other speakers. If you have the ability, I definitely recommend attending this conference (or its sister conference about Big Data) next year.

Here is a link to the slides

November 4, 2017

Design Is Multicultural – My Talk at Google

I had the pleasure of giving at talk at Google Design in San Franciso in June. I spoke about Multiculturalism in design, and ways to create flexible, responsive, culturally relevant sites and digital projects. Instead of me writing about it, just watch the video. A big thanks to the whole Google team: Kai, Yasmine, Dylin, and Tony, for their hospitality and for having me. Thanks also to those who attended, and the great questions afterwards.

January 9, 2016

Running Effective Design Workshops- a Blog Series

Over the past few weeks, I've written a series of articles on A List Apart about planning and running design workshops successfully. In the first article, I discuss effective planning and goal setting. In the second, I discuss choosing the correct activities during your workshop, ones that map clearly to your goals. In the third and last article of the series, I go over ways that attendees might disrupt your workshop, and some ways to keep things on track.

When you have a few minutes, have a read through and let me know what you think!

November 2, 2014

Culturally Responsive Design- AIGA NY talk

Though this is short notice, I'm really happy to say I'll be speaking at the AIGA NY about Culturally Responsive Design on November 4th.

The description:
It’s a given today that design responds to our devices, locations, and preferences. But do we expect it to be responsive to cultural differences? Senongo Akpem will talk about factors that can affect how design is perceived in places with different cultural norms and how visual and cultural diversity can be built into every stage of a project. Senongo will also talk about how design can advance diversity in publishing, through projects such as Pixel Fable and Lost Nigeria.

Hope I see you there!

April 20, 2014

Transmedia Storytelling Tools

Over the past few year, I've been exploring transmedia and non-linear storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is the practice of telling a story across multiple platforms and formats. It follows the distributed, non-linear way the web is set up, with hyperlinks and content split across multiple sites, and is a radically different way of telling stories.

Part of my research has been on the tools we can use to do this. I've listed a few below. Hopefully you can use a few of them to start telling new kinds of digital stories.

Images and Multimedia Platforms

Thinglink allows you to create interactive images by adding popup interactivity. Spread out across multiple images, this could be a really interesting way to explore a story.

Klynt is a webapp that allows you to create rich, multimedia content. It is a paid platform, but has a good set of features and integrations.

Meograph is another multimedia content tool, but has a smaller feature set.

Cowbird is a storytelling community. It uses a very simple set of interactions to tell human interest stories. As part of a larger narrative, it would be a very good way to explore a characters motivations or inner thoughts. A Jonathan Harris project.

Aesop Story Engine is a WordPress theme that uses a variety of plugins for different story content. This gets very close to the atomic narrative content I discussed in my FOWD talk in London.

Zeega is another multimedia content tool. The emphasis on audio and gifs makes it accessible for the modern web.

StoryCorps is a platform for telling personal stories. It is focused on the American experience, and offers a great model for audience-led personal narrative.

Twine is an open-source tool for telling non-linear, hyperlinked stories. It is one of those pure web tools, and does not rely on extensive functionality or tools to work, but is kind of inaccessible for those with no technical background. For an example, see Transit

Mapstory is community focused on sharing data and knowledge. The emphasis here is on spatial, open-source data. This model could potentially be used in other contexts, such as to create starmaps, or other fictional narrative content.

April 12, 2014

Webvisions Portland 2014

Ill be speaking and holding a workshop at Webvisions Portland in May. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you there.

My talk is called Hyperlinks and Storyarcs, and will be about non-linear storytelling on the web. You can read more about it on the Webvisions blog.

April 12, 2013

I’ll Be Speaking At UXPA NYC on the 16th of April

Just a quick note to say I will be speaking at the New York City User Experience Professionals Association next week, on the 16th of April.
The talk is one that is close to my heart, and is entitled The Art of Effective Narrative. I'll be looking at examples of effective digital storytelling, and asking some pointed questions to help attendees use storytelling to create unique user experiences.
Thanks to Rodrigo Sanchez and all the UXPA crew for hosting me, hope to see you there!

You can register here: The Art of Effective Narrative

March 22, 2013

Cultural Factors in Web Design on Net Magazine

I was really excited to get an article published on .net magazine this week.

We need to start using cultural queries in our designs as a way to adapt content for different groups of people.

By factoring in cultural variables, we can create sites that are relevant for a wide variety of users around the world. Over the past three years, we’ve been captivated by media queries. Our focus on responsive design has been incredibly successful, especially when you look at statistics saying the majority of web users demand mobile ready sites. I believe that something is still missing. By looking so exclusively at technology and code, we have largely ignored cultural differences and the global mindset necessary in our connected world.

Go check it out!

Cultural Factors in Web Design

November 13, 2012

About the Lagos Behance Portfolio Review Day

How This All Started

Behance is a wildly popular portfolio and social network for designers and creatives. I've been posting work on there for a number of years, ever since I saw an MTV/Behance collaboration on TV in Japan. It was always a bit tangential for me, until I had a typography project of mine get featured. Then it got real. The site also started to have more Nigerian designers posting work. Through this network I met Daniel Emeka, a designer and Art Director in Lagos.

Attending a Portfolio Review here in New York had crossed my mind a few times, but it can be a bit daunting to see Meetups with hundreds of people attending. I knew Daniel was hosting a Portfolio Review in Lagos, and it just so happened I was going to be there for Maker Faire Africa at the same time. I reached out to him.

The Discovery of a Community

What was the digital scene like in Nigeria? What kind of work was being created? I wanted to find out. The design scene in New York, while very vibrant, seems at times to be very myopic, and I wanted to see what links could be forged with a community that was not yet on the global design radar.

The portfolio review itself went smoothly, despite starting a bit late. We looked at the work of Karo Akpokiere, myself, and the other designers who brought work. People showed advertising, illustration, and photomanipulation work, but no interactive design or web work.

I think this has to do with the health of print advertising vs. the newness of the web as a medium. Internet connectivity is still very troublesome there, which closes off much of the casual browsing we take for granted in the West.

The Future of Digital Design in Nigeria

It's useless to focus purely on connectivity issues in Nigeria. This will work itself out, largely because there is massive demand for broadband Internet and new software. Instead, I tended to focus on design concerns. A lot of what I saw was based on a Western visual language. Nigeria is nominally part of the West, sharing the English language and a national culture that owes much to England and the US, but there seemed to be remarkably little work that addressed Nigerian culture as a visual foundation.

I would like to see more of a truly African design emerge, one that has roots in Nigerian cities and language. That could mean tutorials done by and for Nigerian designers, teaching us how to create that "look", or explanations of how to localize iconography for the Nigerian market. I'd like to see more homegrown publications asking hard questions about style vs. substance, and challenging the community to grow.

More links can and should be forged with communities in South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. As Africa sees a resurgence in economic confidence, the voices of the design community need to speak clearly, across the continent.

Finally, startups like Behance can play a role. They can provide an organizing platform and a model for Nigerian startups to follow. There were smiles all around when the Behance video played, partly because of the high production quality, but also because of the positive message for designers. By showing what CAN be done, and done well, Behance and others give Nigerian designers and artists a model to implement in their own communities.

My first portfolio Review was an interesting one. Not only was it in Nigeria, my home, it was more than a visual showcase- it was about a nation struggling mightily to coalesce and thrive. I was impressed by what I saw, and hope I get the chance to attend next year as well.

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