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Weekly Inspirations: December 16th, 2016

Here are the things that I think are worth reading and checking out this week:

The Best And Worst Branding Of 2016

It has never been harder to design a good visual identity. Brands live on dozens of platforms, so they have to look as good on a billboard as they do on a phone screen. Armchair critics emboldened by the ease of the web attack change no matter how necessary, skewing clients toward less ambitious work. And yet the companies below managed to eke out thoughtful, even occasionally daring, new visual identities this year. Of course not everyone hit the mark. Here, we take you through a year of branding-the good, the bad, and the most controversial.
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As designers and makers, we have the power to change people’s behavior. But what’s the right way to use this power? How can you use product psychology to persuade people ethically? We sat down for a DesignTalk with Nir Eyal, the bestselling author of the number-one ranked book on product design, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir shared his new research into how to persuade people for good.
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Google Is Bringing NYC’s Holiday Retail Windows To The Web

Window shopping during the holidays is unlike any other time of year, especially in retail-rich New York City. More than just a novelty, the holiday window displays in New York City is now a time-honored tradition for tens of thousands of locals and visitors every year. To celebrate the tradition Google’s Art, Copy & Code team has created a digital experience of the holiday windows, called Window Wonderland, that anyone can experience on a smartphone, tablet or VR headset.
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Alex Schleifer: Designing the Perfect In-House Partnerships

Typically, top design executives report to business-minded CEOs who know far less about design than they do. But that’s not the case with Airbnb’s VP of design Alex Schleifer, whose bosses are the company founders and Rhode Island School of Design grads, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky. Having designers at the helm has allowed Airbnb to recast the traditional role of the designer within their world-conquering start-up. Airbnb provides two career paths, one for those who want to take the management track and another for those who want to continue designing, so they don’t have to give up their craft in exchange for a promotion. Airbnb has also broadened the definition of a product design job by including a variety of problem solvers, from content strategists to translators, under the “design” umbrella. The company’s thinking is that the user doesn’t see the difference between what is a content strategist and what is a designer, so why should there be a barrier between these departments internally? And, since the company makes a product that is used by essentially everyone, they are open to hiring designers who come from all walks of life (including a former mechanic and modern dancer.)
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Scott Belsky on Crafting The First Mile of Product

As leaders become immersed in their products, they become more focused on the users they have and less on those they don’t. The natural tendency to gravitate towards your best customers handicaps your ability to build and sustain increasingly inclusive products. If you want to build a product that millions (or hundreds of millions) of people can use, you must defy this tendency to prioritize the core product at the expense of the “first mile.”
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Draw in 3D with the ‘Mental Canvas’ Illustration App

There are apps like uMake that rather easily turn 2D sketching into useful 3D models for prototyping, but the new app Mental Canvas takes a different approach. It fuses the illustrator’s need for aesthetics and style with 3D modeling, giving the resulting illustrated worlds some wondrous depths. Originally developed by Yale University Professor Julie Dorsey and her research team, Mental Canvas’ creators describe the app as “drawing in a new dimension”-a tool that lies somewhere between current “2D digital drawn-and-paint systems and 3D computer-aided design systems.” While other 3D drawing apps focus on being prototyping tools, Mental Canvas is a new medium for artists who really want to concentrate on 3D art and design, though it can be used for prototyping as well.
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How to Navigate a Toxic Work Environment and Preserve Your Creativity

From President-elect Donald Trump to Roger Ailes of Fox News, there’s been lots of reporting on harassment in the workplace. While some conduct falls well outside the bounds of what is legally or socially acceptable, many people in this country are working in more subtle, but nonetheless toxic, work environments, where caustic, disrespectful and/or belittling attitudes and behaviors are tolerated. Are you one of those people who can’t (or won’t) quit your job, but are still trying your best to thrive and be creative where you are? Unfortunately, that is the reality for many people who work in a toxic work environment. Sexist behavior, discrimination, and bullying often plague the workplace, affecting the mental and sometimes physical health of employees. It takes a lot of courage for someone to come out against their employers without worrying about the backlash they may receive for doing so. Thankfully, there are law firms that specialize in harassment cases (click here to learn more) and organizations that try their best to tackle the issue. Anna Conrad, the founder of Impact Leadership Solutions, and author of (R)evolution: One Man’s Leadership Journey has some helpful tips for you. Her professional development firm specializes in executive coaching, leadership programs, and succession planning, all arenas where overcoming toxicity is often the key to success.
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