Pair Design

Better Together

Pair Design

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When it comes to solving thorny UX design problems, two heads are better than one. That’s the premise behind pair design, the practice of having two designers work together on each aspect of a design project. In this report, two seasoned pair-design advocates explain how this feedback relationship works and what you need to implement pair design at your company.

Authors Gretchen Anderson and Christopher Noessel take you through each step of the process, describing how one designer generates possible solutions while the other critiques or synthesizes them. With this system of checks built in, the pair is able to provide continuous testing as the design unfolds. You’ll discover why people who get a taste for pair design often find it counter-productive to return to a “normal” routine.

With this report, you’ll learn:

  • Why this practice benefits the team, the design, and the organization
  • How pair design works in each phase of the project, including research, analysis, wireframing, and detailed design
  • Case studies from Cooper, Pivotal Labs, GreatSchools, and Lab Zero
  • Key traits necessary for each member of a successful pair design team, and ground rules for working together effectively
  • What an organization needs to do to support pair design
  • Answers to several frequently asked questions about this practice

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Gretchen Anderson

Gretchen Anderson

Gretchen Anderson is head of design for Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s energy utility. Gretchen spent the first part of her career in design consulting for firms like frog, Cooper, LUNAR, and Punchcut. Recently, she served as the vice president of product for GreatSchools and consulted on the design of the hardware and software of a next-generation surgical system. Gretchen is a Bay Area native who left only long enough to get a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in history and literature.

Chris Noessel

Chris Noessel

As a veteran of the UX field, Chris designs products, services, and strategy for a variety of domains, including health, financial, and consumer. In prior experience he has developed interactive kiosks and spaces for museums, helped to visualize the future of counter-terrorism, built prototypes of coming technologies for Microsoft, and designed telehealth devices to accommodate the crazy facts of modern healthcare.

His spidey sense goes off about random topics, and this has led me to speak at conferences about a wide range of things including interactive narrative, ethnographic user research, interaction design, free-range learning, and, most recently, the relationship between science fiction and interface design. He was one of the founding graduates of the now-passing-into-legend Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivrea, Italy, where his grad thesis was a service design for lifelong learners called Fresh.

Chris works with IBM, as Global Design Practice Lead for the Travel and Transportation sector.