Blog Archives

Design Dabbling & Exploring Hoodline

Good morning, DMIers. We’re just over a week away from spring break, so I wanted to give an overview of deadlines and tasks we’ll be completing prior to the break.

Today: DMI Brief 4

We’re going to be reviewing how to effectively name products. It’s a tricky proposition to name your product: it’s got to be creative, connect with your market and not already owned by someone else. Here are some tools that might help you with this task:

  • Name Robot: this site offers some free elements including tips on naming, how to research ownership and tools that might help with the creative process.
  • Sticky Branding’s article The Power of Symbols in Branding provides a good review of symbolism and how the eye processes visual info.
  • Startup Stash has a long list of tools focusing on various aspects of product naming.

After our naming exercise, we’ll review Homework 6, which leads us into Monday.

Monday: Dabbling in Design


  • DMI Brief #5, which focuses on money and how to get your market to part with it.
  • Mini-Pitch #1: You’ll present your Problem – Solution segment to the class in 60 seconds. Remember, you’ve got to tell an interesting story, not just spew data.

Most of this class session will be open lab time to work on two big design projects:

  • Developing your company color palette, font sets and logo.
  • Creating your product mockup via wireframing tools.

If you’re new to design principles, you’ll find these sources are helpful:

Wednesday:  An Introduction to Hoodline

Brittany Hopkins

J&PR alumna Brittany Hopkins will be joining us March 8 to talk about Hoodline, a San Francisco based digital media news company. Hoodline started in 2010 as a blog about the Lower Haight and has built itself into one of the “largest news sites in the city, with dozens of freelancers writing about their neighborhoods.”

Hopkins joined Hoodline in 2015 as a neighborhood editor and is currently the associate San Francisco editor. Photo above from her LinkedIn profile.

Homework 5 Deadline

The outcomes of your market research must be submitted no later than 3 p.m., Friday, March 10. This is a change from the course schedule. You’ll be submitting it via email.

Depending on the file sizes of your interview recordings or video sessions, you may need to provide this segment of the assignment via Dropbox or loading it into the course dock in the Mac Lab. Let me know if you have any questions or problems in this area.


Featured image source:; CC Zero License


Let the Creativity Flow

Greetings DMIers: I hope you had a successful week 1 and that you’re ready to leap into week 2.


We’re going to do a design thinking activity that was created by the Institute of Design at Stanford. In our class session you will:

  • Brainstorm the gift-giving experience with a partner.
  • Based on that brainstorm you’re going to develop a product prototype.
  • Then, you’re going to test that prototype with your partner.

The pace will be quick and that’s intentional. Remember to spend some time before class thinking about your gift-giving experience. Think about the process, not just the person you gave a gift to and what the actual gift was. Also, think about your personal motivations in this activity.


This week we’re also going to start diving into the creation of your original DMI product concept. You have two assignments to help you jump start your creativity:

  • DMI 1 Pagers: Now That’s Innovation (due Thursday): This task has you identify innovators within the industry you want to focus on this semester. To create your own idea, you need to know what’s already happening in your industry: Who are the innovators? What cool things are being created?
  • Homework 1 Startup Ideas (due Sept. 8) forces you to put into writing some initial product concepts.

Two points to highlight about this product concept creation:

  1. As we saw in the introductory course videos last week, many people will argue that you should follow your passion in your startup ideas. But others, Steve Jobs included, argue that you should focus on what you’re good at rather than what you are passionate about. Why? Check out this Medium article.
  2. The most successful products solve a specific problem the market feels. It will be key for you to be able to clearly define The Problem your market faces. I often refer to this as your customer’s pain point. Example:
  • Let’s say you love going to music festivals or live sporting events. Think about the problems/negative experiences that come along with participation in this activity. If you had the power to change something in this experience, what would it be? Talk to your friends, do they have the same pain point as you? Perhaps they have a different problem to be solved?

The assigned chapters in the Briggs text will also dive into the topics listed above and help you jump start your new product concept creative process.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’ll see you in class Tuesday.