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UX: Design For Space, Parking, Fly Fishing And The World


Elena Moon started her design career in outdoor apparel but has worked on projects in a range of industries: Mozilla, Clean Energy Works, SpaceX and more.

Elena Moon started her design career in outdoor apparel but has worked on projects in a range of industries: Mozilla, Clean Energy Works, SpaceX and more.

April Baer/OPB

This week we welcome user experience (UX) designer Elena Moon as our guest curator. She has this fantastic way of explaining what works and why. She’s going to lead us through her own work and the designed world, from parking meters to space ships.

User Experience 101 - 00:00

We kick off with a quick primer on UX. Whether you’re talking about everyday objects or brand new apps, solid design is anything but accidental. Elena explains why some brands stand out. Take Uber, for example. Whatever you may think of the company’s business practices, the interface of the Uber app is a gold standard for how to serve up visual information.

Meter technician Anto Bayu Aji shows us the interior of a Cale America meter.

Meter technician Anto Bayu Aji shows us the interior of a Cale America meter.

April Baer/OPB

Portland’s Parking Meters: Design Fail? - 04:13

We explore how design is in play in even the simplest of tasks. Elena and April scout out a hub of meter activity in the Pearl District and speak with some of the people who maintain the meters, technicians Anto Bayu Aji and Molly Twoohey.

How To Teach Grandmothers To Install Solar Panels - 14:19

UX isn’t just for software. Elena talks about working on a project with India’s Barefoot College on a project that trained grandmothers to do their own solar engineering in rural communities in India. How can teachers work across language barriers? How do you keep learning going after everyone heads home to their village? As Elena explains, the conversation gave rise to some unexpected answers.

How Do You Improve The Coolest Hotel in Town? - 19:06

We eavesdrop on Elena’s meeting with the Ace Hotel design team for a look inside the design process. The company already has a robust brand and online presence, but enlisted Elena to help refine the experience of visiting its website. What’s most intuitive to potential customers?

This is how Ridley Scott's design team envisioned NASA Mission Control for "The Martian".

This is how Ridley Scott's design team envisioned NASA Mission Control for "The Martian".

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Designers’ Film Club - 24:52

A few years ago, Elena and her partner, Jos Vaught, had the chance to work on some UX projects for NASA and SpaceX. Can a designer who’s seen a real space capsule interface ever look at Ridley Scott the same way again? We reality-check “The Martian,” “Minority Report,” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”

The Designer’s Shelf Life And The Accumulated Wisdom Of Fly Fishing - 34:45

It’s no secret that, within tech circles, the industry is not kind to workers over 35. Elena contrasts this for us with another discipline in which practitioners don’t get anywhere without decades of hard-won knowledge: fly fishing. We head out to Maupin with seasoned guide Amy Hazel of Deschutes Angler to find out about the beauty and craft to be found on the river. 

One of Zyl Vardos's whimsical tiny, rolling houses.

One of Zyl Vardos's whimsical tiny, rolling houses.

Courtesy Zyl Vardos

Are Tiny Hobbit Homes The Way Of The Future? - 44:27

Elena turned us on to the amazing work of Abel Zimmerman Zyl: the totally charming gypsy caravans that look plucked right out of “The Hobbit.” Zyl tells us about the nuts and bolts of tiny house construction.

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