Rob Stenzinger

Tools and Techniques

I curate and use a set of tools to design and build things.

These are all things I use to research, design, test, and prototype/build ideas. My primary focus: the evidence based and creatively holistic skills surrounding UX and games.
Which of these tools and techniques/skills I use depends on the the role I serve on a given team and that teams purpose/project/need.
For my personal projects, I typically wear many hats. I use that for ongoing self-directed education and professional development.

Human Centered Design

An applied research method to discover, create, and test hypotheses for desirability. A great resource for this approach is IDEO's design kit.

User Experience Design

UX is a systemic set of design disciplines which help find the design contstraints and flows between the goals of a product/service and the needs/wants/behaviors of the audience. Includes facilitation, collaborative design, critique, usability, pitching, and show/telling the story of the touchpoints of a system for both digital and physical experiences.

Storytelling with Comics

The visual language that the comics medium provides is poweful and deeply fascinating to me. I've created hundreds of comics and podcasted for nearly as many hours on the topic.

Design Thinking

Working collaboratively in a group in a safe, fun, egalitarian space is something I love to facilitate and to partake. This can take the form of rapid development and design sprints (one or more weeks) to a concept exploring design workshops which could range from a few hours to a full day.

node js

I've used Javascript for many years and recall using it on the server in Netscape's Livewire environment. I use NodeJS or Python to provide the server side of prototypes, small apps, and API's.

javascript

Javascript is right up there with Python for me as a language I enjoy to express logic, especially in the user interface, and ideally with few frameworks.

html 5

HTML5 is such a set of standards that web browsers are now fully capable application platforms. While I have recently enjoyed using Jade templates, I do have huge love for HTML markup.

phaserJS

Phaser is a game engine that sets up many foundational parts and conveniences for making a video game. I chose this after researching options for This Panda Needs You's technology stack.

python

Python is my go-to language for anything from scripting up solutions to automate repetitive tasks through crunching data via PETL or Jupyter Notebooks. Behaviortreely is a recent public example of my work in Python.

sqlite

SQLite 3 is a handy multi-tool for exploring and reporting on data.

nodebox

Learning to use nodebox to visualize data to export to SVG. It's easy to point it to a datasource like CSV or JSON and connect blocks and wires to make visual things happen from the data.

d3

Part of why I use storytelling is that it makes complex topics approchable. Data visualization is a storytelling tool for data and learning D3 has been a help for visualzing data in the web browser.

github

Github makes it easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing when it comes to sharing source code collaboratively. I've learned a lot though the projects shared there and enjoy sharing some of my work there.

p5js

Creative coding playground for experimental animation, data visualization. For example this sound visualization I made by partaking in Jason Sigal's p5 Music Viz workshop.

node express

Lately when prototyping I've been combining HarpJS for the UI with Node Express for the API for prototyping.

data visualization

Using a variety of tools and techniques, I'll explore data from user research, or system instrumentation to find ways to represent it visually in anything from basic tables, charts, up to what I'm studying of late: Explorable explanations.

research

Being a researcher or in a research mindset helps in a variety of contexts ranging from basic scoring surveys to observational evidence in usability studies whether in person or remote to synthesizing secondary research.

adobe creative cloud

Adobe's imprint on the design industry is considerable and while I enjoy and use tools outside of adobe such as Sketch App, Invision, and Manga Studio, Adobe's classics like photoshop, illustrator, character animator (formerly Flash) are still staples in my toolbox. For example - I use photoshop's generator feature plus Javascript enabled UI to layout screens and export coordinates of assets for my game projects.

codepen

A fun place to explore and share small experiments with CSS and Javascript.

raspberry pi

An affortable, small, general purpose computer that I've been experimenting with both at my day job, at home, and created a workshop about making games, art, and sound with it.

game design

Game design is a deeply influential space for me, informing how I see the possibility for feedback loops nested from moment to moment, minute to minute, and so on to give useful feedback so that people can consider and make choices and repeat. I intermingle UX, Game design, and Storytelling as frequently as possible.

conceptual design

Creative process fascinates me both as an individual and as part of a group. Conceptual design can often be useful when we tackle it in a just-enough fashion in a mode that makes sense for the current problem. Rough sketch of my general process: hunt and gather ideas when you're not ready to generate them on your own. Generate ideas when you're ready. Shape those ideas when you have them at hand because they're generated. Refine/edit/cull ideas when they've been expressed. Ship them when they've been culled enough. Much of that is informed by making comics and from the book "A Whack on the Side of the Head". Conceptual design helps teams align on their goals for a system, their audience, and embodies a wide array of tools and techniques that all contribute to the blueprint/information architecture of intent, context, content, and ideas behind a system.

mental modeling, experience modeling

Some projects I've found it useful to put the whole flow of ideas in the perspective of the user first, show what's happening above the surface in the user's mental model and below the surface in the capabilities met or unmet from the business/product perspective.

heroku

Heroku is a simple place to deploy apps and prototypes and they make it harder to build apps that won't scale as a result of their 12 factor app principles.