Rob Stenzinger

Tools and Techniques

I have a passion for finding and using well designed tools to do my work. Here's my personally curated list of tools that I use to design and build things.

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 constraints 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 powerful and deeply fascinating to me. I've created hundreds of comics (Art Geek Zoo, The Cuteness, Two Pizza Team and others) and podcasted for nearly as many hours on the topic at Lean Into Art and the Polytechnicast.

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 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 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 (now Pug) templates, I do have huge love for HTML markup.


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


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

Raw Graphs

A helpful tool to jump start vector image SVG based data visualizations via a data source like CSV or JSON.


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 host my open source projects there.


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.


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. Research is the most commonplace, un-fancy tool I use, yet it is one of the most important.

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 staples in my toolbox. I use photoshop's generator feature plus Javascript enabled UI to layout screens and export coordinates of assets for game projects.


A fun place to explore and share small experiments with CSS and Javascript such as this example of generating music via small bits of text.

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 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.

visual notetaking

To connect further with what is being said, I draw during talks, meetings, and collaborative sessions. I find a combination of words and doodles helps with recalling details and to discover connections between those things I'm capturing: noticing what I'm noticing.