Microsoft Expression: The team that plays together stays together


Sara Summers, Microsoft and Laurie Holcombe, The Adsmith


(Free workshop.)

Problem solving, process and prototyping with games, sketches and brain candy

Design is a ‘Ludic’ process, from the Latin word, Ludere, meaning ‘to play’. When teams have the right balance of collaborative harmony, as individuals and together, working back and forth between expression and impression, innovative solutions result with ease. We will explore ways to evoke humor, play and bravery that help teams fight back against the natural urge to overvalue the proven and embrace the new and unknown. Einstein said it best, “Games are the most elevated form of investigation”.

What we will do:
- Brain Teasers
- Post-it Note Problem Solving
- Play, Sketch and Iterate
- Visual Idea Pitch
- Dynamic Prototyping with Sketchflow


Sara Summers is a User Experience Evangelist for Microsoft based out of Austin, TX. Sara is currently coauthoring a book for experience designers, entitled Dynamic Prototyping, expected to be on bookshelves early 2010. She has a personal mantra of design democracy – happy, healthy designers and developers working and playing together to create beautiful, inspirational products.

Sara speaks often and loves to talk about big ideas, changing everything, breaking your toys, throwing away your designs and capturing new ideas. In search for the best design process recipes she has worked for several renowned agencies; Frog Design, Young Rubicam, Projekt202, and with good people like; AMD, HP, Logitech, Microsoft, Motorola, NFL and Sony. For over 14 years, she has been deeply involved in the production and development of product strategy, vision and design, guiding and influencing design process with each team and project.

Sara reads everything she can get her hands on and prides herself in being an armchair social and cognitive scientist and researcher. Academically, she is trained as a technologist and visual designer, with a BS in Computer Graphics Technology, from Purdue University.

Laurie Holcombe is a web developer with over 10 years of experience driving innovative, successful solutions for clients. Laurie resides in Athens, GA, where she has served as Lead Developer at The Adsmith, a small award-winning advertising and design agency, for six years running. In this role, she evolved the product development process – teaching and walking clients through each benchmark, research insight, IA and development strategies, through product launch and life cycle.

She loves thinking about problem solving, developing great markup and best practices for development teams. Laurie draws upon both her fine arts and technical backgrounds to create a unique perspective; visually compelling, technically sound design from the inside out. Laurie’s formal education includes a BFA in Telecommunications from the University of Georgia, graduating cum laude, and a New Media Interdisciplinary Certificate (NMIC) from UGA’s New Media Institute, along with extensive training in photography. Laurie’s “free time” is spent producing head-nodding podcasts and indulging her photographic pursuits. Her photography has been published in several books; The Quiet Life Vol. 2, The University of Georgia’s G Book. Laurie plans to have her second solo photography show later this year.