bethany.stolle@ac4d.com

Alumni

Bethany Stolle

Bethany grew up on a small hobby farm just outside a rural Minnesota town (population 500). After high school, she moved to “the cities” where she earned a B.A. in Youth and Family Ministry from Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Intrigued by the intersection of ministry and business, Bethany began work at Augsburg Fortress Publishers (a Lutheran publishing house) after graduation. Over the years, her roles ranged from editor to product designer to curriculum developer. She led several projects that spawned sparkhouse, a division at Augsburg Fortress that uses design thinking principles to make innovative products a reality. Her work has helped define the company’s culture.

A complete extravert, Bethany loves to connect with people and organize people and processes to make cool, well-designed stuff happen. When she’s not working, she loves to travel, cook, exercise, read, write, entertain ideas, and geek out on sci-fi shows with her husband, Brent.

We face difficult challenges in our world. Injustice. Illiteracy. Hunger. Discrimination. Poverty. Even with good intentions, motivation and execution are difficult. That’s why I am excited to study at the Austin Center for Design—by studying Social Entrepreneurship and Interaction Design, I will be equipped with principles and tools to lead efforts to address the problems around us.

Recent blog posts

Scheduling & Harmony

“What’s your schedule look like this week?” I ask Jesse this question as least once a week as we build Kites & Ladders, a business to amplify the voices of people with autism through tools that support self-expression and communication. Why do I constantly pester Jesse about his availability? (And spend too much time in…

Innovation happens in hindsight

Our class recently read a series of articles that dealt with the relationship between creativity, knowledge, sensemaking, and strategy in design. As I went through the articles, a theme kept jumping out at me: Innovation happens in hindsight. More accurately, I should say we recognize innovation and consider the design solution to be logical and…

Wireframes, round 5 (done but never finished)

In our final Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class, we presented our fifth (and final!) iterations of wireframes for class scheduling and registration. After four previous versions, I wasn’t totally sure what to do next. So I printed and hung each wire from Iteration 4 on the wall and I stepped back to look…

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

We’re into our third iteration of wireframes to create an application that facilitates class scheduling and registration for our Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class (iteration 1, iteration 2). This week, I took another pass at a feature that allows students to set their schedule preferences before searching for classes, since my initial scenario depicted…

Wireframes, take 2

A couple weeks ago, I created my first wireframes for our Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class. This week, I developed a revised set of frames for an iPad application that facilitates class scheduling and registration. I integrated feedback from testing and presenting the previous wires–especially problems with navigation and usability around registration and pop-up…

The internet is more than a series of tubes

Before going on vacation a couple years ago, my husband and I bought a Kindle reader. Since then, I’ve also installed the Kindle app on my phone, iPad, and laptop. My Amazon shopping habits have changed, too. Unless I’m looking for a highly-designed book or a reference text that I’ll refer back to frequently, I…

If at first you don't succeed…(with wireframes)

“So you made a thing…” We’re only three months into our program, and many of the things we’re making right now are not very good. Jon Kolko frequently uses the above phrase to preface a longer statement about how it’s important for designers to externalize concepts, design ideas, and propositions. Sketching, building, and prototyping ideas make…

Deconstructing Difficult Problems

For our final position diagram of the quarter, we were challenged to show the difficulties in solving complex problems. I drew inspiration from readings by Herbert A. Simon, Amos Tversky/Daniel Kahneman, and Philip Johnson-Laird and put together this visual, in which I argue that designers can employ constraints and bias to make ill-structured problems easier to…

Moving from Exposure to Experience

For our theory class this past week, we read a number of pieces oriented around (a) human experiences and technology, (b) society, community, and privacy, and (c) design in developing countries. Our challenge for our third position diagram was to “show the changing nature of designed culture, based on the increased presence and ubiquity — and…

The Power of the Participatory Interview

A couple weeks ago, our class learned first-hand how to conduct a form of research called Contextual Inquiry. In this approach, the researchers partner with a participant to see them in action as they work. The goal is to observe and ask questions to understand why people do what they do–all within the context of…

When tools get in the way

I previously wrote about the importance of learning to use tools to communicate our ideas. Inability to use a piece of software shouldn’t be the limiting factor in pursuing a good idea. In the intervening weeks, I’ve thrown myself into experimenting with technology that helps me be productive and communicate ideas. I’ve spent more hours than…

The Value of Ethnography

For the past couple weeks, we’ve been studying the place of research and ethnography in the design process. After engaging a variety of readings, I’ve drawn from a framework  by Liz Sanders and applied a few of the other readings against it to articulate why I think designers should drive for design that invites users…

What Do You Desire?

In Lauren’s class a week ago, we were talking about why research methods matter for the design process. One important reason comes down to mental models–or how a person imagines something works. Just the other day, I experienced the challenge of mental models firsthand. I was working on a project in Photoshop after spending a…

Learning about Learning about Learning: Debriefing a Contextual Inquiry

In the past week, our Methods class has been digging into a research process called Contextual Inquiry (CI). By taking place in the environment being studied, this process allows the researcher and participant to partner together. The researcher observes work in action and can talk with the participant directly to make sure the researcher’s perceptions and…

What I Learned From a Banana…

This is a banana: It was the outcome of my first foray into Adobe Illustrator CS6. The still image likely betrays the angst and frustration that went into figuring out how to form a pretty basic shape. Managing the pen tool to create curves. Figuring out how to manipulate anchor points and handles. Learning a…

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