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Learn the Essentials of Designing Successful Software

SAP sponsorship provides high quality, anytime/anywhere “absolutely free” textbooks and videos that Enable Better Software Design… only one click away.

SAP is the prime sponsor of the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) which is a non-profit organization focused on educating the global technology design community by publishing free top-grade educational materials on User Experience and Design Thinking.

The IDF executive board, authors and foundation members are among the most influential professionals in the global User Experience and Design Thinking communities. Because the IDF is sponsored by SAP, the IDF is able to provide free access to original educational materials to millions of people globally – both in industry and in university courses.

If you did not yet hear about the sponsorship – and how you can benefit from it – please allow me to tell you. I am Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of IDF and I have been blogging on the SAP User Experience Community for the past six months. Recently, I was invited to also start blogging here on SCN and I am looking very much forward to it.

In this first SCN post I will give you a brief and yet comprehensive overview of how you can best use our free educational resources and an introduction to how we collaborate with SAP.


Sam Yen, Global Head of Design and User Experience at SAP, announced the sponsorship at DKOM in Mannheim in March 2013. More on the announcement.

Why is SAP sponsoring IDF?

SAP is sponsoring IDF since our mission of creating a more sustainable culture through education and improved design aligns with SAP’s passion for helping create a world that can run smarter, faster, and simpler through SAP software solutions.

As all of you here in this forum know, SAP is committed to simplifying solution development with Design Thinking, which puts people and their problems at the center of software. The sponsorship of IDF is a meeting of the minds and a natural outgrowth of SAP’s work to create an ecosystem that supports a more organic relationship between people and software. SAP and IDF are collaborating on democratizing access to the top minds in the Design Thinking and User Experience communities. Together we have set out to educate the next generation of designers so they are qualified to enhance the design, function, and usability of technology worldwide.

Simply put: Businesses run better on better designed technology.

100+ expert authors – example IDF books, authors and topics

IDF’s educational resources focus on: User Experience, Design Thinking, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Science, Business innovation and Design Doing. The 100+ authors are leading designers, IT Leads, CEOs and Ivy League professors from e.g. IBM Research, SAP Labs, MIT, Microsoft, University of Cambridge and Harvard Business School.

Most of our textbooks are assembled in an encyclopedia which is Open Content and peer-reviewed – a magnum opus on how to design interactive systems. These textbooks have one expert introducing a design term or concept while 3-4 other experts amend, extend, and put their perspectives into play. Let me give you a few examples:

  • User Experience and Experience Design by German professor Marc Hassenzahl;
  • Don Norman, who as a renowned professor, practitioner and world leader in the field of cognitive science, design and usability engineering, is the grand old man of technology design;
  • Disruptive Innovation by Clayton M. Christensen who is professor at Harvard Business School and a New York Times bestseller, who is the architect of and the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation;
  • Wearable Computing by Steve Mann who is known for his contributions to wearable computing;
  • Bifocal Display by Robert Spence who invented the “magnifying glass” visualization that is familiar to anyone with an iPhone or iMac.
  • Stu Card, senior research fellow at Xerox PARC in the interdisciplinary field between psychology, artificial intelligence, and computer science, is one of the pioneers of applying human factors in human–computer interaction, including his seminal work with computer input devices, including the haptic characterization of the mouse.
  • Recently we have also published Gamification at Work by Janaki Kumar who is Head of Strategic Design Services, America, in SAP’s Design and Co-Innovation Center and Mario Herger who is a Senior Innovation Strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto.

“Gamification at Work” written by Janaki Kumar is Head of Strategic Design Services, America, in SAP’s Design and Co-Innovation Center and Mario Herger is a Senior Innovation Strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto.

Why Design Professionals use IDF’s Free Online Textbooks

  • Learning the cutting edge of Design Thinking and User Experience practice and research;
  • Quick reference tool;
  • Keeping updated and recap of topics;
  • Powerful resource to discover, study and teach technology design;
  • Easily accessible online and then of course free.

Overview: IDF’s free online resources at

  • Textbooks: Most of the textbooks are assembled in an encyclopedia which is Open Content and peer-reviewed and written by leading figures;
  • Video library: Interviews with leading technology designers and professors. Filmed around the world;
  • Image library: Royalty-free images suitable as design inspiration, teaching and publications;
  • Wiki bibliography: The world’s largest wiki bibliography. A goldmine of research on designing interactive products;
  • Curated calendar of great conferences;
  • Curated toolbox of essential products/tools to make your work life easier.

Example from the image library: Concrete advice on how to improve software design by using gestalt psychology. Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Used without permission under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Professionals Association – free for SAP employees and SAP UA Member Schools

SAP has a company license so SAP employees and faculty at SAP University Alliances (UA) member schools can become members of IDF professionals association for free at:

So far 500+ SAP employees and 300+ SAP University Alliances professors and students have joined our association – and we would love to welcome you too.

As members of IDF professionals association you get extra benefits e.g.:

  • Professional networking;
  • Tablet optimized versions of our books.
  • Personal mentoring from the world’s tech elite;
  • An exclusive Q&A forum. Learn from your peers – fast;
  • Curated product catalog to make your work life easier;
  • Courses. We have just launched a new course platform and are signing up new SAP employees and SAP UA members for self-paced courses by world-class instructors.

Some of the upcoming courses: User-Centered Design, Human-computer Interaction, A Beginner’s Guide to User Experience, The Psychology of Interaction Design, UI Design Patterns for Successful Software and more.

Crossing the World on Bike to improve Design Thinking and Education

One way of really reaching out and helping the next generation of designers is a 35,000 Mile / 55,000 Km bike tour around the planet to promote Design Thinking, User Experience and equal opportunities for education.

SAP is the prime sponsor of “Share the Knowledge Tour” and is arranging tour stops at SAP University Alliances member universities and at SAP Offices. The tour was kicked off at the SAPPHIRE conference in Orlando by Sam Yen, Global Head of Design and User Experience at SAP, Ann Rosenberg, Global Head of SAP University Alliances, and by the Interaction Design Foundation’s (IDF) founders Mads Soegaard and myself.

SAPPHIRE Tour kick-off.jpg

After the kick-off, one person, Max Peer, set out to bike the entire way around the globe on his 200kg / 440lb heavy bike. Yes, that’s a lot of weight! Max has dedicated four years of his life to tour the world and every day of those 1,460 days he will be transporting a foldable canoe, trailer, tent as well as solar panels to power his laptop, cameras, SAP technology and GPS.

Max is touring the world to promote SAP’s commitment to Design Thinking and User Experience and to promote the free educational resources available from IDF. Over 400 major universities globally are currently using IDF’s textbooks regularly in their classes. Giving access to free high quality textbooks can help bridge the higher education accessibility gap between privileged and underprivileged by making higher education affordable to all.

The tour bears the name “Share the Knowledge Tour” since it aims promote not only User Experience and Design Thinking but it also seeks to encourage a more equal opportunity to education. The IDF is of course not the only organization to give top-grade educational materials away for free: Other examples include the new openSAP initiative (featured prominently on the tour), SAP University Alliances (doing an enormous amount of the work around the tour) as well as the openHPI courses from the Hasso Plattner institute. It seems that SAP is both embracing and leveraging ”the power of free” and this makes perfect business sense: There is no opposition between ”doing good” and ”doing business.”

During the first months of the trip Max has been warmly welcomed at each and every university and SAP office. For instance, check out how he got a police escort at Notre Dame University.

Max has completed long distance bike tours for several non-profit organizations supporting education and health initiatives. His message is that education is the single most powerful way to lift people out of poverty and change lives, and Max is sharing his vision at every stop. Max brings insights into high quality education materials to every part of the world to improve lives, and see his cutting edge touring technology. Max also gives a free membership of IDF’s professionals association to all participating students and faculty.

You can follow Max’s adventure online at SAP University Alliances SCN blog as well as on IDF’s tour website, since Max is equipped with SAP technology, solar panels, live GPS feed, mobile data up-link, etc.

Some of the content and pictures in this blog post has been kindly borrowed from (the fantastic) John Baxter from SAP University Alliances, who has made all the arrangements to make all of the first tour stops a success in collaboration with the dedicated team at SAP University Alliances. You can find blog posts on every tour stop by John Baxter on the University Alliance blog.

Christine Johnson who is Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships at SAP has written an excellent post on the tour here on SCN: Max Cycles and Canoes across North America in the name of Education.

Angela Dunn from SAP Strategic Communications has both interviewed Max, Ann Rosenberg and myself in her great post: Mad Max’s Bike Adventures.

More on IDF

IDF’s free educational ressources:





More on “Share the knowledge Tour”

Tour website:


Hashtags: #maxontour #ShareTheTour #SAP_UA

IDF contact

Rikke Friis Dam, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Interaction Design Foundation,

Please feel free to contact me if you have suggestions for great authors whose work you would like us to publish, ideas for courses and if you have an idea about how we could collaborate in the future.

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