Archive of: design

  • 10 New Principles of Design

    Suzanne LaBarre of Co.Design has come up with an update of Dieter Rams Ten Principles for Good Design list for 2018: 10 New Principles Of Good Design.

    Good Design Is Honest

    This is one of Rams’s tenets, but it bears repeating at a time when dark patterns abound and corporations treat UX like a weapon. Uber is the most flagrant example. The company built its business on a seamless front-end user experience (hail a ride, without ever pulling out your wallet!) while playing puppet master with both users and drivers. The company’s fall from grace–culminating in CEO Travis Kalanick’s ousting last year–underscores the shortsightedness of this approach.

    Good design “does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is,” Rams writes. “It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”

    Lots to think about and absorb going into 2018.


  • Solving problems

    Too many people think graphic design is not a specialty, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, newsletters, books, and the like are readily available. But design isn’t putting stuff on a page. It’s about solving visual problems through an iterative process of decisionmaking, which may involve consultation, or may happen in private. If you can’t master that process, you can’t work in the field.

    Glenn Fleishman on Yahoo’s logo redesign.

  • A launch of sorts

    It’s been over a year since I joined WDCS, and to coincide with the 64th International Whaling Commission, you can now see a small piece of what I’ve been working on.

    Say hello to

    Over the next fortnight, our team will be busy posting news and blog posts from the IWC, offering us a great opportunity to ensure that the structure, work-flow, and multilingual nature of the new site all work as we hope. And in what I think is a brave move by everyone here, we’re doing it in the public eye. If GDS can do it, well so can we (seriously, the GDS team has been, and continues to be, a massive inspiration).

    It’s a bit shabby round the edges: the theme is bland and temporary but hopefully very readable, there are some bugs in the internationalisation framework that I’m still fixing (“Ray, when someone asks you if you want to build a multilingual site, you say ‘NO’!”), and you might find yourself in a bit of a navigation dead-end if you follow the wrong link.

    As I said, it’s a bit shabby, but it’s our shabby.

    If you’re interested in the background of what led us to this point and where we’re going in the future I gave a talk to the Oxford UX group a couple of months ago that fills in some of that.

    Thanks to everyone at WDCS who’s been helping on this project. As a web geek you couldn’t ask for a more passionate and committed bunch to build for.

    And now, some sleep.

  • Thoughtfulness

    If you can’t draw as well as someone, or use the software as well, or if you do not have as much money to buy supplies, or if you do not have access to the tools they have, beat them by being more thoughtful. Thoughtfulness is free and burns on time and empathy.

    From a wonderful, thought provoking post by Frank Chimero. Read it, absorb it.

  • Pencils

    That little pencil…the tool aspect…is this little gateway to a million ideas. I think about that kind of stuff with each one I crack into. In a world where things are more and more compacted, complicated, sped up and digitized, a regular old wood pencil is always there for you. Never needing to be recharged, you know?

    Aaron Draplin.

  • A multiple discovery moment

    The time has arrived that three communities–the business, design, and technology communities–have independently discovered the same thing. That the best way to build new technology products, services, and the businesses that deliver them is to work in small, cross-functional, highly collaborative teams. To use lightweight, informal methods. To use rapid cycles of designing, making, and validating in order to test and learn and improve. To focus on the customer.

    Josh Seiden in Agile UX? Lean UX? Customer Development? A multiple discovery moment.

  • Skeuomorph

    A skeuomorph or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos—vessel or tool, morphe—shape) is a derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar.

    Skeuomorph on Wikipedia. Bookmarked because I’m always forgetting the word and have had need to refer to it twice in the past week.

  • Keyhole, improved

    Why the hell hadn’t anyone thought of this before? The keyhole, immeasurably improved. A genius piece of design, intuitive and elegant.

    Hat tip: John Gruber.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright

    A wonderful shot of Frank Lloyd Wright. It looks like a still from a movie.

    Hat tip: 37 Signals.

  • Edward Tufte at The Royal Geographic Society

    Yesterday I was lucky enough to see Edward Tufte speak in the gorgeous surroundings of the Royal Geographic Society in London.

    The talk was based around his most recent work Beautiful Evidence and his theories around information presentation, including of course an examination of Charles Joseph Minard’s famous flow map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign (of which we all got a free copy) and his own invention of sparklines, harking back to Galileo’s observations of Saturn.

    There were a lot of nuggets to take away, but I’m going to share just a few of my favourites.

    He made the observation that there are only two industries that refer to “users”. The chuckle from the audience, meant that he didn’t have to elucidate any further. I’ve wrestled with this issue myself, but having experimented I’ve found that words like “visitors” and “viewers” don’t capture the interactive nature of the web, they’re too passive. I think this is a discussion that is going to run and run.

    He outlined some of the work he’s been doing for the Obama administration. Citing news sites such as the New York Times and the Sunday Times (here in the U.K.) and examples of what he likes in current web design. He’s aiming for 91% content in the sites he’s currently advising on, and as he said himself: “navigation is not content”.

    91%! It’s an interesting target to aim for, and I’m tempted to go for it in the upcoming redesign of this place.

    Whilst musing on the topic of news sites, he pointed out that these sites had hundreds of outgoing links and got tens of millions of hits a day, in his opinion disproving the “seven, plus or minus two” rule of thumb when it comes to navigation schemes.

    I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true. I do agree that it’s a rough guideline and very much depends on your audience (there I go, trying to avoid the word “users”), their technical abilities and familiarity with your site, but even those big news sites have their hundreds of links chunked together in easier to digest subsets.

    Another observation he made at this point was between good and bad copy writing for the web and how he disliked it when content went from reporting to pitching, and all of the tricks of the marketing trade that that entailed. I liked this point, don’t we just want our clients to tell the truth about what they do instead of pitching all the time and getting mired in sales speak?

    It’s not often you get to see someone of Tufte’s stature speak in person, especially this side of the pond, all in all a great night which supplied a much needed recharge of the grey cells.

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