People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Design & UI
Scott Stevenson provides a very interesting essay, Satisfying UI Design is Often Illogical, discussing the impact and need for UI changes and the expectations of and reactions by the market to those changes. The entire piece is well worth a read by anyone interested in design and user experience, with many valuable insights. One of my favorites though is encapsulated in a single line: “The real goal is user satisfaction, and some of that is really illogical and messy.”
You tell him I said to take a long unstructured walk around his city. Talk to strangers. Take pictures. Visit at least one museum. Pretend like he’s from somewhere else for an hour. Stop in a park to read Raymond Carver’s “What we talk about when we talk about love.” outloud would be rad, but I leave that up to him. Go into a music store, find two people who seem completely different from him and buy whatever they are buying. And then end his travels at your house where he’ll tell you the story of his day over a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin. The story should last as long as the bottle.
Maggie, the fifth commenter on the article One List to Rule Them All
I link to the article for the commentary more than the post, which is a brief rundown of resources for people interested in Interaction Design. The heart of the matter is the fact that Maggie’s instructions apply to anyone interested in becoming a designer, whether print or interactive, an architect or for that matter a strategist of any field.
We all follow the precedents of those who came before, but we lose sight of the road others walked before us, and the paths others take alongside us, as we look toward the road we must walk ourselves.
I recently discovered a great link in my design feeds, pointing me to the site I Love Typography, which is well on its way to becoming a great resource for designers and all those with an interest in type The most recent post, Who Shot the Serif?, is a tremendous introduction to the terminology used to describe serif fonts and makes any typographic discussion a bit more accessible to those without formal education in the field. Add a pinch of humor, and you’ve got a rocking article! Check it out, even if you aren’t a designer, you’ll learn something interesting for the day.
I just ran across an interesting feature of the Safari 3 Beta for Windows. Apple has included a copy of Lucida Grande and Lucida Grande bold. But instead of dropping them into the main Windows font directory, where all apps could make use of it, the fonts are under the
\Program Files\Safari\Safari.resources\. So, sites that set Lucida Grande as the first font in their styles will look different in Safari than the other browsers in a Windows environment. Add the font smoothing capabilities built into Safari, and you can see some visible differences in text rendering on many sites across the Web when comparing IE, Firefox and Safari on Windows.
Adobe has released a Dashboard widget for Kuler, it’s beautiful, and very useful Web-based color picking app. The widget consumes RSS feeds from the site to display the most downloaded, highest rated and newest color schemes. In addition to the abiliy to search the tags that are used to organize the color palettes, each scheme in the widget provides a direct link to that scheme in Kuler, making it very easy to modify the scheme to fit your needs, and of course save it to Kuler for future reference and sharing amongst the community.
Another great feature is the ability to click a button and have the HEX values of the currently selected scheme copied to your clipboard. If you only want one of the colors, it’s easy to see its HEX in the widget screen without copying it to the clipboard.
If you have yet to play with Kuler, give it a try. It’s well worth the time for every designer…well, as long as you don’t get lost in it for a couple of hours playing with color. Not that I did that or anything… Really.
Hrrm, okay back on track. It is functionality like this that makes Dashboard worthwhile in my book. For those on a Mac, this is yet another reason to include Kuler in your design process. For those on PCs, you may want to drop Adobe a line to encourage them to release the widget for you to consume.
Adobe has announced that they will release a beta of Photoshop CS3 today (Dec. 15). Needless to say I am awaiting the release with high levels of anticipation as it will come out as a Universal Binary on the Mac, which means a major speed boost for those of us running on Intel-based Macs. The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has some great information about the new package, including videos! Check out some of the new features and UI changes included in CS3.
I’ll post more when I’ve snagged my copy and played around with it.
kuler, from Adobe Labs “helps you explore, create and share color themes for your web pages, design projects and other creative work.” You can use the app on-line or download themes to be imported into CS2 applications. This looks like a very useful too and a promising distraction!
Erik Spiekermann, (author of Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works) takes to task the designer’s and executives involved in branding this year’s World Cup, criticizing the mascot and logo and in general beautifully stating the problems with design by committee: “It’s like designing a joke, and you can’t design a joke. I think the original design assignment must have been all over the place. With all the things that had to be avoided and then all the things they wanted included, it was impossible to come up with something good.”
Mr. Spiekermann provides some interesting illumination concerning Germany’s internal view of its external image, and how it likely played a huge part in many of the choices.
Instead of harnessing this tremendous opportunity to shine on the world stage, Deutschland stumbled into mediocrity. Thus we are presented with a boring lion and a silly logo.
Sywan, one of the two folks working on MagicTracer just dropped me a note that they have a new version out. It looks like a great tool, made even better with this 1.5 release. Coincidentally, Sarah and I were talking the other day about the availability of software that will take a raster image and automagically convert it to vector/paths for Illustrator. Sadly it isn’t available on OS X, so neither of us will be able to use it. Sigh.
It still looks neat though.
37signals has set up a flickr stream showing screenshots of various UIs, most of which are Web-related (tag: screensaroundtown). There are some nice components in there, though some of the shots don’t seem to fit the group, like the install window for Adium.
I like the concept for its simplicity of purpose and implementation – it’s a refreshing break from the large sites that gather cool designs from around the Web.
Found via JD on EP.
The National Atlas provides “reference and outline maps of the United States that you can print or use online. The reference maps display general reference features such as boundaries, cities, capitals, major highways, rivers and lakes, and terrain. Outline maps showing county boundaries, State boundaries, capitals, or other basic features are also available.” The maps are provided in color, as GIFs and PDFs, but will apparently print out nicely in grayscale.
Both Draftsman and GuideMaster from AV Bros. look to be very useful for users of Photoshop when the need to create horizontal and/or vertical grids arises, which is damn near every project. Draftsman creates selections within your document, while GuideMaster places guides. I just downloaded the demo versions of each to tinker with them and have been pleasantly surprised. There are a couple of features I would like to see, namely I think Draftsman should provide the option to output as vector objects instead of selections. Also, I think it should mimic Guidemaster’s functionality which allows the designer to use percentage-based values (one third, a quarter…) in addition to the currently supported fixed values (24px). I need to do a bit more testing, but one, if not both should prove to be a worthwhile investment.
Docking boxes (dbx) “adds animated drag ‘n’ drop, snap-to-grid, and show/hide-contents functionality to any group of elements. And … in what might be another world-first for brothercake – dbx is fully accessible to the keyboard as well as the mouse, an action I’ve dubbed “press ‘n’ move”.” This looks interesting, and may well join my tool box for future sites. Though I need to compare its functionality with some of the other JS tool sets that are AJAXified, I’m very excited about the fact that it is keyboard accessible, and hope that it degrades nicely for screen readers.