Absolutely fantastic article by Frank Chimero. Take the time to read it straight through on the site. And make sure you’re in a setting where you can watch the short in-line videos. So great.
Monday, November 18
These are fantastic. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)
Friday, October 11
One of the walls in my house has a fever, and the only cure is Cameron Moll’s new letterpress poster.
July 31, 2013
August is a great month to shake off the late-summer slumber and gear back up for the awesome work you’ll be doing the rest of the year.
In my time working on Delight is in the Details I did a lot of reading. I read some new (to me) books and revisited some books I’ve read over the years in my own journey to become a better writer and designer.
Here are some books I recommend adding to your queue. Some are practical, some are inspirational, all are awesome.
By Frank Chimero.
We all believe that design’s primary job is to be useful. Our minds say that so long as the design works well, the work’s appearance does not necessarily matter. And yet, our hearts say otherwise. No matter how rational our thinking, we hear a voice whisper that beauty has an important role to play.
The Shape of Design is one of most enjoyable and inspirational books I’ve ever read on the subject of design. Frank is a genuine artist, through and through. After I finished his book I felt empowered and encouraged as a designer.
By 99U (edited by Jocelyn K. Glei)
These people sabotage themselves because the alternative is to put themselves into the world as someone who knows what they are doing. They are afraid that if they do that, they will be seen as a fraud.
This book is filled with about 20 short chapters, each one written by someone else (the above quote is from Seth Godin’s chapter). The book talks a lot about time management, focus, and creativity.
By Seth Godin
Don’t worry about your stuff. Worry about making meaning instead.
Seth has an uncanny way of encouraging creative individuals to make great art while reminding them that they are not frauds.
By Stephen King
I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.
Much of this book is filled with stories by Stephen King about his life and childhood and how he became a writer. Just writing about it here makes me want to pick it up and read it again.
By Anne Lamott
My students assume that when well-respected writers sit down to write their books, they know pretty much what is going to happen because they’ve outlined most of the plot, and this is why their books turn out so beautifully and why their lives are so easy and joyful, their self-esteem so great, their childlike senses of trust and wonder so intact. Well. I do not know anyone fitting this description at all. Everyone I know flails around, kvetching and growing despondent, on the way to finding a plot and structure that work. You are welcome to join the club.
Another one of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. Anne’s writing is enjoyable and entertaining. Some of the best writing and design advice I’ve ever heard comes from Anne, especially her emphasis on writing a crappy first draft because the most important part of writing is to sit down and actually begin doing the work.
By Natalie Goldberg
(I gave away my copy of Writing Down the Bones and have not yet replaced it. So, alas, I can’t pull any highlighted passages to quote here. You’ll just have to get your own copy and read the whole thing for yourself.)
Reading Natalie’s book is a lot like sitting in on a question and answer time where people ask all the right questions and she gives all the right answers.
You don’t have to read the book front to back. The chapters are short and fast and can be read completely out of order because each one is its own nugget of advice or food for thought. And quickly, Natalie begins to feel like a trusted friend — someone who’s not afraid to shoot it straight and who has nothing to hide.
Some books tutor you on how to write better; Writing Down the Bones will help you to become a better writer.
By Scott Belsky
You can only stay loyal to your creative pursuits through the awareness and control of your impulses. Along the journey to making ideas happen, you must reduce the amount of energy you spend on stuff related to your insecurities.
Centered around Thomas Edison’s famous quote that Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, Scott writes with a fondness towards the creative professional. This book is a guide for taking the constant flow of ideas we have and turning them into reality.
This is one of the few books that I have gone out and bought multiple copies of so I could give them away. I highly recommend it to anyone with a creative, entrepreneurial, or otherwise adventurous bend towards life.
If you like interviews and behind-the-scenes personal stories, then you’ll love Insites. Keir Whitaker and Elliot Jay Stocks conducted quite a few interviews with some well-known folks (such as Mandy Brown, Jim Coudal, Jeffrey Zeldman, Tim Van Damme, Jon Hicks, Jason Santa Maria, and Tina Roth Eisenberg to name a few). It’s beautifully laid out, printed in full color, and is full of, well, insights from some of the best creative professionals in the web community.
What’s in my Queue?
What’s next for me? Here are a few of the books in my queue:
P.S. If you’ve got a suggestion that should be in that list, feel free to pass it along.
Tuesday, July 23
Matt Gemmell has been on fire lately. His latest piece regarding constraints, choices, and tradeoffs in gadgets is just fantastic. No pull quote will do here because there’s a twist towards the end, which means you need to read the whole thing through to appreciate it.
Wednesday, July 17
This afternoon I was interviewing Cameron Moll as part of my upcoming audio book, Delight is in the Details.
During the pre-show conversation we were talking about his old weblog, Authentic Boredom, and Cameron mentioned that he’d been reading an article of his from 2004(!):
If there’s one thing I’ve repeated over the course of my career more than anything else, it’s this simple philosophy: If you have time and talent to care for the smaller details, it almost always means you’ve already cared for the bigger details.
Agreed. Moreover, I would also say details a great product maketh. All the little touches which often go unnoticed, add up to collectively turn something which is pretty good into something fantastic.
Monday, July 8
Nice profile of Ryan Sims, the head of design for Rdio:
Music is magical. Discovering and consuming it should be a joy. One thing we’ve tried to do with Rdio is bring the music to the foreground by pushing everything else to the back. If Rdio is the canvas, the music is the paint. And we are trying to compose spectacular landscapes. Being a company that values design at every level and having such a design-driven product, we can take some pretty big design risks where others might be more cautious and conservative. This is one hell of an opportunity and it’s something every one of our designers has a good grasp of and takes very seriously.
Monday, July 1
Hoefler & Frere-Jones rolled out Cloud.typography today and wowzers. These guys are home to some of the finest typefaces on the planet (I’m a huge fan of Tungsten, Idlewild, Gotham, to name a few).
If you’re a type nerd, at least do yourself the favor of taking a few minutes to peruse the webfont site, and for goodness sake, be sure you read all about the H&FJ Screensmart Fonts and how they designed and engineered them.
Wednesday, June 5
Tatsuo Horiuchi bought a computer to start creating digital artwork. He decided to use Excel because: “Graphics software is expensive but Excel comes pre-installed in most computer. And it has more functions and is easier to use than [Microsoft] Paint.”
Horiuhi’s work is absolutely stunning. You will never find a more perfect example that tools do not an artist make.
Friday, March 29
Fun story by Mark Simonson about the first time he used Visigothic in a project, the font that later became Proxima Sans and then, ultimately, Proxima Nova. (Via Sean McCabe.)
Thursday, February 21
Meslo LG is a modified version of Menlo that improves upon one of the typeface’s biggest shortcomings: the tight line spacing. For the longest time I would switch between 11pt Menlo and 13pt Inconsolata about once a month. Then Source Sans Pro came along, and it’s been my daily driver for writing for a while now. But I think I’ll give 11pt Meslo LG M a shot.
“Our giant 80-gauge current is the highest point of perfection yet attained in electric belt making.”
(Via Sebastiaan de With.)
Friday, February 15
Skeuomorphism is a word that everyone disagrees on what it means (or suggests it means all of the above), but is often used to discriminate apps that use realistic textures for the sake of joy, beauty, and delight. When you’re talking about an app that uses realistic textures, call that “theming” or “skinning” because before last year, that’s what we called it, and that’s what it is.
Great essay by Sacha Greif regarding the “battle” and differences between flat design and skeuomorphism.
Thursday, January 31
Austin Carr profiles Square’s internal design culture and their desire to design things like receipts, points of sale, and refund screens with a bit of fun and whimsicalness. And it’s true: just Tuesday I bought a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop which uses Square on an iPad as their point of sale. I used my finger to sign my name in the giant signature box and then thought to myself,“that was fun.” (Though not as fun as drinking the cup of coffee.)
Wednesday, January 23
Great discussion over on Branch about “unnecessary” but “delightful” elements in UI and UX design.
Most of the examples talked about in the Branch thread are of websites, but I couldn’t help but think about some iOS apps. Such as the oversized blue cursor in iA Writer, the hatching egg and flying Ollie animation on pull-to-refresh in Twitteriffic, the link to 1Password on the login screen of Riposte, and the iPhone’s bouncing Lock screen when you tap the camera icon. These are little things which aren’t necessarily needed for the app to serve its primary function. But I think the role of delight in design is vital because, when done well, it does the opposite of what friction does — delight “greases the skids,” so to say.
If it’s true that we use something more when we enjoy using it, then it’s also fair to say that a little bit of delight can go a long way in increasing usability.
Wednesday, September 26
Some links to wallpapers that’ll fit your new screen. Louie Mantia’s are, of course, fantastic. As are these designs from Marc Edwards.
Tuesday, August 7
This beautiful sans is Adobe’s first open source typeface. It’s influenced on some classy faces you’ve probably heard of before: News Gothic and Franklin Gothic.
You can grab the typeface and its source files here. And it’s available on Google Web Fonts, WebInk, and Typekit.
Friday, July 27
This is one of the best design-centric Q&As I’ve read in a long time. Oliver Reichenstein is extremely articulate, and his answers are packed with nuggets of wisdom and perspective about design.
It was tough to pick out just one quote, but this one stood out to me:
Nothing is more destructive to good design than group thinking and collective decision making. Why? As I said, to most people good design is invisible. Group decisions focus on the visible, bad aspects of design.
Anyone who has worked in design has, at some point, felt the pain of group-led design decisions. And though we all know it usually leads to a sub-par final product, but we don’t necessarily know why.
Tuesday, July 24
From HBR’s executive summary of Ed Catmull’s article on creativity at Pixar (Via Merlin):
The trick to fostering collective creativity, Catmull says, is threefold: Place the creative authority for product development firmly in the hands of the project leaders (as opposed to corporate executives); build a culture and processes that encourage people to share their work-in-progress and support one another as peers; and dismantle the natural barriers that divide disciplines.
I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons this is such an effective way to foster creativity amongst a group is that it keeps morale high. When you’ve got designers and developers who have to answer to what they see as the whim of an invisible executive, they quickly lose their will to take risks, work hard, and persevere unto breakthrough and innovation.
As Catmull says in the original article, great talent is better than great ideas. And talent will only stick around as long as they feel happy, challenged, and appreciated.
Friday, June 1
Bariol is a nice, rounded sans-serif font family with an interesting pricing structure. The regular weight can only be purchased with a tweet; the thin, light, and bold faces are pay-what-you-want. Paying with a tweet may seem like a deal, but I think that makes Bariol Regular the most expensive of them all.
(Via Brian Hoff.)
Wednesday, May 30
Oliver Reichenstein on the what and why of Information Architects’ new typeface, iABC, which they’re using on their site:
[S]creens are changing not just in size, but also in pixel density. In other words: we do not just need responsive layouts, we also need responsive typefaces. To test that assumption, iA has created its new website with responsive typography and a custom-built responsive typeface.
You can’t see responsive typography on one and the same device. And you can’t even see it comparing the devices if it’s done right. The idea of responsive typefaces is that the typeface always looks and feels the same.
The Boston Public Library has a Flickr set with 351 travel posters from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. And man are they fantastic. I especially love the Union Pacific Streamliner “City of Denver” poster, as well as all of the Austria travel posters.
But that’s not all. They’ve got a slew of other sets as well, such as this one of vintage labels from produce crates.
Tuesday, May 29
I completely forgot about this post on Adobe’s Brand Experience Blog until Stephen Hackett linked to it this morning.
It takes well over a year to design, execute, deliver, and ensure the proper implementation of the roughly 5,000 or so assets it takes to get a CS release out the door (we’re already thinking about CS7). Along the away, there are innumerable institutional, technological, and political hurdles to overcome. It can be daunting, but we do everything we can to get it made with as few design compromises as possible.
Of all the screenshots, design concepts, and other graphics in this article it is this image of their splash screen less-versus-more continuum that grabs my attention. I consider the splash screen design that was used in CS3 and CS4 to be the best one — it was simple, basic, and minimalistic. And yet the Adobe designers consider that design to be far too simple, and they label the “sweet spot” to be mostly “more” with only a little bit of “less”.
Tuesday, May 22
Some people will think this is sacrilege, the rest of us will think it is awesome.
Monday, May 21
In a way, what makes this poster even cooler is the fact that Denver never did host the 1976 winter Olympics — they withdrew because hosting the Olympics costs a lot of money.
After Denver withdrew, Whistler, B.C. was offered the games but they declined. The International Olympic Committee then offered the games to Innsbruck, Austria and that’s where the games were held. Here’s one of the posters from the Innsbruck games.
Monday, May 14
Dieter Rams, in a speech which he delivered at Jack Lenor Larsen’s New York showroom in December of 1976:
Ladies and gentlemen, design is a popular subject today. No wonder because, in the face of increasing competition, design is often the only product differentiation that is truly discernible to the buyer.
I am convinced that a well-thought-out design is decisive to the quality of a product. A poorly-designed product is not only uglier than a well-designed one but it is of less value and use. Worst of all it might be intrusive.
That was 36 years ago and it’s as relevant as if it had been delivered this morning.
(Via Oliver Reichenstein.)