Design and Innovation Daily

David Airey on letterpress; Decision-Based Design

Posted in culture, graphic design, interaction design, theory by Dan on January 25, 2010

In a post about letterpress (an early printing technique used from the time of Gutenberg up to the beginning of the 20th century), graphic designer David Airey shared a video about Hatch Show Print: a 130-year old letterpress shop which has preserved the old printing techniques as well as the associated design styles for many decades: Hatch Show Print

On a completely unrelated topic, Dan Brown republished a 2005 article in which he describes an unusual approach to software design. Instead of using functional specifications, information architecture, or user personas as the main drivers of the design process, Brown focused on the large and complex set of decisions that users must make while using the software; he treated the software as a system built primarily to support the users’ decision-making: “Decision-Based Design.”


What type[face] are you?

Posted in emotional design, graphic design by Dan on January 20, 2010

As expected, not as much time for reading this week. I did, however, enjoy the entertaining “What type are you?” quiz from the design firm Pentagram. No, it’s not a Facebook quiz—it’s a clever, interactive, four-question quiz presented almost like a digital therapy session. In order to start, the password is “character”. Fitting, because the quiz itself has character; the counselor fidgets while he waits for you to answer each question. See what happens when you make him wait for a while.

“What type are you?”

Escher-inspired typeface; the design of boarding passes

Posted in graphic design by Dan on January 19, 2010

These links have already been around most of the big design blogs, but they’re still pretty cool.

A font inspired partly by the “visual conceit in the work of the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher:” Priori Acute

Tyler Thompson challenges the lazy, low-quality visual design of airline boarding passes; the project has turned into a small movement over the past several weeks: Boarding Pass/FAIL

Garrison Keillor and infographics

Posted in creativity, graphic design by Dan on December 18, 2009

They aren’t related, but I can put them in the same sentence: Garrison Keillor has some good advice and other thoughts on creativity and writing, and for your weekend amusement, you should check out this collection of “baseball infographics and other visual treats” and then use the Merry Newsinator to generate a personal newsletter for the holiday.

Cultural context: app design and restaurant menus

Posted in culture, graphic design, theory by Dan on December 16, 2009

I’m always fascinated by the complexity of the interdependence of technology and cultural context. I touched on this last week when I talked about TV, web, and music, but entertainment isn’t the only place where social and business contexts define what’s appropriate in a design.

Jack Moffett wrote yesterday about the forces which affect the features that are included (and excluded) in a tool as simple as a note-taking application. This excerpt from an upcoming book by William Poundstone reveals how the layout and graphic design of a restaurant menu is determined by the way the restaurant wants the customers to perceive the prices.

On the other hand, Scott Berkun’s criticism of a particular interactive visualization shows us that the expectation for “whizzy fun visuals” sometimes competes with the effectiveness of the visualization as a communication tool.

Where else do these sorts of expectations conflict with each other?

Resources for web typography

Posted in graphic design, web design by Dan on December 4, 2009

If you design for the web, having a knowledge of typography principles will make your designs more readable, clear, and balanced, and ultimately more effective in communication, even beyond the limits of the text itself. Typography is a broad and complex field in its own right, but a familiarity with its principles can go a long way. For the weekend, here are a few resources that will get you started.

This article gives a short introduction to web typography: “Web Design is 95% Typography.”

To get into the mechanics of typography, take a look at Jeff Croft’s slideshow, “Elegant Web Typography.”

Then read Mark Boulton’s “Five simple steps to better typography.” This is the first of a series of five articles; links to the other four are listed at the bottom of the page. Boulton is a very clear, precise writer, and this is a solid guide.

Finally, to really get into the details of typography, read the definitive guide by Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style. If you want to remain focused on the web, however, is an in-progress adaptation of Bringhurst’s classic that explains the same principles as they apply to web design: The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web.

TED talk: Jacek Utko designs to save newspapers

Posted in graphic design by Dan on December 3, 2009

Jacek Utko, a newspaper designer from Poland, suggests that design can help save the newspaper business. His designs have saved several dying European newspapers by helping to increase circulation.

Jacek Utko designs to save newspapers

Insights on designing for the web

Posted in graphic design, interviews, theory, usability, user experience, web design by Dan on December 1, 2009

Paul Boag writes about the current trend of poster-like web pages. As always, one must design for the medium, and a designer cannot treat a web page like a poster. Nevertheless, poster design has a few lessons for web design: “Stop designing websites, start designing posters.”

Mark Riggan takes the same approach, but from a different direction: “6 Things Video Games Can Teach Us About Web Usability.”

In this interview, Matthew Curry talks about running the website for Wiltshire Farm Foods, which sells food mostly to consumers over 80 years old, online. Targeting this audience means addressing the most extreme instances of users’ needs and disabilities. Yes, it’s possible—it’s all about usability: “Q&A: Matthew Curry on selling to older folks online.”

Six secrets: design lessons and shoelace knots

Posted in designers, graphic design, methodology, user research by Dan on November 18, 2009

Picking up from yesterday’s topic, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, director of design and user experience at Digg, recently wrote about getting useful feedback. “If someone uses the product, they have a valid point of view – period.” In counterpoint to “When Not To Listen To Users,” you need to prompt feedback in the right way and interpret the right parts of the feedback. Here’s the post: The Anatomy of Useful Feedback

I only learned about 99% yesterday, but it looks like a great resource, with lots of interesting articles and many videos to come from its conferences, which seem to share the TED approach and would probably appeal to TED fans. Anyway, in 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks

Renowned graphic designer Michael Bierut claims that he’s not creative. Instead, he likens his job to that of a doctor who tends to patients – “the sicker, the better.” Digging into the 86 notebooks he’s kept over the course of his career, Bierut walks us through 5 projects – from original conception to final execution – extracting a handful of simple lessons (e.g. the problem contains the solution; don’t avoid the obvious) at the foundation of brilliant design solutions.

Other 99% videos feature Scott Thomas, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, and Seth Godin (one of my favorites).

Finally, this is too cool not to post it. This is a shoelace knot that won’t loosen throughout the day: Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot