Category Archives: design

Traveling Clothes – Never Stop: A Rolling Stone

Never Stop: A Rolling Stone

Never Stop: A Rolling Stone is a jacket designed for the traveling youth by Rahel Ritchie. It features an inflatable hood so you can sleep comfortably with your head rested almost anywhere.

I’m very disappointed this hoodie isn’t actually for sale.

[ via LikeCool ]


New Facebook Apps

I find Facebook apps as annoying as you. I promise. A couple weeks ago however, Sean Connolly asked me to work with him on creating a “25 Things About Me” app based on the popular chain letter (which I also find annoying). It’s been an interesting experience, and actually inspired me to create one on my own.

25 ThingsOur app is called 25 Things About Us. We try to take the whole phenomenon a couple steps further by allowing the user create new lists about other things, as well as view community lists. We have a couple other ideas too, that you might see on their in the next couple weeks involving further community features. My role on this project has mainly been design, but I did some of the early programming and CSS. Zhuofeng Li has been the main programmer, and also acted as designer. Sean Connolly is the main designer.

Emotive Or Not The other app I’ve been working on, Emotive Or Not, is from an earlier design collaboration between Connolly, myself, and our classmate Kshitiz Anand. We wanted to experiment with affective and ludic design, and the Facebook app is our third prototype. Here are our first and second prototypes. Also, I have an earlier post I made about Prototype #1.

The Limits of Good Design in Software Production (or Dreamweaver CS4 still sucks)

My first job was as an hourly doing LAMP development for my undergrad university. I remember very clearly my fellow developers complaining about how our users were idiots. When things went wrong, the normal course of action was to blame the user.

Fast forward four years and now I’m on the cusp of holding a masters in HCI/d. We are trained to never blame the user. Even when the user is doing something grievously unintended with the digital artifact, it’s “emergent behavior” – and if even that user is getting frustrated, we blame the design. HCI/d is a humble discipline, always ready to take responsibility.

Having been now on both sides of the spectrum – from the blame-the-user developer to the blame-the-design – I would like to propose a new group of people to blame our digital troubles on: developers. Yes, those hapless geeks who just do what their told when given design specs. 

But, why would I be so mean?

Well, let’s looks at the latest version of Dreamweaver, CS4. Below is an animated GIF detailing the troubles I’ve been having with it this morning.


So I will be in a web browser window (not uncommon for someone working with Dreamweaver) and use expose to get over to Dreamweaver. In the first frame you can clearly see that Twitter is still showing through where the Dreamweaver tab menu should be.

So, I click again, and still no dice. The tab menu does appear, along with two(!) menu bars, but my code disappears. I guess you’re paying extra for the second menu bar considering how expensive CS4 is.

And, finally, on the third(!) click I get what I actually want. Now repeat this a thousand times, and that’s how annoying it is.

But who can we blame? Maybe it is my fault for using Dreamweaver,  but Adobe certainly wants a user base, so we can’t generalize that to the blaming the user.

It’s not the fault of the designers. The tab navigation and tool bar there aren’t great works of revolutionary design, but they’re not bad. I understand them easily enough and they do what they look like their going to do.

So, in this case the only person really left to blame is the developer. Adobe charges enough for their products that you’d think they’d be able to hire some decent code writers, but apparently not.

The larger point I want to make is that while UX is  great buzzword right now – and one I’m happy about, considering I’m in HCI/d – designers can only do so much. Developers actually have to follow through well on any design, or else the whole experience with that digital artifact will continue to suck, just like with Dreamweaver CS4.

Thrifty shopping with Philippe Starck

No matter what he does Philippe Strack always makes me laugh. The LA Times recently sponsored a trip for him the Hollywood Big Lots to answer the question, “Can you live elegantly and economically?” It’s not exactly surprising what he found. It more just drives home the point that simple is timeless. Also, check out his TED video.

[ via Kitsune Noir ]

Obsessive Branding Disorder

Design Observer has a post up right now reviewing two new books, Obsessive Branding Disorder by Lucas Conley and The Substance of Style by Virginia Postrel. It has caused quite a good discussion. Here’s my take on brands and design:

Having a strong brand is a wonderful goal, and a good way to build a strong brand is by having a design that customers desire and trust. Design should not be subservient to the brand. Instead design helps build the brand by providing meaningful products. Having a trustworthy business in general – not just good PR – also helps. The problem isn’t branding as such, it’s the false messages that motivate people to support lower-quality products.

Join the fun at the original post: Design Observer – Obsessive Branding Disorder.

Gamerox Gaming Chair

I definitely fall to the more casual side of the casual gaming demographic, which is to say I have a Wii but I rarely play it. With that said, I really like this gaming chair by Gamerox. The best designs are always those that address a complex latent need in such a simple way. I believe this chair does just that by promoting more movement while playing video games, not just for health reasons but also to make the games more enjoyable. It’s not going to solve all of the problems associated with gaming, but it certainly makes video gaming a more optimal experience.

[ via LikeCOOL ]

The Sad Truth: Web Design is 95% Typography

TypographyTypography is not a great strength of mine. Generally, I just follow the rule of doing as little to the text as it possible, while still being able to discriminate one section from another. That means not making something both bold and a larger size – at least not without looking at them individually first  – and certainly not changing the font unless it’s absolutely called for – usually for branding purposes. So for someone like me, it’s very sad to see an article called Web Design is 95% Typography.

Basically, the argument is that information/web design is typography. Here’s a nice quote from Swiss typography Emil Ruder, and the post:

It is the typographer’s task to divide up and organize and interpret this mass of printed matter in such a way that the reader will have a good chance of finding what is of interest to him.

Likewise, the post also references the notion of “text as user interface“, arguing that with the introduction of hypertext, it is now more tactile and should be treated as such. Basically this post is a nice reiteration of what we all knew and feared, that we need to improve our typography – plus a lot of great links towards the bottom. Also, check out the follow up article, Reactions to 95% Typography, if you still don’t believe me or him.

[ via Monoscope ]