Thursday, April 10, 2014

Uncomfortable Design

TwentyTwoWords has a fun set of pictures of creatively terrible products:  Designing the least user friendly products imaginable just for fun

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Slate has a fun slideshow on bad PowerPoint: PowerPointless.

"The ostensible purpose of a slideshow is provide illuminating visual aids or illustrate an important quote, rule, or formula: Only problem is this almost never happens."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teach yourself design

Fast Company has an article on learning to be a designer

Karen X Cheng writes about her experience learning to be a professional designer and provides a great list of suggested resources:

Step One: Learn to See

1. Learn to draw.
Get the book You Can Draw in 30 Days and practice for half an hour every day for a month. 

2. Graphic design theory.
 Picture This taught the foundations of graphic design (color, typography, and designing with a grid). 

3. Basics in user experience.
The Design of Everyday Things
Don’t Make Me Think!

4. Learn to write.
Your job as a designer is not just to make pretty pictures -- you must be a good communicator.  Made to Stick will teach you how to suck in your readers.
Voice and Tone is a website full of great examples of how to talk to users.

5. Learn to kill your work.
This is the hardest step.
Be prepared to kill everything you make.
Listen. Really listen. Don’t argue. If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead of arguing, thank them and ask questions. Decide later whether you want to incorporate their feedback.

Step Two: Tools.
1. Illustrator.
Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book--
Vector Basic Training
 scenic landscape.
2. Photoshop.
 Photoshop tutorial to make an iPhone app.
 Photoshop tutorial to create a website mockup.

Step Three: specialties.

1. Logo Design.
 Logo Design Love.
 Designing Brand Identity
2. Mobile app design tutorial
3. Web design.
 Don’t Make Me Think
 The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

Step Four: portfolio
  • Find poorly designed websites and redesign them.
  • Join a team at Startup Weekend and be a designer on a weekend project.
  • Enter a 99 designs contest to practice designing to a brief.
  • Do the graphic design exercises in the Creative Workshop book.
  • Find a local nonprofit and offer to design for free.

Step Five: Get a job as a designer.

The whole article is worth reading.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seven Lessons for Presentations

Marta Kagan writes on 7 Lessons From the World's Most Captivating Presenters.  Drawing insights from the presentations of Steve Jobs, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Scott Harrison, she uses specific examples (picture and slideshare presentations) to illustrate the following lessons:

  • 1. Start with paper, not PowerPoint
  • 2. Tell your story in three acts
  • 3. A picture is worth 1000 words
  • 4. Emotions get our attention
  • 5. Use plain English
  • 6. Ditch the bullet points
  • 7. Rehearse like crazy

It's a relatively long post, but easy to skim, and well-worth the effort.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Design for crowds

Krystal D'Costa writes on The Story of Grand Central Station and the Taming of the Crowd for Scientific American.

Each of these changes was meant to remind the people that they were indeed individuals despite their place in the Crowd, and as individuals they still had social roles and responsibilities to fulfill. Moreover, these changes synchronized the Crowd by putting people through the same paces at the same points. But perhaps the most significant change would come from the architectural firm Warren and Wetmore. A deadly collision in 1902 preceded public demand for an even safer, more accessible terminal. Warren and Wetmore won the bid for reconstruction, and the plan they produced included galleries, which added yet another transition area but, more importantly, rendered the Crowd into a spectacle.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Housing design

Polis writes on Urban Housing Design, identifying these seven important elements:

1. Proximity 
 "Internal proximity can make a community feel sheltered..."

2. Enclosure
 "...courtyards are more enclosed than fenceless yards, creating interior space without ceilings..."

3. Scale
  "Smaller buildings tend to be associated with comfort..."

4. Accessibility
 "Amenities include public transportation, shopping areas, kindergartens, parks and libraries."

5. Materials
  "Certain materials hold up especially well over time, from visual and/or structural perspectives, and they are not always the most expensive."

6. Additions
 "...trees, parking lots, benches, playgrounds and sports facilities — serve as shared resources..."

7. Style
 "Structural variations and details can add visual interest or aversion."

Read the post at:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Remote design

Slate magazine writes on the history of the remote control and awful design.

There's an excess of buttons ... —92 of them, to be exact, arranged on my nightstand in rubbery rows, seven different colors' worth, with overlapping labels that range in tone from clear and aggressive ("POWER," "FREEZE") to meek and mysterious ("SUR," "NAVI"). Following the model of usability expert Jakob Nielsen, I counted up the buttons I've actually pressed—not the ones I've pressed most often, but the ones I've pressed, period. The number was 34. I had a surplus of nearly five dozen.

So why should my television, a simple device that's not so interactive, spread so much clutter and confusion? Imagine if there were a separate door for each shelf of your refrigerator, and each of those doors had its own combination lock. That's the state of the modern entertainment center, and the hand-held devices we use to manipulate it. The remote control was supposed to make life easier, but instead it's led us into a labyrinth of bad design. How did we get here, and where are we going?

Read the whole article at: