Snippets

  • Brevity in Design

    As I continue to shorten my articles, I’m also “shortening” my designs. And by that, I mean finding the best way to do something.

    In design, brevity is finding the best way to perform an action in the fewest steps without losing efficiency or the message. And it requires building a visual hierarchy–understanding what the most important actions are for your product.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about in my design work lately.

  • Since copywriting is interface design, you can do an awful lot of great design in a text editor. Don’t worry about where things will go, or how they will fit. Worry about explaining it clearly and then build the rest of the interface around that explanation.

    Interesting idea and definitely something I want to explore.

  • We need to reevaluate the whole system of evaluation, we need to build a new meritocracy of design where success is viewed as a holistic function of how a design solution propagates across culture. We need a more complete answer to what makes good design. And we don’t have that today.

    I hate awards. Another problem with design awards is we only see the winners and no reasoning to why they won the award. I once saw someone had won a best designer award but it was clear to me that there were many other better designers who should have won it that year. Don’t get me wrong, their design work is very good but I think there was much better out there. Perhaps some sort of explanation would have helped me understand why they won it.

  • A Pressing Matter

    Cennydd Bowles highlights the problem with the terms “click” and “tap” and suggests we use the term “select” instead. I’m with Andy Clarke in thinking “select” isn’t as intuitive as saying “press”.

    That’s smart thinking, but I’m not convinced “select.’ is the right word either. I can’t imagine talking an ‘average“ person through an interface and saying “Now ‘select’ the Submit button to buy (those ape action figures).’” That’s why I’m going with “press.’ because whether on an input type is physical or virtual, keyboard, d-pad button, trackpad or mouse, that’s what people do.

  • “I love and hate Adobe,” he said when we first discussed this piece. See, Adobe doesn’t build Photoshop for my dad. Adobe just builds Photoshop, and Photoshop is an insane mess. Every couple years brings a new version, costing hundreds of dollars, chock full of new features he doesn’t need, and lacking the improvements he wants. Later, he downgraded his original sentiment: “I hate Adobe.”

    This is almost exactly how I felt about Adobe for a while, until I came to the same realisation as the author of this article did.

    From day one as a Photoshop developer, it’s made clear that you’re making the app for a crowd, not an individual. They have a rule in the hiring process: if someone claims to be a Photoshop “expert,” they terminate the interview. Photoshop is too big for experts. Only a specialist can thrive inside it, and any specialist will rankle at all of the irrelevant stuff tacked on to “their” Photoshop.

    So CS6 isn’t for Thomas Knoll. It’s not for my dad. It’s not for me. It’s not really for anybody. It’s just for everybody. Amateur head-choppers, professional graphic designers, and everyone in the world with a BitTorrent client or a student discount somehow needs Photoshop. Because only Photoshop can Photoshop.

    I have to highlight this quote to demonstrate the ambition of what Adobe wan’t to achieve:

    The holy grail is to give Photoshop computer vision. The app should simply select “objects” the way users see, like a “beach ball” or a “tree” or a “head,” not as “blob of color one,” “blob of color two.” Then the user should be able to do what she pleases to the object, with the software filling in the details like what might’ve been behind that object — something that’s available in a nascent form in CS6. Content vision also means the software should know when you’re working on a family photo and when you’re working on a logo, adjusting color grading techniques accordingly. It means unifying many of Photoshop’s features — which, once again, its architecture is uniquely suited to do.

  • Quotes & Accents

    We all need to use them but hardly any of us know how to type them. Here is a brief guide of how to type smart quotes and accented characters (and dashes) on a Mac. If you have the latest OS you probably discovered that you can also find accented characters by holding down a letter to reveal its spicier cousins (I discovered this myself many times when attempting to type “heeeeeyyyyy” in an iChat window.). If you’re on a Windows computer or some nerdy space machine, I’d recommend googling “keyboard commands for accented characters”. If you use a non-English keyboard, you probably already know how to find all the accented characters you need. Made by Jessica Hische for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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