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Posts tagged Four Design Links.

Four Design Links:
June 3, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. The Revelation

We've been thinking recently about our business practices here at Design Less Better, so this recent speech by John Thackara really hit home for me.

It meanders a bit, but excluding the environmental stuff early on, I can appreciate at least three points he made about the business of being a thinker:

  1. There is a need for deep thinking Folks will pay for strategy, futurism, ethical frameworks, etc. because most of them don't have time to come up with it themselves. It's a simple assertion, but creative types might take it for granted. We tend to think other people are like us.
  2. A lot of well-known designers and thinkers don't have it as great as it might look. Like you, most of them have boring work they have to do to keep the lights on, but it's not the kind of thing that makes for a good lecture.
  3. The monetary rewards of those "good" jobs you see in the lecture are also less than one might expect. Thackara claims that he only gets paid for about 25% of the hours he works. The other 75% of his time is writing, thinking, and hustling so he can land those paid hours.

This is not at all the point of Thackara's speech, but it's something I appreciate nonetheless as an insight into the process of how such a person works and an indicator of how important passion is in being successful at it.

2. Meet Mr. W

Love this wonderful German (yet English-speaking?) ad. Clever!

3. Dropbox – The Power of a “Value Based” Startup

Dropbox Logo

We're huge fans of Dropbox, so this writeup on the company's strategy was of interest.

Essentially, it boils down to design less better.

Rather than follow the mantra of "release early, release often", the Dropbox team focused on a set of limited, but useful features that worked beautifully out of the gate. This high level of polish for a free product helped retain and gratify users who then went on to market the software to their friends.

Speaking as a user, that's exactly what happened to me. Dropbox is limited compared to the many other file-sharing sites out there, but this also makes it simple to use. And Dropbox does it so well that I can't help but recommend it.

4. This is not content

A recent post from 37 signals had this nugget, which is not an original observation, but bears repeating nonetheless:

[People don't want "content"] What people want is opinions, analysis, techniques, experiences, and insights. The best of all these come as a by-product from actually doing stuff.

One might rephrase this as: make things, not content.

Time to follow that advice...

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NickJun 3, 2010
 

Four Design Links:
May 27, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. 20 Worst Drinks in America 2010

20 Worst Drinks in America 2010

I like this spread on unhealthy drinks by Eat this Not That. Illustrating sugar content via equivalent stacks of cookies and donuts is a powerful visual. I'll never look at bottled teas and water the same way again.

2. We, the users - Facebook users' Bill of Rights

If you wanted a set of principles from which to base a code of ethics for social media, I'd say look no further than this users' Bill of Rights from the San Francisco Chronicle.

3. Google Font Previewer

Google Font Previewer

Google is breaking into web fonts with its new Google Font Directory and API, part of a collaboration with typekit. The selection is a little sparse at the moment, but it's great to think that we might have some more cross-browser fonts (as long as Google's servers are up).

The font previewer interface is nice, but it bugs me that the new fonts aren't properly anti-aliased in Windows. Until that gets ironed out (if it can be, as I think it's an OS problem), I'm not sure it's worth designing websites around them.

4. 10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps

10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps

We're very early into developing a web application, so I found this article and video helpful for wrapping my head around the mindset that accompanies these things. It covers the gamut from technology to branding and marketing with a few insights I hadn't considered before.

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NickMay 27, 2010
 

Four Design Links:
May 20, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. Display Myths Shattered

Everything you thought you knew about monitor specs and controls is wrong. Seriously.

2. Watch out for Cramming

This week, I learned about Cramming, which sounds a lot like the Opt-out schemes we've covered in the past. The scam depends on people not paying attention to false charges hidden in their phone bill. Except with cramming, you don't even have agree to anything! Read on...

3. The Lie of the Game Preview

Ars makes a valid point: When have you ever read a negative preview for a game? Never. Everything developers show journalists is tightly controlled. Of course it looks good!

4. Web Design Trends: 2010

Smashing Magazine published its annual list of the year's trends in web design. It's worth a look to see what's new (and what's tired).

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NickMay 20, 2010
 

Four Design Links:
May 13, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. Ethical behavior is good for the economy

This paper by David Rea of Victoria University examines the large-scale implications of an idea that we've been kicking around for quite a while.

2. Imagine A Pie Chart Stomping On An Infographic Forever

Why Does a Salad Cost More than a Big Mac?
Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Good Medicine Magazine

Careless designers all too readily sacrifice truth for the sake of aesthetics.

Smashing Magazine calls out designers' statistical illiteracy with a Showcase Of Bad Infographics.

3. 7 Ways to Use Psychological Influence With Social Media Content

Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning

This article from Social Media Examiner describes 7 psychological principles that can help your content get people's attention.

4. “Daddy, What’s a Brand?”

Last, this Fast Company article has a number of interesting perspectives on the postmodern practice of branding.

Next to the economics of peer-to-peer recommendation, the old paid-media model looks like a scam. You have to ask yourself how an industry employing so many creative thinkers at such high salaries has, on the whole, gotten away with so much crap for so long. Imagine if all that creative problem-solving power was re-channeled?

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NickMay 13, 2010
 

FIVE Design Links:
May 6, 2010

Today we have Four Design Links plus one. Four design- and ethics-related stories, plus one bonus link. Check it out!

1. 100 Abandoned Houses in Detroit

Flickr: 100 Abandoned Houses in Detroit
Photo by Kevin Bauman

Kevin Bauman's Flickr group, 100 Abandoned Houses, beautifully captures the faded glory of Detroit houses and in many cases their return to nature.

2. Facebook's Eroding Ethics

Say No to Facebook symbol
Image from Gizmodo

Facebook is turning out to be the design ethics story of the year. Gizmodo has a scary summary of Facebook's past and present sins against it's users.

And to top it off, just today, Facebook has been found adding data-collecting apps to profiles without users' knowledge. The jury's out on whether this is a bug or a feature, but read the above article before you decide...

3. Why Did Hunt's Ketchup Go HFCS Free?

A bottle of Hunt's ketchup

Hunt's has announced that it is reformulating to remove High Fructose Corn Syrup from its ketchup. Not because it's the right thing to do (which is controversial), but because consumers have worn them down:

“Manufacturers are tired of hearing about the e-mails, the 800-number calls and the letters,” says Phil Lempert, editor of the Lempert Report, which focuses on supermarket trends. “People don’t want it, so why fight them?”

If companies won't lead, at least they'll follow the market.

4. Your Office Chair Sitting Is Killing You

Office chair pain

BusinessWeek has an article explaining how sitting in chairs is bad for us, and how office chair design doesn't account for this.

"The Aeron is far too low," says Dr. A.C. Mandal, a Danish doctor who was among the first to raise flags about sitting 50 years ago. "I visited Herman Miller a few years ago, and they did understand. It should have much more height adjustment, and you should be able to move more. But as long as they sell enormous numbers, they don't want to change it."

Maybe instead of that fancy office chair, I should get a higher desk and some better shoes...

5. The Humble Indie Bundle

Screenshot from World of Goo

In the early days of BlogLESS, we professed our love for World of Goo, both as a game and for it's anti-DRM stance.

For the next five days, you can get it, along with four other acclaimed indie games, and name your own price. Moreover, you can decide where your money goes. You can pay the developers, or give to charities EFF and Child's Play, or choose how you want to split the money.

We're not involved with this offer in any way. But this is a model we'd like to see more of.

Buy good games. Do good. We can get behind that.

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NickMay 6, 2010
 

Four Design Links: April 22, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. Take Note: New Facebook Privacy Changes

Screenshot of Facebook Connect Policy

Did you see a new Facebook service agreement the last time you checked your status feed? The EFF warns that users should be aware of the latest changes to Facebook Terms of Service:

Today, Facebook removed its users' ability to control who can see their own interests and personal information. Certain parts of users' profiles, "including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests" will now be transformed into "connections," meaning that they will be shared publicly. If you don't want these parts of your profile to be made public, your only option is to delete them.

Read on for an explanation of why Facebook is doing this and what users can do about it.

2. Dribble

Screenshot from Dribble website

I'm digging on Dribble lately. It's a new website where designers can show tiny (400 x 300px) snippits of what they're working on. Kind of a visual Twitter.

So far, the work seem to have a high level of quality across the board. Despite the small size of the images, there's big inspirado inside.

3. Planes or Volcano?

Plane CO2 vs. Volcano -- InfoGraphic by Information is Beautiful

Another wonderful info-graphic from Information is Beautiful.

4. What's in a Brand Name?

ASUS logo

I get a kick out of design trivia, like this Mental Floss article explaining the brand names of 10 top companies. I thought the story of Asus name was interesting:

Netbook computers are the hottest gadget out there, with around 14 million of the cheap little laptops sold in 2008. One of the big names in netbook production is the Taiwanese computer company, Asus, which gets its name from the winged horse of Greek mythology, Pegasus. But if you took a quick glance at the phone book, “Pegasus” wouldn’t have been too high in the directory of computer companies. So, to increase their visibility in alphabetical lists, they dropped the first three letters of their name. It was an unusual strategy, but apparently it worked.

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NickApr 22, 2010
 

Four Design Links: April 1, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. Building a Better Estimate

Probably the best thing I read this week, business-wise. In this blog post, Andy Rutledge discusses how to improve one's job estimates.

The secret? Don't rush into it. Don't quote the client your ideal figure; get to know them first. Then, adjust up or down based on your perception of the relationship.

At DLB, I think we do a good job with our ideal estimates and we certainly take clients' differences into account as part of that calculation -- provided we get a second job with them. But for first-time clients, I can see the wisdom of resisting the urge to commit to an estimate too soon...

2. A Dream of a Well-Designed Credit Card Agreement

From TED blog, check out this simplified credit card agreement:

Alan Siegel's Redesigned Credit Card Agreement

A legible, good looking legal document? What a delightful dream (er, inspiration). Truly the stuff of TED.

3. Saving time for doing nothing

Bobulate

Lately, I've been enjoying Bobulate (read as: the opposite of discombobulate), a recent addition to my blog rotation. Great layout and content.

Liz, the author, references a great piece on the importance of keeping un-busy. Much of creativity --even productivity-- depends upon not working from time-to-time. When you're busiest may be when you need free time the most. It's something to keep in mind as the semester ends (for some of us).

4. Spy Party

Last, something else that caught my eye last week, Wired has a story detailing one of the most interesting game designs I've heard of in a while.

WIRED: SpyParty

Spy Party is a two player game where one person plays a spy in a party full of computer-controlled guests. The spy must perform several tasks while blending in with the AI. The other player is a sniper who observes the party and has only a single bullet with which to kill the spy.

Read the full description -- sounds intense.

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NickApr 1, 2010
 

Four Design Links: March 25, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week.

1. Watch this Presentation: Square

Something that caught our eye a while back. This video is one of the most clever and legible explanations we've seen. It takes a complex, multi-step product and makes it seem accessible to anyone. Bravo!

2. The Six Things Clients Want

A nice reminder of what the designer's job really entails, e.g. you aren't just building your client a website, you're inspiring them, bringing in ideas, and improving process. See past the product in the contract. What does your client really want?

3. Adobe's Magic Paintbrush: Context Aware Fill

Very impressive technology demo. The "uncropping" part at the end is astounding. I was skeptical, but it's not a hoax. This will be in CS5.

It's not 100% perfect, but from the look of things, it's about 90% what you'd get if you spent hours with the Clone Stamp. I'd call that progress.

((as somebody commented on the Adobe blog, with this tech, sites like iStockphoto are going to need some new watermarks...))

4. A Manifesto of Manifestos

I like this post and tend to agree with its observations. Sort of a meta-manifesto.

Needs to be 10 points, though. A nice round number. ;)

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NickMar 25, 2010
 
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