Filed under "Design"


Unsolicited Feedback: Boom 2

16 November 2022 • Filed under ,

Proposed changes to the Boom experience

Unsolicited Feedback is a series which explores design possibilities from an outsider perspective. These design exercises consider what could be while acknowledging that, inside organizations, there are complex reasons for why products are shaped the way that they are. We’re just having fun here. I like Boom a lot. I’ve written about it in the past, and raved about how installing it on my computers has significantly enriched my music-listening experience. It’s got nice features and is generally easy to understand. Could be better, though. The Problem My issue with Boom is the extent to …


Favorite Designs: Fujica 35-SE

2 February 2022 • Filed under ,

Almost a decade ago now, I got (re)interested in photography and cameras, largely sparked by Instagram. I researched my options and purchased a Fujifilm X100S, which I still own and love to this day. It’s a wonderful camera. I also got the itch to play around with film photography. Film was all there was when I was a kid, and I remember having a few different point-and-shoot film cameras back then. I thought it would be fun to try it out again. I didn’t want to spend a whole lot to get started, and I …


Rams

3 March 2019 • Filed under

Dieter Rams by Gary Huswit

My copy of Gary Huswit’s Rams arrived the other day, and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch it. If you’ve ever read Sophie Lovell’s Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible, the contents of the film will be familiar to you. Rams’s wartime childhood, his grandfather’s carpentry influences, his study of architecture, and his chance encounter with the Braun brothers that kicked off his product design career are all covered quite well. There were a couple of things that took more shape for me after watching: …


Never Trust the Mockup (or the Demo)

18 October 2017 • Filed under ,

You know this, y’all: modern design is no longer describable by purely static mockups. Touchscreens have fundamentally changed the expectations and interactions of software. Motion, gestures, & modalities are now commonplace in design. Mockups — as useful as they are for defining visual design and establishing patterns — are unable to describe moving, manipulative elements.* My recent experience with iOS 11’s Control Center reminded me of this truth. Sometime in June, I saw an image of the new Control Center from a WWDC demo. My gut reaction was similar to others’: What is going on here? There are …


Designing a Design System

23 June 2017 • Filed under ,

I recently completed work on an enterprise design system. The story was a familiar one: our client had both built and acquired many products over the years, and they all looked and behaved differently. And not in good ways. This was my first time on a design system project. I have of course designed style guides, pattern libraries, and sticker sheets in the past, but these deliverables are different in that they are typically created after the fact. This time, the design system work began well in advance of product redesign and development work. I learned (and even re-learned) …


Taking an Invoicing Application Mobile

7 August 2016 • Filed under

Originally published on The InVision Blog on June 8, 2016. Launched in 2005, Blinksale is an invoicing application for freelancers and small businesses. Built exclusively for use in a desktop browser, the app had never worried itself over small screens. Mobile web browsing wasn’t a common investment at the time—especially for web apps—and responsive design wouldn’t develop until years later. But with the advent of the iPhone in 2007, the product landscape began shifting significantly and many web products began to go mobile. Blinksale web app, 2016. As smartphones increased in popularity, so did …


Writing as Problem Solving

29 January 2016 • Filed under ,

Several years ago I personally discovered (and I am certainly not the first person to do this) that writing out problems I encounter while designing often leads me to a clear solution. This exercise began as an attempt to solicit feedback from my coworkers via email, and to this day I often write inside an email program, even if I have no intention of sending. The exercise is simple enough: I write out my thoughts on the problem as a solicitation for help, frame it up to ask for the recipient’s thoughts at the end, review it, and …


Go to the Field

22 November 2015 • Filed under ,

A harvested soybean field in Villa Grove, Illinois

I just got back from spending 2 days in the field (literally), observing and talking to farmers about how they interact with software. We’re spending the first few weeks of this new project excavating the truth by observing with our own eyes. Before we go out to observe users, we talk to people inside the client’s organization. They frame up the problem, often paint a pretty confident picture of the way things are, and explain what should happen next. It’s not unusual for this picture to appear fairly narrow in scope — something to the …


30 Days with Sketch

10 November 2015 • Filed under

So. I tried Sketch. Though Sketch has been around for a while, it didn’t really catch on in my social circle until recently. That’s likely because my circle has used Photoshop for many moons and the motivation to move to some other tool could end up being more of a bother than a benefit. Still, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I decided to use it on my last project. Here’s what I found. The Good There’s …


Minimum Viable Perspective

12 October 2015 • Filed under

Picard is not amused.

Browsing Netflix a few weekends ago, I happened upon Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve been re-watching a number of TV shows from my kid/teenager years, so I watched the first two episodes. Man, they do not hold up. The special effects were embarrassing, the characters cartoonish, and the stories painfully silly. But, as may also be the case with you, I remember these episodes being pretty amazing at the time. And over the course of seven seasons the show improved its special effects, developed interesting and nuanced characters, and produced (mostly non-silly) great stories. …


Rock The Dock (with Sifter).

27 January 2009 • Filed under

A couple months ago, Garrett came to me and said, “I’m using Fluid to keep Sifter in my Dock, and the logo we did isn’t working out in that context.” He sent me a screenshot, and sure enough—ouch. Not a pleasant sight, that small diamond shape amidst other icons specifically designed for use in the operating system. So we kicked around a number of ideas, including one that would involve redrawing the sifter in an entirely different perspective, but came back to the simpler idea of somehow altering or enhancing the existing logo. It&#…


Sifter.

10 April 2008 • Filed under ,

I have been fortunate enough to work with friend and designer extraordinaire, Garrett Dimon, on a number of projects now. Last time I was honored to develop a logo for Garrett’s new company, Next Update. This time? Sifter. Sifter is Next Update’s flagship web application, a bug and issue tracker. I’ve been happily following along as the app has been developed. The very public way in which Garrett has shared the design process — openly discussing insights into problem-solving, revelations and twists and turns — has been refreshing. There was a bit of …


O Hai, I'm Back from SXSWi. And I Learned Something.

12 March 2008 • Filed under ,

Another pilgrimage to Austin, Texas has passed and with it another great year at SXSWi. After last year’s sort of dismal vibe, I considered not going again. But as the time drew near, I found myself growing more optimistic about this conference. Hope floats. And so do cheesy titles of Sandra Bullock movies, apparently. While there were a couple of panels that certainly didn’t live up to their potential, I was pleased overall with the quality of my experience. And it was nice to meet some new people/talk more with those I’ve meet …


Navelgazing 2: The Reckoning.

20 February 2008 • Filed under ,

I don’t want to dwell on the redesign too much, but I do want to touch on a few points. So here we go. Did You Know That I Have A Links Feed? It’s true, and it’s here. I don’t want to say it’s the best link feed on the internet, but in 5 years of publishing, I’ve retained a whole 215-ish subscribers. Just sayin’. Its a pretty exclusive club. Get in on the ground floor. Previous to 1 a.m. this morning, my linklist was being …


This Is Where I Write The "Hey Internets, I Redesigned Teh Site" Post and You All Pretend To Be Excited.

18 February 2008 • Filed under ,

Hard-refresh those browsers, kids. Version 15 of Jaredigital.com (snappy codename forthcoming) is alive and kicking. Somebody cue up The Breakfast Club soundtrack. Dude, Why? See, I’ve actually wanted to redesign for a couple of years, but both the time and the design “spark” eluded me as life continued to speed up. In classic ‘designer designs for himself’ form, everything I came up with was total garbage. To add another layer of self-imposed pressure, I became more and more fearful as time went on as to what kind of coding horror I might unleash upon the …


Next Update

13 February 2008 • Filed under ,

More than any other kind of work that I do, logo and identity design is what feels most like sorcery. Oh sure — there are plenty of well-grounded bits of research to draw from, such as the answers to questions like “If you were a car, what kind would you be and why?” and “Warm or cool?” But at the end of the day, it’s really just me and my brain, working through lots of truly ghastly and clichéd ideas until something interesting shows up. Like magic, to point. Working patiently …


Pangea.

2 September 2007 • Filed under

I was listening to Jon Hicks’ “How To Be A Creative Sponge” presentation from @media2007 (which was fun, entertaining and recommended listening) several weeks ago, and it got me thinking of some of the ways I try to stay fresh and sharp creatively. It’s been said many times before, but the real killer of design inspiration is sitting in front of a computer when you’re struggling creatively. No matter what awesome stuff you’re browsing, the only way I’ve found to get out — and stay out — of the creative rut is …


World, Meet Geniant.

9 April 2007 • Filed under

At long last, The Geniant Blog is alive and kicking, thanks in great measure to Mr. Garrett Dimon’s “let’s just build it now and ask for approval later” approach. We’ve wanted a blog for a long time, and it was his “just do it™” attitude that pushed us to find the time to make it happen instead of waiting for unnecessary approvals. Thanks, G. I’ll be writing about Design -related topics over at the company blog, so please do check that out. Our audience is prospective clients, existing clients and (you) …


Title Of Blog.

18 October 2006 • Filed under ,

Just to get some perspective on what’s to follow, let’s review: It’s two thousand and blessed six. Almost seven. We’ve come so far as a civilization. It’s been decades since we put a man on the moon. We’re building a space station. We’ve been able to determine that Abraham Lincoln had depression. Women can vote now! And Justin Timberlake is courageously bringing sexy back after it’s been lost for so, so long. This is truly a magical time. So why do many respected and …


Carte Blanche.

3 August 2006 • Filed under ,

Hey, friend! Has this ever happened to you? Client: “Hi there, Designer. How’s the new website coming?” Designer: “Oh, just swell! I’ve added a big orange aquafied “Buy now!” button here on your homepage, set up your blog, given you RSS 2.0 syndication and enabled customer tagging on all your products. Not to mention the fact that I’ve used no less than 24 gradients, drop shadows on everything and big friendly fonts for that youthful, warm, feel-good vibe.” Client: “Uh… you do remember that …


How To Create a Tightly-Controlled Online Advertising Environment Poorly Disguised as a Social Network.

24 July 2006 • Filed under ,

Watch an episode of “That 70’s Show” that all the kids are watching, appropriate the name of Eric, Kelso, Fez & the gang’s favorite hangout and hope no one notices said appropriation. Make really bad typographic and color decisions for that ultra-successful “undesigned” look that’s going around. Create a fictional tween named “Ashley.” Include pictures of “Ashley” but don’t let anyone get a good look at her by offering larger views of the pics. The internet is full of dirty awful stalkers, you know. Have “Ashley” upload a “homemade” video where …


Copy, Right?

18 July 2006 • Filed under ,

All throughout my career I’ve been confronted with bad copy on the web, and I think it’s a shame. Isn’t communication at the heart of business? The vast majority of businesses wouldn’t think twice about hiring a copywriter to script a television commercial, carefully word a brochure or pen crucial press releases. So why does professional (or at the very least, thougtfully produced and decent) copy for the web continue to be something that is categorically overlooked? “People Don’t Read, They Scan.” I’ve been exposed to this logic …


You Might Be A Designer If...

14 June 2006 • Filed under ,

You walk around the Washington DC on your vacation and are as equally fascinated by the pervasive use of Clarendon as you are by the giant sample of brain coral on display at the Natural History Museum. You veto eating at a restaurant for purely aesthetic reasons (e.g. “it looks like Grandma’s basement threw up in there.”, “I’m not eating cheese sticks next to an overturned canoe, a velvet painting of Elvis and tackle box! I don’t care how ‘Americana’ it is!”, etc.). You’ve ever referred to Myriad Pro Semibold as …


Trapper Keeper.

16 May 2006 • Filed under ,

Refresh those stylesheets, folks. “Operation: My Last Design Was Okay But Ultimately Unsatisfying So Now I’m Starting Over” has wrapped. If you’re looking around and realize I might be a little crazy, that’s fine. This is really the direction I wanted to go originally, but nixed it in favor of the more subdued and responsible-looking Hot Chocolate design. Not that there’s anything wrong with subdued and responsible-looking. Design is fun. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when you’re working inside a lot of constraints, so it&#…


Are We There Yet?

3 May 2006 • Filed under ,

No. When I decided to retire the “disco pink and black” layout of this site and go in a new direction, it was fueled by one lone desire: to zig where others zag. I’d seen the trendy design memes getting passed around the blogosphere. Horizontally split layouts. Dark backgrounds. Widescreen layouts. Gradients. Oh, the gradients!!! And there’s nothing wrong with following trends. I follow some trends and will probably follow some of them for quite some time. Trendyness doesn’t change a good thing. It’s just that what I was aiming for was …


Ugly Hurts.

28 April 2006 • Filed under ,

You know, I’m getting pretty tired of bad designers or non-designers telling me how to do my job. I do this for a living, you know. Every day. I am fully aware of what my job entails and what demands I need to balance. But rather than get up to my elbows in manure, let me just put some ideas out there from people I think actually know what they’re talking about: Positive affect makes people more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible and creative in finding solutions. Products designed for more relaxed, pleasant …


Hot Chocolate.

24 April 2006 • Filed under ,

If you’re here on the ol’ www domain and not off somewhere remotely viewing from RSS-Land or Content-Aggregationville, welcome. Take off your shoes, grab a pillow and have a seat by the coy pond. That’s right. Feels, good, doesn’t it? So this is it. The skin of my identity for the next indeterminable length of time. It’s quite a departure from what was here before, but such is my way. I didn’t sign up for the CSS Reboot this year, but I suppose it’s logical to …


SXSW 2006: Day 4

15 March 2006 • Filed under ,

Ah, relief and sadness. The final day of SXSW. I’m tired and ready to go home, but it feels like this conference has passed by too quickly. It feels like we’ve just begun… Behind the Scenes: Developing OS X and Longhorn Tom Merritt, Cordell Ratzlaff, Mark Ligameri This was an interesting panel for me since it actually came from the perspectives of designers, not developers. Notes: OSX design was really driven by Steve Jobs, who really pushed the new UI through the hesitation and red tape. He also compared the working version of OSX every …


SXSW 2006: Day 3

14 March 2006 • Filed under ,

Today’s panels were sort of “hit or miss.” Two that I went to didn’t leave me with what I expected; one was completely different than I surmised from the title and description, and the other was fun but mostly uniformative relative to my interests (which I thought would be piqued). Anyhow, what follows are some notes from my day: Remixing Business for a Convergent World Alexandra Samuel, Robert Scoble, Sloan Foster, Jason Levitt, Eric Steuer Question: What does convergence mean to you and your business? An ecosystem of users & developers Move from top-down to …


SXSW 2006: Day 2

13 March 2006 • Filed under ,

So I have this utterly brilliant plan to capture my notes and ideas at the end of each day. Genius. Yesterday I did okay, and though I was really tired I was able to stick to the plan and do a pretty effective brain dump. Today’s notes will be shorter, but not for lack of quality panels or learning. I’m just tired. ;) What’s Hot in Web Applications Scott Dietzen, Seth Sternberg, Peter Merholz, BJ Fogg This panel included the creators or principals of YackPack, Meebo and Zimba — 3 fairly high-profile “web 2.…


SXSW 2006: Day 1

12 March 2006 • Filed under ,

This is as much an experimental exercise as it is an effort to share thoughts and notes that are fresh on my mind. I’m not much of a note-taker, so we’ll see how this goes as I review the events of today: Traditional Design and New Technology Panel: Jason Santa Maria, Khoi Vinh, Toni Greaves, Mark Boulton, Liz Danzico. Most of the discussion in this panel revolved around the idea that art direction on the web has been lost, and that the emotional connections formed while interacting with print media aren’t being replicated …


LinkedIn Listens.

6 February 2006 • Filed under ,

I can’t claim to have had any direct influence on the change, but the timing sure leans in my favor. After emailing LinkedIn and posting my last entry, “The Case of The Lying Link,” the My Profile page has changed (highlighting mine): Each item in the “header” area now has an “Edit” link next to it, making it dead easy to know where to click to change the item. It may be a bit of overkill, but it certainly clears up a lot of confusion. So whaddaya know? Customer feedback really can make a difference. And I feel …


The Case of The Lying Link.

31 January 2006 • Filed under ,

So I was on Linkedin tonight, accepting an invitation from a new contact, and noticed some outdated information in my own profile. Well, being the responsible contact that I am, I couldn’t very well leave the page without correcting these deficiencies. The Crime Before we continue, let’s do a little exercise, shall we? Say you’d like to edit the information under my name there: “Designer, Dallas/Fort Worth Area, Internet.” Where would you click to edit that information? Unless you guessed at where I was going with this, chances are you answered wrong. I …


The Case of The Perplexing Pump.

24 January 2006 • Filed under ,

I’ve run across this interface design issue twice in the recent past, and it confused me both times. I took my camera back to the gas station the third time, just to document the interface behavior. How’s that for following through? The Crime So I was at the Shell station this weekend, filling up my tank (Fig. 1). I finished filling up, returned the nozzle to the pump, and approached the screen to finish my transaction. The first question on the screen was “Would you like a car wash?” There were “Yes” and “No” options onscreen, …


Style Guides: Where Do They Fit In?

17 October 2005 • Filed under ,

In my capacity as Visual Designer at Bright Corner, I have been able to add focus to the craft, process and workflow of visual design. Whereas in previous roles I have regularly bounced between rudimentary IA, Flash development, HTML/CSS development and ad-hoc art direction — often all within an hour’s time — my time at Bright Corner has allowed me to focus in on design. Now I get to think about interesting things like user experience, semiotics (thank you, Mark!), color, brand and typography, and how all of these things (and more) contribute to the visual …


Five!

17 August 2005 • Filed under ,

The year was 1999. Predictably, the tired strains of Prince’s 1999 meandered through the air near my small studio apartment. It was New Year’s Eve, after all, and in just a few short minutes it was going to be the big 2000. The future. The year we’d all been waiting for. Jetpacks for all. I sat in front of my 100mhz Packard Bell desktop, waiting for the clock to roll past 11:59. I had backed up my important files on floppy disks and was presumably browsing the interweb to pass the time. Yes, …


When 1994 Attacks.

21 June 2005 • Filed under ,

Ah, 1994. OJ’s low-speed police chase makes the Ford Bronco famous. Nancy Kerrigan survives Tanya Harding’s hit squad. Thousands of young men start rocking the “Ross Gellar” haircut. Good times. Good times? Not entirely. Some things are best left behind. Forever. I came home last night to an email sent by a former colleague of mine. Sometime last year we had landed a client in the beauty pageant business. It was an exciting opportunity to work up designs that were more classy and more fashionable than our ususal fare. My friend and co-…


Ten Questions.

20 June 2005 • Filed under ,

Meeting with a new client for the first time can be an exciting event. It’s a chance to start off fresh on new projects, new relationships, and new ideas. The client is counting on you to solve their problems. Obviously, every client will have a different problem for you to solve upon entering that first meeting. They may not even realize they have a problem to solve. Their only expectation may be that you will make their website prettier, or bring it in line with their current identity. As such, there is not catch-all batch of questions …


Search Engine Overload

13 June 2005 • Filed under ,

This little spiel is a lengthy commentary on a discussion that has been taking place over at Devil’s Details. What began as an entry about an interesting menu placement choice has turned into a discussion on SEO abuse. The site in question is Servus. While it is reasonably well-designed visually, it is what is under the hood that draws concern. A quick look at the source code reveals an enormous pack of what appear to be keywords, but they’re not contained in the HEAD’s META tags. They’re placed in the BODY …


For those about to be inspired, I salute you.

6 May 2005 • Filed under ,

A recent discussion over at the CSS Vault was recently brought to my attention, and before I power down the computer and make the long drive to Plano to begin my new job, I figured I’d weigh in on the debate. From the thumbnail view on CSS Vault, the design looks very similar in color and layout to my old Black design. The visual correlation lies almost exclusively in the horizontal black, white, and cream color blocking. Nothing else seems to be an issue to anyone. It would seem that Aaron has changed the header color to maroon …


Pretty in Pink

26 April 2005 • Filed under ,

Despite the transitional nature of my life at the moment, I made time earlier this month for a site redesign. I hope by now you’ve noticed the change. It didn’t start out as a solid commitment, but when a pleasing design began to take shape, I signed myself up for the CSS Reboot. Truth be told, the signup was mostly meant to keep me from chickening out. And I almost did. Twice. The Inspiration It all started with a rerun of Saturday Night Live. Actually, it all started with this jittery feeling in my gut the …


Seeds of Inspiration.

12 April 2005 • Filed under ,

Anyone whe knows me also knows that I am nearly always up for a good design challenge. At the very beginning of February, I was approached by Cameron Moll and asked if I would be interested in participating in a project for Zaadz, an online business solutions provider. Zaadz had enlisted Cameron’s help in designing and developing website templates and he, in turn, enlisted the likes of Jason Santa Maria, Ryan Sims, Brian Biddle, Bryan Bell and myself to shoulder some of the workload. Zaadz was looking for standards-compliant web templates in order to populate its Biz …


I'm Seeing Stars.

13 December 2004 • Filed under

As I’ve mentioned in the past, and as is evident from my portfolio, Flash develpment is often an active part of my design activity. Such is the case with the latest offering from our team at G2E, the relaunch of the official website of Blue Star Ointment. Blue Star Ointment is a very old product, dating back to almost the turn of the century. The nature of the product’s use is a bit delicate, as it relieves painful and sometimes embarrassing skin conditions like psoriasis and jock itch. The product has amassed quite a cult following …


Back In Black.

10 November 2004 • Filed under ,

An Analysis of the the Jaredigital: Black Layout. Prelude It all started on July 17, 2004 when I went down to Borders and bought Designing With Web Standards. As I read through the book, I investigated many of the websites listed on Zeldman’s externals page, studying CSS styles, options, layouts, and markup. It was through my visits to these sites that I began developing the design for my Black design. CSS had opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, and I was ready for the good times. Inspiration It all started with three influential websites: …


Victory and Inspiration.

22 July 2004 • Filed under

The last week has been unbelieveably busy. I was at work until nearly midnight last night helping to prepare an important proposal. The latter part of last week and the weekend was spent pushing out another large-scale project which required some extensive late-night work. All in all, I’m satisfied to have done a good job, but glad to have the next couple of days mostly free to start exploring my latest interest: web standards. Like many web designers, I’ve often visited Jeffrey Zeldman’s website. Zeldman is a web designer and author of …


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