September 2011 Archives
We’ve had the pleasure of sharing the billing alongside the inestimable Simon Collison over the last couple of years (and are looking forward to sharing the billing with him again in the very near future 1, 2). One thing that we’ve very much appreciated in his presentations is his willingness - and openness - to share his suggested reading.
Students we’ve taught will know that there are a great deal of overlaps between Mr Collison’s Recommended Reading and the texts we recommend in our final year lectures. There are, however, quite a few gems not on our reading lists that we’d recommend highly (and Mr Collison has helpfully linked them all up).
We 100% agree with his sentiment:
At the very least, every human should read The Design of Everyday Things, Understanding Comics, and Ways of Seeing. Every designer ought to read Visual Grammar and Visible Signs, and own copies of The Art of Looking Sideways and The Elements of Typographic Style. We can all learn from Managing Oneself, and can improve our delivery with Communicating Design.
All of this shortlist should occupy pride of place in any self-respecting designer’s library and, though they might collectively cost a small fortune, they will repay themselves for years and years to come.
We should also, for the record, state that we’re humbled to have our book also included on the list. To be in such fine company is an honour indeed.
As the author of CSS for Print Designers, JD Graffam, puts it:
If you’re a print designer, you know the day is coming when you’ll be asked to design a web site.
In our experience as educators, frequently dealing with graduates from traditional communication design courses seeking a grounding in web standards, we can attest to the inevitably of this fact. Good news, Mr Graffam’s book looks perfect for our print designer friends.
With chapter titles that include: ‘Dump Drag and Drop’, ‘You Have to Read the Words’ and ‘Prepress for the Web’, the language used is print friendly and, given Graffam’s background – running award-winning studio Simple Focus and curating Pattern Tap – you can bet your bottom dollar that this will prove popular with the growing number of print migrants.
Armin Vit, writing at Brand New, makes some interesting (albeit brief) observations on British Airways decision to try to infuse a measure of the past in its brand. Vit writes:
[Its new] TV spot brings together vintage aircraft with modern day, big ass planes and even the Concorde — the Concorde! Remember that? — makes an appearance.
Interestingly the world’s favourite airline has also chosen to revive the company’s motto: “To Fly. To Serve.” and dust down its once deprecated coat of arms giving it a 21st century look and feel, courtesy of forpeople.
Given the cut throat nature of the airline industry, which is driving carriers to differentiate their propositions, it’s perhaps no surprise to see a company with a long and distinguished heritage choosing to highlight its past in a carefully considered attempt to shape its future.
Today is the day we’ll almost certainly see Amazon unveil its eagerly awaited Kindle Fire. Perhaps the only behemoth in a position to compete with Apple’s neatly integrated hardware, software and content ecosystem - which has seen the iPad establish itself as the de facto tablet of tablets - we’re looking forward to seeing what the Fire has to offer. Watch this space for details and analysis once the curtain has been lifted.
We’re delighted to announce a further installment in our ongoing series of Build + Standardistas’ Presents… events: ‘An evening with… Gavin Strange’ on Thursday, 28 September, 2011.
Guaranteed to be an informative and entertaining night, it features internationally renowned, “Jack of all trades and master of flip all,” Gavin Strange, who - when not working under his JamFactory alias - is Senior Online Designer at Aardman Animations.
Working primarily in the field of web and graphics, Mr Strange has also worked in character design, photography and illustration. As if that weren’t enough to get your teeth into he is also a noted and very entertaining speaker (who we had the pleasure of first hearing on the Bristol leg of the Future of Web Design UK Tour).
Gavin has, as he puts it, “created pretty things,” for the BBC, Channel 4 and Howies as well as creating his own vinyl toy named ‘Droplet’. A keen cyclist, he has also turned his attention to capturing the Bristol fixed gear bicycle scene for a forthcoming documentary titled ‘BÖIKZMÖIND’.
We’re looking forward to what we’re sure will be an entertaining and informative evening. We’ll kick off at 5.30 pm in the Black Box after which we’ll doubtless decamp to a local watering hole for some lively post-presentation discussion. We very much look forward to seeing you there.
Spotify’s recent announcement that you now need a Facebook account to sign up for its service has whipped up the ire of early adopters. Spotify has put all its eggs in the Facebook basket, and over at Get Satisfaction, the official Spotify comment reads as follows:
Hey guys thanks for your question. Unfortunately you will need a Facebook account to access Spotify from now on, unless you already have an account set up.
Although existing accounts aren’t affected (as yet, anyway) the obligatory Facebook sign-in means that the data created by your listening habits can be collected, analysed and eventually monetised by a third party, something which has proven very upsetting to many.
Summarising the voices of dissent, a clear theme emerges when the general anti-Facebook sentiments are filtered away: It’s actually fine to provide data if you’re not paying for a service. As the old adage goes, “If you’re not paying, you are the product.” As a general rule, people accept this proposition. However, and this is the important part: when you are paying, you don’t expect to also be the product.
Being forced to be both leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
In the mid 90s, the web was largely uncharted and the brave souls who inhabited the new frontiers were made of hardier stuff than today.
These pioneers found their brave new world at Geocities, a free webhosting provider that was modelled after a city and where you could get a free ‘piece of land’ to build your digital home in a certain neighbourhood, based on the subject of your homepage.
In 2009, after 10 years in the hands of Yahoo, Geocities was shutdown and deleted. In a valiant effort, a team of volunteers known as the Archive Team rescued the remnants of the once expansive and significant digital terrain.
Using this archive, The Deleted City is a beautiful visual exploration – a digital archaeology, if you will – of this eradicated part of our shared history, which in the words of Mr. Keith, “really hammers home the magnitude of Yahoo’s wanton destruction of Geocities.”
It’s that time of year again when students, old and new, dust down their laptops and brace themselves for the start of a new semester and, in many cases, a new academic year…
With that in mind, and with a generous intention to, “encourage the learning spirit at all levels,” the fine folks at Five Simple Steps are offering all of the Practical Guide books at a very generous 20% discount.
These are all, no exceptions, on our reading lists so we’d recommend them highly. Written in an engaging manner and beautifully designed, Five Simple Steps’ Practical Guides are designed to last, covering timeless design principles. In short, they’ll form a solid backbone to any aspiring designer’s library. We’d urge you to pick up copies now, you won’t regret it.
It’s hard to argue with this:
The exclamation point is the douchebag of punctuation!
At the time of writing, Browserstack is in Beta, but having taken it for a spin it looks like a very useful and valuable addition to the web designer’s toolkit.
We all know that we should test our sites in Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and IE. We also have to consider the poor users who are stuck on older versions of these browsers, sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control.
Web based services that allow us to capture how different browsers render your pages have been a staple go-to for web designers, but screenshots don’t really cut the mustard any more. Although a screen grab from a specific browser will tell a part of the story, it won’t show us how a site behaves.
With Browserstack you can test your site in a set (or stack, if you will) of working browsers. It’ll save you setting up your own testing platform, which, let’s face it, can be a royal time-consuming pain in the posterior. Through some clever tunnelling technology you can even access your local files through the service, meaning that you can test your work before it’s even uploaded to a public server. Nice.
Browserstack is a paid for service, it comes at a price, but (especially if the speed of access is as good as it is now, during beta), it’ll be a price worth paying to ensure that your site works - and not just looks - the way you intended across different browsers.
Courtesy of those fine folks at House Industries, Smidgen is a beautifully overweight display face, ideal for adding that little extra something (a smidgen?). Lovely indeed.
If This Then That is a very clever idea, a visual interface to the wonderful world of mashups, exposing to the general public the kind of magical nerdery previously achievable only through the likes of Yahoo Pipes.
“Put the internet to work for you by creating tasks that fit this simple structure: if this then that. Think of all the things you could do if you were able to define any task as: when something happens (this) then do something else (that).”
The service will let you construct tasks like: If my friend posts a photo of a kitten on Instagram then save the image to my Dropbox or if the weather drops below 10˚C then send me an email telling me to wear a scarf.
Using channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Email, Weather, Dropbox, Instapaper and many more, you can cook up all kinds of recipes that will make your life that little bit more cross-wired. Just what the doctor ordered.
Utilising a minimal, functional grid, some restrained typography and some elementary forms, Genis Carreras’ series of Philosophical Posters demonstrate how much can be achieved with very, very little. Lovely work indeed.
In 1972, Ed Catmull, who later went on to found the animation company Pixar, Fred Parke and Robert B. Ingebretsen created a short animated movie featuring a 3D rendition of Ed’s right hand. Including some wonderful ‘making of’ footage, this 6 minute short is worth a look for anyone interested in the pre-history of the greatest animation company out there.
Set aside one minute and forty seconds and catch up on 100 Years of Style in a Mere 100 Seconds. This is how history should be taught. Great stuff.
Christian Annyas – the man behind a number of fascinating design projects we’ve featured before 1, 2 – is back, this time with a wonderful typographic collection suffused in history, featuring title pages of New York City maps issued by Sanborn Map Publishing between 1885 and 1917.
Admirers of Jessica Hische’s exquisitely crafted typographic illustrations will love this glimpse back to one of the first golden ages of hand-lettering. Exquisite.