January 2011

Design is about cultural invention

Some people (they are wrong) say design is about solving problems. Obviously designers do solve problems, but then so do dentists. Design is about cultural invention. Jack Schulze.

Designing James Bond’s interface

The “Art of the Title Sequence” blog recently did a feature on the latest Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Besides the description of how the titles were designed (which is interesting in itself), the team also did work on the in-movie UIs and described their design process. Some highlights: We worked a lot of theory […]

“Simple Trumps Complete”

That phrase succinctly describes the most important design lesson I’ve learned this year: that focusing on the simple core of a concept is more important than filling out its features. “Simple trumps complete” – a 5% feature (used by less than 5% of all users) is a distraction for all the other users, and is […]

Notes from Design Driven Innovation

Kindle notes from Design Driven Innovation, by Roberto Verganti. Major impressions While lots of inputs are helpful early in the process, it is ultimately up to individuals to craft pointed visions. Focus on the new “meanings” your proposal could bring to people; basically, how will it change their lives in an emotional way? One good […]

Knowing what you care about

Merlin Mann‘s writing around this time last year was very influential in my thinking during my sabbatical. Specifically: Before you sweat the logistics of focus: first, care. Care intensely. I think understanding what you care about is vastly underestimated. Mostly, we subscribe to the myth that we care about whatever we’re doing. But when you […]

Intelligence shows more in the questions you ask than the answers you give.

“Don’t think of an elephant” and design

George Lakoff‘s Don’t Think of an Elephant is a political book, but the concept is applicable to many more situations. Lakoff argues that by accepting someone else’s way of talking about an issue–their words and their metaphors–you constrain your responses to what fits in their model of the world. Once you hear the world “elephant”, […]

Ambiguity and design

Dev Patnaik in Fast Company: It turns out that while large companies and organizations are phenomenally good at managing complexity, they’re actually quite bad at tackling ambiguity. I’ve joked that my title is “designer” but what I get paid to do is “tolerate ambiguity”. Until I know how to tackle it, I suppose… Dev goes […]

Great on day one

Some nice thoughts from Marco Arment about how great products are great right from the start: The original iPhone was great on day one. It couldn’t do as much as today’s iPhone, but it performed its feature-set extremely well. There were almost no rough edges or unpolished areas in its hardware or software, and nearly […]

Making the world light

John Updike on why he writes: So writing is my sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable. That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world — […]