Frank Chimero sul suo approccio al design:

I am for a design that’s like vanilla ice cream: simple and sweet, plain without being austere. It should be a base for more indulgent experiences on the occasions they are needed, like adding chocolate chips and cookie dough. Yet these special occassions are rare. A good vanilla ice cream is usually enough. I don’t wish to be dogmatic—every approach has its place, but sometimes plainness needs defending in a world starved for attention and wildly focused on individuality.

Here is a reminder: the surest way forward is usually a plain approach done with close attention to detail. You can refine the normal into the sophisticated by pursuing clarity and consistency. Attentiveness turns the normal artful.

Big Medium spiega come Google potrebbe risolvere il problema delle risposte sbagliate. Il problema è, principalmente, un problema di design: c’è molto che Google potrebbe fare per presentare le risposte in maniera differente, invece che come la verità assoluta.

Google gives only the shallowest context for its featured snippets. Sure, the snippets are always sourced; they plainly link to the page where the answer was extracted. But there’s no sense of what that source is. Is it a Wikipedia-style reference site? A mainstream news site? A partisan propaganda site? Or perhaps a blend of each? There’s no indication unless you visit the page and establish the identity and trustworthiness of the source yourself. […]

People don’t click the source links, and that’s by design. Google is explicitly trying to save you the trouble of visiting the source site. The whole idea of the featured snippet is to carve out the presumed answer from its context. Why be a middleman when you can deliver the answer directly?

Big Medium:

Only 2 out of every 1000 mobile web users ever tap a custom share button—like even once—according to a Moovweb study. We found similarly tiny numbers during our research designing Philly.com and verticals for About.com. That means people are over 11 times more likely to tap a mobile advertisement than a mobile share button for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

A meno che non abbiano raggiunto la pagina tramite un social network: in quel caso sono venti volte più propensi a farne uso.

Un catalogo di loghi belli, organizzati per categorie (tipografici, con animali, geometrici, etc.).

The Design Team:

After reading extensively on typography, and seeing what works (IRL), I developed the following list of guidelines that have consistently helped me with typographic design. Hopefully, you can apply these tips to start improving the your own typographic design process — without turning you into a snob.

  1. Start by choosing a typeface for your body text.
  2. Avoid using more than two typefaces.
  3. Balance line spacing and font size.
  4. Keep your line length around 45–90 characters.
  5. Use a modular scale.
  6. Pay special attention to proper punctuation.

Steve Jobs, nel 2003 al New York Times:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

John Gruber:

You need to recognize a Porsche 911 as a 911. An iPhone needs to look like an iPhone. The design needs to evolve, not transform. The thing to keep in mind is that the iPhone itself, what it looks like in your hand, is the embodiment of the iPhone brand. There is nothing printed on the front face of an iPhone because there doesn’t need to be. The Apple logo is the company’s logo. The iPhone’s logo is the iPhone itself. […]

A new Rolex needs to look like a Rolex. A Leica needs to look like a Leica. A new Coca-Cola bottle needs to look like a Coca-Cola bottle.

Ben Bajarin:

Similarly, sports car designs are iconic. You know a Porsche 911 when you see one, no matter what year it was made. I feel similarly about Apple sticking with certain design language, and thus establishing it as iconic. Iconic car designs have slight variations year to year, but never dramatic departures from the iconic look. I feel that Apple is on a similar design path.

Il design dell’iPhone è iconico — riconoscibile istantaneamente come un iPhone. Dovremmo aspettarci che cambi con sempre minore frequenza, e che Apple lo migliori con cambiamenti graduali e minori piuttosto che rivisitandolo completamente.

Le icone senza testo sono incomprensibili, ma il testo senza un’icona risulta noioso. Il suggerimento di iA è di utilizzarli entrambi nelle interfacce, ricordandosi che un’icona ha più una funziona “emotiva” che esplicativa:

Humans are both rational and emotional beings: “Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer.” If anything on the subject of icon usability has been proven again and again it is: “Icon plus label works better than icon or label alone.” […]

Do not look for reasons to use an icon because your design feels empty or cold or doesn’t work as well as you expected. Icons do not fix a structurally broken design. Add icons at the very end of the design process, do not play with icons while working on your wireframes. Pictures can stand for 1,000 different words; strong information architecture finds the right notions and puts them in the right context. Get your rationale straight before appealing to emotion.

Un redesign che la migliora notevolmente. Mi chiedo perché non ci abbia già pensato Ryanair: eliminerebbe molti dubbi e intoppi.

UPDATE: Mi fanno notare che questa è, effettivamente, la carta d’imbarco di Ryanair. Usando l’iPhone da più di un anno per biglietti e check-in non ero a conoscenza del cambiamento.

Una bellissima raccolta di trivia sul design — del tipo chi ha disegnato quel famoso logo, quando nacque la parola “graphic design” o chi ideò il packaging dell’Happy Meal.

Don Norman e Bruce Tognazzini, due persone abbastanza importanti nel campo dell’usabilità, il primo ad Apple fino al 1996, il secondo ad Apple durante i primi anni, hanno scritto un articolo molto critico nei confronti di Apple concentrandosi, soprattutto, su iOS:

Today’s Apple has eliminated the emphasis on making products understandable and usable, and instead has imposed a Bauhaus minimalist design ethic on its products.

Unfortunately, visually simple appearance does not result in ease of use, as the vast literature in academic journals on human-computer interaction and human factors demonstrates.

Apple products deliberately hide complexity by obscuring or even removing important controls. As we often like to point out, the ultimate in simplicity is a one-button controller: very simple, but because it has only a single button, its power is very limited unless the system has modes.

Condivido parti del pezzo, non tutto — ma è comunque una lettura interessante. Scrivendo di Apple spesso viene menzionato uno dei dieci principi per un buon design di Dieter Rams: “Good design is as little design as possible”. Ma, appunto, questo è solamente il decimo. Ci sono anche gli altri nove da ricordare:

  1. Innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long-lasting
  8. Thorough down to the last detail
  9. Environmentally friendly
  10. As little design as possible

Per la prima volta, per colpa della Serif TV di Samsung, non mi dispiacerebbe acquistare una TV. La Serif TV è un nuovo televisore di Samsung, nato dall’idea di ridare materialità all’oggetto, al televisore— negli ultimi anni diventato più che altro uno schermo sottile che si incolla alla parete, scomparendo.

La Serif TV si nota, è spessa, e magnifica. Da FastCode Design:

Coming in three colors—white, dark blue, and red—and ranging in size from 21- to 40-inches, the Serif looks as good off as it does on, embracing an almost sculptural quality. Thanks to a woven fabric back cover, the usual rat king of cables that tether most televisions to our media systems is deftly hidden away, which helps preserve its presence as a standalone object of design lust. But it’s also flexible: it’s just at home on a wall or a shelf as it is on the floor (thanks to the four screw-on legs that are included).

La TV perfetta a cui collegare la propria Apple TV l’ha fatta Samsung.

Edward Tufte ha scritto libri eccellenti sulle infografiche, ed è considerato uno dei principali esperti e pionieri in merito. In un articolo di Medium, intitolato Beyond Tufte, Karl Sluis ha consigliato nove libri a chi volesse avvicinarsi alle infografiche — e capirci qualcosina di più — che non sono stati scritti da Tufte (non per essere crudeli nei suoi confronti, ma per segnalare volumi meno conosciuto ma comunque validi).

Il primo in elenco, Now You See It, è nella mia lista da più di un anno — essendomi stato consigliato più volte:

Few [l’autore] covers a surprising amount of data analysis in Now You See It. The book provides an approachable introduction to data science, from navigating data to common patterns in time-series, deviation, distribution, correlation, and multivariate data. The below graphic is a great example of Few’s approach: here, Few regroups data by month to correct for periodicity and adds an average to help the reader see the patterns in the data.

Se volete un ebook gratuito, invece, segnalo Data + Design. Iniziai a leggerlo tempo fa, e prometteva bene (purtroppo non l’ho mai completato).

Matt Gemmel ha scritto un articolo dei più intelligenti che abbia letto sul design degli oggetti digitali, con particolare attenzione ad iOS. È una critica allo skeumorfismo, più sensata di tante lette fino ad oggi. È sbagliato avere come riferimento assoluto, nel disegnare un’interfaccia, la versione analogica di quello che si sta proponendo; si tratti di un calendario, una rubrica, un libro. Parlando di libri di carta e ebook noi dovremmo tenere a mente che sono entrambi design per un contenuto, rappresentazioni della stessa cosa e, di conseguenza, strutturare i secondi scordandoci dei primi; che sono sì venuti — da un punto di vista temporale — prima, ma non per questo devono influenzare la struttura degli ebook.

We forget that physical objects are also just specific embodiments – or presentations – of their content and function. A paperback book and an ebook file are two embodiments of the text they each contain; the ebook isn’t descended from the paperback. They’re siblings, from different media spheres, one of which happens to have been invented more recently. The biggest intellectual stumbling-block we’re facing is the fallacy that just because physical embodiments came first, they’re also somehow canonical. The publishing industry is choking itself to death with that assumption, despite readily available examples of innovative, digitally-native approaches

Semplifico: ciò che conta è il contenuto, e realizzare una struttura che sia quanto più fedele ad esso. Non è detto che ciò che funziona ed è intuitivo nel mondo di atomi, continui ad esserlo se portato su iOS:

The reality is that skeuomorphism enshrines and validates a failure of vision, and even worse, a failure to capitalise on the medium.

Tornando a un vecchio discorso, ovvero alla morte delle specifiche tecniche (che passano su un piano secondario), Nick Bilton sul NY Times ha scritto del ruolo sempre più ingombrante che il design inizia a coprire nel momento in cui una tecnologia arriva a uno stadio abbastanza maturo:

“We’re on the tail end of technology being special,” says John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design. “The automobile was a weird alien technology when it first debuted, then, after a while, it evolved and designers stepped in to add value to it”.

Walk into most car showrooms in America and sales clerks might spend more time explaining the shape of the heated seat than the engine that moves the car along. Several decades ago, he might have been heralding pistons and horsepower.