September 25th, 2012
We’re finally getting a glimpse at the latest, pop-infused incarnation of MySpace. And if you’ve ever wondered what might happen if Pinterest hooked up with Instagram, well, you might want to see the love child yourself.
It’s been almost year and a half: long enough to forget that a handful of dreamers and $35 million were going to resurrect the social media has-been. Long enough to witness Facebook’s fall from grace. And long enough to watch the visual, particularly the photographic, take over the language of social and sharing.
Will a heavy dependence on imagery, a swipe at horizontal scrolling, and a renewed focus on artists and the fans that follow them be enough to breathe new life into an all-but-forgotten portal? Will the differences, functional and aesthetic, coupled with the cache of Timberlake’s attentions woo users away from their social spaces of choice? Many people have already left Facebook for Pinterest and Instagram, tired of the sameness of the experience and the indifference of the Powers That Be. Will this be something altogether different?
I snarked at the logo redesign. I rolled my eyes at the name dropping. I don’t expect much now. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Like they say in this business, “Underpromise and Over-deliver.” Let’s see what you got, Mr. Timberlake.
August 28th, 2012
If you’ve ever freelanced, done project work, or just picked up a casual job to make a little pocket change, you’ve come up against the question: What do I charge for this? Or maybe you’ve been quizzed by a prospective client curious about what you’d charge to deliver on their wish-list. Well, technology has, once again, come to the rescue and, not surprisingly, the App Store has what you need.
MD Interaktiv, a Mexico-based iOS & Web Development Agency, has launched MyPrice — an iOS app that helps designers calculate fees based on input such as project type, client, and location, plus the designer’s experience and history. This cloud-based tool is accessible from any web-connected locale and on any device with the app installed. Templates and past project figures can be stored and retrieved, making the process of pricing a more iterative one.
Specific features (from the creators’ website) of the app are listed as:
Ideal Hourly Rate
Keep a log of your working and personal expenses so when you find the price you may charge per hour, all those expenses get covered.
+75 Specific Projects
From how much you will charge your uncle for creating his Twitter account to the responsive redesign of a medium enterprise’s new web site.
You will be able to create quotes from your iPhone and check them or modify them on your iPad.
Every week you may consult up to three little tips that will help you achieve your professional goals.
Transfer your estimates from MyPrice to your FreshBooks account as a new estimate for a specific client.
November 5th, 2010
Inspired by high fashion and Japanese minimalism, Forsman & Bodenfors created not only a desire for the brand’s products (specifically kitchen appliances) but a beautiful cookbook and fun mobile app. When tasked with promoting the home furnishing’s spatulas, bowls, and the like, this creative team turned what could have been another oh-look-how-they-shot-those-tongs exercise and instead delivered something memorable and measurable.
The “Homemade Is Best” campaign’s foundation is a 140-page cookbook that looks like nothing we’ve seen before. Leave it to Ikea to shift the frame and show us cooking from an accessible and design-savvy perspective. Carl Kleiner’s photos are curious and playful. Who knew that the ingredients for thumbprint cookies were so spectacular?
Copies of the book are being distributed as a free gift to customers who visit the kitchen areas of Ikea stores in Sweden. It is not currently available in other countries, but the agency hopes it will be soon.
Not content with just the baking guide as coffee-table book, the campaign also includes an app to help folks work off the calories they consume as they bake and eat their way through 30 classic Swedish recipes. Users choose their cake and form of exercise, and off they go! Tracking routes, counting calories, and saving favorites front a gentle reminder to check out Ikea’s goods, but are always at the forefront.
From small cookies to large cakes, Forsman & Bodenfors have cooked up a delicious campaign that puts Ikea in the kitchen, having fun and inviting us to join.
September 25th, 2010
The Huffington Post recently posted a piece on The Dollar ReDe$ign Project. This online contest to redesign the American dollar bill is described by organizer Richard Smith as a way to “rebrand the US Dollar, rebuild financial confidence and revive our failing economy.” No small task and not particularly convincing if the posted comments are any indication. But seeing the amount of creative energy expended, the solutions shared and the rationale underpinning these submissions, it’s clear that many of us believe in the power of a good redesign.
Billed as “the ‘only’ realistic way for a swift economic recovery,” I wondered if Smith might need to step away from the computer for a few hours. Described as “the ‘only’ pragmatic way to add some realistic stimulation into our lives,” I began to see the beauty in this open design project. And the genius behind striking up such an initiative.
Crowdsourcing American currency as the ultimate feel-good and minting a new calling card for Mr. Smith. That’s no chump change.
While the competition is closed, voting on the winner continues until September 30, 2010. Submissions are still being received as of this writing — so if you’re inclined to show the world what’s inside your wallet (or your sketchbook, cocktail napkin or hard drive) head over and throw your bills into the pile. Of course, you can also just take a look and see what inspiration you might find.
Fix the economy, unlikely. Add a little something different to your portfolio, sure thing. Boost the profile of a fellow creative and savvy marketer, absolutely.
September 21st, 2010
COLOURlovers, an online community of folks who love all things color and creative, has put together a comprehensive color study of the top 100 websites. Not satisfied to simply rank these sites in numerical order, the team there created — and kindly shared — an infographic that tells an interesting story.
The bottom line: If you’re aiming for the top, you’d best be blue.
Take a look for yourself. It’s a great piece of info at a glance.
For those thinking that the Web’s big brands have broken out of the tight bounds of corporate identity, you may be surprised to find that just as traditional brands gravitate to the indigo end of the spectrum, so too do their Web-based brethren. What is striking is the crowd of social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace — clustered in blue.
David Zax, blogging for Fast Company, suggests that the “phenomenon called ‘economies of agglomeration’” could be at work here, and in creating a “’blue district,’ (the color blue) becomes the only respectable place for a social media company to set up shop; a brilliant but fuchsia-branded networking site may flounder. He also cites a Wired study, conducted in 2003, that noted the import of location and proximity in the color spectrum and similar groupings as the ones found and illustrated by COLOURlovers.
As the boundaries blur between a brand’s owned (and controlled) website and its social media space (who needs a microsite anymore, really), it will be interesting to see how identity and brand are maintained. If this social-equals-blue equation bears out, what’s to become of the established brand that’s orange inside and out? What of the new brand just starting out, looking to stake out new territory and shake up its category?
It would appear — with this infographic and the reality it reveals — that online brands, and those spending more and more time there, will follow a tried-and-true, paint-by-numbers approach to color.
December 14th, 2009
Grace Coddington, Creative Director and visionary of American Vogue, spoke with The Times recently about working at the iconoclastic fashion and culture magazine, her life and pursuit of her creative vision. A reluctant hero of this year’s documentary, “The September Issue,” Coddington embodies the always-on perfectionist and never-satisfied creative — a woman struggling to tell a relevant and rich, visual and visceral story in the context of vanity, ephemera and the superficial.
Art directors would be well served — and schooled — to study the photo shoots, spreads and narratives created by this brave and bold woman. The attention to detail and pursuit of the perfect shot make for incredible lessons in meticulous design and style. As the photo above illuminates she is truly in tune with the popular culture (yes, that is Lady Gaga), myth and fable, composition and lighting and capable of creating a scene of depth and meaning beyond a simple showcase of labels and luxe.
If you have yet to see the movie, I highly recommend “The September Issue” and if you’re unfamiliar with Grace Coddington’s work, pick up an issue of Vogue next time you’re in purchase range. Buy it, bookmark it, tear it up and study the photo spreads as if they were from a well-informed text book on seeing and storytelling. Teachers are out there, we simply need to open up to them from whichever direction they might come from.
December 7th, 2009
Finally got the call and couldn’t be more excited. As allowed, I’ll use this forum to post my experience putting my superpowers to use for good.
Check out this fantastic organization, The Taproot Foundation. Think about joining me and many others who will do it pro bono.
November 2nd, 2009
A recent project put me, once again, into a mobile frame of mind. The design challenges that come with a mobile initiative can be daunting, but the opportunities to rethink everything from audience to content to usability can be a great “reset” for a designer/developer. I warmed up with a swift reading of Cameron Moll’s Mobile Web Design.
Moll makes an especially good point when referencing context, the “circumstances and conditions that surround a place, thing, or event.” While content and component (mobile device used) are important, it’s the context, the situation in which the user finds him/herself, and our attention to this detail that I think makes all the difference in an effective mobile web solution. I recommend this read to anyone designing in this space. I also recommend checking out these resources as well. Enjoy!
The Mobile Context by C. Enrique Ortiz
Mobilize, Don’t Miniaturize by Barbara Ballard
Global Authoring Practices for the Mobile Web by Luca Passani
Mobile Web Design: The Series by Cameron Moll
Resources for designing and building mobile apps and sites from Design For Mobile
Mobile Web Developer’s Guide from mobiForge
October 26th, 2009
While friends and family might disagree, I have to say that all the “stuff” that I collect could be catalogued under the heading “Design Inspiration.” From the 1975 Sanrio Kitty Pencil Eraser to the torn out pages of the latest Surfer magazine, seeing something worth keeping, then keeping it within arm’s length is a work habit that I’ve polished to a professional sheen. My latest enabler is none other than Flickr, particularly the Webdesign Inspiration group.
I can’t imagine that I’ll stop collecting the tangibles that make their way across my desk and through my life, but the ability to grab and gather within this online space is such a relief. No more hunting for that old bookmark. No more searching through folders of JPGs and PNGs. No more clicking through only to find that the owner of that amazing site has either changed it completely or altogether disappeared. There’s simply no inspiration in a 404 error.
My plan is to be a good group member and post to this group. Then I think I’ll start scanning some of these bits and pieces — surf print tearouts and scraps first, as I’m on a surf kick these days — and start my own “cloud” catalog on Flickr. I can keep my “stuff,” clear my space and have access to it nearly anywhere I go. Now that’s inspiring!