Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Metaphors, Idioms and Why the Save Icon is Broken

In a recent post I promised to write a follow-up article on why the save icon was “objectively” broken. I know this topic has run its course, so I will keep this brief. I’ve started to think more broadly about this save icon subject—specifically around using metaphors in design. The metaphors for computing concepts established decades ago are starting to show their age and time has exposed the weaknesses of relying too heavily on them.

Read On…

Where Icons Are Headed on the Web

Oak Studios just released Symbolset, an icon set that creates a significant step forward in a long-running trend for iconography on the web. In their words, Symbolsets are “semantic symbol fonts”, which act as replacements for full words in your HTML. This has a clear advantage for accessibility and indexing. Symbolset uses font files as the delivery system and map the icons to standard Unicode values. Read On…

The Dichotomy of “Simple”

The word “simple” has varied meanings. This is certainly common in the English language, but the broad definition of the word can create confusion within the design community. This is not helped by the word’s influence and pervasiveness in the designer lexicon. However, the most challenging aspect is that “simple” can often have opposing, conflicting characteristics, creating situations where a design can simultaneously be simple and not simple depending on one’s point of view. Read On…

Design for Speed

The homepage of Some Random Dude as of today is 39.6Kb spread across 5 requests (13.1Kb and 2 of those requests are Google Analytics). Over 30% of pages sampled load in 1 second or less. 74.5% of pages sampled load in 3 seconds or less. These numbers increase dramatically when you restrict the sample page loads to countries with high broadband adoption. This site performs this way not because of a plugin I installed or the server’s Apache settings (although they help). It performs this way because of tough decisions made in the design process. This site was designed to be fast. Read On…

Death by Interface

This post was originally posted on the Seabright blog.

Writing on the iPad has inherent challenges. In portrait mode, the keyboard is far too cramped to perform any significant typing. It is clear that landscape was the intended mode of typing due to the more realistic dimensions of the keyboard in addition to the iPad cover’s feature to place the device at a suitable typing angle. However, landscape mode has the problem of vertical space limitations with the keyboard active. With these challenges, I am always interested to see how app designers try to provide more functionality with such significant restrictions. A recent app that has gotten some attention is Writing Kit, which provides advanced writing features as well as in-app researching tools. Unfortunately, it has also followed a design cue I first observed on iA Writer for iPad. Writing Kit adds a formatting bar on top of the iOS keyboard, offering useful features at the cost of exaggerating the problem of writing space. One has to ask themselves how worthy an interface element is if it erodes the experience around the subject it is supporting. Read On…