Everything is a Prototype

Interaction design is quickly changing. Code is becoming a design medium which has made prototyping a more common design process. This is a step in the right direction, but is missing the point. Prototyping is not a step that designers check off the list. It’s *what designers do*. Everything designed is a prototype. Continue reading Everything is a Prototype

Design is Implicit Education

I played a lot of baseball in my youth. Through all the years I took the sport seriously, I had a pitching coach named Lefty. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was the best teacher I ever had. I remember at some point, he started helping me throw a slider. The slider is a tricky pitch. It’s the epitome of easy to learn, hard to master. The technique for throwing a slider isn’t hard to grasp, but it can be very easy to hang. After weeks of struggling with the slider on my own, Lefty was able to fix it with a single sentence. It amazes me to this day. Continue reading Design is Implicit Education

The Best Way is Through

My Grandmother was dying. She was in the hospital, being monitored before she was sent home with hospice care. Everyone in the room knew the end was not far away. My wife and I had driven to be there when we were told that she could pass at any time. Not long after we showed up, my Grandmother politely asked to be left alone so she could sleep. I knew that once I left the room, it would be the last time I saw her alive.

Continue reading The Best Way is Through

Prototyping the Future American City

San Francisco is the center of the center of American innovation. The future of software, medicine and transportation is being created within a 60 mile square radius of the city. Based on that, it’s striking to notice at how old the city feels. Everything from its mass transit systems to its architecture seems dichotomous to the “everything-new” energy of the city.

San Francisco is an example of where society is outpacing its habitat. While San Francisco and other urban dwellings are experiencing this phenomenon now, it’s only a matter of time until every town and suburb goes through the same phenomenon. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how we got here. Making any significant infrastructural modification takes considerable time, money and will. The amount of disruption of daily life for its residents would be considerable. On the occasions where projects like these fail, it becomes harder for future projects. Continue reading Prototyping the Future American City

Creating the Profound

I have been thinking a lot about my article, In Defense of Hard, which I wrote almost two years ago. I never have completely moved on from it—to this day, I try to find better ways to communicate the thoughts behind the article.Through all my thinking, I keep going back to the word profound and how few things being made today can be described as such. There is a exhaustive emphasis on simple or easy, but not profound. Continue reading Creating the Profound

Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important

About a week ago, I started a Branch discussion on redesigning the Save icon. I never saw the Branch as the actual place where the icon would literally be designed, but I thought it would be a good hub for conversation. To my amazement, the thread took off and grew far beyond the bounds of that single discussion. As the days went by I found the meta-discussion more interesting than the discussion itself. A significant amount of people considered the exercise a waste of time for one pervasive reason. The icon, albeit antiquated, had become the de-facto for save and had transitioned into an abstract symbol. People know what it is, so why waste our time making something new? Continue reading Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important

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. Continue reading The Dichotomy of "Simple"

Designing Icons Around Privacy

The couple months ago a person contacted me to help them design a small icon system for an academic paper. The icons were needed to communicate different online privacy settings when sharing content or information. Communicating levels of privacy is far more complex than the simple nouns or verbs normally symbolized in icons. The set was small enough in number for me to take design them outside of my work hours. What I’m showing today are wireframes of the icons to communicate the general direction and explain the structure/rules behind this system. Continue reading Designing Icons Around Privacy

Making the Transition from Development to Design—My Experience and Advice

A couple months ago, a person emailed me asking for tips for transitioning to design from a development background. As someone who had loosely gone through the same path (from programming to design to programming then back to design), I wanted to share any advice I could possibly give. After writing the letter, I thought it may be useful to a few other people out there. So if you are a developer looking to get into design, this is written specifically for you. To preface, this article is not why developers can be good designers. This article does a great job of articulating those ideas. So instead of duplicating good work, I spent time on some ways a developer can get into design. Continue reading Making the Transition from Development to Design—My Experience and Advice

Write Like You Design

I have long held the opinion that writing was part of design. I simply did not practice it. Writing was not given much priority while I attended art school. Writing continued to be of secondary concern during the early years of my career. Evidence of this can be seen on this blog. I started taking my writing more seriously after my wife, who has her master’s degree in English, started editing my posts. It progressed further while working at Adaptive Path, where it was clear that how we communicated our work could be as important to our job as the work itself. Currently, the attention given to language in the work at Seabright solidifies a dedication to the writing process in my practice. Continue reading Write Like You Design