A month ago, I took a good friend up on their offer to write for their tech blog Geeks Union. What have I written about?
(Update to that article: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom has also followed suit, get it on iTunes)
Mostly/all tech related. Look for my ususal design gibberish on here at a steady pace from now on, as well as on Twitter.
It’s that time of year again-Apple has once again unveiled the latest incarnation of their iPhone, named-you guessed it-the iPhone 5. Apple also refreshed their iPod Touch and iPod Nano lines, the latter perhaps finally giving people the iPod Touch nano they’ve wanted for a while =) (Sidebar: why the wrist strap knobs on the iPod Touch? Has Jon Ive been to Japan recently?)
Over the next week (some people have already weighed in), we’ll hear all manner of weigh ins on the good and the bad of these new devices and IOS 6, Apple’s new mobile operating system, dropping September 19th. Some people have reservations about the new Maps app, which replaces Google maps and assumes you will always have a car when you need directions, something I found annoying when I was using the beta and walking around San Francisco in July. Some people will talk about the hardware and their positions on it. I’ve got an opinion on their opinions I’ll expand at the end of the week.
No matter who you are or what you think about Apple, iOS or iPhone, one hting you should take note of is this-funky leather trim aside, iOS 6 is all about the user.
Usability design, like much of design, has to fit within Gestalt-if it works perfectly, you shouldn’t notice it. Of course, nothing ever does, especially with tech devices-Playstation 3 and Vita, two recent purchases of mine, feel very much out of touch with the experience I want to have, PS3 with it’s media bar interface that doesn’t seem thought out at all and Vita with it’s touch screen that seems too far away to comfortably touch when using the physical controls-but, more importantly, when it doesn’t work, you know it doesn’t, and it drives you crazy.
iOS 6 adds some no-brainer, why-the Hell-wasn’t-this-here-before stuff to their native apps that used to require a third party app, like voice-guided navigation. A lot of the standbys like the music app got a facelift, with nothing functionally different about them. But still, iOS 6 is all about the user, and here are two perfect examples.
*Note: Kill the voiceover in both of these videos, or at least the first one if you’re a rebel.
The App Store always felt like a mixed bag, usability-wise. The endless list of apps and music got tiring after a while, and I probably missed out on some good apps in the store unless I knew about them. The new mobile iTunes umbrella of stores keeps everything relatively stable and minimizes the vertical scrolling a user needs to do in order to see what’s there. It feels like an iOS app, rather than a diet version of desktop iTunes, which itself gets a facelift that makes the user experience better and sleeker.
A hidden gem is iOS6 is the Passbook app, which like the Pay with Square app wants to make your life easier by allowing you to register and store everything from rewards and gift cards to coupons and boarding passes into the app, which when tapped on displays either a barcode or QR code for someone to scan. It’s a fantastic app if executed right, and personally I prefer the retro look of the virtual boarding passes to the ones they actually give you. The app displays everything in sort of a stack, like an actual passbook wallet, which is a nice touch, and would be instantly familiar to someone like my father, who just got his first iThing and could really make use of this app when he travels.
The only part of the app I don’t like is the delete animation, which is a paper shredder deal that to me looks like an old electric razor.
Overall, the user experience in Apple’s latest mobile software is set up to provide one of the cleanest, intuitive user experiences thus far, and once again sets a bar for developers. I can’t wait to try all the new features in the hardware and software release, if only to shamelessly see what new toys my Pebble smartwatch can take advantage of.
What’s next? An editorial piece about why Apple is on the same level as Helvetica, as well as some design world updates. Until then, follow me on Twitter, tour my brain on Pinterest, or read and subscribe to my morning paper Eagle Feather.
Chances are you are here right now because you received one of these in the mail recently. Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Robert Brown, and I am indeed looking for work. I have designed and created since I was six years old, when my father taught me to shoot a camera and a gun on the same day.
I have created work for clients as storied as Arthur Silber Jr, as large as the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and as homegrown as the Coffeelogy Cafe in Hoover, Alabama. I pride myself on delivering timely, relevant and effective solutions that fit the view and budget of my clients. I’ve recently been recognized with two international design awards for my work.
I’m from Alabama (some of you are too!), and I have a different approach to designing than you might be used to. I like classic and effective designs. My work tends to be a bit optimistic at times, my photography tells a story just the way it is. It’s an honest approach, and one that I think can be very powerful when powerful ideas are at work.
I like to think I’m someone who can collaborate and get along with. I make a mean cup of coffee, wear more plaid than all of Scotland combined and collect guitars. I have a passion for everything I involve myself in, and would love to show that passion to you as part of your studio.
So if all of this strikes your fancy, send me an email or give me a call. Right now I live in Alabama (don’t worry, I’m open to relocation). I’m looking forward to speaking and working with you very soon.
I know, I’m reacting to what is essentially sponsor spam at the top of my Gmail inbox, but the idea of crowd sourcing-having a good number of people submit work, for free, with the hope of having theirs chosen, is absurd to me. I know, if you look online and even in magazines, you will see people who have had their big break participating in these things. Yes, competition is good-but payment is better. I design and I love creating-I’ve been recognized for it as well. And no doubt there is some awesome work on crowdsource sites. But in this situation there is no presentation, there is no sell-and a good idea can suffer for that. This is George Lois’ Group Grope taken to whole new level-where ideas are lined up like cattle and overlooked just as easily.
And you should absolutely demand it stop. If everything was created in this way, think of where we’d be.
“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.” – Linda McCartney
I started my creative life as a photographer. My father taught me, at age six, to shoot a magnum and a camera the same day.
The greatest challenge with shooting as part of a creative career is figuring out how to stay true to yourself.
In April, I was invited to the final gathering of the Greater Alabama Council’s Wood Badge Course I had recently designed for. Of course, I brought my camera along. During shooting, I realized how daunting documenting an event including over a hundred people was, and somewhere between heart attack and filling up my memory card I started narrowing my focus down to the individual stories involved in the event-everyone was there for a different reason, and if you observed with the right kind of eyes, they would tell their story.
That situation was directly related to documenting a client. Two weeks ago, I found myself in San Francisco. SanFran, like most cities, has a lot of walking. After getting my bearings the first day, I pulled my camera out and kept the shutter pressed the entire time I was travelling, capturing people on the streets, the train stations, the movement of the train, just about everything I came across.
Obviously, this was not for a client; the narrative becomes less clear. This is very freeing.
Why? With an objective, your focus becomes sharp as a needle; you know what you want and should shoot. Problem is, you tune so much of the outside world out. Your right brain accepts this tunnel vision. When you shoot for yourself, the world is your canvas, no pun intended. You see and you shoot and you create your own story.
In the chaos of the city, looking through the viewfinder made me take everything in a fresh new light, finding a truth to my story and my shots and creating my story. And that is the greatest purpose of photography.
I have long been a fan of McSweeny’s, that eccentric publishing umbrella run by the equally eccentric Dave Eggers. Until last week , however, I was on the outside looking in-McSweeny’s was a sideshow curiosity to me, something to stick in my Netflix Que or graze through at Barnes and Noble, but never to take home.
That changed once I landed in San Francisco last Tuesday, and really took in the city that is the ocean of inspiration for the whole of Eggers and Sweeny’s (sidebar: the more you compare the company with San Francisco, the more sense it makes for Eggers to divide his rich content into so many forms. Humor him and be amazed.) SFMoMa sealed the deal with a stash of Wholphin DVDs near the register, and, curiosity the better of me, I bought one. That was yesterday. Today, I subscribed.
Most webstores are a pain in the royal ass to do anything on, but if it was possible to brand a store, McSweeny’s has done that-it knows it’s a publisher, and it’s storefront wants you to remember that fact, making browsing and buying a pleasure, as it were. The type was solid and readable, without a trace of sans serif or modern graphical tricks, the left-handed navigation is also easily read, all of it referencing the feeling of reading a book. From a usability standpoint, this would probably be immensely satisfying to browse through on an iPad. (UPDATE: it really is.)
Where McSweeny’s really shines is the bane of websites-forms. Forms are usually awkward and feel like a chore to fill out. McSweeny’s knows that you know this, and instead of putting a regular old web form in there instead creates one that feels formal and refined, the digital bookstore equivalent of filling out a form for a library card, if you will. What is usually a bore to fill out feels distinguished and handcrafted.
The handcrafted, readable, straightforward approach is a strategy used by two of my other favorite sites, Quarterly and Kauffmann Mercantile, both of which deserve and will receive their own future posts. If they followed the styling used by other websites, they would fail; by breaking the rules, as it were, they create and megaphone their personalities and branding across the web to anyone who visits.