Tag Archive for 'design'

Frank Chimero: Horizontalism and Readability

Illustrator/Designer Frank Chimero challenges the “vertical scroll”:

We take scrolling for granted today. It’s like running water or Friends reruns: they’ve always been there and they always will be there. And we like them well enough. But, it is an interesting mental exercise to actually consider scrolling as part of a continuum of solutions in solving the same problem.

This dovetails nicely with Rex’s thinking in his Mediaite design. But the real game changer is the arrival of the iPad. As we move away from the mouse pointer and scroll wheel, designers should revisit old assumptions, and embrace the horizontal.

Life Below ‘The Fold’

Irish designer Paddy Donnelly, in a nicely-designed article, attempts to subvert the accepted wisdom of the page fold:

The fold is one of those guidelines that has been thrown about so much that it’s now become a ‘rule’ of web design (or maybe more appropriately a ‘ball and chain’ of web design) with web designers blindly obeying without question…

If everything of exceptional quality is pushed upon the reader at the beginning, once they start exploring and the rest of the site isn’t of the same calibre, they’re going to be let down.

I agree—scroll below the fold on most large-scale web sites, and the quality diminishes as you move down the page. I don’t know if that’s because too much attention is paid to ‘the fold’ myth, or because most web sites have a vertical up-and-down ‘rail’ structure… or, if we’re just bad designers.

People scroll. People read left-to-right. We should design for these rules.

Actual Objects

Actual Objects provides elegant royalty-free (and reasonably priced) design and illustration assets by Matt Owens and the Athletics crew, here in Brooklyn.

Royalty-Free Illustration from actualobjects.com

Screen shot on Flickr

My talented colleague Jason Bishop worked together with Matt on the economic bailout collection, seen above, and two other sets. The two have previously collaborated for some of the great infographics in GOOD Magazine.

New Capndesign.com

I love Matt Jacob’s just launched redesign. Bright and fresh, with cool jquery charts, archives that mashup photos and posts, and some Typekit.

New Capndesign.com

Screen shot

Congrats, Matt! If only things didn’t look so stale around here.

The Bold Italic

Jason Kottke just linked to an interesting design tidbit – the launch of a web magazine in San Francisco called The Bold Italic. (No, not that bold italic…)

We’ve seen some small-scale examples of art direction on the web, but this seems to me to be something in the ‘medium’-scale range – I really love this stuff, hopefully they can keep it fresh.

Also, I can’t wait for the day when ad budgets and tools are at the point where designers can art direct on the article-level, as opposed to just designing templates and frameworks. Maybe this gets us an inch closer to that goal.

‘Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische

‘Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische
‘Buttermilk’, from Jessica Hische.

Illustrator/Designer Jessica Hische released her first typeface today, and it looks gorgeous. Buttermilk is a “bold script that would be just perfect for magazine headlines, book title type, holiday cards, initial caps, you name it.”

The numerals are especially beautiful, and she promises a “huge array of ligatures to help you set it beautifully and easily.”

I worked with Jessica last fall on a nice retro logo for the Pogue-o-matic. Be sure to check out Jessica’s work, (I’m particularly fond of her letterpress stuff.)

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

London Calling, cassette tape on canvas, 2009 — By Erika Iris Simmons

Two things that I really love about this illustration by Erika Iris Simmons:

  1. It’s the iconic image from the cover of The Clash’s masterpiece London Calling.
  2. It’s rendered with casette tape!

View it at the largest size to see the detail.

Al Shaw on Redesigning the Front Page of Talking Points Memo

On Redesigning the Front Page of Talking Points Memo »
Al Shaw talks about some of the design considerations and technical wizardry that went into the face lift of the Liberal-leaning politics blog. Be sure to watch the video demo of the ajaxy front page CMS editor.

A New MoMA.org

Nedward is digging into the new MoMA.org… so far, very intriguing. Fixed nav bars are the new hottness.

I just sent the tweet above a few minutes ago, but wanted to post some more context about it here. MoMA launched a revamped web site today, with a lot of hook-ins to social networking sites like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. But, one of the more compelling changes is the addition of a Facebook-style fixed nav bar, at the bottom:

new MoMA.org

The new MoMA.org, with its fixed navigation bar.

Continue reading ‘A New MoMA.org’

President Obama Unveils New Stimulus Logos

The stimulus package is now law, so there are going to be a lot of public works projects in need of a logo, right?

Yesterday, the president unveiled 2 such logos – designed by Mode, Aaron Draplin and Chris Glass. The logos will be stamped on public works funded by the economic stimulus package, FDR style. President Obama said that its intent was to remind Americans that:

When you see them on projects that your tax dollars made possible, let it be a reminder that our government – your government – is doing its part to put the economy back on the road of recovery.

One wonders if the Obama team is going to rebrand the entire Federal government, one agency at a time.

Michael Bierut on the Move from the “Drawing Board to the Desktop”

From Michael Bierut’s piece in the Times this weekend, Drawing Board to the Desktop: A Designer’s Path:

All of us assumed that these machines [computers] were just fancy hybrids of typewriters and calculators. We did all the artwork with rubber cement, colored paper and paint. We had no idea, but we were looking at the beginning of the end, and the end came quickly.

Michael is a partner at Pentagram, and blogs regularly at Design Observer.

A New Whitehouse.gov, and New Typefaces

As of noon today, we have a new president, as well as a new WhiteHouse.gov. The much-admired, Gotham-based typographical identity is gone, but as Jason Santa Maria points out, the designers went instead with two other typefaces from the same foundry: Whitney and Hoefler Text.

Another major redesign this week also involved the use of Whitney: kottke.org – though you’ll need to have the font installed on your machine in order to see it.

Which begs the question, Is Whitney the new Gotham? (Seems like just yesterday we were asking, Is Gotham the New Interstate?)

Hoefler+Frere-Jones is on a roll.


Make your own Obamicon:

Your image in a style inspired by Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster. Regardless of your candidate of choice in the 2008 election, here’s your chance to sound-off.

From the folks at Paste, via Sean.

Design Loves a Depression

Vermelha Chair

This past weekend, The New York Times Week in Review argues in a story headlined Design Loves a Depression that the recent economic slowdown will force designers to eschew novelty and the impractical, and focus more on the “intelligent reworking of current conditions”:

Design tends to thrive in hard times. In the scarcity of the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames produced furniture and other products of enduring appeal from cheap materials like plastic, resin and plywood, and Italian design flowered in the aftermath of World War II.

Will today’s designers rise to the occasion? “What designers do really well is work within constraints, work with what they have,” said Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. “This might be the time when designers can really do their job, and do it in a humanistic spirit.”

Related: Designing Through the Recession, by designer Michael Bierut

UPDATE: Murray Moss takes the WIR to task in a piece today on Design Observer:

Design loves a depression? I can assure you that design, along with painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance, fashion, the culinary arts, architecture, and theatre, loves a depression no more than it loves a war, a flood, or a plague. Michael Cannell’s article is regressive and mean-spirited, and it demands a response.

…quite a provoking discussion.

Image courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

A New Pair of Sox for the Red Sox

New Red Sox Identities

This design link is near and dear to my heart – The Boston Red Sox recently updated their team identity and uniforms. Overall, I think it’s a positive evolution, though seems a bit nostolgic. I love the gray primary road jerseys.

Armin Vit mostly likes what he sees:

Replacing the old seal as the team’s official logo is the lone pair of red, hanging sox. Unless I’m wrong, there is no typography associated with it. None. No “Boston.” No “Red Sox.” If that’s the case, this is one of the best cases of visual identity and brand equity becoming so strong the icon doesn’t need explanation. They are sox. They are red. They can not be anything other than the Boston Red Sox.

Illustration courtesy of Boston.com

Icon-maker Shepard Fairey – Person of the Year 2008 – TIME

TIME Person of The Year 2008 Cover
Shepard Fairey’s cover for TIME.

Time.com has a nice video interview with Shepard Fairey, designer of the HOPE and PROGRESS posters of Barack Obama that were nearly ubiquitous during the ’08 presidential campaign. Time Magazine named the President-Elect Person of the Year 2008, so it seemed only natural to hire Fairey to do the cover.

In the video, he shows the process used to create the piece – techniques learned from his days as a screen printer.

Via Sean

The Mostly True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway

The Mostly True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway:

There is a commonly held belief that Helvetica is the signage typeface of the New York City subway system, a belief reinforced by Helvetica, Gary Hustwit’s popular 2007 documentary about the typeface. But it is not true—or rather, it is only somewhat true. Helvetica is the official typeface of the MTA today, but it was not the typeface specified by Unimark International when it created a new signage system at the end of the 1960s.

R-train icon, set in Helvetica and Standard.

I noticed this discrepancy earlier this year – I had to recreate some MTA subway icons for use on a project, and noticed that the R train map icon looked nothing like the Helvetica “R”. The MTA’s own website seems to be confused about the type used in the system icons, let alone its station signage.

Enter typographer Paul Shaw, and his 10,000+ word piece on AIGA’s site. Did you now that Boston’s subway signage system was the first to use Helvetica, without modifications? Ever curious as to the process by which enamel signs are made? Want to just look at pretty pictures of subway signs over the years?

It’s a great history, for fans of typography and the MTA.

This Election’s Poster Child

Design critic Steven Heller looks at poster design this presidential election cycle, and the unprecedented outpouring of support for Senator Barack Obama:

So, do these posters have any impact on voters? Not the specific images or messages but cumulatively they are a grassroots effort that excite through the show of collective support. What’s more, posters often appeal to personal needs and emotions, not all rouse in the same way for everyone. Having many options allows partisans to engage as they choose. This show of support goes in the plus column for Barack Obama.

Take a walk down Smith Street in Brooklyn, and you’ll see Shepard Fairey’s poster in many shop windows – it’s almost comic… not just street art any more.

Mad Men, Mad Props

Mad Men is such an enjoyable show – but, typeface designer Mark Simonson takes Mad Men’s prop masters to task for their typography sins.

None of these missteps occurred to me when watching, so maybe I need to brush up on my history of typography?

The Measure of a President

The Times has an interesting (if not completely pointless) infographic on presidential height and weight, in recent history. I like that the silhouettes are all mostly recognizable – Jimmy Carter’s smile, Harry Truman’s spectacles and William Howard Taft’s belly… funny.

It was done by Scott Stowell’s design studio, Open N.Y., the people who design GOOD Magazine.

Beehive vs. Chompers: V.P. Debate Party

V.P. Debate Party

Invitation design for our party, Thursday night.

I couldn’t resist – Lisa and I are hosting a V.P. Debate party this Thursday night, so I whipped this invite up. The idea was to play up two of the more striking elements of the candidates’ appearance: Sarah Palin’s beehive and eyewear, and Joe Biden’s abnormally large teeth.

The result is kind of awkward but fun. It looks like an elongated John Kerry-sized head, but it’s not worth fussing with the proportions at this point. Just go with it… I did.

UPDATE: The always charming Emily pointed out a rather obvious spelling mistake in the design above. Can you find it?

Subtraction 7.1 Beta

Khoi Vinh recently realigned his blog, Subtraction.com, converting the back-end from Movable Type to Expression Engine. (Full disclosure: Khoi is my boss.)

There are a few new tweaks to the familiar design, the most noticeable being the link roll folded-in with longer form entries, creating a nice chronological flow. Also, he created templates for photo posts.

No More Pink Grid Bars

Quick admin note: I removed the gridlayouts.com javascript from this site, so you should not see the pink bars appearing when you’re typing a comment or searching for something.

The Javascript was only supposed to toggle the pink grid bars when the user hits ctrl+shift+G – but it must have interfered with some other ajaxy stuff, because it was toggling with only the G key. So, it’s been removed – and I added a screenshot of what it looked like to my original post about the redesign.

That is all.

Time.com Redesign

New Time.com
New design for the homepage of time.com, the website of Time Magazine.

Time Magazine started rolling out a redesign of time.com yesterday – it was designed by my friend and former colleague Sean Villafranca, who left our group at the Times earlier this year to become the Design Director for time.com.

It strikes me as a welcome departure from its previous CNN-esque iteration, and a little more faithful to the print design. I like the use of Arial Black, and the daring use of the TIME wordmark on the white background. (Daring because it would’ve been far more predictable to use the wordmark reversed on a red background.)

They seem to have only rolled-out the home page and the article pages at this point – section fronts still show the legacy design. But on the whole, it’s a very good improvement to a very good news resource – just in time for the general election season.

ALSO – A few birdies tell me to expect some major design changes to wsj.com today or tuesday, coming hot-off-the-heels of their magazine launch this month. Yes, we’ve heard this before, but there are some preview screenshots out there. Stay Tuned!

“The Fold”

Chris Fahey on “the fold”:

In fact, we should start thinking of “the fold” as something other than a hard line with an “above” and “below” portion, and we should stop thinking of the vertical positioning on a page as equivalent to priority. Scrolling up and down through a web page is a fundamental aspect of the web user experience, and there is much more to it than simply seeing what’s on top and then gradually seeing everything else (emphasis added).

I have no doubt that this is increasingly true, but wonder why ads are consistently placed “above the fold”. Is this just a remnant of this older thinking, or do they perform significantly better there?