This is a few years old but still pretty cool. Back in 2009 Toyota teamed up with Please Let Me Design to create this IQ Font (above) as a way to promote their new micro-car.
The idea is simple enough but the execution is really nicely done. The designers (Pierre and Damien) worked with Stef van Campenhoudt (driver) and Zachary Lieberman (software developer, using OpenFrameworks) to track the car’s path as a way to draw each letter. The resulting font is clean, quirky with lots of character and classic details. Even the “making of” (below) is fun to watch.
Mashable reported that RIM Has Sold Just 490,000 PlayBooks in the device’s first quarter compared to 9.25 million iPads sold over the same period. It’s a shame because as a UX designer I love the PlayBook, still a lack apps is a user experience that will trump the user interface every time. Which is why I have an iPad not a PlayBook myself. This is the same problem Microsoft is having with WP7. Both platforms made great strides in out doing Apple but not enough to lure people from the real draw of iOS…the apps. Ironically despite all the press about Apple’s great designs it’s the millions of apps not built by Apple that people really want.
All this reminds me of the QWERTY keyboard. When it came out it was well designed (to not jam up your typewriter), it became the de facto standard and when designs that improved typing speed were released they gained no traction despite the better design. QWERTY already won the numbers game. It had the critical mass required to steam roll over better designs and with each success competing with it became that much harder.
For that reason alone I hope these sales numbers doesn’t have RIM running for the hill to drop the PlayBook like HP did a few weeks ago. If they do, at least Android or iOS 6 can incorporate some of the better features into their platforms as imitation is the greatest form of flattery and an industry standard.
Earlier this week Google launched their new social platform, Google+ and unlike their previous attempts (Wave and Buzz) this one isn’t a beta concept. Currently it’s only in limited release and invites are hard to come by, but beyond that, it’s anything but beta. Instead Google+ is a slick, well designed, full fledged attempt to compete with Facebook. Can they pull it off?
To improve their chances Google has created a clean and attractive UI for both the website and the Android app. Then they add features that people have been asking for from Facebook, like the ability to easily sort your friends into groups (called Circles with in G+); group messaging, think Beluga and GroupMe (called Huddles); group video chat, think iChat or Skype (called Hangouts); content recommendations (called Sparks), though I haven’t seen this is action yet; and this one is for the geeks, you can take your G+ data with you . Also with the Android app they also offer a “local” version of the news feed/stream which shows you the public posts from other G+ users nearby, they don’t even need to be in any one of your circles. Combined it’s a great feature boost, though I don’t doubt Facebook will follow suit with some of these.
So then why switch? Other then it’s new, clean, different, less noisy…at this point not much, as the critical mass hasn’t been reached but when it does it’ll be a force that Facebook will have to deal with. Which is good regardless of your participation with G+. Facebook needs a challenger, clearly MySpace wasn’t up to the task. Speaking of MySpace, think back to when it was the dominant social platform. Then Facebook was the new, clean, different, less noisy new kid on the block…so Google may still have a chance here. And just like MySpace felt back then, Facebook is feeling a backlash of interest from the fickle social masses that have OD’ed on the FB.
Overall, I have to say I’m impressed with Google+. It’s one of the most well thought out, planned and executed tools that Google has ever done. Only now has Google started to improve the design and UX of their search and email services. So I expect big things from Google here. Despite Goggle’s best efforts if the people don’t start using (or getting invites to) it, G+ will die from empty room syndrome and that would be a shame.
Looking back at the last year or so, one theme kept surfacing in all the projects I worked on – the need for a user experience framework. Many of these projects focused around Xfinity.com, part of Comcast’s branding initiative that launched last year during the Olympics. Overall, the projects focused on how to introduce new Comcast subscribers to the XFINITY service and the benefits that come with it, while providing more initiated customers deep access to the wealth of content available online. One project was to design a future version of the site, which would grow alongside individual customers and present an experience tailored to them. This project focused on optimizing both the experience of customers as well as Comcast’s understanding of its customers’ needs.
Clearly these projects needed something more involved then simple wireframes, design guidelines and some magic in Fireworks/Photoshop and HTML…they needed systematic frameworks to support both the design process and the business needs. Besides coming up with concepts and designs that fueled these projects it was my job to create said frameworks.
The embedded Seven Steps to Creating a Framework is the distilled process I employed to conquer the challenges presented to me over this past year. I believe it is universal enough to guide you through creating UX frameworks of your own.
Good design is transparent. Same is true with technology; the end user doesn’t care how it works just that it does. Unless you’re a designer or a techie you don’t pay attention to how a site works or it’s design beyond it’s basic aesthetics. Being both I love how the BBC is offering a behind the scenes peek at how they developed their new Global Visual Language 2.0. There is some really good thinking in there that could benefit many, many sites.
Not sure how many people have seen this months The New Yorker magazine’s cover (shown on right). What looks like a water color painting is really an illustration created on his iPhone. The app is called Brushes along with a companion app that will provide an animation/video of the process. The New Yorker’s blog offers more details and a video of the illustration being made using the companion app.
I never had a reason to go to Gatorade‘s website before but the link was sent to me from a designer friend of mine (Neuarmy). Once going there it was obvious as to why he shared it. Sporting the new aesthetic of the Gatorade “G” the site takes it to another level of sophistication rather then pure simplification. It’s an all Flash site boasting lots of black, simplified layouts, vibrant images and large video headers. Navigation is through the use of large black and white silhouettes for both the products and the athletes. Which acts as a great accent to a highlighted item and it’s inline videos. While you may learn more then you ever needed to about Gatorade check out the site for a great sample of extending a brand’s aesthetic across media.
Another gem sent my way from Neuarmy is by Boone Oakley and their use of YouTube for their website. Ok, so it sounds a bit like Skittles attempt to use Web 2.0 tools to stitch together a web experience…well this isn’t that. It’s literally their website embedded in humorous and (a touch) twisted little videos. Very innovative use of such a common medium and a great way for them to show off their conceptual/strategic muscle. They also feature some great work from that last few years, I’m sure you’ll recognize a few. Well worth checking out.
A few years ago “Henry Needles and Sons” took their tailoring business online. It was a beautifully crafted site with plenty of video to fill your broadband needs. They displayed their tailor made outfits that brought style, craftsmanship and the ability to bring everything with you. Each outfit offered extra large pockets that you could fit all of your digital devices. Check them out at GreatPockets.com
Well today I came across another beautifully crafted site, this time for a new cell phone. One that should give the iPhone a run for the money. The Pomegranate phone is a sharp little all-in-one cell phone, and so much more. Like Great Pockets, this site offers a great multimedia experience to show you every detail of their product. One of my favorite features is the HD projector. Who knew such a small device could project true HD video for all to enjoy.
Both sites are also fronts for another product altogether. Great Pockets was Nokia’s ingenious concept site, designed by FarFar, for the release of their N95 cell phone. There was a tight connection between all the items that you could fit into your Great Pockets pants and all the features of the N95. The Pomegranate on the other hand has features even the N95 doesn’t have. As mentioned there is an HD projector….umm hmm. I will speak no more of the Pom’s featues, go check it out yourself. Unlike the Great Pockets/N95 promo, the Pom phone is only connected to its true destination by some well written copy. That destination being Nova Scotia. Mad props go out to the Nova Scotia board of tourism for giving this stunt a try.
My gripe with the Pom phone site is that once I got to the true site I couldn’t care less what it had to offer. The giant disconect from an ultra-high-tec phone and the land of Nova Scotia was too much for me. I assume I’m not alone here. I also assume this campaign will be less successful then Nokia’s original. Either way they are both well worth your time.
Links: Great Pockets – Henry Needle & Sons/N95 Pomegranate Phone – Nova Scotia FarFar
The credit crisis is all over the news. Blame being tossed from one side of the isle to the other. The newspapers and newscasts speak of it regularly but it’s more noise then substance if you don’t understand what they are talking about. So this leaves the simple questions like:
How does this happen?
What does all this mean?
Outside of the hype, how does this compare to other recessions?
Well a number of designers have taken on the task of making all that information digestible, might I say, even interesting. Here are some of the better examples I’ve seen.