Two of this blog's favorite topics - film and design - get to dance around merrily together with the news that director Gary Hustwit, of Helvetica fame, is coming to Columbus to introduce his documentary on industrial design this Friday, May 15, at 7 PM & 9 PM, plus again on Saturday, May 16 at 7 PM, at the Wexner Center. I will be there, naturally. Look for a report on the film and director's comments early next week.
Another Tumblr theme for y'all: Firecracker. Let me know if you give it a try, and if there are any issues with it.
In case you missed it, my first Tumblr theme, based on this current site layout, is downloadable as the Deliberatepixel theme.
I love it when I can touch on more than one of my pet interests at the same time. Here David Corti combines design and film in Cinematypography.
Via Design Observer, a video I had to pass along: designer Aaron Draplin tells a tale of design unappreciation:
Isn't that original sign delicious? If you'd like to browse some other great examples of mid-century motel signage, Lileks has the goods. I go through this gallery again every few months for new additions. Happily, many of these are still in use.
So Mr. Nielsen, who is evidently officially now a "guru," has some new things to say about web users and usability:
Web users have always been ruthless and now are even more so.... People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience.... I do not think sites appreciate that yet. They still feel that their site is interesting and special and people will be happy about what they are throwing at them.
As usual, I agree with him in his assessment, and disagree with him when it comes to proposed solutions. Web users are absolutely becoming more selfish, and, from a design perspective, it is of course extremely important to understand how to make information on the web accessible and available.
I don't think web producers should immediately bow to the demands of selfish users. I don't think web production should be distilled down to a handful of design and content standards from which we never deviate. Granted, if your particular web production is a wide-reaching corporate effort, then user demands have more weight. But filter that down to smaller businesses, or independent artistic efforts (believe it or not, I put blogs in that latter category), and the rules can, and should, be more flexible.
Think of web services as similar to food services - if you want something expected, fast, and cheap, you go to McDonald's. If you're more concerned with quality, experience, and originality, you find a smaller, local restaurant. You're taking a risk with the second option - you might not like what you get, and it may be a waste of time and money. But, if you don't want to subsist on McDonald's fare, those risks are reasonable, even necessary, to take.
When I want to find something specific, I want everything to work quickly and perfectly, too. And when web producers don't take the time to solve simple mistakes like basic functionality and navigation, they might lose me. But I'm also willing to admit that a gentle reminder, deliberate or not, to slow the hell down from time to time, and think a bit more about what I'm doing, or a bit more about the content with which I'm interacting, is not a bad thing at all.
So, it's been much quieter around here than usual, and that's because I've been working on a new design for the site for what seems like forever. But, finally, it's in place.
Since I've recently gained more power over Textpattern, I've streamlined a lot of DP's regular workings. You won't notice this in the feed, but the Weekly posts, while still published as a list on Fridays, are now displayed not with the main articles, but as a list in their own sidebar. They have their own feed, but are still included in the main feed.
Plus, I've also, finally, established clean urls (which means actual post titles in permanent links instead of cryptic numbers), and cleaned up the archive. I like the way my tag system is working, so I cut out a couple of categories I don't use often and re-categorized with tags instead. Categories still exist, but mostly only as a way to divide content up into different feeds (by the way, you can find all the different feeds on the archive page).
In another by the way, I'm considering adapting this design to release as Textpattern and WordPress themes, so if you happen to have an opinion on that, feel free to chime in with your yay or nay.
AND (I feel like a TV infomercial - "wait, there's more!") you will notice that the projects page is rather blank at the moment, because those are still forthcoming. But they'll be here soon. Like maybe even tomorrow. Or not. But sometime.
The design school, not the band. A nice little collection of Bauhaus in all areas of design.
Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister's installation exploring Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far is on display until 23 February. Here's a handy list of the twenty things learned:
- 1. Helping other people helps me.
- 2. Having guts always works out for me.
- 3. Thinking that life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
- 4. Organising a charity group is surprisingly easy.
- 5. Being not truthful always works against me.
- 6. Everything I do always comes back to me.
- 7. Assuming is stifling.
- 8. Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
- 9. Over time I get used to everything and start taking for granted.
- 10. Money does not make me happy.
- 11. My dreams have no meaning.
- 12. Keeping a diary supports personal development.
- 13. Trying to look good limits my life.
- 14. Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
- 15. Worrying solves nothing.
- 16. Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
- 17. Everybody thinks they are right.
- 18. If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first.
- 19. Low expectations are a good strategy.
- 20. Everybody who is honest is interesting.
The first time I've heard suggested that you can pick a presidential candidate based on his or her chosen typeface. Maybe there's something to it - my favorite font is my previously approved candidate. (And yes, the candidate is in that shortlist, which may come as a surprise to those even somewhat familiar with my radical politics.)
Disassociated asks if the current availability of free, professionally-designed blog themes are making designers obsolete.
It's a fair question, considering there are dozens of beautiful templates freely available for a variety of different blog platforms. But I don't think web designers really have much to worry about. Here's how it breaks down: if you need a website for a business, or to become a professional blogger, or for anything at all you want to be taken seriously - eventually you'll realize that it won't be taken seriously if you're using the same template a dozen others are using on their own sites. If you want a professional website, a free template simply isn't an option. The people using free themes are hobbyist bloggers who don't care as much about branding and selling their image as they do about a nice, simple way to present their content. They're not generally people who can afford to pay a designer for custom work, and I think it's great that there are well-designed templates available to help them do what they want to.
If a professionally-intended website tries to get away with using a free theme, chances are it's not going to be successful. It's like hosting a website on a free host instead of buying your own domain and host - it's a damning mark of amateurism. I think the real problem with people misusing free themes is that the web design field hasn't yet established the respect it deserves from average web users for providing a worthwhile and sometimes expensive service. I also think that will come, in time.
In case you're, like me, missing your regular dose of inspired mid-century decor and design via Mad Men (second season NOW, please), try this gallery of vintage illustration from Plan 59.
An excellent article over at COLOURlovers explores Burma through colors:
Colors are inherently symbolic. They seem to mean something. Sometimes this meaning becomes overtly political. In a similar way that the name (or re-naming) of a thing is an attempt to define it politically. And nowhere, perhaps, are these things more evident than in contemporary Burma. (Or Myanmar.)