Tag Archives: commercial

The Problem of Looking Too Real

Screenshot from fastcodesign.com

Screenshot from fastcodesign.com

Skeuomorphism. It’s a term you’ve probably haven’t heard much, or even at all, but you can see it almost everywhere. You open your bookshelf on your ipad and what do you see? A book shelf… designed to look like what you would see in the real world. That’s skeuomorphism. At least that’s how designers have been using the term, which is inaccurate. It’s actually the mimicking of elements in a former or older device that were functionally necessary. Not necessarily the design looking like a real world object entirely…but I digress.

As many of you Apple product fans might already know, Scott Forstall, one of Apples designers, was fired over using Skeuomorphism.

“After Jobs’ death, Forstall become the company’s biggest proponent of skeuomorphism, much to the chagrin of the firm’s designers. “It’s visual masturbation,” one former Apple user-interface designer told Fast Company’s Carr. “It’s like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?”

- Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? By 

Who cares indeed? Is it really that big of a deal to make objects on a screen look like their physical world counterparts? Personally, I don’t think it matters all that much. Real world objects are things users would be familiar with, and though on occasion it’s corny, I honestly feel like they make the apps and interface much more user friendly and quicker to read. People can tell what an app is for when they see a book shelf or a date book calendar, rather than some obscure screen with buttons and gizmos that have little to no indication of their use or function.

Yes, some of Apple’s software has become a bit corny. (I’m looking at your cheap-casino green felt, Game Center!) But those who advocate throwing out real-world textures and visual metaphors are missing something important. As designer Tobias Bjerrome Ahlin points out, when it’s used appropriately, skeuomorphic design can give users a quick sense of what an app does. - Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? By 

Does it matter either way? Is it bad to make screen objects to look like their real world counterparts? The way I see it, if we’re using it daily in reality…why not make it look like it’s reality? Is it’s daily use not real enough for designers to want to make them look real? Because it’s certainly real enough for me. After all, it makes the virtual object more approachable for my generation, which happened to grow up from the transition between pen and paper to desktop. I’m used to using both, but perhaps in more recent generations, it may not matter as much to have any nostalgic allusion to the real world counterpart.

However obvious Apple’s skeuomorphic approach to UI might be, it’s an approach that is hard to argue with. The company is still considered highly innovative, and the success of its products is unprecedented–most would successfully argue that it’s by far the best we have. But aside from aesthetic reaons, it is hard to see how these designs will ever evolve beyond derivative representations. Will they just change color and increase their visual fidelity?  -Can We Please Move Past Apple’s Silly, Faux-Real UIs?  by 

My question is, does it ever have to evolve? If it’s so classic do we need it to “get better” or even change? Perhaps the reason it’s so hard to argue with is because it’s so sustainable? I certainly feel like this is so. The way you can tell if something is designed well is if it can stand the test of time. Bookshelves still have the same structure as they have always had, and though we can change their color or paint them how we like in our homes, we certainly don’t change the structure of them much do we? So why would it be any different on screen. If it’s working well, why strive to change it. I think what we need to figure out is how to identify what is more valuable: sustainable or innovative?

We certainly live in a culture where everyone is striving to be “the next thing.” We automatically think that because we can have something new, we don’t want to hang onto what is sustainable. I’ve had my second generation iPod touch for a fairly long time in comparison to many of my peers. Why? Because what I have works for what I use it for…and it isn’t broken. But are we able to apply this same kind of logic to design? If it’s working, and remains relevant, is it okay to hold onto? Do we really need the next big thing in order to remain relevant, or are we confusing relevant with trendy?

Feel free to let me know what you think. For further reading visit these two articles.

Can We Please Move Past Apple’s Silly, Faux-Real UIs? -

Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? – 


Priorities…I’m not so sure we have them…

Found this image going viral on Facebook. Makes one wonder what our priorities really are…and where I may or may not want to invest for my retirement. Then again there isn’t much information to say what all this really means other than to say we use more ink than we do human blood…which may be a good thing. Maybe it’s a good thing that blood doesn’t cost so much? What do you think? Are we as human beings be being taken for granted by the cost of ink? Again I don’t know the context or the research behind this infographic…but it certainly gets you thinking.


Design Resources: 11 Things I Learned About Portfolios

Having been through a few interview processes and read quite a bit of information (aka case study upon case study) about Portfolios. Because I’m a designer, and a starving artists (much like yourselves), I’ve decided to be nice and tell you my findings from my reasearch.  There are 11 things I learned about job/ internship seeking:

 

  1.  The process of applying: e-mail first, call second, and wait for final contact last. Case studies show that potential employers expect and are more comfortable with this process. Also, never send an empty e-mail…links to online work or a PDF of a teaser portfolio should be included.
  2.  Most people don’t use print versions of portfolios unless getting face time with the potential employer. However, it is important you have a printed version that varies slightly from any digital or online portfolio.
  3. Make portfolios, short, sweet, simple and flexible (adaptable). Nothing worse than a long winded, crazy unorganized, hard to change/update portfolio.
  4. Let the work speak, not the cover or your mouth (too much). Show THEN tell.
  5. Articulate concisely and well. Also known as: Learn when to shut up. Say only what you need to.
  6. Keep the work current. Don’t have ancient projects in you portfolio. Remember, a portfolio is never perfect or complete.
  7.  3 portfolio types: PDF, Online, and Printed. Have each with the same style, but slightly different content.
  8. Don’t send files over 10MB to potential employers. Annoying.
  9. Portfolio’s should be personal, but not too personal. Don’t tell your life story, and don’t over decorate. It’s not a scrap book of your life. It’s the content of your career.
  10. Keep things organized. Loose leaf portfolio papers or bound books doesn’t matter, as long as it’s neat.
  11. 8-10 is a solid number of projects to show. Usually keep 8 in online and digital, and 10 (certainly no more than 12 projects) in printed versions.

For more information and resources check out underconsideration.com for more case studies and insights.


Design Inspiration: Products I Love

So here are a series of products I love for either their design aesthetics, or how clever they are. (If anyone can tell me how to make slideshows again I’d really appreciate it because this whole gallery thing is just ridiculous!)


The Facebook Copyright Hoax

I don’t know about any of you, but I saw this on one of my dear friends facebook statuses today and it caused me to get a little nervous:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place
them under protection of copyright laws.

By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Being an artists, graphic designer, and photographer, I know better than to post any of my most personal info and artistic content on Facebook. Having a healthy caution of putting things on the internet is the first step to being a responsible patron of the online community (and respect of yourself). However, whenever I heard of things like this I always tend to get a little paranoid. So, I do what I do best, and take a little peek at the online news to see if I can find enough reliable resources to validate or refute the statements. Turns out this whole thing is a hoax and honestly, you cannot refute the contract via facebook status. That’s not how the law and copyright works friends (and if anyone seriously thought that it did then you’ve been seriously uneducated). Also how can you refute facebook’s ownership with a status when they own the statuses you put up?
If you are interested in legally putting your work under Copyright then please visit the U.S. Copyright Office website for more information on going through the proper channels. For more info on the Hoax and facebook policies read your Facebook Terms of Agreement, and view these helpful articles:

3D Printing: How it works.

This visual below by the folks at HighTable.com gives an excellent understanding of 3D printing technology. Though you’d like to see it.

HighTable.Com


Mac Users Pay More?

If you’re a Mac user you know some of the connotations that go along with Macs. Yes, they’re expensive. Yes, many wealthy schools and people have Macs. Yes, Apple is a large company that has made quite a bit of money on their flashy (aka beautiful) products and unique marketing scheme. But, is that really cause for making people pay more online?

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Being a Mac user I can’t say that I’ve come across this problem. Mostly because the site found to have done this kind of marketing was Orbiz, which is a site I don’t particularly use, because I’ve not needed to book hotels before. But several articles from US News, CNN, and CNet have given information about this type of business practice, one that I find personally to be unethical. The CEO of Orbitz comments on the matter (From CNNs report):

“CEO Barney Harford told CNN that Orbitz recommendation results are part of an attempt to pair customers with the hotel they’d probably pick. In this case, Orbitz will offer recommendations based on what other PC or other Mac users selected as their final hotel, on the assumption that spending habits are the same, he said.

“What we have found is … that Mac users are 40% more likely to book four- or five-star hotels than PC users,” Harford said. “That lines up with (the fact that) Mac users are typically more willing to spend more money on higher-end computers.”

Now when one reads this 40% is a pretty high number. But, what if you consider that 40% of students are the purchasers of Mac computers? According to SeattlePi reports, Microsoft hasn’t been very attractive to this new generation. Though the information is almost 2 years old the trend is apparent on college campuses, coffee shops, and cyber cafes across the nation. Students are a fairly large sum of mac users, and I ask why should they pay more? Aren’t loans enough to pay off?

Of course this is all here-say as well, there is still a lot of information that isn’t accounted for. There is still that 60% of Mac users to take into account. There is still the fact that some people receive Macs as gifts like I did with mine (I’d like to know what % that is). But, regardless of that information, it causes a kind of socioeconomic profiling that I simply cannot reconcile, even if it’s for the sake of marketing. It’s almost as bad as The Nations report on how women pay more for everyday items (even medical insurance) than men do. It’s simply unreasonable. If  The United States is a nation that stands for equality, then why are we being reduced  to stereotypes based off something as small as the kind of computers we use? Why do human lives and choices have dollar signs all over them at all? All I know from this information is I won’t be using Orbitz anytime soon…or later in my life.


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