twenty-four things tagged “design”

K&R is the One True Indentation Style

Via Wikipedia. I am “not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke” the genesis of other styles. “Haskell Style” has to be a joke (like this masterpiece) and I just pray I don’t encounter it in the wild1 🙏

// Allman
while (x === y)

// Horstmann
while (x === y)
{ func1();

// Kernighan & Ritchie
while (x === y) {

// GNU
while (x === y)

// Haskell style
while (x === y)
  { func1()
  ; func2()

// Ratliff style
while (x === y) {

// Whitesmiths
while (x === y)

// Lisp style
while (x === y)
  { func1();
    func2(); }

See also: “Vertical Hanging Indent” is the One True Indentation Style

  1. Update: Not exactly HS but good grief. ↩︎

Car Silhouettes

Henry Lin has a degree in Architectural Design is a “a lover of all things transportative”. He draws really lovely Car Silhouettes 😍 Here are a few.

Silhouette of Chevrolet-Corvette-C3-08 by Henry Lin
Chevy Corvette C3 (1968-1972)

Silhouette of Jaguar-E-Type-02 by Henry Lin
Jaguar E-Type (1961-1968)

Silhouette of Lagonda-Rapide-01 by Henry Lin
Lagonda Rapide (1961 - 1964)

Silhouette of Mercedes-w221 by Henry Lin
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W221)

Silhouette of Mercedes-C218 by Henry Lin
Mercedes-Benz CLS400 (C218)

Silhouette of Bugatti-Centodieci-01 by Henry Lin
Bugatti Centodieci

Some “Dune” Posters

For “the greatest movie never made”, although there appear to be a few contenders1 for that title, like Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon.

My absolute favorite is the last one by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa 🙌

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 1

Pe-release flyer (Source)

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 2

by Matt Chinn.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 3

Variation 1 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 4

Variation 2 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 5

by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa

  1. In case that link goes down here’s a cached version. Others include The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam, Revenge of the Jedi by David Cronenberg/David Lynch, Heart of Darkness by Orson Welles, and Gladiator 2 by Ridley Scott/Nick Cave. ↩︎

The Pithy Wisdom of Stephen Crowley

Stephen Crowley is a product designer who maintains @ShitUserStory, my favorite new Twitter account1 (via Deepu). He also maintains a Medium blog with gems like these:

Lovely stuff.

  1. Given the amount of rage I’ve had with awful product design and really, really shitty websites of late. The madness doesn’t stop with the web. On $250 Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, which are comfortable and have lovely sound and the best active noise-canceling I’ve ever experienced, opting to “Disable Voice Guidance” still means that the nice lady inside your headphones will tell you when you dis/connect your Bluetooth device. You gotta toggle a feature in the app to prevent iTunes from launching every time it pairs with your Mac (the Sony folk think this “feature” is “unfortunate” so there’s that at least.) Your headphones can just choose to turn off the moment you turn them on unless you update the firmware. Would you like to share your location? Do you want the Sony app to send you notifications? We’ll need the last four digits of your SSN so we can create a tailor-made listening profile for you. Is that OK? ↩︎

The Chess Set

The Chess Sets used at the World Chess Championships cost $350 (plus $700 if you want the electronic piece tracking), are likely out of stock if you’d like one, take a lot of training and practice to make, are woodworked in Amritsar, India, and were designed by Daniel Weil, a former partner at Pentagram.

About half the set’s value lies with the most difficult piece to make: the Knight ♘

Chess set designed by Michael Weil

Here’s Design Week on their conception. More on this Business Insider video.

Users hate change by @sleepyfox on Github More Pasta

This week NN Group released a video by Jakob Nielsen in which he attempts to help designers deal with the problem of customers being resistant to their new site/product redesign. The argument goes thusly:

  1. Humans naturally resist change
  2. Your change is for the better
  3. Customers should just get used to it and stop complaining

There’s slightly more to it than that, he caveats his argument with requiring you to have of course followed their best practices on product design, and allows for a period of customers being able to elect to continue to use the old site, although he says this is obviously only a temporary solution as you don’t want to support both.

This argument is both incredibly entitled and terribly egocentric, as well as being wrong-headed on several counts.

Firstly: humans don’t resist change when it’s something that they asked for, they resist things being imposed upon them against their will. There is an incredibly persistent cultural movement in product design that “we know best”, this is a very parent-child style relationship: “Mother knows best”, that both disempowers and disengages customers.

Let me be clear: when I buy a product I am paying for what the product can do for me now. It fulfils a need that I currently have. I am not paying money out of my own pocket for a faint hope that the product may do something in the vague and nebulous future.

So: Product does X. I find that valuable. I pay $n to buy X capability. The product probably does Y and Z too, but I don’t care about that. I bought it to do X.

When you as a product manager or designer or PO or whatever decide that your product should do A, B and C too, I don’t care. I don’t want those features, I didn’t pay for them.

When you as a product person change the way that I have to use the product in order to do X, you are asking me to spend time, effort and attention to change my habits around X in order to do something differently, which may (or may not) benefit me in the future. In all likelyhood you made it easier for new users to learn X. I don’t care about new users. I care about continuing to use the product in the same way as I always do in order to do X, even if you have forced me to do it in a sub-optimal way.

Every change that you make to the product after I have bought it makes it more likely that I will leave your product and find something else that does X instead, because the cost to me to learn how to something different in your product is now not much different than the cost to learn how to do something in a different product.

The more times you force me to change my behaviour, the more badwill (being the opposite of goodwill) builds up. Eventually I’ll become so pissed off that I’ll move, no matter what the cost.

Secondly: Your change probably isn’t for the better. Not for me, not for the majority of existing customers. As stated above, the real benefit is almost always for new customers, who will find it easier to learn to use X. That’s even assuming that this isn’t a ‘branding’ change, which actually benefits no-one other than the expensive branding consultants that you just paid.

The vast majority of the effort that designers spend on look and feel, typeography, colour palettes, image choice and placement, tone of voice, button placement, size and style and a host of other things are of marginal value at best. The really hard stuff - like ethics, accessibility and knowledge architecture are almost always neglected in favour of bike-shedding. The popular rise of apps like Pocket and browser features like Firefox’s Reader View are proof that it is the functionality and the content that is important, not what colour the buttons are.

Thirdly: the idea that you can just tell your customers to suck it up is a relic of last-century marketing that relied on captive customer bases and lack of customer knowledge, awareness and community. Modern customers are, in the majority, well informed and highly vocal with other customers in their community. Unless you have a significant barrier to exit you’ll find that your established customer base leave the moment your competitors make it easy enough for them to migrate. Even the most impressively built and reinforced barriers don’t last forever. OpenOffice and Google Docs, coupled with a change in the way that offices work have meant that even giants like Microsoft are losing their heartlands of enterprise business software contracts.

We can no longer afford to be complacement with our customers.

The idea that it is impossible to support more than one version of a product presupposes that a) work is required to upgrade both versions simultaneously, and b) that the existing product isn’t stable i.e. still many bugs being surfaced. We have many known solutions for the second malady (q.v. software crafting) but the first problem overlooks a simple strategy: Extensible Product Portfolios (EPP).

The idea of EPP is thus: when you have a product that works, and an existing customer base - freeze it. Instead of a major redesign because ‘Material Design is so 2014’ simply leave the product the way it is, bar minor BAU and bug-fix work. Instead devote effort into building a new, next-generation product that addresses (hopefully) a new customer segment, and allow existing customers to add this new product to their portfolio for a incremental fee. This allows existing customers to self-select into a new product, protects revenue and reduces the risk of existing product customers leaving due to badwill.

In this way a team/organisation builds up a protfolio of products, all of them profitable, all of them long-lived. After the vast majority of customers leave an old product for ‘2.0’ then when only a small minority remain you can sunset the old product, perhaps offering customers a free upgrade path, or just leave it running indefinitely as it’s marginal cost of maintenance is now essentially zero.

This treats your customers like adults, gives them the freedom of choice and empowers them to use that choice in order to best satisfy their own needs.

The AppleTV Remote Sucks

Dec 9 It’s so bad a Swiss company made a much saner substitute that sells for ~$20.

The Salt Remove

Nov 16 Looks like you can use the old remote with the new AppleTV.

I’m annoyed every time I have to use the infernal thing.

  • It tries (poorly) to be something other than a damn TV remote1.
  • There’s no way to tell which end is up.
  • There’s no accidental tap detection when you pick it up.
  • It’s way too small.
  • It’s way too slippery.
  • I use Siri to skip forward and backward because the edge clicks are unmemorable and dysfunctional.

I use the iPhone app when I can and, while I can’t stand the terribly implemented inertial scroll, still find it better than the hardware.

Inertial scrolling does in fact exist on the Siri remote, but the effect is muted. The on-screen movement doesn’t accurately reflect your swiping — scrolling is staggered and it often stops abruptly, when you don’t intend to stop. This makes aspects of navigation, like manual search or entering your email address or password, extremely cumbersome.

– Dave Smith, “My biggest problem with the new Apple TV remote

See also: Steve Brykman of ArsTechnica’s thoughts on “the nightmare horrorshow” that’s the remote.

  1. “You’re basically getting a giant iPad game that you have to play with a tiny remote” ↩︎

Simpler Gmail

Michael Leggett, lead designer of Gmail from 2008-2012

“It’s like Lucky Charms got spewed all over the screen,” he says to me, as he scrolls through his inbox. It’s true. Folders, contacts, Google apps like Docs and Drive–and at least half a dozen notifications–all clutter Gmail at any given moment. And of course, there’s that massive Gmail logo that sits in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Just in case you forgot that you just typed “” into your browser bar three seconds ago. “Go look at any desktop app and tell me how many have a huge fucking logo in the top left,” rants Leggett. “C’mon. It’s pure ego, pure bullshit. Drop the logo. Give me a break.”

Fast Company, “The former lead designer of Gmail just fixed Gmail on his own”

So he made this plugin for Chrome and Firefox that cuts out all the terrible visual noise of Gmail. I’m never uninstalling this one.

And while I’m on the subject, who signed off on this disaster?

Because we all know that the only way to attact attention to a UI element is to adorn it with a big blue goddamn fucking tumor.

UI Pedantry

Can’t Unsee is “Spot the difference” for UI nerds. 6530. On the “hard” sections, wondered how much the minutiae matter if a user is unable to discern the difference between two comps after a few seconds.

Via Deepu

Sans Bullshit Sans

Roel Nieskens “leveraged the synergy of ligatures” to create a free typeface called Sans Bullshit Sans.

It turns this

The value proposition of our agile mindset and scrum methodology is to enable the emergence of disruptive, convergent, crowdsourced platforms that allow our clients to lean in and engage in collective mindshare on established design patterns using the latest usercentric technologies empowered by the cloud.

into this

Bullshit Sans by Roel Nieskens

Here’s how he made it. Fucking brilliant. I saved a list of the terms and phrases that cause the ligatures. On a related note, I’d be bullshitting myself if maintain any hope of finishing this tiny book at some point.