But this method is inefficient. In response, Apple debuted a new feature that will appear in their newiPhone/iPad software, iOS 8. They’re called Extensions. And what they do is allow you to use apps within apps, without having to multitask your way back and forth.

This might sound like a small detail–another feature that won’t really change anything. I disagree. I believe that because Apple is so influential in the app space–developers tend to make apps for iOS first and Android second–Extensions will shape the way we use our phones and developers create our apps into the future. Namely, most of us will begin using just a few apps on our phones. Alpha Apps, if you will. And these apps will be designed to contain other apps.

Meanwhile, the Internet of Apps–an idea where we surf from app to app as lazily as browsing the web–will never come to be.

How It Works

An extension can allow you to pin a recipe to your Pinterest page from an unrelated cooking app. An extension can allow Bing to translate a Russian menu from inside Safari. Or an extension can even enable you to use a third-party photo editing tool within Apple’s Camera app. Extensions are kind of like ordering delivery rather than going to a restaurant. You don’t have to move. What you’re looking for comes to you.

Extensions appear in a menu, using their respective app icons.

This is different than how a lot of Apple’s Silicon Valley peers have approached the problem of hopping around apps. Before yesterday, when Apple introduced extensions at WWDC, all of the approaches were basically doing the same thing. They were linking our apps to one another, just like hyperlinks connect pages of the web. You’d constantly leave an app to go to another app.

Google has recently introduced a clever trick to promote this linking, and Facebook released an open standard called App Links to do the same thing. (In fact, even Apple has already had such an app-to-app linking standard built into iOS.)

Google handles app-to-app linking: “Get an uber” shoots you right to the uber app.

Taking the app linking model to its logical conclusion, a world ruled by app links would more or less recreate the web itself. We’d hop from app to app to app, mindlessly surfing all along the way. And indeed, when I talked to Simon Khalaf , CEO of Flurry last month–the world’s largest app analytics firm, whose software is probably installed on between 7 and 10 apps on the phone you’re using today–he believed that this app-to-app hopping was very much the direction that apps were going. He went so far as to call this world “the Internet of Apps.”

A Case of Misdirection

Now, there are practical reasons the Internet of Apps is a flawed idea! Namely, how can we be linked to content inside an app that we don’t even have downloaded yet? (What happens in this case is that the user gets stuck in an App Store, prompted to download software when they’re just looking to read a news story or something.)

But realize, Google and Facebook have both been charging forward with the Internet of Apps in mind, building the infrastructure and design cues to make it more feasible, enabling users to hop around apps easily. Smelling money in the air, Google has even started indexing app-to-app links for their search technologies, so they could crawl and categorize these app links just like they crawl web links. Given more time, it’s quite possible that Google, Facebook, and Apple, working toward a common cause, could have made app linking work as well as hyperlinking works on the web. Maybe they could have developed a way to use apps without formally downloading them, for instance, preloading them in the background of your operating system in a way that didn’t clutter your phone, waste your time, or put you at a security risk.

But now that Apple’s Extensions exist, they’ll divert the industry from solving the fundamental UX problems that would be needed to create a true Internet of Apps. Apple has more or less decreed that the way users will juggle multiple apps won’t be app linking. Instead, their tacit thesis seems to be that a few core apps–Alpha Apps–will be the gatekeepers to do everything on your phone, while every other app plays a small supporting role. In other words, every silly photo filtering app may be swallowed alive by an Instagram, which could become the center of all photo apps.

Here, third-party photo editing software runs within Apple’s photo app.

In the Extensions scenario, the tiny utility apps we’ve known for so long may become mere accessories to the power players, never actually opened by anyone, but used by some of the most popular apps in the world with frequency. They’ll become what the tech world has called “plug-ins,” or even, yes, “extensions”–the Photoshop filters and the Chrome ad blockers of the app world. One could imagine that these apps wouldn’t even have a purpose on your homescreen–they could live only within the extensions sub menu itself.

Because Apple has so much power in the world of apps–due to the fact that their iOS platform is generally more profitable for developers than Android, so developers tend to build for iOS first and Android second–it seems most likely that developers will start designing their apps around Extensions rather than app links. How the economics will work out for developers whose apps are used through other apps is still a bit unclear. But as a result, Google’s Android platform will likely follow Apple’s iOS Extensions lead, building out a similar app-wrapping-around-an-app interface.

And that whole Internet of Apps thing? It will never gain enough momentum to happen. Instead, we’ll enter the era of Alpha Apps, and they’ll roll themselves around everything else.


From Co.Design


Lessons in apps that connect with users from we are experience and the Design for Experience awards

Over the past week and a half, we’ve featured a series of articles taking a look atwhat it takes to be a mobile designer, how iOS 7 has set the stage for experiences that move beyond our mobile devicesdifferent techniques for designing mobile experiences, as well as nine common misconceptions about the history of mobile.It’s been a rather insightful mini mobile marathon, prompting one reader to tweet: “That tricky little sister mobile is getting pretty big.”

Tricky and big are certainly two apt adjectives for the mobile universe. The technology is evolving at a lickety-split clip and more users are connecting every hour on a growing number of devices. Generally speaking, the apps and solutions that rise to the top have figured out how to make the most of unique device capabilities, contexts of use, and modes of use of mobile devices.

“Typically a mobile design approach just looks at mobile as the end solution,” says Chris Averill, CEO of we are experience, winners of the DfE award for Mobile Solution or Application. “Taking a service design methodology is a very different approach to a normal mobile design project.”

Working on a mobile solution for Transport for London, we are experience took a service-oriented approach, designing a responsive site that works on any device, bringing together big data, live updates, and location-based services for the world’s most complex public transport network.


“[Working with TfL’s online team], we started looking at mobile as the end solution but we then realized we needed to step back and look at the customer needs more closely, without assuming what the end solution would be,” Averill says. “The key challenge was that we needed to build implicit trust with customers, so their experience of the journey planner had to be 100% consistent and familiar no matter how they accessed it, and we succeeded through service design.”

For a solution of this nature, location-based services were key, but the project also highlighted the need to adapt the service as users change behavior.

“Location is about behavior and user needs—it’s not about the device”—@weareexperiencetweet this

“If I can find out what’s around me when I’m standing in the street on my phone, I expect to be able to do the same sitting at my desk, be that in my office, home, cafe, airport, school, gym, or doctor’s office,” says Averill. “Location is about behavior and user needs—it’s not about the device.”

Mobile on the Brain

It’s not uncommon to see people in public and private settings engaged with their mobile devices for hours at a time. This isn’t surprising considering the depth of productivity and entertainment they bring to the fingertips. For Lumosity, a finalist in this category, however, part of the secret to a successful mobile experience is helping users develop healthy relationships with their little pieces of technology.

“Our app encourages users to train in a fun and convenient way that fits into, rather than disrupts, their lives,” says Director of Product Design Sushmita Subramanian. “We discourage unhealthy behaviors, like binging on our games, by providing a clear recommendation for each session (a 10-15 minute workout) and for each week (train 3-5 times per week).”

Lumosity also gives users a sense of closure at the end of each session, encouraging them to come back another day to continue their training. Given that their products are designed to challenge users brains with scientifically designed training, neuroscience also plays a big part in Lumosity’s ongoing design projects.

Luminosity game

“We have the challenge of designing with both scientific integrity and user engagement in mind. Our app is only successfully designed once it’s fun, engaging, and achieves the cognitive training task goals,” Subramanian says.

The team here uses game play data as a resource for insights into user behavior and game design that are then incorporated back into the product experience.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the intersection of neuroscience, technology and user experience design,” Subramanian adds. “We know much more about all three of these fields than we did five years ago—and we’ve only scratched the surface.”

Mobile Mail

“We’ve seen our customers begin a task on a laptop at work, check in via phone while on the move, and collaborate via iPad from a couch—all on the same day,” says Gregg Bernstein a Senior Design Researcher at MailChimp, another finalist. “As consumers, we’re no longer adapting our workflow to a specific system; we expect systems to bend to our needs.”

The email newsletter service has a longstanding reputation for offering great UX, and as more users are working on single projects across multiple platforms, they expect a seamless experience.

MailChimp tablet

“In the near term, the major obstacles our UX team faces in creating seamless experiences revolve around creating tools that properly match the context in which they’re used. Seamless seems an intuitive enough concept, but it requires questioning, ‘Just what is seamless?’” Bernstein adds. “When a customer transitions from laptop to iPad, what is the expected behavior that would create a seamless experience? Is the job to be done the same, or does the change in device signify a change in task?”

Mapping the Way Forward

MapQuest has been in the map game for a long time (dating back to 1967 when it was known as Cartographic Services, a division of R.R. Donnelley & Sons in Chicago), and when their User Experience Design Group undertook a recent redesign of their mobile app (a finalist entry in the competition), it was critical to get stakeholder buy-in early on to make the mobile project effective.

“The really challenging thing is that being good enough is no longer good enough. A group of really talented people in a room coming up with great ideas doesn’t guarantee success,” says Austin Brown, User Experience Lead for Mobile Products. “As a mobile team, we eat, sleep, and breathe our products, but stakeholders are too busy to know the intricacies and specific pitfalls we deal with on a daily basis—what with business partnerships, strategy, hiring, and general management to take up their time.”

Brown notes that as long as his team is driving toward their macro goals of providing top-flight experiences that bring in new users and create effective revenue streams, it’s not difficult to advocate for great design. “We’re fortunate to have great support within the company and we are held up on a pedestal as a mobile team. There’s a strong mobile first approach to a lot of our features and new products.”

As with we are experience’s project, MapQuest relies on location-based services to provide users accurate directions, something Brown sees as becoming more and more sophisticated.

“Simply knowing where someone is doesn’t cut it anymore. Businesses and vendors want to know where people are going … and when … and how often … and how long they’re staying. On top of that, there’s all the ancillary information about what they’re doing, who they’re doing it with, and what sort of input and data are being passed through their devices.”

The technology, paired with emerging beacon technology enables MapQuest to know each customer better as a person and tailor their experiences accordingly, or create cross-market experiences with other apps and products that are relevant at different times of the day.

Wear It and Track it

One thing that seems destined to hugely impact the way we design for mobile in the coming years is wearable technology. As more and more people begin wearing pieces of technology that interact with the larger pieces of technology they carry in their pockets—and as all of these things begin interacting beacon technology—things are going to get more complicated and more exciting.

“Bring on the sensors!” says MapQuest’s Brown. “We love to make data-influenced decisions and the growth of technologies that help us gather and learn from more data enables us to make better decisions around both product strategy and design. The whole market segment is up for grabs, but we feel we’ve got a great head start with our experience in location and movement.”

“If you look at the popularity of wearable fitness trackers and other mobile apps and devices, there is already a general trend towards fostering healthy habits. These apps and devices motivate people to stay on top of their health goals and provide feedback to teach people about themselves,” says Luminosity’s Subramanian. “Similarly, Lumosity allows users to track their activity over time, identify trends in their performance, and compare themselves to others. These insights help users learn more about themselves, empower them to take action, and motivate them to achieve their goals.”

“The world is becoming far more personal, and we are firmly in the age of the more-personal computer, where it’s less about the device and more about me living in the moment right now; everything has to be relevant and real-time or it is irrelevant and out of date,” says we are experience’s Averill. “Mobile has created this new world, but wearables will have an even bigger impact on user behavior. We advocate a future where ‘services’ are designed to meet the users needs, rather than designed for devices that are quickly being changed, developed, innovated on. [This will eventually lead to] frictionless, seamless experiences that users don’t even think about, they just happen—the Internet becomes ubiquitous and we see the dawn of the quantified me.”

More Mobile Greatness

There were other notable applications in the contest from teams trying to make the most of mobile:

Mad*Pow partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to refine their Virtual Visit experience, allowing patients to continue treatment with their doctors without disrupting schedules or having to make a trip into the doctor’s office. Mad*Pow also entered the competition with Hotseat, a mobile and web-based workplace wellness tool designed to decrease sedentary behavior. TheLadderssought to craft a simple app that allows professionals to perform job searches on-the-go, providing relevant jobs they can apply to and track easily. With a reputation in the healthcare space to maintain, HealthPartners overhauled their desktop site and created a native iOS app. Crafting their mobile experience, real estate brokerage Redfin sought to answer the question, “What would the application look and feel like if you never had to leave a single screen?” Quick Left created a solution called Sprintly, designed to power a more productive relationship between development teams and their management.” Interactive agency Rosetta created the Face-to-Face Consultation tool, an iPad app for aesthetic practitioners to use during initial consultations with potential patients.Navy Federal Credit Union launched an iPad app featured by Apple as one of the best new financial apps in the iTunes Store. In an effort to make travelling easier, SoftServe created the Packing Wizard app, which manages everything from documents to the weight of your baggage. The Data Systems Consulting team at Digiwin created an enterprise app that helps employees make the most of BYOD culture. Effective UI created an app for Boeing that helps maintenance teams manage all aspects of aircraft repair. Delvina worked with Manulife Financial to design an app to help travelers purchase CoverMe Travel Single Trip emergency medical insurance.


In the early 70’s, the MFA Design program at Yale, where I was teaching, was still in the thrall of the orderly, cool rationalism of Modernist Swiss typography. So it was shock to the system when, scanning the periodical shelves one evening in the Art Library, I came across the January 1972 issue of Typografische Monatsblätter, a monthly journal serving the Swiss printing and typography industry.

The silver ink and stair-step knock-outs looked zippy, unconventional. Standard-issue international Swiss Design of the period looked more like this:

Joseph Muller-Brockmann

Massimo Vignelli, Unimark

Otl Aicher, Munich Olympics

Over the next two years, there appeared a remarkable series of 14 covers that featured quotes by key figures in design theory and communication science on the meaning of typography and that displayed a range of fresh and exciting compositional ideas. (1)

On each cover, in tiny print running up the side, was the modest credit, “Concept and Design: Weingart.” That would be Wolfgang Weingart, a teacher at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basle. His covers appeared periodically, and mysteriously, with no explanation, until finally, in the October 1973 issue, there appeared a short article in which the designer briefly explained his motive for the series.

The cover states: “Why and how the TM-covers for 1972 and 1973 came to be.” Inside he explains: “[Their] composition ignores hand-setting dogma and challenges design ideology. Here lies the crux of the issue…not only to irritate the theoretician, but primarily the practitioner…Hopefully the additional scale will help provoke the reader to confront the multi-level definitions, and from that learn something…” (2)

He later writes of the series: “Its organizational form is in a constant flux of change, which more or less reflects my life during the two year period I worked on these covers.” (3)

Indeed, those two years, 1972 and 1973, marked the culmination of an amazing decade-long rush of personal experimentation that re-imagined how typography could behave. This innovative period began in 1964, when Weingart moved from Germany, where he was trained as a hand-set compositor and printer (“in awe of the Swiss Style”), to Switzerland, to show his portfolio of typographic studies to two great, but very different teachers at the Schule für Gestaltung (School of Design), a department at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule Basel (Basel Vocational School).

One was Emil Ruder, the director of the design program, whose approach epitomized the prevailing Swiss typographic dogma — cool, rational, rectangular, single font, grid-oriented — an approach that Weingart later described as “puritanical.” 

The other was Armin Hofmann, a less rigid and more humanistic designer, whose teaching addressed the basic principles that governed the organization of images and typography into lyrical, formally elegant compositions.

Emil Ruder

Armin Hofmann

He was admitted to the school but soon found he was unable to tolerate the structure of classwork. Although withdrawing as a full time student, Weingart was encouraged to use the school’s facilities, and in particular, the beautifully equipped type shop, to pursue his typographic experiments.

During these years of self-directed study, Weingart’s explorations took “Swiss typography” as a starting point, and embraced the constraints of hand-set type and letterpress printing in order to find new design directions. His experimentation with the expressive potential of hand-set type “…was never with the idea of throwing either ‘Basle or Swiss Typography’ over-board but instead, with an attempt to expand them — to enliven and change them with the help of intensively considered design-criteria and new visual ideas.” (4)


M experiment sketches 1965


His innovations accelerated when Hofmann invited him in 1968 to join the faculty of the newly launched Advanced Program in Graphic Design at the school, which attracted post-graduate students from all over the world, including many Americans. Weingart would later write that “I recognized too many good qualities in Swiss typography to renounce it altogether. Through my teaching I set out to use the positive qualities of Swiss typography as a base to pursue radically new typographic frontiers.” (5)




Serendipitously, I visited the school in Basle that first summer Weingart was teaching. Yale had given me a grant to go to the school and experience first-hand their new Advanced Program in Graphic Design and to explore what it might have to offer for our own graduate curriculum.

June, 1968

And there he was, in his white lab coat, guiding his students through a disciplined, step-by-step exploration of typographic basics, pushing around slivers of type, hand-set in the type shop (in 1968, this was the way to generate type to work with on paper). He believed that these elementary exercises were the only way to prepare oneself for the more complex process of self-discovery and visual invention.

Weingart’s own process of discovery was reflected in his method of teaching: as he did in his own work, he encouraged students to first explore every possible technical and visual permutation that could be created with the materials of a type shop (thinking of the type shop more like a printmaking studio); and then, apply those ideas to a particular design problem (a text, form, diagram, announcement, etc). 

The extravagant experiments of Weingart and his students are now widely known, but at that time few had yet been published or ever even seen outside of the school. Even during my visit in 1968, there was little hint of what would come.

High speed TEE train passing through the Gottard Tunnel, from Switzerland to Italy
Philip Burton

Letter combinations
Various students

Then in 1972 the TM covers appeared. And by this time, Weingart had also been able to summarize his fertile period of exploration and teaching in a document (prepared on a typewriter), coyly titled “How Can One Make Swiss Typography.” (6)

This document became the text for a series of lectures in 1972 and 1973 when Weingart arranged to visit many of the most important design schools in Europe and America. 

Lecture announcement for Olten, Germany

And sure enough, in the fall of 1972, at the invitation of Dan Friedman, his former student and now on the faculty at Yale, Weingart arrived at the School of Art on his first of a number of memorable visits, for a lecture and workshop demonstrating his principles.

This whirl-wind tour exposed the design education community to Weingart himself — a charismatic and droll presence — and to a new brand of Swiss Typography, freed up from the rigid, impersonal conventions of High Modernist style, providing instead a more provocative, witty and engaging option for the visualization of language. 

As I look back on it, Weingart’s tour provided a tipping point for what would come to be known as “New Wave” typography. His presentations influenced programs at Yale, RISD, Philadelphia College of Art, University of Cincinnati, Boston University, Ohio State, Cooper Union and Pratt, among others. His own students, like early graduates Dan Friedman and April Greiman, became teachers and role models on both coasts. 

Over the next decade Weingart’s ideas proved to be compatible with the rise of Post-Modernism and could be felt in the ground-breaking work of other designers following similar, more expressive paths, like Katherine and Michael McCoy at Cranbrook, and their students, such as Alan Hori, Scott Makela, Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell; Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans at Émigré; and Jeff Keedy and Lorraine Wild at Cal Arts. Eventually this gene pool begot David Carson and finally Ed Fella, the master of the artless vernacular, about as far from the 60’s Swiss Modernism of Emil Ruder and Joseph Muller-Brockman as you could get.


‘Content marketing’ that you might actually want to watch: The Unquiet Film Series celebrates the historical and cultural impact of The Times and The Sunday Times, including one on typeface Times New Roman

The series is a collaboration between News UK, ad agency Grey London, production company Betsy Works, exec producer Peter Maynard and creative and commercials director, Phil Lind in order to celebrate “the historical and cultural impact of The Times and The Sunday Times …. and explore the values, beliefs and behaviours of past and present editors, journalists and readers”. The first four films of the series are housed in a website, Forever Unquiet, developed by GreyPOSSIBLE and How Splendid. DBLG designed the identity.



Designing The News, directed by Steven Qua, surveys current designers’ opinions about Times New Roman (and also features CR editor Patrick Burgoyne). “After many years of working in design for television I’ve not had much chance to use Times New Roman. As a general rule it’s San-Serif for on screen work and Serif for print,” Qua says. “Times is a serif font, and I don’t work in print. I wanted to know what other designers thought of Times New Roman, and speak to those who do get a chance to use it in their work.”


Simon George explores the Sunday Times’ history of commissioning photojournalism in his film


In Power of Words, Liz Unna speaks to some of The Times’ leading columnists and writers


While Will Clark’s film Question Everything focuses on the papers’ investigative reporting


Ex-ITV Creative ECD and 4Creative head Phil Lind was creative director on the project with Peter Maynard (once of 4Creative and Fallon) as executive producer. The films, Lind explains, arose from 10 themes identified by the editors of the papers as those that they hold most dear. As Lind says, it was a case of “If we had to say something about ourselves, this would be it”.

Those themes were then translated into ten films which will be released in stages through the Forever Unquiet site.


From CR Blog

UX/UI, Web Design

A design pattern that is currently growing more popular is the fixed position bar at the top of the page. Sometimes the bar stays the same throughout, sometimes the header morphs into a slimmer bar as you scroll down, sometimes a completely new bar appears.

For example, as you scroll down on the New York Times website, the top navigation bar shifts from displaying typical site-wide navigation to article specific controls, showing the title of the article, the share link, the comments link, as well as compressed site-wide links:

At the Forbes website, as the user scrolls down the page a fixed position bar appears at the top promoting links to other articles the reader may find interesting, as well as a drop-down site navigation menu, search and user controls:

While these bars may be useful, they take up vertical space, reducing the reading space the user has chosen for themselves by picking the size of their browser window. Additionally, information displayed on these bars does not do anything to aid the reading of the actual content, making the bar more of a nuisance than help.

An interesting way to solve the issue is to hide the bar when scrolling down, and show it when scrolling up. On mobile interfaces, where space is precious, this technique is used to hide chrome, such as Web browser controls, but it’s also a good pattern to use on the Web. For example,Medium has just updated their new navigation bar. As you scroll down, the bar goes away, but it can be revealed at any time by scrolling up. Here’s what it looks like:

Less annoying than bars that just sit there as you scroll down, and makes the menu easy to access without having to scroll up to the top of the page. Scrolling up won’t necessarily mean the user wants the navigation — they may just be scanning the content — but 100% of the people wanting the navigation will be scrolling up, making it a pretty good compromise.

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UX/UI, Web Design

What Comes Next Is the Future is the definitive documentary about the web, as told by the people who build it each day.

Their challenges and successes will help us better understand this thing called the web, and what lies ahead. A project by Matt Griffin — founder of Bearded, a Net Awards 2014 Agency of the Year nominee – What Comes Next is the Future is an effort to capture the titanic shift in the web landscape that mobile devices have initiated.

Like it or not, we are firmly in a world where the web is in everyone’s pocket. According to Pew Internet Research’s June 2013 reports, 81% of Americans between the ages of 25–35 own a smartphone, 33% of American adults own a tablet computer, and 42% of smartphone owners between the ages of 18–29 consider their phone their primary way of accessing the internet.

Thanks to this mobile revolution, the ways people interact with the web and one another are changing. This shift has forced us to drastically alter our perspectives about the work we do, and how we go about it. What Comes Next Is the Future aims to capture this transformation.

But like many things, the web isn’t just technology – it’s people. We’re often overrun with descriptions of the shallowness of social media, and the implications that has for our basic humanity in this modern hyper-connected world. There is a nostalgia for life before we built the most comprehensive, democratic repository of human knowledge that has ever existed. But to ignore the web’s importance, to treat it as simply a product or appliance that has come into our lives, is to miss the point.

In What Comes Next Is the Future, you’ll meet people who – through our contact with the web – came of age and found each other. For many of us, the web gave us a place where we could contribute, apply our talents, and make things that matter.

What Comes Next Is the Future is a story about the internet, and how the shifting mobile landscape has drastically changed our industry. But it’s also the story of how we’ve all changed as a culture and what we can look forward to in the future, as seen from the perspective those who’ve helped build and shape the web over the last 25 years.

 We Need Your Help

To make the best version of this film we can, we need your help. The more funding we raise for this film, the greater our scope will be.

Our Kickstarter goal is just the minimum we need to finish a shorter, tighter-budget version of the film. This budget will help us pay professional video editors, upgrade our equipment, and cover travel expenses for new interviews as well as some of our time spent on the project so we can really give it the attention it deserves.

We’ve already interviewed:

Once we surpass our goal, we’ll be able to add even more interviews, travel further to get them, and employ more film professionals to make a higher-quality product for you. We’ve already got the thumbs up from a number of people we’d like to interview next (with doubtless even more to come). Here’s a short list of some of our additional heroes who have agreed to be interviewed so far:

Need we go on? It’s crazy all the knowledge and experiences in these people’s brains. And we can’t wait to start getting them on camera.

We want What Comes Is the Future to be the definitive film about the web. Help us make it happen.

The music in the trailer is Slow to Thirty by Low Lumens.

Corporate Sponsorships

There are plenty of ways for organizations to contribute to the film. There are four tiers that get your company name or logo in the closing credits of the film:

  • $5,000 = a full-column logo in the credits (limited to 8)
  • $2,500 = a half-column logo in the credits (limited to 12)
  • $1,000 = a quarter-column logo in the credits (limited to 16)
  • $250 = your name in the credits (limited to 48)

We even created a handy graphic to show you how it works!

Our Corporate Sponsor Levels

To make a donation on behalf of a company, you just use a corporate credit card on someone’s Amazon account. At the end of the project, I’ll contact you for exact wording in the credits or logo files, as necessary.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

At Bearded, we’re not professional movie-makers. We make web things. So what are we doing trying to make a film documentary?

The shift that’s been happening with the explosion of mobile devices on the web has felt monumental. Tectonic, even. And no one, as far as I know, has been capturing these changes in technology and culture (at least not from the perspective we’ve been watching it).

Last year I realized that I had booked a number of speaking engagements with people in the web design industry that I greatly admire (people like Luke Wroblewski, Ethan Marcotte, and Josh Clark, to name a few). So I decided to write up a list of interview questions, and lug along a Canon DSLR video camera to see what I could capture. Everyone I asked to help has been unbelievably open and enthusiastic, and the footage we began to amass was awesome. Pretty soon it became clear that we were – qualified or not – making a movie.

I’ve spent the last five and half years building and running a business where we make things every day that we didn’t know how to make when we started. We’re problem solvers. That’s what we do. No doubt countless problems will arise with this project that we’re not expecting. But that’s normal; there will be problems, and we’ll come up with solutions as they arise.

I’m also experienced enough to know that everything there is to do requires expertise. Filmmaking expertise is not something we have. So we’ll be using a good chunk of our budget to hire professionals to do things like editing, finishing, and perhaps even on-location filming. The more funds we raise, the more we can engage film industry pros to do the things they’re good at, and we can focus on guiding the content and direction of the film.

Besides professional help, what will be spending money on? Travel expenses to go do the interviews, better film equipment, and covering the cost of some of our time, so we can afford to really focus on the film.

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Making Mountains of Data Rewarding to Roam

Here’s a fun rabbit hole to tumble down: Google “How much data is there in the world” and wind through the results. The Daily Mail frames an answer nicely in an article that’s well over a year old now: “There is so much data stored in the world that we may run out of ways to quantify it.”

Another article that comes up from Phys.org states that: “… humankind is able to store at least 295 exabytes of information. (Yes, that’s a number with 20 zeroes in it.) … Put another way, if a single star is a bit of information, that’s a galaxy of information for every person in the world.”

Whoa.read more
By UX Magazine Staff


UX Magazine http://ift.tt/1sZXQft

Graphic Design, Typography

Italian design legend Massimo Vignelli, best known for designing an iconic-yet-controversial version of the New York City subway map in the 1970s, died in his New York City home Tuesday morning at age 83.

Working firmly within the modernist tradition, Vignelli aimed for design that was “visually powerful, intellectually elegant, and above all timeless”–a slogan of sorts for his New York design studio, Vignelli Associates, which he founded in 1971 with his wife, Lella.

“If you can design one thing, you can design everything,” Vignelli had been known to say, and he lived by this maxim. He helped shape the visual and cultural landscape of the 20th century with work ranging from branding for the likes of American Airlines, IBM, and Bloomingdale’s, to housewares, signage, books, furniture, exhibitions, architecture graphics, and interiors.

As one of the most influential designers of the past century, Vignelli won some of the industry’s most prestigious awards, including the AIGA Gold Medal (1983, with Lella), the first Presidential Design Award, presented by President Ronald Reagan (1985), the National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design (2004), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (2005).

Born in pre-World War II Milan in 1931, the young Vignelli and his classmates would regularly have to leave school after hearing bomb alarms and run to a shelter. “I don’t know how I existed,” he told theEpoch Times in 2012 of his life before discovering design but “children grow up no matter what.” Vignelli also remarked on his luck, believing that if he had been born in the generation before or after his own, he would have either been part of the war or part of the national rebuilding effort, and not a designer.

Vignelli first became design obsessed as a teenager, after visiting the home of his mother’s interior designer friend. He’d never fully realized that most everything around him had been dreamt up by a human being, and became captivated by the idea. He started reading all the design books and magazines he could get his hands on, and sketching ideas for furniture he wanted in his room.

At age 16, he began studying and working in the office of a local architect. Since design schools didn’t exist at the time, at 18, he left Italy to study architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, then the Universita di Architettura in Venice. Soon, he was running in the same circles as architecture greats like Le Courbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, and Charles Eames. In an interview with Bigthink, he called his young self an architecture “groupie.”

Vignelli met his future wife, Lella, at an architecture convention and they married in 1957. Three years later, they opened an “office of design and architecture” in Milan, designing for European firms like Pirelli, Rank Xerox, and Olivetti. The pair moved to New York City in 1965, and by 1971, they’d established Vignelli Associates.

He made his arrival in New York known in a big way, with his drasticredesign of the New York City subway map. After the map’s introduction by the MTA on August 7th, 1972, complaints from straphangers started flooding in–about stations that seemed misplaced, about its weirdly square-shaped rendering of Central Park, about water that was beige instead of blue. (Vignelli was strongly opposed to focus groups, and they’d released the map without prior consumer research.) Instead of striving for geographical accuracy, Vignelli had turned the labyrinthine tangle of subway lines into a neat, clear diagram. Color-coded lines ran at 45- or 90-degree angles, and each station was represented as a dot. Design geeks loved this elegant translation of a messy reality into a sleek “System Map,” as Vignelli called it. Michael Bierut, now a partner at Pentagram, remembers keeping a copy as a souvenir on a trip to the city. Though the MTA ultimately opted for a new design in 1979, Vignelli was tasked in 2011 to create an interactive interpretation his System Map for the MTA’s “Weekender” program.

Vignelli was as skilled at articulating his design philosophy as he was at actually designing–his aphorisms are as distilled and elegant as his visual work. “The correct shape is the shape of the object’s meaning,” he once said, describing his preference for a creative process that investigated its subject from the inside out. He wrote books aimed at sharing his wisdom with younger creatives, such as The Vignelli Canon(2009) and Vignelli A to Z (2007). Speaking to Debbie Millman for her book How to Think Like A Great Graphic Designer, he offered an eloquent explanation of what design, in its broadest sense, is really for:

It is to decrease the amount of vulgarity in the world. It is to make the world a better place to be. But everything is relative. There is a certain amount of latitude between what is good, what is elegant, and what is refined that can take many, many manifestations. It doesn’t have to be one style. We’re not talking about style, we’re talking about quality. Style is tangible, quality is intangible. I am talking about creating for everything that surrounds us a level of quality.


In his last, gravely ill days, Vignelli’s son, Luca, sent out an unusual and touching request: that anyone who had been influenced or inspired by his father’s work send him a letter. Designers from all over the world penned notes of appreciation, awe, and gratitude to the man who’s been called the “grandfather of graphic design,” and many posted those letters online as well, with the hashtag #dearmassimo. The outpouring of love from the design community is perhaps a stronger testament to Vignelli’s influence than even the most prestigious award.

[Photo by John Madere]
From Co.Design
Graphic Design

Quality stems from intellectual elegance, and is precluded from the vulgar mind.”

“We’re all going from point A to point B — how we get there is the conductor’s problem,”legendary graphic designer Massimo Vignelli once said at an event we both attended several years ago. Heartbreaking as it is to learn that, after a long illness, Vignelli has reached his final point B, he lives on as a masterful conductor of design and life, whose legacy endures as a luminous reminder that there is no greater feat of the creative spirit than the marriage of good work and good personhood, talent and integrity, poise and principle.

It is that singular spirit that imbues the 2007 monograph Vignelli: From A to Z (public library) — a sort of alphabet book of the Vignelli ethos, spanning from big-picture philosophy to the practical particulars of various projects.

One of the most poignant parts of the book appears under the letter D, for “Discipline.” It is a message that applies not only to design but to just about every endeavor — an iteration of a sentiment shared by creators as diverse as celebrated composer Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), novelist Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), painter Chuck Close (Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), beloved author E.B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), and Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (“My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”). Vignelli gives the notion his own uncompromising touch:

This is the most important virtue for a designer to possess. Discipline is the god of design that governs every aspect of a project… Without it, it is total anarchy, total randomness, pure chaos. Discipline is the attitude that helps us discern right from wrong and guides us to achieve consistency of language in whatever we do. Discipline is what helps us navigate through the social context in which we operate. Discipline is what makes us responsible toward ourselves, toward our clients, toward the society in which we live. It is through discipline that we are able to improve ourselves, mentally and physically; to offer the best of ourselves to everything around us, including every project on which we work…

Discipline is the supreme state of mind, the master of passion, and the governing structure of nature.

There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.

Vignelli returns to another aspect of the subject under the letter Q, for “Quality or Quantity?,” exploring the relationship between discipline and quality. He shares an anecdote of his formative philosophy that, while rooted in the client business, applies equally to any type of work that involves an external “other” — a client, a collaborator, an audience. Vignelli writes:

Early in my professional life I had to make a decision about clients. I realized that only certain types of clients can produce a consistently high level of quality in their [work]. Other clients never seem to reach any satisfactory level of quality. I noticed that what we call a good client — the one that has vision, courage, and clarity of mind — usually gives a good briefing and lets you do your work. Invariably, they get the best results. The only problem is that this kind of client is rare. The other kind, the bad client, is the one that has no briefing, changes course during the process, continuously interferes with you and most of the time, at the end, is also unhappy with the results. Most clients tend to belong to this category. Therefore, early on I had to make a decision — whether to have a large quantity of bad clients or a few good ones… So I made the decision to pursue quality, even if it was less profitable…

To work for quality requires discipline and determination, from both the designer and the client. It is important that the client understand that your efforts are aimed to achieve the best possible quality for the product, company, or institution. Quantity often follows quality; rarely does the opposite happen. In other terms, quantity almost always follows success. To strive for quality is an attitude that demands tremendous rigor toward ourselves and toward the entire process of a project.

Vignelli considers the notion of “intellectual elegance,” which he discussed with exquisite eloquence in his fantastic interview with Debbie Millman, at the root of quality:

Quality stems from intellectual elegance, and is precluded from the vulgar mind. The great utopia is to have quality in great quantity. To some extent, industrialization can multiply an object of quality in great quantity and make it accessible to large numbers of people. This is the aim of our profession. This is the responsibility of the designers and their clients. This is the ethical commitment that every designer should make and follow. The moral imperative should be to reduce the ugliness around us, the vulgarity that surrounds us, and replace it with decent, unselfish designs. Every day we face this opportunity and we should not lose the chance to take it.

In the section headed S, for “Style,” Vignelli echoes Schopenhauer and returns to this notion of intellectual elegance vs. vulgarity:

Style is a byproduct of a person’s being. It reflects a way of thinking; behavioral patterns, attitudes and, above all, a culture… A person can be primitive and illiterate, but still have a lot of style, because style (or intellectual elegance) is the projection of a person’s intelligence. Lack of intelligence generates vulgarity. We could say that an object has style if the intelligence that generated it had style, had intellectual elegance. Very humble objects, like old tools, had the direct elegance generated by a culture sensitive to the requirements of that tool and its user. Style is the way things, ideas, attitudes take form. Style is the tangible aspect of intangible things.

Vignelli: From A to Z, though presently hard to find, is a spectacular read and well worth the hunt. For a deeper dive into Vignelli’s expansive mind and spirit, see Debbie Millman’s interview with him on intellectual elegance, education, and love, then bid one final farewell with their live conversation, filmed by the late and great Hillman Curtis:

You are missed, Massimo, and thank you for everything.

Graphic Design, UX/UI

Steve Krug famously said, “Don’t make me think.” This statement is simple, profound, and especially true in the case of mobile interfaces. With smaller screen real estate, increased app fatigue, and decreased user adoption rates, there has never been a better time to revisit these words.

The key to keeping apps ticking, alive, and successful is captured right in that statement. Create an intuitive user experience; don’t make the user think.

User experience is the art of weaving together context, design, ease of use, uniformity, context, relevance, and consistency. On mobile, this experience is what sets apart the successful apps from the rest. Every interaction that the user has with the app turns into an opportunity to be seized to turn it into a deeper, longer relationship. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  1. Through colors, design, and typography—the purely visual end of the user experience spectrum. Designers can use these elements to create visual continuity, pleasing interfaces, readability, and functionality.
  2. Another equally important and oft-overlooked aspect is controlling the front end of mobile apps (the mobile UI, screen layouts, and elements) from a back-end (such as the server or Content Management System or Web application). This philosophy makes it so that screens can be built at runtime allowing them to be either data or user driven.

Reams of digital paper have been written on achieving user experience through purely visual elements. Let us delve a little deeper into the latter approach.

The Over-Arching Process

  1. The back-end, be it the server or CMS first identifies the context.
  2. Depending on context, this back-end generates screen element information and selects thecontent to be displayed in the app.
  3. This information about the screen elements and content is sent to the front end, which is the mobile app.
  4. The mobile app renders the screen accordingly.

What Impact Will this Have on Users?

A superior and more convenient user experience. Period.

By getting rid of screen widgets that are not needed for a particular kind of user or a kind of data, we can offer users an uncluttered app interface. We can re-use the same screens for different use cases. We can make the application scale automatically and enhance functionality without having to deploy new code.


Getting rid of screen widgets that are not needed … can offer users an uncluttered app interfacetweet this


Check out a few real world contextual usage scenarios:

Context 1: Users

Identify user groups based on login and display screens accordingly. Let’s take the example of an enterprise iPhone app being used by employees of a company to fill in timesheets.

  • Upon login, an employee views just his or her timesheet and has the option to fill in the fields with hours spent and project worked on before submitting it.
  • If the user is a senior manager, however, upon login, his or her screen would show his or her own timesheet and additional links or buttons to see the timesheets of team members and approve them.
  • The back-end identifies not just that this user is a manager but also the employees that are in his or her team, allowing access to only their timesheets.
  • For managers, the screen could also throw up a dashboard for analysis such as a chart of employees vs. time spent on work.

Back-End Mobile DesignBack-End Mobile Design

Context 2: Data

Identify the data structure and display content accordingly. Let’s take the example of a mobile app that requires users to fill a form with different fields.

  • The back-end application can be built in such a way that it allows for fields to be added with names and their types. For example, Name would show up with a text field, whereas a “need pick-up” option would show up with a toggle switch with “yes” or “no” options.
  • If we take another case where the data type is a list, this is identified and sent to the mobile app along with the list contents. The app will then display a widget that can hold a list.
  • The fields can also be reordered exactly the way the mobile app has to display them.
  • When the business requirement changes to show new fields in this form or to hide this form altogether from the mobile app, it can easily be accomplished using the database or a content management application.

Back-End Mobile Design

Context 3: Input Fields

Identify the input field and display appropriate attribute field. For example, an admin user uses a CMS to create a form for patients to fill up in their mobile app.

  • This user can create a field “Registration Number,” which is a text field, and specify its attribute as “numeric input.”
  • Accordingly, in the mobile app, that form displays a text field that shows up with a numeric keypad when user tries to enter information.

Back-End Mobile Design

Context 4: Geo Location

For this example, a mall has an app that visitors have downloaded.

  • As they move around, visitors will see trending offers and coupons on their screens related to the stalls they are closest to.
  • Also, depending on where they are, they see screens getting refreshed with relevant content. So, if they were close to an apparel store, the UI would be a product catalog whereas if they were near a restaurant, they would see a menu listing.

Back-End Mobile DesignBack-End Mobile Design

Context 5: Operating System

For cross-platform apps, this could be a real boon.

  • The app could show iOS style buttons if the device is detected as an iPhone or hide the “back” buttons if it is an Android phone that has the device “back” option built in.
  • The true advantage lies in retaining the native feel even with cross-platform or web-based apps.
Context 6: Screen Resolution

Let us take the example of an app that has images coming into the app via web services.

  • The exact number of images would be known only at runtime, so a single image will have to be shown and centralized on the screen, but multiple images would require an image gallery.
  • Similarly, large devices can show a grid of thumbnail images and allow users to pick one to see full screen view. For small devices, the grid would not work because each thumbnail is too small for the user to make out anything.
  • So, the best UI would be to use a carousel or a horizontally scrolling set of images for the user to browse through the entire set. Another option would be to have the same grid style, but bigger-sized boxes in it.

Back-End Mobile DesignBack-End Mobile Design

Dissecting the Pros and Cons

The advantages that this approach offers designers and users vary from more innate user interactions to reduced code deployments. Specifically:

  • Reduced number of screens in the application
  • Reduced number of clicks to get to a feature/functionality
  • Gets rid of unwanted screen elements making for a cleaner UI
  • Enhances user experience by keeping content contextual to user/data
  • Retains flexibility to introduce new screens or new screen elements by giving a few user controls in the back-end system, which also allows for scalability
  • Reduced need to deploy new code on the web/mobile application each time you want the screen to look different—especially true with mobile apps, where every code change will need a new version of the app to be uploaded on to the app store
  • Give clients the power of self-styling their screens
  • Render widgets according to the OS, browser and screen resolution of the device

That said, there are a few data points to abide by:

  • Stay away from introducing unnecessary complexity
  • Try not to integrate unnecessary logic into the screen-building, keeping in mind that since this happens at runtime, you don’t want screens to take ages to load (Take the case of inheritance of widgets: if widget A is present show widget B with X content else if widget A is absent, show widget C with Y content—avoid this kind of logic if not really necessary)
  • Use intelligent data structuring—building web response templates in a way that the mobile app can easily use means processing time on the mobile device can be kept at a minimum
  • Use this approach only in cases where it makes sense to do so—there’s no need to follow this approach of building screens dynamically at runtime if: functionality can be easily achieved by controlling it at the front end; functionality can be easily achieved by hard-coding the screen layout; there are not too many varying contexts in the scope of the application


When the goal is an app that delights and engages, user experience is the key—this is a universally acknowledged truth. But, with mobile apps, decoding user scenarios and coding your app accordingly will surely get you on the path to a longer user commitment.

Illustration of smartphone coutesy Shutterstock.


From UX Magazine