A Minor Design Slip by Apple

January 22nd, 2014 | Apple | Design


Apple is famous for attention to detail, but occasionally they miss. Here’s an example.

In the screenshot above, the iOS7 keyboard is shown in its default state, i.e. without capitalization activated.

Something about this bothered me for a while, but I just figured out what it was: The activation color scheme for the SHIFT is opposite that of the regular keys.

Notice that the regular keys are light with dark text on them. But for the SHIFT character it’s a dark background with light on top.

This means something to humans.

Based on the precedent set by the keys above (light with dark), one assumes that the SHIFT key is activated because it’s in the opposite configuration (dark with light), i.e. it tells us the next character will be a capital.

The fix is easy. When you haven’t touched the keyboard, all keys should display the same way—either light with dark on top, or dark with light on top.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.37.32 AM

I’m going through Butterick’s Typography Book again, and I’m noticing a feeling that’s similar to admiring a perfect workspace, or even doing amateur astronomy.

It’s about an effort towards perfection, with keen focus on the experience of all involved. I think it’s an Apple thing as well, now that I think about it.

The typography in the book, as one might expect, is precision in print. But the way it makes me want to achieve that same level of perfection is the topic I’m speaking of.

It’s like going into The Container Store, and wanting to be organized. Or going into a bookstore and being overwhelmed by a love of stories and experiences and our short lives here.

This typography book makes me want to be a better person. That’s a bit strong, and it’s stolen from Jack Nicholson in some movie from the 90′s, but I hope you get the point.

Typography books, apartment design websites, bookstores, astronomy—these all inspire me to pursue and create beauty. And that’s a good thing.

Check out the book, if you have not yet done so. As far as I can tell it’s the definitive guide.

Remarkable Table Design

September 19th, 2013 | Design

Just stunning.

To create a chart, all you need to do is chose a color palette from seven options and start entering your data. Each chart gives you the option of adding a unit (dollars, hours, minutes, miles, yards or feet), the date and time for each entry, as well as tags and a brief text note. You can see your data sets in board or calendar views.

via iPad App mem:o Is A Simple Data Visualization Tool For Design Lovers | TechCrunch.

I have child-like enthusiasm for both data visualization and design. So the notion of taking some sort of noteworthy data and plugging it into something like this–and getting out an instant click “aha!” visual is just…compelling.

I’ll definitely be tossing this around some.

After thinking about this stuff for a very long time, I’ve settled pretty firmly in the camp of thinking that interfaces should mimic social creatures, that they should have personalities, and that I should be communicating with the interface rather than the interface being an extension of myself. Tools have almost always been physical objects that are manipulated tactually. Interfaces are much more abstract, and much more intelligent; they far more closely resemble social interactions than physical tools.

The answer for me, then, is that you’re having a conversation with the interface. It’s “Your stuff.”

If you’re into UI/UX you should read the whole post.

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“The best” isn’t necessarily a product or thing. It’s the reward for winning the battle fought between patience, obsession, and desire. It takes an unreasonably long amount of time to find the best of something. It requires that you know everything about a product’s market, manufacture, and design, and that you can navigate deceptive pricing and marketing. It requires that you find the best thing for yourself, which means you need to know what actually matters to you.

Probably not a surprise, but this resonates powerfully with me.

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As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.

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Balsamiq 2.2 Released | Balsamiq

September 13th, 2012 | Design

A new editor look and feel

As a programmer, I have always cared more about making my software SOLID rather than having it look pretty. When I was back at Adobe, my friend and colleague Nigel Pegg would spend hours tweaking the speed of an animation tween and working with our designer Tim Allen to make sure that everything looked beautiful and pixel-perfect. The three of us made a great team.

One of my favorite mockup tools (the other is Gliffy).

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Simple Desks

April 29th, 2012 | Design


Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left.


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The principle of least astonishment (POLA/PLA) applies to user interface design, software design, and ergonomics. It is alternatively referred to as the rule or law of least astonishment, or the rule or principle of least surprise (POLS).

The POLA states that, when two elements of an interface conflict, or are ambiguous, the behaviour should be that which will least surprise the user; in particular a programmer should try to think of the behavior that will least surprise someone who uses the program, rather than that behavior that is natural from knowing the inner workings of the program.


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A Clean Blog Design

August 15th, 2011 | Design


Man, this is a stunning site.