Tagged: design

Happy iOS 7 day!

Screen shots of Apple's iOS 7.The highly anticipated update to iOS is finally here. While initially iOS 7 left me with a few concerns, I’ve found it to be an improvement and for the most part, very satisfying. I’ll go into more detail after I’ve used it day-to-day for a longer period.

So what do you need to do to get updated? I recommend a manual backup of your phone (even if you normally backup through iCloud). It’s easy and doesn’t take to long. Open iTunes, plug-in your phone, select it in the upper right corner and look for the “Back up Now” button. It’ll do it’s thing and in a few minutes you can eject your phone and upgrade to iOS 7 without fear.

So now you’re rocking the fancy new iOS 7, but besides the eye candy, what’s new? Wired wrote a great little article detail many of the changes in iOS 7. It’s worth a read.

iOS 7 is great and all, but the real treat today (and for the next few weeks) will be all the great UI updates to your favorite third-party apps. Wanting to stay relevant and not look out-of-place, many app developers have worked hard on getting their apps to reflect the new style in iOS 7. TapFame set up a page detailing some of the before and after screen shots. I find some of these third-party updates even more exciting than iOS 7 itself.

Have you installed iOS 7 yet? What’s your favorite feature? How about third-party apps, who’s done the best job translating their app into the new iOS 7 design language?

Tips for design school students

I was reading a great little write-up on tips for design school students. It was written by a graduate of the Western Michigan University program (where I also attended). She has some great insight so I thought I’d pass it along. It’s definitely worth a read, even for design school graduates. It’s always good to remember these things after school too.

12 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING DESIGN SCHOOL at Paper Fort Studio

iOS 7 gets flatter, more transparent

iOS 7 logoUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Apple was overhauling iOS. The rumors had been swirling for months saying that Jonny Ive had led the design team in a new, flatter, minimalistic and all around, exact opposite of the current iOS. Gone would be the leather stitching, cloth textures and strange skeuomorphic experiences.

Well, the rumors were pretty dead on. iOS 7 will be a completely new beast (visually at least). During the big keynote at the World Wide Developers Conference yesterday, Apple took the wraps off the new iOS. It’s definitely flat, definitely not skeuomorphic and the textures are kept to a minimum. Transparency and sense of depth are design themes. The standard Apple apps have all been rethought. The interface seems to do a much better job of getting out of the way and let you see the content. Safari, for example, has its navigation “chrome” disappear so the Web page you’re viewing can take over your screen.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.26.26 AM

Overall, I’m impressed. They’ve gone into a bold new direction. Sure a lot of the ideas are borrowed from jailbreak hacks or other operating systems, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great. Many of the cries for a sleeker interface and easier to use quick functions have been answered. Swiping up from the bottom gives you access to switch on and off wifi, bluetooth, do not disturb, screen brightness, etc. It’s simple, not ground breaking, but it’s what they needed. Notifications, multi-tasking, app switching and much more have all been overhauled. The type alone is worth upgrading. It’s big, beautiful and used to communicate effectively. This truly is a big update for iOS and I cannot wait to install it.

iOS-screenshots

At this point, it’s probably important to note I haven’t used this hands on yet. That said, my biggest criticism right now has to be the icons. I’m all for flatter, less glossy icons. That really works in some cases. In others, I just don’t get it (in the case of Game Center, what are those bubbles for?) or I just feel uneasy about them (I’m looking at you Safari, perhaps it’s the stark white square you sit in?). Maybe in my hand they’ll look better, or at the very least I’ll get used to them.

The second thing that worries me is the transparency. It’s cool in the screnshots they provide but how will it actually react with your own photos as backgrounds? How will it work in the sunlight? I hesitate to critique it too much without using it, so my final judgement on transparency will have to wait.

I won’t ramble on too much more, but I will add you should definitely check out the iOS 7 teaser page at Apple’s site. There is a lot of change coming to an iDevice near you this fall. I, for one, am chomping at the bit to start playing with this new design direction. It might not be perfect, but it’s a step in a new direction and that was much needed. What do you think?

The User is Drunk

User experiences and interfaces are some of my greatest interests. My love of design and technology fuels this, but even in everyday life I am constantly thinking of user experiences. Whether it’s using a self-checkout at a supermarket or driving through a round-about, my mind is always thinking of how it could be better or how clever it is. That’s why I really enjoyed this little video called “The User is Drunk.” It’s a humorous take on user interfaces, but it makes very valid points.

When I’m designing websites and other interfaces, I’m always trying to keep things simple, elegant and most importantly easy to use. The video points out imagining the user as drunk is one way to ensure your end user’s experience is a good one. My personal rule of thumb has always been, “Can my mom use this?” but “the user is drunk” works too. Either way, the point is the same. Interfaces shouldn’t be complicated. A user shouldn’t have to have a computer science degree to fill out your form. In the video, he brings up the point that a good user interface disappears  I couldn’t agree more. The less you notice an interface and just get done whatever you were trying to do, the better.

Enjoy this little video, and pay attention. There are some great points in there, even if the title is a bit funny.

BNs for Bruce

Jones-BN-Swatch-FinalOne of my graphic design professors is retiring. After 39 years (not a shabby run), Bruce Naftel is “Beginning New.” Last week we celebrated with a “Big Night” retirement party. Obviously, the theme was Bruce’s initials B and N. Bruce’s former students (including myself), some colleagues and friends all came together to create a special project for Bruce. We each created a composition using the letters B and N. Here a few I came up with.

My paint composition has a particularly special meaning. My first class with Bruce during my very first semester in the graphic design program was “Color for Graphic Design.” During the class we studied color theory. To do so, we often painted little swatches by hand. This particular composition was an ode to those little swatches we painstakingly painted. My version for this project was much less than perfect like we were expected to make back in school. I figured it’d read better as “paint” this way. I’m sure Bruce would have NEVER accepted something like that in real life, but that kind of made it more fun to make.

bns-combined

The last two were just fun explorations. They’re reminiscent of my early typography classes when we’d crop in on type. There’s no deep meaning to them but they were still fun to make.

It was very nice to be a part of Bruce’s retirement. He was a huge part of my design education, and it was great working on one last project for him. It was even better not getting graded this time. 😛

Design Find: iOS 7 Concepts

I’m always intrigued by exciting new interface designs, and these iOS 7 concepts by Mohamed Kerroudj are no exception. Kerroudj shows what a dramatic overhaul of the iOS interface could look like. It’s beautifully minmal, but also adds a lot of new functionality. I’m sure Apple will never implement quite this much change (at least all in one OS update), but there are still some great concepts.

I particularly like being able to perform simple functions and manage notifications right on the lock screen. The overall feel is much cleaner and more fresh. It still feels very Apple-like (maybe even more so), while giving iOS that update we’ve all been clamoring for. I hope Apple takes note and incorporates something similar.

Take a look at the videos below, and let me know what your favorite parts are in the comments. Have you seen some great concept videos or images? Share a link, I’d love to see them.


Logo Hidden Secrets

Logos are everywhere. You see them all the time, so much in fact, you’re probably missing some of their hidden secrets. I love a good Easter egg. Whether it be in a video game, an app or a well designed logo. I’ve tracked down a few of my favorite logo hidden secrets so I can reveal the Easter eggs to you.

FedEx Logo

The first one I always think of is FedEx. The logotype is so clean and simple you might not immediately recognize the arrow that gets created in the negative space between the “E” and “x.” It works very well for conveying the “moving forward” attitude of a shipping company.

Amazon Logo

Amazon has a very recognizable logo, and many people would probably tell you they see a smile. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong, as the orange arrow does convey smiling but it also shows “A to Z.” It’s said Amazon wanted to be the online shop for everything from A to Z. They have pretty much achieved that goal and so has their logo, making it that much cooler now.

The Big Ten college football conference has not one, but two logos with hidden goodies. The previous logo had a hidden 11 in the negative space. At the time the conference had 11 teams but didn’t want to lose the equity of their name (plus, Big Eleven doesn’t have the same ring to it). The most recent logo came out after another team was added (making 12 teams, and the Big Twelve name is already taken) so they dropped the hidden 11 and made the word Big also show a hidden ten. It allows it to stand alone without adding a second word or numbers. Pretty slick, especially for the often over-designed world of sports.

Toblerone logo

Toblerone is a chocolate maker based in Bern, Switzerland. Bern is often called the “city of bears.” Upon close inspection of the mountain, you’ll notice a bear outline. That’s nice little design detail and tribute to their hometown.

Northwest Airlines logoNorthwest Airlines may now be part of Delta, but their old logo had a couple hidden gems. There’s an “N” as well as an implied “W” in the icon. It gets better; the little arrow actually points in the direction of northwest. Those are pretty clever details.

There are many more logos with little secrets, but the above are just a few of my favorites. Maybe I’ll do another one of these posts in the future. Did I miss your favorite? Tell me about it in the comments.

Opinion: How to improve iOS

I know, I know, just what the world needs, another article on how to make the iPhone (and other iOS devices) better. Well, it’s true there’s no shortage of user dreams for iOS, but that doesn’t mean I can’t throw my two cents in. Here are a few ways how Apple could improve iOS to keep it current and improve the overall user experience.

Screenshot of iOS notification with delete button mocked up.Swipe to clear notifications: Have you ever not paid attention to your phone for a while? On occasion, I’ll leave it sit in my pocket on a long drive or while I’m in a meeting. Afterwards, I’m overwhelmed with the number of notifications on screen. Usually I’ll try to delete them, but Apple tiny little “x” doesn’t like my man-sized fingers. Furthermore, I don’t always want to delete all of the notifications from an app. Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple added support to “swipe” across a particular notification and a delete button popped up (think of the experience in Mail; see mock up at right)? I’d like to see this functionality in both the notification center and the lock screen.

Set your own default apps: A few years ago Apple apps were top notch. Now they’ve seemingly remained stagnant, and there is a wealth of better designed, easier to use and all around more enjoyable third party apps. It’s time Apple opens up a little and lets users set their own default apps. I’m in love with Mailbox and already use it as my main mail app. Wouldn’t it be great if iOS knew and respected that? I hate being in another app and trying to share something via email only to get Apple Mail app. Same goes for browsers, maps, etc. You can still ship your stuff, Apple, but let me choose what to use.

Siri API: Oh, Siri… I had such hope for you. Siri in theory is a really useful assistant. But in practice, she leaves a lot to be desired. Turn by turn directions are finally there, and you can look up movie showtimes, but I want more. Obviously setting your own default apps would take use a step closer to usefulness but I want a full-fledged API. I want developers to have access to Siri so she can do wonderful things. “Siri, check me into Starbucks”

iWatch: So this isn’t so much an iOS request as it is a new product, but I see them closely related. I want a watch that will make Siri useful (talking to my wrist is better than talking to my phone, which if in my hand, I can easily type on). I want the ability to easily glance at my watch to see who’s calling or texting or emailing, maybe even let me use canned responses right on the device. The Pebble is a start, but I think only Apple can make it a truly seamless experience.

Better app management: I literally have a dozen pages of apps on my phone. Needless to say, I’m not even sure what’s on there beyond the first couple pages. I’ve tried to organize, but it’s a daunting task, and it should be so much easier. For starters, don’t make my apps slide to the upper left corner. I want to place apps in specific spots and have them stay there. Sometimes I might want a gap between apps, it’s no big deal, just let me do it! I’d also like to see the ability to move more than one app at a time. I think there are jailbreak tweaks to do these things, but I shouldn’t have to do that. It should be easy and standard.

Alert sounds: The thing I miss most about Android is being able to customize every single little sound my phone makes. I customized apps to have alerts that let me know what was happening and whether or not it was worth pulling my phone out of my pocket. To some extent you can customize sounds on your iPhone, but it’s very limited. I hear the same ding for most apps, and it’d be nice to know if a game wants my attention or if it’s something more important. It seems this is left up to individual developers to add their own sounds right now, but I want to take it further, let me set the sound. I want to do custom sounds, so I know exactly what I’m being pinged for, and it’s not the same default sound that everyone else in the room has.

Web app notifications: Sometimes a native app isn’t the answer. One of the downsides to a Web app, however, is the inability to send users notifications. With modern browsers like Chrome and Safari allowing Web apps to take advantage of desktop notifications, why shouldn’t your phone or tablet? Hopefully this would cut down on some of those “native” apps that just wrap up a website. I saw a good mock up of this recently but I cannot seem to re-find it.

There are plenty of other ideas I didn’t add, but the above are some of my biggest desires. What would you like to see added in iOS 7? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Team Groom Discs

It’s no secret I’ve fallen in love with (some my say became obsessed with) disc golf. It was sparked around the time of my bachelor party and all of my groomsmen have also taken up the sport. I knew I wanted to make a special gift for my “team groom” and our shared affinity for disc golf provided the perfect project. I had read a little online about dying discs so I came up with a design and set out to create custom putters for the guys.

As my friends would say, “Nuttin’ but chains!”

This project seemed really simple when I was planning but there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. The design was easy. I came up with a simple vector drawing of a bow-tie (which were a staple of our wedding wardrobes) and then put the text “TEAM GROOM” and “#JONESWED” underneath. We had referred to ourselves as Team Groom and #joneswed was the official hashtag of our wedding.

The design was the easy part, getting it from the computer to the discs was where things started getting interesting. I thought cut vinyl could be applied to the discs fairly easily so I set out to it cut. First I tried using a friend’s Cricut cutter. Apparently the software “hack” that let you cut custom designs had been updated and lost support for Cricut machines after a lawsuit. I tried to no avail to find an older version that would work but I was left without my vinyl. At this point time was running out of time so I found some local sign shops and finally got my vinyl.

My original plan was going to just stick the vinyl on the discs but after doing some research into dying, it seemed I could use the vinyl to create a unique design with the dye. This technique allowed the discs to dye the area around the vinyl, then when it was later removed the original disc color would show through. I liked the idea of a smooth surface on the disc so it didn’t disrupt the flight pattern. I found some Rit dye in a color I liked and went home to start dying.

The disc prep included using acetone to remove the labels. My first attempts seemed tougher than the videos I had seen on youtube. I kept at it and then stuck vinyl on my first disc. I dunked it in the dye and it didn’t seem to be taking. I added more dye, left it in longer, but it still wasn’t really working. Turns out, I had bought the wrong type of plastic discs… I went back out and bought a new set of discs, this time in the Innova Star plastic, which upon further research, appeared to be the best type of plastic for dying.

Applying the vinyl to the blank disc

Applying the vinyl to the blank disc

Star plastic was much easier to remove the labels with acetone and lucky for me, took much better to the dye. The dye seemed to turn out more of a dark purple than the bright blue advertised on the box but they still made the custom look a success.

disc in the dye pan

Here is the disc face down in the dye. It’s important to keep the dye warm but not too hot or you can melt the plastic of the disc.

dyed disc with vinyl still on

Here is a disc after it’s been dyed with the vinyl still applied

peeling the vinyl off of the dyed disc

After the dying process and a quick rinse, you can remove the vinyl from the disc

pile of custom team groom discs

the final products

I topped off the gift bags with a custom Team Groom water bottle using the same design. Those were an easier task, which just consisted of the application of vinyl to the bottles. Overall I’m very happy with how they turned out and can’t wait to try another dye job. I think I’ve learned a lot about the process (and which discs to choose, definitely the Innova Star plastic!) and the next time should go much smoother. Have you done any custom dying? Share a link or some pro tips in the comments.