When was the last time you cut something out from your design?
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I love this quote. It's partially on the money. Yes, we cut, a lot. But as designers, we don't set out to reach perfection in our interfaces because it's non-attainable. If it were, we'd be unemployed swiftly.
Instead, we set out with the goal of making our designs better communicate their messages with every push of a pixel. In doing so, we're on the hunt for obstructions, clashes, and noise. In doing so, we become Grim Reapers.
We glide through our designs and relentlessly cut down, destroy, and delete the unnecessary. Then we do it again and again. To be honest, it's pretty fun.
So I'll modify the quote a bit.
Good design is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
We've all heard it at least once in our careers. You're busy coding away at the newest tenant to the World Wide Web. You're stuck on the choice of fonts, color scheme, or whether or not to keep the navigation pinned to the top. Then out of no where, you hear the words “dude, relax. It's just a website.”
You see, as designers (or creatives, as I call us), it's our duty to create things that solve problems. The problem could be that the current layout of a site just doesn't fit the intended message. It could be that the choice of fonts clash. It could be that there are too many levels of navigation to get to a vital setting. Or, it could simply be that a site that should exist, doesn't.
Regardless of what we're solving, solving is what we've set out to do. And our ability to design, whether it be websites, mobile apps, interfaces, or back-end code (yes, they're designers too), is measured by our ability to solve. It's not just about pretty pixels and white-space anymore. So for anyone to say “it's just [anything]” undermines what we do – we problem solve. And that's no simple feat.
Think about it. In front of a screen, although not necessarily good, is where we'll spend a sizable chunk of our lives. Whether it be the desktop, TV, tablet, or infamous smartphone. So doesn't it make sense that time and thought would be put into delivering the best experiences possible?
It's beginning to seem that our fast way of life is gradually creeping into our work. It's no longer “necessary” to invest time and energy. It's all about “quickness.”
But again, they're wrong. We take what we do as creatives seriously. And that requires time.
With that said, the next time someone tells you “dude/dudette, it's just a website,” turn around (*slowly*) and simply say, “no, it's much more.”
I'm 18 and I create things. So that makes me a young creative, right? I have the daily opportunity to work, advise, and collaborate with numerous amazing designers, developers, and creatives alike. I, along with Drew, also co-founded an online publication called The Industry that's dedicated to covering the creative community.
There are many like me (young) who are making amazing products, apps, and tools without any coverage or spotlight in sight. Simply because they don't have 25K+ followers on Twitter, or a familiar name. Funny thing is, there are some who fit both bills, but still can't manage to make anything sustainable from $41 million besides a shopping list full of patents.
But I digress.
The point is, young people are the leaders, innovators, and creators of tomorrow. It just so happens that they tend to start today. So when [they] do, well, they deserve some notice. But exactly how do we do that? Another blog? Podcast? Print?
Apparently Tim Smith, the guy behind The East Wing, agrees. And he wants to take the latter route to do something about it. It's called Make Awesome and it will highlight those who don't get much exposure.
Make Awesome is a web design magazine that celebrates the work of the unknown, the young and those who inspire us to take risks.
Tim Cook, to be exact. He's similar, yet different in many of ways from his predecessor, Steve Jobs.
While the two shared the same vision for Apple, it's becoming more and more apparent that their ways of getting there were a bit different. For one, unlike Jobs, Cook didn't think the iPhone needed to remain at 3.5" 4:3 forever (as made plain with the iPhone 5). People wanted bigger screens and 16:9 sounded nice, so he made the switch.
Not to mention, his letter to the public apologizing for Apple's terrible Map app was something out of a new playbook. He wasn't even afraid to have it plastered on the homepage.
Now, if there's one thing we know, Steve Jobs wasn't often one to apologize. And although he was a fearless leader and an amazing entrepreneur, Apple did make some blunders while under him. Remember Antennagate? Jobs told the world that they were holding their iPhone's incorrectly. No apology there. Just a ton of bumper cases were sent out months after the issue became apparent. Then the battery issue with the 4 and 4S. In this situation, Jobs would have probably told us that we forgot to include the plus 4 when entering zip codes (you know xxxxx-xxxx).
Yes, some may raise the argument that the reason why Jobs was rarely in situations to apologize, was because, for the most part (minus Siri), he pushed excellent and complete products. That everything was intensely tested before going on sale. For those of you who agree with this statement in its entirety. Read the paragraph above. He pushed amazing products, but they weren't all flawless.
Regardless, Apple's map app is indeed crap. Cook didn't fake it, ignore it, or even blame the users, but owned the problem. He even went as far as offering a solution that is against the reason Apple even built the app in the first place (to own every feature of their product).
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
The fact is that Apple has a new Cook. Let's see what he makes.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.
Update: Yes, Steve Jobs didapologize for a few things, but give a quick google search for “Steve Jobs apologizes,” and you'll see what I mean. Regardless, that's not the point of this article. The point is that Apple is most definitely under new leadership. Cook is doing things he believes to be best for the company. He's not trying to be a Jobs.
And what’s the benefit of learning a language? Or at least having some understanding of one? Breaking down barriers of communication and understanding. Whether they be physical or mental.
I’m sure 95% of you who are reading this know what “hola” or “adios” means, right? It’s Spanish for hello and goodbye, respectively. Now although you may have these two words down packed in your international vocabulary, I’m sure most of you aren’t fluent in the latin tongue. But for those of you who are bilingual or are fluent in more than two languages, can’t you testify that having some understanding of another language is a good thing?
I think that’s the same approach we need to use when it comes to code. Everyone should have a basic understanding of what it is, what it entails, and what it can do (a lot). After all, it’s behind most of the things we interact with on a daily basis. And having this basic knowledge will help many understand what’s possible for our ever innovating world. That’s not to say, however, that everyone needs to ‘fluent,’ code for a living, or even build and ship something. Just know what PHP stands for. That’s all. We fear what we don’t know. ‘Geeks’ and ‘nerds’ as we’re called, are crutch words for those who don’t know.
I’ve contemplated keeping my age a secret until I was old enough to buy someone a drink. Or at least until my age didn’t end with “teen.” That way, people would “take me seriously.” But I’ve gotten over it.
It really amazes me how much the world focuses on one’s age and degree(s). Even more so than skill and personality, the most important factors. But today, for my birthday, I’ll try to debunk the silly notion of age > skill. I’ll tell you a little story about me, who helped me grow as a writer, designer and leader, and my advice to young creatives.
A week or so ago, I wrote a piece entitled, “Show People Kindness.” In it, I ranted about how the web is filled with negative posts, but I also explained my intention to, once a week (hopefully), try and mention a few products, services, and/or people that I would recommend to others. And, I'd say thanks to them for their hard work.
This is a service by Jori and Karri. These two guys from Finland are doing something amazing. They're making the sharing of links on the web fun again.
The startup, a YC '12 backed grad, is growing fast with new features added every month. However, one thing I respect them for, amongst others, is the fact that they think features through in their entirety before adding them. Something I wish other products and services would mirror. You see, most companies “dump, then cleanup.” Or, they add a half-finished feature to their service, then after all the complaints of how it sucks, go back and patch it up. Kippt, on the other hand, weigh the pros and cons, outline the possible areas of potential problems, and figure out ways of solving them even before the first line of code is written.
But I digress.
If you're into beautiful products, collect links (don't we all?), and want a place to both save and share them easily, Kippt's the way to go.
By now, we all know how bad it is to sit down all day. It's bad for our minds (no breaks), it's bad for our posture, and it's terrible for our health (and eyes).
Now, there are many things out there to help with this. F.lux adjusts the color of your display based on your location/time, which is great – less strain on your poor sockets at night time. Standing desks/GeekDesk encourage you to keep your bottom joints stretched out, lovely. The Aeron and Think encourage good posture and keep your back straight, swell.
But there's something none of these products or services encourage you to do. GET UP FROM THE COMPUTER. And I can say this because I have/use all three (minus the Think chair).
BreakTime app does. It's simple.
Simply turn it on, set the time between breaks, and the length of breaks. That's it. The clock will begin counting down, and when the time comes, it will sound and you'll get up. Of course, the app can only help you half way. Once you get up, it's your responsibility to make something of that time. Stretch, dammit. Twirl, jump, do a pushup. Do something.
If you want to be hardcore, or you seriously have a working problem, turn on the “enforce break” option, which literally prevents you access from doing anything on your Mac during this time period.
It was also built with common sense in mind. If you're in the middle of an unplanned Skype conversation and time's about to run out, add a few minutes to it. Or, if there's nothing left for you to do for a while, manually run out the clock and go stretch or something.
Kai Brach is doing something amazing down in Australia. Offscreen, his brain child, is a printed publication that focuses on “the people behind the bits and pixels.”
And although I've not been in an issue yet (though I've been interviewed on the blog), I've been able to read the stories of people I'm friends with and those I admire. This includes Drew Wilson, Dan Cederholm, Chris Coyier, Christian Reber, Dan Counsell, Colis Ta'heed, Wilson Miner, and many more.
Earlier today, I wrote on Apple's hint at the iPhone 5. To be honest, I wrote the article solely to show you this amazing gif.
I'll show it to you again. Just in case you missed it the first time.
Anyway, throughout the day I glanced over numerous takes on the naming matter, and MG's snippet seems to sum it up quite well with, “because of reasons.”
Which, to be exact, is marketing.
Remember Ocean's Twelve? It wasn't the 12th film in the series, it simply followed Ocean's Eleven. Maybe it's best to think of it that way.
It's for the people
Non-followers of tech already refer to the upcoming iPhone as iPhone 5. If Apple swung a curveball at them – because let's be honest, there are more of them than us – and called it iPhone 6, they'll look blankly into space.
They'll then proceed to ask seemingly silly questions like “wait, when did the iPhone 5 come out? How did I miss that?! Is it cheaper than the 6?!!” All of which they'd be right to ask. Why? Because 5 comes after 4. And don't get me started with “The New iPhone.” That'll just mindblow them.
Apple doesn't want any of that. So instead they'll say screw counting by generations. We count in order.