Brace yourself for the truth: product designers are not born with the gift of design. Many — scratch that — all design skills can be learned by any willing individual. It's a certain combination of personality traits, not the skills, that make certain people better suited for solving problems through design. Just like being a nurturer makes people likely to pursue nursing or gardening, and being a firefighter or an entrepreneur means being open to uncertainty and risk.
Can we identify with certainty what makes some designers so good at their job? We think so, yes. Because when we look at the designers we admire, these six personality traits surface: ambition, empathy, non-linear thinking, pattern recognition, meticulousness, and tenacity.
It's why designers notice bad kerning, analyze how remotes feel in their hand, and see almost non-existent flaws in furniture. They...
The Batman comic series has one of the most passionate fandoms in history, and never was this more apparent than in the summer of 2006 when it was officially announced that Heath Ledger had been cast as the film's iconic villain, the Joker.
The internet exploded as fanboys and fangirls largely panned the decision. Vitriol spewed from forums all over the web.
This guy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.
I am NOT seeing this movie if he's in it.
Probably the worst casting of all time.
Believe it or not, there are a few lessons designers can learn from this story that can help us stay on track and focused as we develop new products.
Big Changes Can Spark Big Reactions
Director Christopher Nolan was tasked with completely revitalizing a damaged brand, and almost every part had to be refreshed to bring it back on track. As designers we are sometimes asked to...
"The ZURB sitcom," proclaimed our Chief Instigator about a year or so ago. A sitcom? What did he mean by that? At the time, we were considering how exactly we were communicating our story on the blog and our approach to content creation. But our Chief Instigator sparked an idea in us. There's a reason people love sitcoms ... well, television in general. There's something familiar in it, something that keeps the audience coming back again and again.
Now, he wasn't suggesting that we abandon design and start filming our own weekly show. But television is the perfect model for writing a brand story. A lot of television shows are brands in themselves. With that, we took a hard long look at what made certain shows successful — "Star Trek," "Friends," "I Love Lucy" and a few others.
Shows have an addictive quality to their premises, worlds and characters. These three...
Congratulations, you've arrived. Maybe you're a clean slate, tabula rasa, and this is your first job. Or not. After all, the dynamic is changing among the new generation of workers, where it's more common to leave one job for another. Whichever it is, you've done the work to get your new job. You've impressed people. You've hobnobbed with the hiring folks, the company's leadership and its team. Let's face it, you basically assembled the shrine of the silver monkey and got that new job. But now what?
Because you'll come to see that the job is not exactly like your last gig. We've learned over the years at ZURB that a degree of unlearning has to happen. Why? Because the educational system shoves us through memory and rote learning, thereby possibility killing our ability to be creative. And that's something we carry into the workforce where we strive for the...
In our industry of constantly pushing code and ever-changing websites and applications, "redesign" is a relatively common notion. There's always a way to improve the design somehow. So as we consider design and redesign opportunities, it's sometimes hard to resist the lure of a clean slate. And many designers don't. They fall into the vanity of putting their mark on the design.
That's where we often jump in for our Studios projects — and frankly, where we had found ourselves a couple years back. We start every project with an honest audit of the existing work. As we don our objective glasses, we look at the grand scheme of the user experience and the small details that make it up. It's a safe bet that we'll come across work clearly done by different hands while completing the product audit. Buttons are somehow the epitome of this problem. It's so common that "button consistency"...
The ubiquity of responsive design has a direct correlation with the rise of frameworks. Frameworks made responsive design easier to grasp and get started with by producing simple patterns users could follow. Lowering the bar of complexity was necessary to allow engineers and designers to grasp responsive design concepts. If frameworks didn't drive the responsive web, we'd have far, far fewer responsive sites on the web today, and the ones we did have would be far less performant.
Make no mistake, frameworks didn't invent responsive design, but they gave everyone the ability to design responsively with ease. Without frameworks, we wouldn't be where we are today.
We Needed a Framework of Rules
More than 20 years ago we were introduced to a pair of FBI agents unraveling the unexplained in a groundbreaking science-fiction drama. Now after a prolonged absence, the show that starts with a letter of alphabet returns.
No it's not that other show with the letter. It's one of the two letters after that — "The Z-Files." We've managed to get the original cast to reprise their roles for the first time and the last time. To commemorate this occasion, ZVC — the off-cable network that brought you "LOL and Order" — will air the original "Z-Files" episodes starting from the first episode.
Relive all the episodes of "The Z-Files" and catch up before the new season begins, exclusively on ZVC, "We're a'right at drama."
It's no secret that web design has its roots in print. In the early days of the web, the influence of print on web design was pretty inescapable. Websites were essentially virtual brochures, static pages with little or no interactivity. Designers were still learning the potential of this new medium and the technology had to mature. Slowly but surely, the differences between print design and web design became evident. But many designers are still thinking of their designs in terms of screens and images.
At one of our recent Soapbox events, Braden Kowitz, Design Partner at Google Ventures summed it up perfectly:
When you look at how people use products, they don't look at the screen, they don't look at the feature. They take this pathway through all your screens and features' So what you really need to design is that experience and that story.
Thinking of themselves as storytellers...
Wouldn't it be nice if websites were created like Legos? Those little bricks and pieces are great because you can use the included patterns and make something stylish, or mix all your pieces together to create a truly custom masterpiece. All you need are lots of useful pieces to choose from and a vision. You can design something beautiful, or make a crazy and amazing contraption. Unfortunately the web doesn't quite work like that. Maybe in the future it will. Until then, we're working toward a vision with Foundation — to include the pieces you need to put together amazing creations.
With Foundation, we work hard to stay out of your way as you design. We want you to make Foundation your own, as you see fit, like we do on each client project. In our last post, we touched on ways to streamline the codebase for faster load times and make CSS more manageable. Some...
It's an amazing time of change for design organizations, whether you work in a design agency or in-house team. Design is hot. But design organizations are not without their problems. In my previous post on agencies, we addressed the challenges and the upside design service firms face. Companies are repeating the same bad habits that they've learned from their design agency counterparts.
As an industry we're leaving a lot on the table as our collective stock rises in organizations. Companies' knee-jerk reaction to become design centric have left many design organizations scrambling to figure out how to put the pieces together. Designers are still mopping up implementation problems — still shaking the label of window dressers. Quite frankly, we've gotten really good at these problems and service firms have perfected the art of making money on this effort. We're designing for...
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