If, for one day, you had the power to make your world work better, what would you change?’ – This is the question posed in Shape, a new animated short from director Johnny Kelly. The film is part of a larger project called MakeShapeChange which invites young people to think about how the world around them is made and where design fits in. It’s a wonderful little film and a fantastic way to encourage people to think about design.
Matt W. Moore is well known for his bold patterns and graphic street art, but lately he’s started to take a turn toward home goods with an edge. These Rorschach Afghans are a perfect example, bringing his eye for intricate patterns to a functional blanket. I really like the four shades of grey which give it a minimal vibe with a touch of color on the long ends.
Dezeen recently interviewed designer Marc Newson about his “>upcoming eyeglass collection with Safilo, and also managed to capture some rather good gems. He speaks a bit about his disappointment with Google Glass saying, “That’s precisely the moment when I think the fashion world laughs at the world of industrial design, justifiably.”
He also makes a good point about how two different design fields, industrial and fashion, could learn a lot from one another.
“The world of industrial design has an enormous amount to learn from the fashion industry, in terms of how they do things. Frankly speaking, the design industry is really pathetic in terms of how it approaches manufacturing and how it brings things to market. I’m not talking about Apple, I’m talking about furniture design and what happens during the Milan fair. If they took note of the way that the fashion world works, the way fashion world brings things to market, with such extraordinary efficiency, they could learn an enormous amount.”
“On the other hand, I think that the fashion world could learn a lot from the world of industrial design in terms of material technology, in terms of certain techniques, in terms of certain processes. I do feel there’s an enormous territory that they both share, that they should both embrace, but I agree that there is this real trepidation on both sides to broach that ground.”
When we design for the web, we’re usually optimizing. I find it’s rare that we’re genuinely breaking new ground, that usually happens when we apply design to new realms, such as apps or Car UI or video game ecosystems. Recently, there was a post by Dustin Curtis who pointed out that Facebook killed a redesign because it was performing poorly… from a monetization standpoint.
After an investigation into the problem by Facebook’s data team, they discovered that the new News Feed was performing too well. It was performing so well from a design standpoint that users no longer felt the need to browse areas outside of the News Feed as often, so they were spending less time on the site. Unfortunately, this change in user behavior led to fewer advertisement impressions, which led, ultimately, to less revenue.
From a design standpoint I think the redesign (above) is really well done (though the left sidebar makes me a little stressed out). There’s a clear hierarchy, the content is easy to read, and there’s clear paths to all of the things you visit. It makes sense to head down this path as the idea of a feed can only get so simple. The fact that Facebook moved away from this direction because people circulated around the site less is an interesting problem, as Dustin points out in his piece. From a human standpoint they achieved their goal, that the stream of content had everything a person was looking for. Unfortunately, money talks more than usability, and in this case we end up with the sad, cluttered, confusing design below, which is rolling out as I write this.
Anyone else have similar stories they can share? Any stories of a company taking a financial knowing it made for a better human experience?
[Update] Julie Zhou, Product design director at Facebook, disagrees with Curtis’ assessment in a Medium post you can read here. Summed up, Julie points out that the experience, though beautiful on big designer-y Apple monitors looked great, the majority of Facebook’s users have older devices with smaller screens.
It turns out, while I (and maybe you as well) have sharp, stunning super high-resolution 27-inch monitors, many more people in the world do not. Low-res, small screens are more common across the world than hi-res Apple or Dell monitors. And the old design we tested didn’t work very well on a 10-inch Netbook. A single story might not even fit on the viewport. Not to mention, many people who access the website every day only use Facebook through their PC—no mobile phones or tablets.
I also updated the screenshot below which is from Julie’s post, showing what the design should look like. It’s certainly clean in it’s approach but to me the colors overall reminds me of Windows 95. I suppose you could say their tack is about designing for the majority, not for the minority who obsess over aesthetics.
Back in December Bureau of Hardy Seiler collaborated with Created by Monkeys’ Simon Kondermann to relaunch the design of the Freies Theater Hannover. The resulting work is a fantastic burst of bright colors and terrific energy. It feels fresh, lively and makes me excited about what events might be taking place at the theatre.