Facebook: Wallstreet 1, America 0

Facebook: Wallstreet 1, America 0

In case you have a deaf ear to the world’s biggest social networking company, on Friday, May 18, 2012, Facebook had it’s initial public offering on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Starting at a comfortable $38, the stock took an early tumble by the end of the day as a deluge of buyers followed the major investment companies into the stock. Whether Facebook was worth $100 billion or not didn’t matter – this was as sexy as Wall Street could come outside of Armani suits and Ferragamo shoes. A web company, many believed, that could rival Google as the greatest web IPO of all time.

Naturally there seems to be a gross miscalculation in both value and necessity. The Nasdaq Exchange had “auction software problems” early on, delaying the debut, preventing a fair playing field on trading, and confused the hell out of every clueless investor. Furthermore, the IPO was supposed to be supplemented by Wall Street’s largest companies/crooks: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America had projected a high revenue growth which would have led to massive investment from both firms. By the end of the day they had all lowered their expectations. The stock began to plummet. Regulators have stepped in and brought legal action to Morgan Stanley for possibly deceiving their customers. By tuesday the stock lost 18% of its issuing price, dropping to $31.

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Alec Rojas

May 29, 2012 / By

Making it easier to read on the web (without the help of an app)

Zeldman's Web Design Manifesto 2012

On Friday, Jeffrey Zeldman posted this inspiring article speaking to his recently redesigned personal site, which sports a hefty 24px body font. He speaks about the ever changing landscape of web design, and as it’s his personal site, he wanted it to be extremely legible.

This redesign is a response to ebooks, to web type, to mobile, and to wonderful applications like Instapaper and Readability that address the problem of most websites’ pointlessly cluttered interfaces and content-hostile text layouts by actually removing the designer from the equation. (That’s not all these apps do, but it’s one benefit of using them, and it indicates how pathetic much of our web design is when our visitors increasingly turn to third party applications simply to read our sites’ content. It also suggests that those who don’t design for readers might soon not be designing for anyone.)

The piece resonated with me because it was similar to my thoughts when I redesigned The Fox Is Black back in April. The majority of guests that read The Fox Is Black have at least a 1280 x 800 monitor, so having larger images and a larger font makes sense. It’s giving you the reader an easier way to ingest content. This isn’t a revolutionary way of thinking, but I’m not sure it’s as considered as it should be these days, when even the New York Times devotes almost 75% of their to ads. We can only hope that there’s a coming shift in how people read on the web.

Bobby Solomon

May 21, 2012 / By

Cube, a game about Google Maps

Cube, a game about Google Maps

I’ll definitely give it to the Google employees for coming up with some really fun ideas (though I still don’t care for the mothership). My buddy Matt this morning sent me this new game they came up with called Cube, a game about Google Maps. They’ve taken all the mapping data they have and have turned it into one of those giant marble games, where instead of getting the marble into the hole you get it to the waypoint. The physics are pretty fun, and be warned, you may lose some of your work day playing this.

Bobby Solomon

May 2, 2012 / By

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out

Paul Ford for New York magazine has a hysterical run down of Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. His analysis is spot-on and snarky, it reads exactly how I spoke with my friends about the whole ordeal. He also nails the whole thing right at the very end.

So if you’re an Instagram user, you’ve been picking up on all of the cues about how important you are, how valuable you are to Instagram. Then along comes Facebook, the great alien presence that just hovers over our cities, year after year, as we wait and fear. You turn on the television and there it is, right above the Empire State Building, humming. And now a hole has opened up on its base and it has dumped a billion dollars into a public square — which turned out to not be public, but actually belongs to a few suddenly-very-rich dudes. You can’t blame users for becoming hooting primates when a giant spaceship dumps a billion dollars out of its money hole. It’s like the monolith in the movie 2001 appeared filled with candy and a sign on the front that said “NO CANDY FOR YOU.”

Bobby Solomon

April 10, 2012 / By

Facebook purchases Instagram for $1 billion: Now what?

Facebook purchses Instagram for $1 billion

That’s a headline I never thought I’d have to write. Earlier this morning Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had acquired Instagram, my favorite app in the world, for $1 billion. The question is: now what?

My immediate concern now is what Facebook is going to do with my photos and all the metadata attached to it. My guess is that they’ll do what they do and sell advertising with it, which is gross to think about. I don’t really fault the Instagram team for making this move, I mean, would you turn down $1 billion? No, you wouldn’t. Here’s hoping that Facebook’s greasy fingerprints remain off of Instagram and the team can continue to develop one of the best apps ever created. Only time will tell where things go from here.

Update: I thought this quote from Dennis Berman was rather poignant.

Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co.: $967 million.

It’s odd to think that we see an app like Instagram to be valued more than a classic institution. I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong either, it just means that we our idea of what’s importance has changed. Sharing a moment with our friends is perhaps more worth our time than reading an article about economics or the arts.

Bobby Solomon

April 9, 2012 / By

Google Glass: Every step you take they’ll be monetizing you

Google Glass: Making money from everything you do

Google yesterday revealed a product they’re working on called Google Glass. It’s the notion that the phone is a primitive tool and that there’s a better solution, namely a headset. The problem is, it’s Google behind this project. I think the idea of having an object that replaces your phone is a smart and obvious one, but I don’t think it’s a minimal Geordi LaForge visor. In all practicality, it’ll be a contact lens, then replacing your eye all together with something cybernetic, but that’s a whole different story.

What the video above entails is that you’ve got a heads up display, something you see in video games all the time. The HUD is a way to quickly access all of your information at a glance. My problem with this whole thing is what Google would do with your information, namely, selling it. I don’t trust Google anymore and I think a lot of people feel the same way. Could you imagine ads popping up on this thing when you based by Target? Oh wait, someone already made a video about it. I can’t think of anything more horrifying than my vision being blinded by a banner advertisement.

When I buy an iPhone, or any Apple product for that matter, I don’t worry about them collecting my personal data to sell to advertisers. If they collect data, I’d assume they used it to make my experience better, not to increase their net worth. But that’s also because Apple is primarily a hardware company while Google is an ad powered search company. Gmail is used to gather information and sell advertisements, as is Google Search, same with Google Chrome and Maps. I use all of these services daily because they’re the best, but I still can’t help feeling gross about it when I think about it for an extended period of time.

Plus there’s the fact that this is made by the same company that made Android, a fragmented mess of an operating system which is whored out to all the carriers. What’s to say this experience would be any better? They certainly haven’t proven themselves yet. John Gruber tweeted the video below yesterday, which I feel would be a much more accurate version of what the experience of Google Glass would be like. Enjoy.

Bobby Solomon

April 5, 2012 / By

The 4 Pixel Rhythm – A simplified approach to designing everything

The 4 Pixel Rhythm - A simplified approach to designing everything

I was doing some client work last night which involved working with Facebook’s new Timeline design. I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into the pixel perfection of the design, but this project had me measuring. Come to find out that the big hero image at the top of the Timeline is 849px wide. Not 848, not 850, but 849px wide. In all honesty, there’s nothing wrong with this fact, but it does happen to go against the way I deign for the web, and this may be the fault of a developer, not of a designer. Though, if it isn’t designed to spec, then it’s the designers fault for not making the developer build it right.

Anyhow, since I started working at Disney nearly almost 10 months ago I’ve learned a whole lot of new tricks, though one in particular is something that I’ve begun to practice religiously. It’s called the 4 pixel rhythm, an idea created by Aen Tan which was meant as a solution to designing for iOS. You can read all about his idea in a post he wrote by clicking here. I was truly inspired by this article, and really started taking these ideas to heart.

At Disney we’re certainly trying to think tablet and mobile first, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at any of the current sites. Hold tight, we’ve got some amazing things coming. So the 4-pixel rhythm began as an experiment, to see if we did everything in multiples of 4 would the designs essentially make themselves? For the most part, the answer has been a resounding yes.

To start with, you have 3 main canvas widths when dealing with the web – 960 for desktop, 2048 for iPad, and 640 for iPhone. All are divisible by 4, so we’re on to something. Then you can begin breaking up your columns into 4 pixel widths, and you start seeing a pattern there as well. Once you begin to start putting in gutters and finessing spacing of objects, your choices become limited, which is what becomes interesting. You can make a space 8px or 12px or 16px or 20px or 24px… but your knows when something is too much or not enough, and by setting these limitations you begin to let the 4 pixel rhythm do the work for you.

Now when designing this way I tend not to worry about the height being in 4 pixel rhythms, as it can be difficult to judge the height of text or you end up having to use an oddly sized photo. That said, I’m sure it’s possible, and though I’m a fairly detail oriented (pixel nazi) designer, that’s just too much for me. I’d suggest trying it out and see if it works for you.

On a final note, the main content column here on The Fox Is Black is 576px, which just so happens to be divisible by 4. This also happens to be a complete and total accident. When I first designing the site 5 years ago I made it that width because it was 8 inches wide… yes, I was designing for web inches. Oh the things we learn…

Bobby Solomon

March 22, 2012 / By

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