Print-only publications are a rarity nowadays. And one guy running it? Unheard of. Yet that’s the story of Kai Brach and his self-described “old-fashioned” magazine, Offscreen. Exploring a more human side of tech, Offscreen is a beautifully designed publication with quality only possible in print.
The next issue is due out at the start of next year. And with Kai’s Christmas Wishlist giveaway having just begun, it’s a good time to check Offscreen out.
We spoke with Kai about what it means to run a print publication today: the challenges, process, and vision Kai has for what makes Offscreen different.
Try explaining UX design to someone who’s unfamiliar. It’s tough. Unlike the typography or colors that make up an application’s aesthetic, user experience is invisible when done well. That’s why for mobile app makers and designers good UX can be a tough thing to nail down. How do you implement design ideas when the best ones are fundamentally unnoticeable?
For designers Arthur Bodolec, Chris Polk, and Nathan Barraille, the answer is in observation. Observing how others have tackled user actions, and making note of what’s worked and what hasn’t. To do this, they created the UX Archive – a site meant for logging examples of popular apps and identifying how their design goes about certain challenges.
Back in the iOS 6 days (man, remember those days?, there were a few apps that might foreshadow what was to come in the fabled “flat” iOS 7 redesign. One of the most prevalent was a to-do list app called Clear. It was gorgeous – simple color gradients, bold typography, and dead obvious gestures that made the app a delight to use. In the context of the rest of the OS’s awkward linen textures and embossed buttons, Clear stood out as the indisputable way of the future.
So now that we’ve arrived at this less-skeumorphic landscape, how does Clear hold up? Better than ever. In fact, it didn’t take much to return the app to its lead among other iOS 7 redesigns. With the just released Clear+, the typography was lightened, a few UI elements were added, and iCloud syncing was introduced to support a new iPad version.
As Apple released its iPhone 5C last week, buyers had the opportunity to personalize their phone unlike never before. Five color variations as opposed to the standard two? Man, the choices.
Color variations aren’t much of a customization feature – in the end, your phone does the same things, has the same features, and even falls short in the same areas as everyone else’s. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, however, has come up with a concept that would truly make your phone customizable.
It’s called Phonebloks – a name that might remind you of Megabloks or Legos. And thinking along those lines would be right on. The Phonebloks concept takes phone design to users as Legos do for architecture. Every functional component of a phone is contained in its own individualized block. The battery, for instance, would be one block; while the camera would be an other. Combine all the right blocks, and soon you have a working phone.
As a person who’s quite interested in wabi-sabi, the idea of the beauty that exists in things that have aged naturally, the Orée Touch Slab is quite intriguing. Despite it’s wooden frame this is actually a sophisticated, Bluetooth equipped trackpad. What I think is really neat is how the wood would start to wear as a person uses it, the subtle gestures of their fingers wearing familiar grooves into it’s surface. It’s kind of nice to think of our technology aging gracefully, hopefully we start to see more thoughtful designs like this in the near future.