archive for the Design category

Highland Fling

Design,Edinburgh,Technology Friday 6th April 2007

Well, the Highland Fling is over!

It was a great day with very interesting speakers covering a great range subjects but centred around Web Standards and “Progressive Enhancement”. Progressive Enhancement (as I understood it) is the opposite to “Graceful Degradation”. If you plan your project with the bling included and then go back and undo the bling to provide functionality to less advantaged users (Graceful Degradation) then 9 times out of 10 you won’t get the time/money to actually undo the bling. If, on the other hand you plan your project so that you get the core functionality working across the board and then add the bling, you’re much more likely to finish with a system accessible to all. This was the message I got from Norm from Yahoo’s talk. It’s a shame he had such a bad throat, he could barely talk!

Some other good speakers were:

The intro by Jeremy Keith – an excellent speaker and drew lots of parallels with literature such as Pattern Recogniton and Neuromancer. Props!

Andy Budd’s talk on the future of CSS was exciting but about the only thing widely supported in CSS3 currently seems to be the opacity elememt. Other interesting elements that will be supported eventually are border-radius for rounded corners and box-shadow for drop shadows. The Advanced Layout module looks like it will blow the current css layout methods out of the water with it’s grid system for layout and re-ordering of the content. Slightly dis-heartening was Andy’s complaints about the workings of the CSS Working Group: the snail-like pace it operates and the possible influence of Big Business on it’s decisions.

Drew McLellan’s talk on Microformats was a bit dry but still good to see them getting pimped.

James Edwards came across as the Grumpy Man of Web Standards with a talk about when to use Ajax (never, if he had his way). He had a point though, and hopefully people will take notice and not just do Ajax for the sake of it.

Andy Clarke ended the day with a nice chatty presentation about what exactly “Progressive” enhancement is, relating it to progressive in the music world. Some interesting anecdotes from the world of freelance designers including a snippet from this standard contract that explicitly lists the browsers a site will be compatible. Also very nicely designed slides, as you’d expect really. Andy also sits on the CSS Working Group as some kind of invited member, he talked of his frustrations with the slow process but also made good points that the working group has to consider not just CSS used for screen rendering and the can of worms that internationalisation is.

There are people I’ve missed and lots of stuff I’ve forgotten already but there are lots of others writing about the Fling. Where do I sign up for next year?


Awesome animated type of Pulp Fiction scene

Design Thursday 1st March 2007


Hey! The Reef!

Design,Movies & TV Tuesday 6th February 2007

Hey The Reef! (or Shark Bait as it’s known in the US) Toy Story called, yeah, they want their font back.


Typographic Elements

Books,Design Sunday 14th January 2007

I finally got my copy of The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst from Amazon. As part of my new year resolutions I’m on a quest to learn something about typography. I must layout text on a web page every day at work at I’d like to know how to do it properly, and therefore improving the value of the page. After reading around on the web this book seems to be the bible and is very nicely designed and looks to be pretty readable. There’s even some chap doing an online version with Bringhurt’s typographic guidelines ‘Applied to the Web’. If you’re going to buy it online make sure you get the latest edition (3.1), which wasn’t immediately findable on amazon uk.


GRU Logo

Logos That I Like Thursday 14th December 2006


The Russian intelligence agency GRU has an awesome logo



Design,Technology Wednesday 15th November 2006

Via Tech Crunch UK I’ve started using a new web service called Stikkit. It’s basically just online post-it notes, very similar to the Stickies application in OS X. I’ve been wanting something like this for a while, google do calendars and mail very well, there are todo lists from 37signals but no generic note taking application. Stikkit is quite clever, as you’re writing a note it tries to calculate whether it is a todo list or an event, depending on the wording you use. So, writing “Buy beer for party on Friday at 8pm” automatically creates a event with the correct date and time. One immediate use I see for this is to quickly add things to google calendar. Just add your events through Stikkit and then show the event RSS feed on your google calendar. Creating “stikkits” is made super easy with a nifty bookmarklet that opens a wee AJAX powered window on your current webpage for data entry.

There are a lot more nifty feature but John “Markdown” Gruber has a very good review on his blog. I’d agree with him about the icons, I really didn’t know what most were going to do when I pressed them.


The new

Books,Design Thursday 12th October 2006

I’ve just checked out the waterstones website after noticing an ad in todays Metro. This new site is a reversal of their online strategy as previously the site was run as a glorified amazon affiliate. It was basically just a mirror of amazon’s book site with a waterstones logo at the top.

This new site is much nicer. It has a fresh and clean style and even has a few trendy curved boxes. The styled form elements look a little like a flash app but help to tie together the overall style. Doing a quick comparison the pricing seems competitive and the shipping is marginally cheaper. The threshold for free shipping is the same as amazon (£15) but amazon’s free shipping is “Super Saver” i.e. slow. It’s nice to see that they’ve improved the events and local store information (something which amazon did terribly) and that bookseller reviews are intergrated with product descriptions. The much talked about blogs are a little on the shonky side with no RSS and no visible actual blog-like structure.

Overall though, a vast improvement on the previous incarnation.

Disclaimer: I used to work at waterstones

Specific Heat

Logos That I Like Tuesday 10th October 2006

I keep seeing this on vans around Edinburgh and every time it catches my eye. OK, it’s not creative genius but I like it.



BBC One Idents

Design Monday 9th October 2006

Over on the Creative Review blog they’re discussing the new BBC One idents, those short clips they show between programmes and announce the next one. One thing I didn’t realise is that the font has also changed. They had a bespoke typespace designed by Fontsmith which, I think, is rather nice:

new bbc one font

It is neat but not too restrained. Slightly playful, yet still has a corporate edge.


Very Clever Rugs

Design Friday 8th September 2006


Very clever rugs that either have tractor tracks across them (the green one) or little animal footprints (the white one). I want one, but I imagine they aren’t cheap!