Posted in Design

Golden State quarter design

When the competition to design California’s version of a commemorative U.S. quarter was announced last fall, I debated whether to enter something. Any attempt to represent something meaningful in a space the size of a coin or a 32-by-32-pixel icon requires a certain skill and discipline that not every designer possesses, or cares to hone. My time ran out, and nothing was entered.

The appointed quarter committee recently selected 20 designs as finalists. Governor Davis will narrow the selection down to 5, rank each of them by preference, then pass them on to the U.S. Mint and other government organizations for review.

I share Tantek’s sentiment, and hope we avoid any Hollywood or filmstrip-based designs. However, while I think the Golden Gate Bridge is a highly recognized symbol of the Bay Area and the West Coast in general, I wonder if it’s the best icon for the state? California is highly diverse, especially considering its geographic spread from north to south, and the various climates, cultures, and styles it contains. This will be a difficult state to pin down in one representational design.

If I had to choose the bridge, more tweaking to coin #4 or coin #20 would allow them to become likely candidates. Personally, I’d prefer one of the nature-based designs to those that highlight anything man-made. I’m drawn toward #17. Not just because it was designed by a good friend, former design director, and manager of mine at Wired. More because it’s simple, clean, iconic, and unique to California. I love the subtle tree rings in the background — but use of the Latin species name for Giant Sequoia is overkill.

eXtreme design

Somehow, I recently stumbled across the controversial discipline and methodology of XP. Not another lame X-based abbreviation for the new OS from Redmond. I’m talking about eXtreme Programming, which has roots from 3 to 6 years ago, depending on which source you believe. I think I originally saw a brief mention of the concept on Paul Boutin’s log, and followed a link to his Wired magazine article and some results of Googling for “extreme programming” (1, 2) continued

Hearing Hillman

After listening to Hillman Curtis speak twice today, (once for the opening keynote, and another for a session on design process) I now have nothing but respect for him, and gratitude for the inspiration he provided through what he had to say and how he said it. [Thumbnail image: Hillman Curtis, MTIV book cover] A complete reversal in my opinion of the man and his work. His recently released book, MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer, is one I’ll have to acquire soon. continued

I|O: Interaction Only

I just arrived in Miami for the AIGA‘s Interaction Only Conference. A balmy 85 degrees with lots of humidity took my breath away as I stepped out of the airport. I’m excited be here, and am looking forward to hearing some of the speakers lined up (Hillman Curtis, Brian Collins, Paula Thornton …) who will be speaking about the design process, business approaches, and usability techniques. Also looking forward to meeting some others in the field of experience design.

I’ve never been to Miami before, so I also can’t wait to explore the city a little. I’m intoxicated by the total surrounding of Art Deco and post-modern architecture here. Even the run-down apartment buildings I saw in the cab ride from the airport over to Miami Beach have lovely symmetrical flourishes and decorations adorning their facades. And the neon is more prevalent here than a row of Victorians in San Francisco.

It’s late, and I still need to get out and find something to eat. South Beach is just a few blocks away, and there’s bound to be some good Cuban food to sample somewhere.

Time for major surgery

I started batting around ideas for a redesign of a few weeks ago. Today, I actually made progress by sketching out some rough ideas and planning a simple architecture. The site has basically remained untouched in the four years since I launched it when I founded Stopdesign. Since I’ve made very few updates, it has become merely an outdated brochure of a 3-4 year-old portfolio and philosophy statement. Everything here is still applicable. But I’ve learned and done a lot since I wrote the first few lines of html code behind this site. continued

Issue-based content

Finally had a chance over the last two days to begin thinking about the Wired magazine site design. The current site is riddled with usability problems, poor architecture, and a very awkward design. I can be brutally honest about it, because I worked on this design over four years ago. The site’s current design was based on a model we were using for all HotWired Network sites back then. A model we abandoned long ago after learning many of the problems that showed up during user testing. continued

Success in user testing

My colleagues in Boston ran some users through the Wired News design prototypes this week. While we were fairly confident that many of the usability problems of the old design had been addressed, we wanted to make sure there weren’t any glaring errors that we hadn’t addressed yet. We wanted a test a competitor at the same time to help give us a comparison, so users were asked to run through the same tasks on C|net’s continued

News worth noting

I should mention here one of the major reasons I’ve become obsessed with Web standards and CSS. My current project (as Design Director of Wired) is a complete redesign of Wired News. See a screenshot of the before state [.gif, 35.7 KB] from Feb. 2002. This WN has been sorely stagnate for over two years, and has been long overdue for a major facelift. Wired News has finally gained a priority status from Lycos, which means they can actually justify assigning me as a resource for the redesign. continued