Yes, I know, it’s disgusting, the sappy. But he’s great, and I’m a designer, so it was inevitable.
Below is a selection of the Valentine’s Day, anniversary, holiday and other cards and gifts I’ve given him over the years. I should note that neither cats nor rabbits know how to spell “anniversary.”
“Happy Anniverserary” flip book card with kissing cats.
Red handmade paper wrapper, 5.5″ x 5.5″, containing folded origami paper—silver- and gold-speckled cream outside, red inside—which opens to reveal white card with demon skeleton cat with red heart in thought bubble. Tiny text reads, “meow! happy valentine’s day 2020 to richard from nicola.”
Expressing your thoughts through design is great, but is it enough? Can you become a better designer by writing? Designer Meng To thinks yes.
Writing Makes Me A Better Designer
About a month ago, I decided to start a new discipline: write a short piece about design every day using Day One, which has a useful daily reminder. My goal was to become a better designer. It worked. I started to obsess more over my design process and made many fascinating case studies. I had no idea that by sharing my design decisions and techniques to the world, it would help thousands of designers improve their own. During that one month period, over 70 thousand unique visitors came to my blog seeking information about Sketch, Android design and Solving The Back Button. Many came back. Designers would ask me questions directly on Twitter, to which I happily replied. With this article, I’d like to share with you what I learned through this humbling journey.
I used to bottle all my thoughts inside my head and never write anything lengthy down on paper. Yes, it was expressed through my design, but is that enough? Can I become a better designer by writing? The answer is yes. The thousands of thoughts my in head were chaotic. Writing was a way to organize them and clarify them in the simplest form of expression: words. I know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but are those words cleanly organized? That’s what I wanted to improve. A designer should be able to concisely explain his product decisions. People can recognize good design if you’re able to tell them why and show them how.
“Good design makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.” – Dieter Rams
Iterate & Respond To Feedback
Feedback is gold. Your blog is essentially a topic open for discussion, whether the feedback exists on your site or on networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Designer News or Hacker News. I also iterated my blog based on some comments:
Added News Feed, so that people can subscribe on their RSS apps.
18% of my readers are on mobile, so I made the blog friendly for iPhone, iPad and Android. I also added an icon for the home screen on iOS.
Added Markdown support for WordPress so that I can paste efficiently the posts that I wrote on Day One, which also uses Markdown.
This interesting article from bjango.com posits that stylistic design choices follow from the limitations of their hardware or production:
Like many trends in technical areas, interaction design is being led by technical ability.
8bit games looked 8bit-y, because of limited colour palettes and giant pixels. 16bit games looked 16bit-y because of better colour abilities and slightly smaller pixels than their 8bit counterparts. Newer games look newer, because GPU hardware developed to the point where full 3D games were possible. These aren’t stylistic choices, they’re hardware limitations, dictating how software looks.
In the same respect, print design has limitations to work with. Most body copy in print design is black, because of hardware abilities — black is one of the four printing plates, so it can be reproduced at high quality, with sharp, fine lines needed for text. Back off a little to a mid-grey and the quality drops significantly, because you’re still using black to print, but you’re building mid-grey from a dither pattern of small black dots on white paper. It’s a trick. There is no mid-grey, only black or white. And because of this, smallish text printed as mid-grey looks horrible (please note that I’m talking about typical four colour CMYK offset printing, not the use of special colours).
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