07Aug

Want, as a launching point to talking about being a web designer

Posted by Elf Sternberg as Design

Want.

The link above leads to a 40-card set like the child’s game “Memory,” but with 20 different typefaces. The object, obviously, is to find the two cards in the same typeface. It’s such a brilliant idea, and so charmingly executed, that I can’t wait for it to be commercially available. It reminds me of the equally funny, but probably not safe for the streets, t-shirt with the badly typeset phrase, “Kern This, Motherfucker.”


This week, I was with a few friends of mine just standing around talking, and one of them proposed a project. I took a few seconds and said, “Well, let’s see. I wouldn’t go with that color. I’d propose a name that’s not so regionalized– what you’ve got is more general than the specific place, but you could have individual forums for those places– and I’d go look up old Hanna Barbera cartoons, specifically the ones about Yogi Bear & Booboo, and make yourself a color scheme and maybe a line theme from those.” She looked at me and said, “I thought you were a developer, not a designer.”

“I’m not a designer.”

“Yes, you are,” another three of my friends chimed in at once.

Okay, so I guess I’m a designer. Maybe I should get the asshole shades to go along with the attitude.


The same day, I was talking to another friend who’s recently lost her job and was wondering about what it took to do HTML and CSS for someone these days. She asked me if it was okay that she wanted to do it by hand. I reassured her that yes, everyone good did exactly that, and WYSIWYG was more or less dead, or at the very least relegated to beginners and hacks. I didn’t want to dissuade her as I had tried one certain fellow a few months back, but the more I talked to her the more I realized that something was missing.

Hunger.


Work space

I love design and implementation. I love everything about it. If you look at my Delicious feed and compared it to what I write at my Livejournal site, you might well wonder if you were reading the same two people. In the past week, here’s what I’ve gleefully consumed:

Okay, if you’re not all that interested in marketing, you can cut out Seth’s page, and if you’re not that interested in programming the NoSQL article probably isn’t interesting to you either.

But otherwise, that’s all about making a website that’s gorgeous and works and is navigable. And that means not just looking at website design. I love packaging design. LovelyPackage and The Dieline contain some of the sexiest graphic art out there right now, the kind people pay for, the kind that really has only one purpose: to move product. Those are the people designers should be looking at. More good ideas come out of two student designs of things not web-like than out of a thousand CSS galleries. Not that you shouldn’t watch CSS Galleries.

Speaking of CSS Galleries, you ought to be familiar with the new school, Smashing Magazine, Vandelay, and related “smart” blogs about web design.

Look at the photo I took of my workspace. Along with my Monthly Keeping Focus sheet and daily Shoot ’em Down Task Manager, I have a big notebook and my little Moleskine, the latter of which I’m paranoid about leaving without. What if I have a good idea? Books on HTML (the Flamingo book is my bible, dammit), information architecture, inspiration and interfaces. Ever since I got laid off, I’ve realized just what a hot-house of development Isilon really was: brilliant, rapid development in an isolated little corner of the web where the real world rarely intruded. But this stuff I’ve listed above, now this is what I keep on top of every week because I love this stuff.

And here’s the point: if you don’t, don’t expect much out of a web designer/developer career. All that too much? Tough. Still with me? Good. Go read The Little But Useful Guide to Creativity, by the inestimable Leo Babauta, and get started building your next big thing.

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