This year A Good Company is taking a break from working on client projects. We realized that we each have personal goals we’d like to accomplish outside the realm of A Good Company, so we decided to pursue the things we want to do.
Micah is going to focus on developing and put into practice all the product ideas he’s been wanting create – most recently working on an Etsy app called moneybox.me. That’s just the beginning though. Keep an eye on what he’s cooking up, cause there’ll be more to come.
Me, on the other hand, I’m going to work on pursuing my goal of being an established illustrator, as it is my truest passion. There will be paintings, drawings, and books in the near future. So be sure to watch what I’m working on.
Don’t worry though, we still plan on working together on the projects we’ve started together. The League, for example, has made it back to the top of our priority. We’re planning some exciting additions, and we’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on any new news.
So with that, here’s to a new direction! If you want to see something awesome, take a look at what Micah or Caroline is up to. Or if you think you’ve got something to bust us out of our early retirement, you’re welcome to try – just get in touch with us.
We gave a talk this past Saturday at the D8 Conference in Boston. Neither of us were actually in Boston during the presentation, I just did it virtually over ichat. It was a 10 minute talk, and I didn’t get into as much details as I would like, so this is an annotated version of that talk, with links and resources to the things I mentioned during the presentation. You can download the presentation here.
So there’s this gap between Designers and Developers, we each speak our own languages, and sometimes we have a hard time understanding or empathizing with one another.
We need to bridge this gap. As Aza Raskin, the former creative lead at Mozilla said on his article So You Want to be a Designer: Top 5 List
“The most important trait a team can have is empathy. Without it, the implementers will not care, and the designers will not be realistic.”
We need to learn to speak each other’s languages, so that we can meet each other half way. So how do we go on about doing that?
Let’s take a brief look at the language of Design:
We have technical things like The Golden Ratio.
From there we also derive the grid system, like the rule if thirds. In traditional graphic design the golden ration and the grid system derived from it is a great way of creating well balanced compositions. However, as Jason Santa Maria pointed out on his article, on the web, these rules may not always apply. The web is not a static page like the book pages these ratios are originally applied to. The web is fluid, people resize their window browsers, and nowadays there are numerous ways people could be viewing a page (on a computer, on mobile devices, an iPad). These guidelines are not absolute. They’re still a good foundation to know, but don’t count on them to always work.
Actually, there are many things about design that are not absolute. Actually for the most part design is pretty fussy, it deals more with feeling and subjectivity than with straight-edge logic. Take this general idea of contrast for instance: contrast makes things look good. Don’t you agree? It gives a composition a sense of movement or dynamism, it gives hierarchy and tells the viewer where to look first, it just makes something a little less blah. But this isn’t really a rule, there’s no formula for it, it’s one of those things that you just have to learn by doing, knowing which combination of type or color or shape makes the best contrast to make a dynamic composition.
The same could be said about typography. We know that fonts have feelings. Different typefaces convey different emotions and thoughts. But there’s no formula for this either. Knowing the history and context of a typeface, like who designed it, when, what for, all these background knowledge might give us a better idea of when to use what typefaces, but still, in the end we must rely on our own judgements, and our own eye to know what’s good. And really, the only way to have a trained eye, is just by doing.
Now how about a quick look at the language of Development:
For designers trying to learn the most basic language of web development, the best place to start would be knowing your CSS and HTML, all the foundation you need to build a functioning site. But there are no absolutes here either. Yes, you have to write things in a certain way, but there are always more than one right way of making something work.
How do you go about learning these different languages?
Here’s our short list of books:
Here’s our list of online resources:
On grid systems
On web development
Online and book resources are great. But we like people better! We like to find mentors, people who are doing things that we want to be doing, to learn from, and seek advice from. Here are a few of our mentors (in no particular order):
So go find your own mentors. Expose yourself to inspiration all the time because it’ll expand your idea of what is awesome.
But to know what you need to learn you must know why you want to learn it. Find something you’re passionate about. The way to move forward is to have something you want to build and just learn how to build that. Find out how other people have done it and not just copy it, but steal their ideas and make it your own, make it better.
The League of Moveable Type started as someone posting an idea on Typophile to start an open-source font project. It got so much negative reaction from the type designers in the community, saying that open-source in type design would never work. So we decided to stir the pot and started an open-source font project of our own. Turns out that people really like the idea. Granted people like The League because we give away free fonts, but it’s not just that. It’s more than giving away free stuff, people like the idea of collaboration and freedom that comes with the open-source type movement.
From a topic of conversation in a Typophile thread, this open-source font project has gotten to a point where designers are contributing their typefaces to The League, someone even took League Gothic and expanded the font to include extra characters. People working together for the benefit of everyone, that’s the whole point of this open-source project.
So if you’re interested to know what a day in the life of a designer is like, well, we learn, every day. We learn things that are not always within our field of expertise, or even things that we necessarily want to learn, but we learn things that would make us better at what we do do.
Romina told me about this Design Your Own Alphabet Contest from Design Sponge a week ago, and I told her that I was gonna give it a shot. I had a whole week to work on it, so of course I didn’t start until the night before it was due. But it came out pretty decent, especially after I start using the letters for the type spec poster.
I’ve been doing a lot of stippling for some reason lately, maybe it’s just a good way to get out aggression, I don’t know. But That’s what my idea of the alphabet is: stippled script letters. It’s called Salt & Pepper.
This isn’t the screenshot that I sent to the contest, cause I ran out of time last night. I just made this type spec this morning for fun. Oh, well, I’m not too gung-ho about winning the money prize anyways.
Here are some detailed screenshots of all the stippling!
I pose three questions to our professional colleagues to reflect upon: Is there a role for experimentation in your design process? What relevance is there for experimentation in UX practice today? And when was the last time you simply made something to see if it could work?