Thursday, December 06, 2007

Design is how it works…

not what it looks like.

'Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,'' says Steve Jobs, Apple's C.E.O. ''People think it's this veneer -- that the designers are handed this box and told, 'Make it look good!' That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.''
I've seen this excerpted quote floating around in coding-related blogs lately and decided I'd do my part in the beloved blogosphere echo and repeat it from this design-related blog.

Original Article.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How did you know I was thinking that!? Are you Empapathic?

Empathy gives us the ability to see the other person’s point of view. And when you think about it, there’s no more valuable skill for the working graphic designer than the capacity to see a client’s point of view. The objectivity that designers derive from an empathetic nature is invaluable.

From the Design Observer post by Adrian Shaughnessy, The Designer's Virus

I'm not a graphic designer but I'd say that a combination of keen empathetic and intuitive senses can give a designer a distinct competitive advantage over other designers.

I've been thinking a lot about empathy and how important it is to design.

  • What is the impact that empathy can and can't have on design?
  • Can empathy be developed? If so, how much? How do designers develop some kind of "design empathy" through their training and work?
  • Is empathy driven by user research and ethnography and such?
  • What about cognitive linguistics and cognitive science? Does learning about how humans think and learn and communicate develop empathy?
  • Can empathy in design and design-related training even be singled out, pinpointed, or directly referenced to?

Blogger is frustrating me

I don't get why line breaks in the HTML in Edit HTML mode causes some huge gaps in the post - is it HTML or is it not? Also why isn't the Preview a proper preview? The CSS and post rendering are totally different.

There are a lot of other frustrating things about Blogger right now but just fixing those two items would make me a lot happier.

I'm trying a new theme template to see if things get any better. Looks like the answer is no so far.


I'm not sure who put these signs on the proximity card readers at work but since I first saw this, others identical to it have appeared.


  • A canvas was created. Pretty hard to write on the reader otherwise - etching or maybe silver marker pen? Only fairly permanent methods come to mind which makes the canvas logical since…
  • Being out of service is probably (hopefully) a temporary state so the annotation should also be temporary.
  • Some kind of tape is combined in rows to make an area to write on. More elegant than taping some paper - trickier construction but the canvas is subject to the elements and paper is pretty fragile so it may be more durable this way. Nice.
  • Words on the canvas: CARD / READER / INOP. This is the most interesting part to me. the words "CARD / READER" are fully written out but everybody that needs to know it's broken already knows what it is. To me, the critical info is that it is broken. Interestingly, of all the words to convey "broken", the creator chose the word "inoperable" (I think) and then abbreviate it as "INOP.". Perhaps this reflects the technical term internal to his/her maintenance team? I guess the alternatives aren't that great either though: out of service, malfunction, doesn't work, etc.?

The sign took me almost no time to understand but I'm pretty sure I knew something was wrong with it just by virtue of it having stuff stuck on it and writing on it. Several colleagues mentioned it was confusing to them at first.

If this were a blog with high volume and active readership, I'd ask readers to design versions. I wonder what the simplest version would be? X with two strips of tape? Is anyone out there? Prototype? :-P I won't hold my breath.