Saturday, November 17, 2012

We're not in Madrid anymore, Toto

SO much has happened, y'all.

Ok so yeah, I'm not living in Spain anymore. What an incredible experience to have lived in Madrid for nine months, working with the good people at Base.

 Whilst in Madrid, I created a signage system for this building. A recently renovated building in historical bustling downtown Madrid. We got as far as laying out the production specs until the project fell victim to the Spanish economy and I had to return home...

During this same time I started work on a couple web projects and thinking a lot about designing for digital space. I've been fascinated by interactive design for years but recently I've turned full-throttle to interactive design and can be overheard calling myself a "web designer". My opinion, however, is that design is design. If you have a strong process and can design something beautiful for a billboard or giant glass building, you can design for various screen sizes.

My fascination with designing for the web centers around my tendency to think in systems. I NEED to think in systems in fact, it's the only way I can think. Therefore the logical start to any of my projects is to think deeply about the user experience, flow of the site, and build out the information architecture before any visual design decisions are made. The transition from designing for physical architecture to digital has been very natural and intuitive for me.

So WTF have I been doing since I got back to New York City? The New School brought me on board as a freelancer to redesign their website. I designed a new responsive home page and top level pages, plus lent a hand with a division website. Hoping that will launch smoothly in the next few weeks, it's in user testing now.

I designed and coded this site: (with the help of Miranda Li, PHP goddess).

Now I'm working on a website for The Writers Room, which I'm happy to say will be built on the same responsive Wordpress framework. I love using themes that just get out of the way. The simpler the better because then the typography and other elements of the site are what's communicating.

Here is the identity system that I created for the organization, a community working space for writers in New York City that's been around since the 70's. The graphic device alluding to the overhead view of the room would change in orientation based on the usage. The website redesign is in progress.

Also, I was in San Francisco earlier this week for An Event Apart, an awesome web conference helmed by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. The conference seriously dropped some knowledge on us all, and I met some really great people working in every facet of the digital world that you could imagine. I didn't even know that some of these jobs existed, like designing the software for the card that you install to optimize your computer for gaming. Ok.

My biggest takeaway from the conference was probably its biggest theme:
The device doesn't matter.

There are so many people much smarter than me talking about these things, but I'm just going to say that there is a revolution in the air, and I'm excited to be catching the wave of innovation at this early stage. Luke Wroblewski talked about the sizes and resolutions of all the devices that were introduced to the market in the last 8 weeks - it was a mindblowing array that covered the entire range of small to large. Mobile can no longer be defined because it's edging into tablet sizes, and touch needs to be considered on all devices including the largest desktops. So what's the bottom line here? The device does not matter! Content and design need to start at the simplest level and that makes me, a reluctant to be labeled minimalist, very happy. I hate superfluity (I don't even think that's a word).

Anyways, here are some links to articles that these really smart people have written on the subject of designing for mobile/content first. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the subject.

Brian and Stephanie Reiger:
Luke Wroblewski:
Jeremy Keith: 
Cameron Koczon:
Karen McGrane:
Brad Frost:

I have lots more to say about the design implications of this process, but that's for another day. cheers to a better web for us all.

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