April 2007  
Review: Portfolio Magazine

Conde Nast has launched a new magazine called Portfolio. I've been waiting for this magazine for a while, to see if they could, in a monthly magazine, do what BusinessWeek does with their Inside Innovation quarterly, just in a fuller way with longer, more fleshed-out articles. All I can say is, after reading the first issue, my respect for Inside Innovation has grown considerably. Conde Nast has missed the mark entirely with this one.

The world of Portfolio stretches from Wall Street to the Upper East Side, skipping over the East Village. It's like a bad Woody Allen movie in print. It was awfully hard to take seriously, so out of touch it seemed. It's as though the last 20 years of business had never existed. They even wheeled Tom Wolfe out to talk about the new Masters of The Universe.

And Design? Forget it. No mention of it. Fashion, yes. Design, no.

Me: Portfolio: no.

Originally posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)


TED Talks for Interaction Designers

My friend Phi-Hong's design for the new TED site just launched. I've been enjoying some of the talks and have picked through a bunch that might be of interest to other interaction designers:

  • Malcolm Gladwell's Spaghetti Talk explains better than I've ever heard why you should never design for everyone.
  • Thom Mayne's talk on architecture contains some really interesting ideas about using outside influences to inform and inspire your designs.
  • NYT's David Pogue riffs on simplicity and mixes in a few Broadway show tune parodies.
  • Stefan Sagmeister shows how design can make you happy
  • Tony Robbins tells us (and especially Al Gore!) Why We Do What We Do. If your project fails, it isn't about missing resources.

If there are others, let me know in the comments. More talks are added occasionally.

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Shocker: Applications Are Mostly Usable

Remember a few years ago when people used to squawk about not being able to find anything on the web? Until finally people started looking around and saying, uh, wait, I can find the stuff I'm looking for? And that wasn't all Google either: most websites began to get a level of professionalism and findability that made browsing them much easier.

The same thing is happening now with applications and operating systems. Enough knowledge about good design (and enough good designers) have started to make a real difference in the baseline of application design, to the point where I will say that generally, at least where desktop and web applications are concerned, they are generally usable. (I think devices are still catching up.) They may not necessarily be useful (hello, umpteen web 2.0 apps) or desirable (yes, I'm looking at you, most large software companies), but they do work reasonably well. And that is something I don't think you could say 10 years ago, when all sorts of atrocities were forced on users.

This is a really good thing.

Is this to say all the problems with applications are solved? Of course not. Every product made by humans can be improved--some drastically, some incrementally. And there are always the innovative products that leap far ahead of what we expect a product could do or be. Those still remain to be created and refined. And even though a few dogs certainly slip out there (especially on the enterprise side), the state of application design is getting better. This is worth noting and celebrating, because it means we user experience folk are having an impact on the world, slowly but surely.

Originally posted on Sunday, April 8, 2007 | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)



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