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Francisco Inchauste is an interaction designer at Universal Mind, helping clients create great Web experiences. He regularly contributes to Web design blogs, magazines, and books. He recently served as Editor of Smashing Magazine’s UX Design section.
You can connect with him on Twitter, or read more on his blog.
When I think about where we are with the Web in comparison to other media in history, pinpointing it is really hard. Is it like when the Gutenberg Press was just invented and we’re experimenting with movable type, or are we still embellishing pages and slavishly copying books by hand?
Our knowledge of building digital things changes rapidly, taking us from newborn to adult and back again every couple of years. It’s both exciting and frustrating, because just when you think you have it all figured out, it completely changes. But if you’re like me, learning something new keeps things interesting.
Do you know what makes a design good? Is it merely an opinion, or is there something more to it? Breaking design down seems like such an abstract thing. Even the designers who are able to create thought-provoking work seem purely talented and have natural abilities that can’t really be nailed down to a process. But what if there were principles that captured why design and art worked the way that they do?
In the Web industry, a lot of exciting knowledge and diverse opinions are shared daily. They are delivered in fragments across hundreds of blogs, feeds, Twitter accounts and apps. In addition, the number of topics seems to multiply daily. We are building and designing for moving targets. Technology is constantly forking and disrupting the way we interact and do business. This is our industry, and I love it. I also know it could be better.
Why does finding and reading content have to be so painful at times? We set out to build great (user) experiences, yet our own experience of reading and learning from blogs is not always so pleasant. We end up relying on our peers and trending topics to see what we should be reading. Just knowing how to get a handle on what’s going on becomes a job requirement — more of a distraction than a good use of time when we have project deadlines, among other responsibilities.
Progress is good, but we need to make sure that we're progressing in the right direction. Our fundamental skills and the craft of design have started to take a back seat. Using the right tools and techniques is certainly an important part of design. But do our tools and resources make us better designers? Taking a close look at the current state of design, we can see that sometimes modern design tools and processes do more harm than good.
Please note that in preparing this article, we presented basic questions to designers, from beginner to expert, in an unscientific poll. Close to 600 designers participated.
As a teenager, I loved comic books: the art, the stories, the super-powers I wished I had. I remember the point when I went from reading and enjoying comics to wanting to create them. I became obsessed with being able to draw exactly like the great comic book artists of that time, people like Jim Lee.
In the first part of this Better User Experience With Storytelling series, we explored some of the basic structures and story patterns found in myths and religions. We saw how these patterns continued into modern stories such as The Matrix and Star Wars. We also explored some of the basics of bringing storytelling into the user experience process and some places to get started.
Concluding this two-part article, we hear from creative professionals who are leading the way in this relatively new world of combining the craft of storytelling with user experience. We'll also see how storytelling can be applied to more than just interactive experiences: we find it in everything from packaging to architecture.
Stories have defined our world. They have been with us since the dawn of communication, from cave walls to the tall tales recounted around fires. They have continued to evolve with their purpose remaining the same; To entertain, to share common experiences, to teach, and to pass on traditions.
Today we communicate a bit differently. Our information is fragmented across various mass-media channels and delivered through ever-changing technology. It has become watered down, cloned, and is churned out quickly in 140-character blurbs. We've lost that personal touch where we find an emotional connection that makes us care.
Using storytelling, however, we can pull these fragments together into a common thread. We can connect as real people, not just computers. In this article we'll explore how user experience professionals and designers are using storytelling to create compelling experiences that build human connections.
Styles in design are described and classified in many ways. Sometimes they are given a moniker, like "Web 2.0," other times they are referred to by their appearance: grungy, minimalist, retro, big type. The people (and brands) to which modern design styles are attributed are as numerous as the styles themselves. Many designers look to a brand such as Apple as an example of great modern design because a designer's sensibility is infused into everything it does.
Even though many current styles and trends can be connected to recent design pieces, they do not originate there. So much modern design originated before computers and the Web were even a glimmer in the eye of their creators.
Looking back and drawing inspiration from very early graphic and print design is a current trend nowadays, but that is not the beginning of the story. As you go further back, you'll find groundbreaking design decades, even a century, ago. In this article we’ll explore inspirational paintings and artists who have influenced modern design. In reading this article, you will see some true evolution in design.