Terry Jones founder of iD magazine said that.
This blog post is a fascinating peek behind the curtain. Could May's team have done anything to stop this photo being taken?
Terry Jones founder of iD magazine said that.
This blog post is a fascinating peek behind the curtain. Could May's team have done anything to stop this photo being taken?
28. New York launched a service design studio dedicated to improving services for low-income residents.
The announcement took place at Parsons School of Design at the New School, where over 400 public servants, nonprofit leaders, and members of the design community gathered in support of the new initiative.
All good. But it sounds more like assurance and consultancy than delivery and making stuff. Early days though, early days.
29. ustwo released the second book to come out of their Auto division. It’s gorgeous and super smart as you might expect. At over 500 pages it’s comprehensive too.
It’s also an interesting way for a design studio to work. Heavy research - design fiction? But it’s not fiction it’s the future we’re already living in. Will be interesting to see where this takes them. Remember in para 19 I wrote no one seemed to be doing this in the open. Open design as competitive advantage?
30. More creepy marketing news “Channel 4 today announces a brand new interactive VoD format that enables advertisers to incorporate the individual names of All 4 viewers into the audio of their adverts for the first time.”
You read that right, into the audio of adverts. The first iteration of this is really clunky. And not a very good ad.
As ever there is a fine line between being useful and being creepy. Too often advertising is the line.
People used to say that the Minority Report end game was too rubbish to come true for advertising. The future would be smarter, more creative, better curated. Yet it increasingly looks like advertising will be lucky if it gets be to as classy as Minority Report. “John Anderton you could use a Guinness right about now” is a lot better than that Channel 4 ad. And still terrible.
Smart cities is a terrible name for anything really. Connected cities is no better.
Sounds good in the isolation of a meeting room written on a stone cold ppt slide - SMART CITIES!
These bikes in Manchester are smart and connected in the way the ppt means, but they don’t look very smart or feel very connected.
Three thoughts, three zoom levels.
I love this idea as an idea. (In that room, watching the ppt.) I like cycling around cities. I like the way the locations can be flexible. I’m in favour of digitally enabled infrastructure, just like this.
There’s a failure of service design here. Putting aside the fact that the wind or some hooligans on the way home from hooliganing have probably pushed them over and these things happen, there have been real issues with these bikes in Manchester. As this article in the Guardian reports - Manchester’s bike-share scheme isn't working – because people don't know how to share and elsewhere.
It doesn’t appear to work as well as Boris Bikes. What do we sacrifice for the perceived flexibility? Does this new private (but very public) transport only work with the well established model of fixed locations? Are we too wedded to that? How does Zip Car cope? (We discussed this a bit with Uber and Man Utd last month.)
Feels like work in progress. maybe not enough user research, maybe not enough iteration based on real data. Maybe this only works with state intervention.
If this follows the Valley model in full, presumably the private model will win. There will be five or six of these bike companies, littered all over the place and eventually one wins. Maybe then it will get tidier, smarter. People will get used to it and certain Schelling points will emerge. But then one private company dominates and we're starting to see the limitations of that.
Or maybe Burning Man really is the future of everything.
Back to the naming. Cities have always been smart. Resilient, entrepreneurial, progressive, always adapting. The smartest of human settlements. That never needed a seperate brand.
23. Statistically no-one wants your new app (that line credit Alex Russell). A few weeks ago there were lots of “Apps have won!” blog posts after the FT ditched its web app in favour of a native app. Now here’s the counter argument, although this time the stats are more compelling.
"Since January 2015, there has been a 68 percent increase in smartphone web traffic in the U.S... Americans have opened apps 22 percent less on smartphones and nearly 50 percent less on tablets compared with the beginning of 2016."
I guess the reality is that fewer people are downloading *new* apps meaning things like Facebook, Twitter and banking apps dominate. (Also the stats are US only.)
24. John Deere buys Machine Learning company. I love this. That is all.
25. In the UK, Facebook says it can reach 7.8 million users aged between 18 and 24. The Office of National Statistics, however, says there were only 5.8 million people in that age group in the whole in the country in 2016.
I'm sure traditional media outlets were completely honest and transparent about audience data.
26. Apple releases Augmented Reality Interface Guidelines. Apple has a track record of good guidelines that quickly become industry standard. The famous Human Interface Guidelines being a good example. So this is worth a read.
27. The most fascinating thing I came across since the last notes was the alphachat FT podcast with Scott Galloway. The death of advertising. File under 'a regular drumbeat of stories like this but with better charts'. Or as Larry Summers said, “Things take longer to happen than you think they will and then they happen faster than you think they will.”. (Actually loads of people have said that, seems like Hemmingway was the first. Thanks Russell.)
There is far too much here for this blog. But a few notes:
Wherever people can afford to opt out of advertising, they do. (Leaves advertisers with the audience they don't want.)
So the ad based revenue model is dying. “What does that mean for the advertising industry, if the way they built these huge streams of revenue is collapsing? what does it mean if I’m trying to buy and sell advertising?" Short answer - it means they’re screwed.
If the ratio of sub revenue to ad revenue is more than 50% means you’ll stay in business. (NYT and FT, few others.)
Build a better mousetrap and the brand will build itself. Discovery not persuasion. And therefore Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. (Amazon paid $0 for Whole Foods as the increase in Amazon’s share price more than covered the cost of acquisition. Terrifying. Remember this?)
Please listen to the podcast Don Draper has been drawn and quartered
And read the charts Death of the Advertising Industrial Complex
Here's a selection here.
Creative Review came to Manchester the other day to look at The Federation, a community of digital businesses we've set up at the Co-op. UsTwo, NorthCoders, NHS R&D, Liverpool Girl Geeks, Kainos and many others are already in there. More about that soon.
Anyway, I'm pleased with how it turned out so I'm putting it on the blog and linking to it - Ben Terrett on the importance of teamwork.
It's quite popular on Twitter. This is the best comment by far.
I'm surprised more places don't do this. There is such a proliferation of Uber drivers now particularly when things like football matches or gigs end. Airports would be another example.
I wonder if any new build offices or shopping centres are planning for things like this. How does a 5/10 year planning cycle react to 12 month / 18 month digital trends. Trends or bubble? Permanent or temporary change?
Digital demands changes to infrastructure faster than the pace of infrastructure.
Uber try and fix this with their suggested pick up and drop off points. That works well and co-ordinates the network, presumably based on data.
Desire paths in action.
People have always needed dropping off and picking up. In London there are still some of these lighted taxi signs outside hotels and posh blocks of flats. And parliament obvs.
Old problems new solutions. (Another episode from Tech is Neither Good nor Bad, just Different.)
This picture from R Chunn
16. Google Design released a guide to designing with machine learning.
I say released a guide, I mean published a Medium post. Such is the way of things these days.
There’s a lot of hyperbole talked about ML and this was the most sensible thing I’ve read about it so far. Called “human-centered machine learning” it’s simple, practical guidance. The bit about email attachments is lovely. If this is as successful and useful as Material Design, Google are on to a good thing here.
Essential reading Human-Centered Machine Learning by Google Design
Unusually Fast Company have written a good summary. Beware, it's one of those annoying web pages where everything moves around for five minutes before you can start reading.
Fast Company - Google’s Rules For Designers Working With AI
17. The Parliament Digital Service has taken photographs of every single MP. For the first time ever.
They photographed 90% of 650 MPs in just one day, shot against the same background as they were sworn in after the election. Each sitting averaging less than a minute. That’s impressive. They are all reusable under a Creative Commons licence. This is a simple but brilliant piece of work and exactly what parliament should be doing.
(Not everyone is happy obvs, but this twitter thread is an absolute joy )
18. Imagine having a bookcase named after you. Hello Billy Likjedhal if you’re reading this.
Naming is always fascinating. Ikea have a team of product namers, who assign names from a database of Swedish words. Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal).
19. Good article on car UX.
But, a long article about car UX that only mentions Tesla twice. Which I found odd. Makes me think no one is writing about this stuff openly. Which is maybe understandable, but I still find unusual.
Special mention to ustwo who are thinking and writing about it as ustwo Auto
20. Canyon is named Red Dot design team of the year.
The Red Dot awards are credible and Canyon are doing good work not just in bike design, but service design too. Worth watching this team.
21. BBVA has 150 designers in 11 countries, all with different specialties, not that unusual but they are also training 1000 design ambassadors. That’s interesting. Led by Derek White and Rob Brown previously of Barclays superb digital and design team.
22. Procter & Gamble cut $140 Million from digital ad spend and saw no effect on sales.
Lots and lots of reckons around this, obvs. Some context, P&G spent $2.4 billion on advertising last year, so $140M is around a 5% cut.
I’m sure most large companies could stop $100M of lots of things and have no effect on sales.
But still, there is a regular drumbeat of stories like this. And what I found most interesting is that the CFO explicitly called it out in the earnings statement. A shot across the bows, methinks.
This does the rounds every few months. Usually sparks a debate about Uber being or not being the new buses. Or something. Everyone gets very angry.
I get angry every time I see it.
I get angry because it’s such a bad piece of communication.
This version from the 60s is a London Underground ad that makes exactly the same point more effectively and more efficiently.
The modern one is so complicated. It adds two modes of transport that you don’t need to make the point.
The 60s one uses 14 words and takes a few seconds to read. The current one uses 33 words and takes 15 seconds before it’s finished playing. I bet most people need to watch it twice to understand it.
Abrams Games used to describe his design philosophy as a combination of image and text that communicates an idea with ‘maximum meaning' using 'minimum means’. The designer of the 60s poster is unattributed, but it does maximum meaning, minimum means really well.
In the era of twitter and dwindling dwell times I’m constantly surprised people don’t focus more energy on making communication simpler and shorter. We’ve had to wait until 2017 for someone to launch a 6 second ad format.
Maximum meaning, minimum means. More relevant today than ever.
But I’m not going to talk much about design tonight. So lower your expectations accordingly. I’m going to talk about teams and diversity instead.
Everyone who gets an award thanks their colleagues and mentors. Or their coaches and the left back and the goalkeeper. That’s not just being polite. It’s accurate. Individuals collect awards - but teams win them.
I mostly design for the internet and on the internet there are no lone genius designers.
The romance of the lone artisan in their garret coming up with the Big Idea is over.
And I think that’s a good thing. The design industry used to work like this. Back in the 50s and 60s it was more common for designers to work in multidisciplinary teams. They didn’t call it that of course - just worked with whoever they needed to achieve the end product. Names like Margaret Calvert of Kenneth Grange worked with a variety of different skills to achieve great things. This is even more important today. And our job is to make the organisations we work with better at doing that. Better at collaboration.
The toughest design problems in the world today require co-operation at a large scale. They need people with different talents and experiences working together to find answers that work. Design today needs teams that have lots of different perspectives.
That means we need to make it easier for people to become designers.
How I got into design is a really boring story. I studied art and design at school and graphic design at university. I’m sure lots of you did that too. But that’s much harder to do today.
This year is the 180th anniversary of design education in the UK but today it’s possible for schools to get an outstanding grade from Ofsted without teaching any art or design subjects, so 15% of schools have withdrawn arts subjects. And we’re seeing that kids aren’t studying art and design. Entries for GCSE Art & Design down 8% and A-Level 12%. I’m a Governor at University for the Arts London and we’re seeing a drop at Undergraduate Level too. (Stats from NSEAD.)
And Brexit means we’re getting fewer and fewer EU students applying. All at a time when we need designers who reflect who they’re designing for.
You can help by volunteering in an organisation like the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club.
Advocate a career in design to your friends. And your friends’ kids. And then to people who look and sound nothing like you.
(This is picture of the current UAL Students Union Arts SU. They are a talented, diverse group.)
Encourage and promote diverse, multi-disciplinary teams.
A hard problem, but a useful one to solve - because that’s what designers do best. If it's easy, make it look easy. If it isn't actually easy, then make it easy. Thank you, enjoy the rest of your evening.
(Huge thanks to Ella who helped write the speech. She is available to help you too.)
This is not a political post and so I'm publishing after the election.
Sam Blackledge, a reporter from the Plymouth Herald got to interview Theresa May a few days ago.
He asked four specific questions about the local area. Every answer started with “I’m very clear” and then went on to give a vague answer.He got bland answers without any substance. His write up of the encounter is scathing, he described it as, “Three minutes of nothing”.
Here’s one example:
Plymouth is feeling the effects of military cuts. Will you guarantee to protect the city from further pain?
"I'm very clear that Plymouth has a proud record of connection with the armed forces."
You can read the full article and watch a video of the interview here on the Plymouth Herald.
Theresa May is saying "I'm very clear" and then not being clear at all. (See Russell's advice on how to be clear.)
But this isn’t about Theresa May or politicians. This is how leaders speak in public these days. Grandiose sounding statements that contain no substance, no facts or distinct opinions. Statements that give away nothing but sound decisive. It’s a style that’s been honed over decades and is evident in almost all forms of media. Footballers speaking after a football game is another example.
There is one alternative, here is Mick McCarthy literally saying nothing when asked about Roy Keane.
There is a more up to date example from Sam here.
This is the floor of Manchester town hall. It’s a grand neo-gothic building built in 1877. The floor is a mosaic of worker bees.
There are worker bees all over the city. I never really noticed them until Malcolm Garrett pointed them out to me.
They are everywhere once you start looking.
Yesterday Manchester Evening News published an article asking Why is a bee the symbol of Manchester?
Because it represents “the city’s hard-working past, during the Industrial Revolution. Textile mills that were commonly described as ‘hives of activity’ and the workers inside them compared to bees.”
Wikipedia has more “Seven bees are included in the crest of the city's arms which were granted to the Borough of Manchester in 1842.”
Here's a new one that got added this week.
A good symbol for a good city.
I’ve only had this book a few days so it’s no surprise I’ve not read it. In fact, I’ll never read it. That's the point of this blogging series.
I like Paula and her work a lot. Her output is vast and the book reflects that, page after page of bold, vibrant, energetic graphic design. I flick through it in the video below and I think it’s the longest video in this series. Some lovely work in there. Nice big pictures.
There’s an interview by Shaughnessy, he’s good at that sort of thing so I would imagine that’s good too.
They also discuss some of the projects in depth and where Paula has worked with a client a long time, like Public Theater, that format looks like it works really well. As ever Paula has strong opinions and isn't afraid to state them.
Any graphic design that isn’t by Paula, like the cover and the chapter pages, I presume were designed by Tony Brook and Spin. They are lovely and fit the subject without getting in the way. The book is too heavy to read, like all good design books.
Here's a video of me flicking through the book. Excitingly this one has sound.
You should probably buy this and you can from Unit Editions.
Part of a series; Reviews of books I’ll never read.