Yes, it’s been a while since this blog got all the love it deserves. As you might have noticed I changed the classic one-step page flow to infinite scrolling. This is the beginning of a step by step overhaul. My major intention is to split my both domains lrrm.de and kai-reinhardt.de. I have recognized that some prospective clients sorted me into one drawer with artists as they’ve seen my free works on lrrm.de. This is a no-go because I’m still making my living on webdesign and web development and I want to be regarded as a professional. Hence, I need some additional space. I’ll use this blog for it and recharge it with my free works and experiments. Don’t panic: the subjects ‘design, code, science’ will still be my major interests. Stay tuned.
Archive for the ‘Design’ Category
A guide for designers from outside the coding field.
From times to times it happens that we need to take on a job we actually can’t do. Although we know that we might miss our clients expectation. In this situation it is necessary to hire experts from other fields to get the job done. Unfortunately these experts are frequently consulted in a very advanced phase of the project. Or worse, they are not even consulted but only hired to do their job.
Print designers (and any other who isn’t from the digital field) are my special friends. In this posting I’ll refer to them when I talk about designers in common. When they ask me to help them out with some of their clients I’m always aware that a lot of things already went wrong. It is a strange situation because most designers complain about the arrogance of clients who reduce them to button pushers. At the same time they show a fundamental lack of understanding of the matters they are handing over to me.
I’m talking about websites, RIAs, apps and software in common. I’m talking about the clients who don’t have a budget like a AAA+ company. I’m talking about the mediocre everyday work which doesn’t actually need to be as mediocre as it often is.
The Waterfall Model
The most common working model in the field of advertisement and design is the waterfall model. It urges us to do one step after another and to hand the results over to the next colleague in the production chain. This model is a more or less successful attempt to apply the methods of the industrialization to the field of creative work. And it worked fine until the Internet changed the media landscape. Everyone thought they could produce new products (aka websites) while sticking to their well known working models. Obviously this is not the case.
It is software what we are making although it is sold as a piece of design. I repeatedly reach this certain moment on which I know for sure that the project manager has not the slightest clue about software development and sells my work like a design service.
Let me explain how the waterfall model messes things up. This is the usual designers perspective:
1. The exciting new client asking for a solution.
2. A stunning concept is made and the designers are creating a fancy layout. After this phase of fun the results are handed over to the programmers.
3. They are doing their coding voodoo (which nobody understands) et voila, we have a beautiful program, app or website.
This outlines a fundamental misunderstanding:
Neither is the programmer a printer nor is software a printing machine.
Unfortunately designers “use” programmers like printers without knowing anything about the technical process of printing. Building software is an agile process, making a print product is not. Period. Designers who don’t know anything about coding are doing mimicry. They are imitating what they have seen. They are not able to create something new on their own. Worse, they never went through the deep, shady valley of unknown errors, confusion and frustration. They never suffered the pain of growing beyond their abilities to get a the fundamental understanding of a problem. The only thing they are doing is copying what they have seen. They understand what the things are doing but not how. They are always staying behind their possibilities.
Designers might counter by stating that this is far from being true. The creation of a fresh UX doesn’t require any knowledge of coding.
Here we are facing another problem. Designers can evolve an idea just from what they have already experienced. Be it that they are unsatisfied with a certain user experience and want to improve it or that they are hired to do a work or that they are doing a futuristic concept. It’s always based on someones work. In this case knowing something about coding can enrich a designers work and lead to new (user) experiences.
So should programming be a part of the design education? No. Even if designers have done some software on their own it is the question how long ago this was. Technologies are changing rapidly and the knowledge is outdated before you can type “Hello World”. How do you explain someone that you need twice the time which was necessary 10 years ago for a complete (static) website for doing the just the back end work. It’s a hard task.
To be frank: the waterfall model is the completely wrong way in a the creation process of software.
No one demands from designers to dive deeply into the programming world. For the mediocre results most clients are easy to satisfy with it is not necessary. Designers don’t create new typefaces for every project too. But in case of a client who wants something for his money it is obligatory to know more about coding.
The utilization of the wrong methods causes an inefficiency in the creation process. To prevent the project from this inefficiency the first thing to do is to make a concept. But this time the programmers need to sit on one table with the rest of the team. They can advice them which resources and snippets already exist. With their knowledge at hand it is possible to figure out a satisfying result even if it is not a high budget project. One could say that it would be wrong to incorporate the programmers into design decisions but if so please re-read the first paragraph. An even more important point: the programmers can assume how long something will take. (Although these assumptions are often very wrong it is possible to correct them by the use of a method like Scrum.)
What does it exactly mean to incorporate a programmer?
It is not different from any other creative work: look what you have and make something up with it. If it would be a completely new print process there would be a constant communication between the designer and the printer. With the help of a programmer you can break down much of the work to one single script that represents the desired UX the best. Roughly outlined you are doing it like this:
With the programming work in advance of the layout it is possible to test, fix and adjust major functionalists before any visual work is done. It will also do some magic to the UX. If you have something to play around you can already sense which decisions will make your work an exciting piece. It is an iterative process. Build it up, fix it, rebuild it, change it, continue, re-change everything, add some functions, take away other ones and test it over and over again. You will see how this will improve everything.
How do you work on a project the next time:
1. Get content or information from the client.
2. Call everyone involved into the production together at one table.
3. Make an UX concept.
4. Test and code and test and code …
5. Roughly layout it.
6. Reiterate through 3., 4. and 5. until it fits.
7. Make some neat visuals.
It could be all so easy. Just if everyone knew what and how to do it.
This facebook app was rushing through the feeds lately and I couldn’t resist to give it a closer look. Although I’m a bit astound that it was accepted by facebook it seems to generate some public. I would loved to see how many users were male and single.
Basically it works like every other contact platform. It just puts the attempt to contact someone into a sexual context. You start to use this app, then you get a list of all of your friends. After you have marked the person you want to have sex with you’re waiting until the other side makes the same decision. Your friends don’t know that you have marked them. Only if both sides apply the information is passed. There are two things about this method:
It only works for people who have a loose social network in facebook. Assumed that you add every person you meet to your facebook account you might have a lot of contacts who don’t count much for you in real life. These are the people you could probably add to your ‘I want to bang …’ list. It doesn’t matter if you loose them as a friend or a contact.
It doesn’t work
If your facebook profile is full of close real-life friends you can’t take the risk to add them to your bang list. Imagine some of your close friends tries this app and adds you just for fun. How embarrassing would it be if your friend sees what you’re thinking. A precondition is of course that you are not behaving like rabbits in real life. Another reason is that you can’t use this app if you’re in a relationship or married. Imagine some of your (and your partners) close friends marks you. Even if you mark loose friends they could probably talk bad about you if they find out that you want to have sex with them. Especially if you are in a relationship.
It is a funny app but in fact it’s not usable for anyone who isn’t a single and counts on his friends.