Minimal design misconceptions

After 2010 we witnessed “minimal” or “flat” design becoming the cool and hip trend all around. We’ve seen flattened brands and products (like below), flat websites, flat apps and more. The world has suddenly stopped being round and became flat, just as some suspected it is a long time ago.

corn flakes minimal redesign

Minimal became the new hip. At first Microsoft pushed the idea with their redesigned Windows interface of flat, colourful tiles and clear typography. Google created their own “minimal” style with a small touch of shadows and transparencies here and there, and Apple followed suit with iOS 7 redesign. That way minimal and flat took over the world.

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Watch this now: Font Men at SXSW 2014

Font Men SXSW 2014

A short, 6 minute film about two guys – Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones – who designed a lot of fonts that we know, love and use daily. It’s interesting to see bits and pieces of their process, with a nice, warm narrative to the whole thing. Definitely worth a watch if you’re into design or typography (or both).

Font Men – SXSW 2014 Official Selection from dress code on Vimeo.

Apple posts design tips for developers

apple design tips

We recently raised the subject of how most apps don’t really look like the design when they are developed, and here comes Apple to the rescue! ;) The developers are generally lazy when it comes to implementation and believe that if it displays (in any way) then their job is done. They don’t care about margins, spacing, platform rules and ui paradigms. No, they are the mighty app developers, a rather small elite among other devs, so they don’t lower themselves down to implement things perfectly or to worry about how the information is presented.

Apple has published a set of rules and guidelines (a short one still, but always something) to educate developers about some basic mistakes they do. Let’s just hope they’ll start rejecting crap-design apps from now on, because a warning is only meaningful when it’s a threat.

This couldn’t be more true


In our industry there’s always the notion of finding someone cheaper to do the job. Be it a designer, a programmer or a copywriter, cheap is always best. Most companies with that attitude don’t take into account the fact, that usually cheap ends up being poor. We have done a lot of web and mobile projects over the last few years (design only), and while on the web about 50% is coded very close to the design, on mobile it was only five or six apps, one of which is the game we did internally. Why is this happening? The main reason is probably the fact that a lot of developers don’t really have any visual sense, to the extent of not recognising the differences between a nice design and a crappy one that’s falling apart. The other part is their laziness, coming from the fact that they did all that super-hard-to-learn coding and it sort of works, so it’s fine.

It’s not.

Startups especially should take an approach where crap-coding is eliminated as soon as possible. It’s possible by either educating the developers (some of them just need a little push), or doing very detailed audits by the designer, of the finished product. But that’s added cost so for most companies it’s not “worth” it. And those companies end up with a product like in the above image.

We are a design company and we try our best to do awesome designs, but unfortunately we can’t control the developers. It’s time to make our own devs then in our secret lair inside a volcano. Or educate the current ones with ebooks or lectures. Whichever is easiest ;)
We already helped some mobile developers achieve that, but new projects bring us in touch with new developers and we haven’t encountered new ones that already had visual quality of what they code in mind. Maybe someday…

Get Things Done vs Make It Cheap

websites under construction forever

There’s a saying in the design industry, that price alone is far less important than the ability to deliver. That is especially true if price is the only factor by which a design is chosen, and we all got our fair share of “we think the CEO’s nephew will make a great website. Why he did two already!” which almost always results in projects that are not done. Ever. Or at least in any near future. Having a web presence is important just as it always was, but now with responsive web it’s even more important that people can find you via mobile devices. In that case GTD or Get Things Done usually beats the “Make it Cheap” motto, because the latter cases rarely become anything at all. The infamous nephew or that “close friend who has web-something company” usually end up either not doing the job well, or not doing it at all.

When you have a mix of quality and the ability to actually deliver something at the end of the day, you have a successful company that’s hard to beat. If all you look at is price or “personal relation” you might end up with that cute “under construction” graphic BEING your website for a year or two. That’s why it’s always important to price your projects right, so you have the motivation to deliver. After all big companies pay big agencies hundreds times more for the exact same things small design studios do.


Because those big clients are SURE that the job will be delivered and having that peace of mind is important.

Yahoo’s interesting way to rebrand

Most companies considering rebranding (especially the larger ones) try to keep it as much of a secret as possible. Yahoo has decided to go in an opposite direction and will show us 30 of the logo designs they worked on, with a final unveiling of the “real” one on September 5th. That’s a pretty cool idea, to see all the iterations and concepts. The logo itself will still be consistent with the current one as the “!” and the colors will most likely stay exactly the same. The first logo can be seen above, the rest will be shown here

iOS 6 vs iOS 7 banners comparison

ios 7 banneer wwdc13 moscone west

ios 6 banneer wwdc12 moscone west

The hype is building up before WWDC this year about major redesigns for both iOS and OS X (which is unlikely especially since Apple has pulled engineers from OS X to deliver iOS on schedule, and OS X is by far a more complex OS)

We think it’s a cool direction for both iOS 7 and OS X (what cat comes after Mountain Lion? Anybody knows?)
People say “modern, flat designs are all the rage” which is of course true, but looking back they actually always were. They’re just being refined as people understand the technology, hi-dpi screens and touch inputs more and more.

Android Apps can look good too! Community redesigns popular apps.

Android is not really famous for good designs of their Apps. In fact Apple mocks them all the time in their keynotes (especially the tablet scaled-up phone apps). There were some good ideas introduced to Android design with Holo, but still it feels as if most apps don’t really take it into account and are made by programmers without designers. WindowsPhone and iOS are way ahead of Android in terms of app design and that’s a fact. But that can still change! A google plus Android design community has put together some nice user redesigns of popular Android apps and the results are WAY better than the original apps. That means that there are skilled designers who understand the Android UI guidelines and can use them to create something that’s not appalling at first glance. Some of those apps look REALLY good. Let’s hope it spawns even more Android redesigns and the platform will finally get quality apps and not only cheaper, plastic phones from millions of manufacturers. app redesign is up top, and here’s the original version below:

The new one looks much better doesn’t it?
You can see all the other works at

What if iOS design matched the iPhone design? (and it’s colours!)

iOS redesign

A few days ago Yves Behar had said, that Apple products don’t really fit the software, as if they were made by two completely different teams. The industrial design is clean, simple and futuristic, while the OS has skeumorphism with stitched leather and all that ‘fun’ stuff. He inspired me to see what would happen, if the software design matched the industrial design, with color-coded OS for each device. Apple has been under a lot of critique lately, due to keeping it safe and not introducing many visual innovations to their software. I’m not saying my design is better. I just wanted to see how it’d look like if the design matched the phone quite literally. So I created the Black and Grey + White and Silver versions of the OS for the iPhone 5.

You can see the whole project at:

New Myspace Redesign is amazing!

New myspace

Remember MySpace? No? Well before Facebook (and yes there was a BEFORE Facebook) the most popular social network in the world was MySpace. It allowed people to customize their profiles with images and CSS, so each and every one was different. It was many things (music player, social media, bands promotion platform) but clean it wasn’t.

I still remember the horrible glitter backgrounds and green type on pink backgrounds. Yuck! Since Facebook came to life with it’s “clean&boring” design, MySpace was slowly dying, even with one of the biggest indie music collections in the world onboard. Well now they’re redesigning it (again) to be a mix of a music service, pinterest-que type photo viewer and in general a social network for the creatives – photographers, musicians, designers. And of course “fans”. Take a look at the screenshots after the break – it looks impressive and really clean + modern. Good job MySpace!

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Russian bloggers put politicians faces over potholes to fix the roads

Potholes can be a real problem and a real annoyance. Aside from possible damage to cars, riding on pothole ridden roads is not a pleasant activity. Usually money for fixing the roads is taken from the subsidies inside the gas prices, but apparently sometimes it doesn’t. Politicians care mostly for their PR and image, so a clever grup of bloggers from Ura.Ru decided to combine the two on the streets of Yekaterinburg, Russia. Over the night faces of three prominent politicians from the city were painted over the potholes in a way, that the holes were their “big mouths”. Each also had a quote of a promise made and not kept. The result? It has gone viral worldwide and after an attempt of a cover-up, they actually fixed the roads! Maybe it’s a good idea to do everywhere? After all nothing puts politcians to work better, than bad press ;)

More images and a video below:

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Why are designers afraid of big fonts? Web readability practices

Back in the days when we had to design for 800×600 screen sizes, “The Fold” was somewhat as much feared as IE6’s ability to destroy layouts. Now it’s 2012 and we have 800×600 pixels and more in some mobile phones, and the web has settled for 960 pixel width layouts. But the Fold is still pretty strong in a lot of the designs.

On most websites a nice body copy font is considered to be somewhere close to 10-12 pixels, with the default leading. And usually to cover the fact that most web copy is just plain horrible, there’s a lot of graphics around the text, almost as if the main function (information) is loosing with the form (the graphics). It’s not readable. And I’m not talking about pink fonts on yellow backgrounds. I’m talking about most of the web.

It’s almost as if designers are afraid of making the content look legible. Maybe they’re thinking that if there’s more text than anything else in a design, they’re not really needed anymore? Who knows. The fact is that most of the web is terribly unreadable and actually painful to use.

And then came Flipboard with it’s pre formatting and changed some perspectives. Bigger fonts (between 16 and 24 pixels) came into play, and a leading of 1.4 em. Content consumption has become pleasant again. Apple added the “Reader” feature to Safari, and suddenly most websites are just a click away from being enjoyable!

Maybe it’s time to switch some perspectives and bring the web to it’s basic function (except porn) – reading stuff on the screen. And yes it can be a nice experience!

Is minimal design the best thing that happened to the web in years?

Corporations AND designers all over the world are switching to minimalistic, simple design

The web sure has gone a long way from it’s humble beginnings of blue, underlined links, serif fonts, animated GIFs (they now exist as something completely different) and patterned backgrounds. Well now we are seeing a rapid increase of so-called ‘minimal design’. The idea is to have a simple, once color background (preferably white). Gradients and textures are generally frowned upon. The site’s palette should consist of only a couple colours, and using more than two (or three) fonts is prohibited.

Everything is super readable, clear and well … minimalistic. That in turn gives the main purpose of the web a boost – to consume content, both video, text and imagery. Everything is easier to access and these sites generally load faster too.

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Apple put out terrible ads. Are they becoming the new microsoft?

Have you seen the recent Olympics Apple Ads? It's almost as if they were made by the competition to make Apple look bad

The Ads are all about the Mac, but they’re so “low”, without edge and uninspired, that it seems like they were made by Samsung to make a dent in Macbook sales. Seriously! A supposed Mac Genius (the whole “Genius” idea is actually pretty bad, because people who can use iPhoto and Time Capsule don’t really need to be geniuses, and most of them aren’t). Besides if someone’s a real genius he wouldn’t work at Apple retail. Design or Engineering maybe, but retail? Come on.

So this all knowing genius is helping people with their mac “problems” like making a movie or a photo book. It’s stupid. Plain stupid. And very un-apple like. It’s bad enough that skeumorphisms took over iOS and OS X (ugly Contact, calendar and notes apps) and now this? Do you think Apple is loosing it’s edge and the “cool factor” if they have to resort to being stupid in ads to sell their products?

Here’s one: