with Jason Schwartz and Alex Sheyn of Avondale Type Co

For this episode of Design Notes, I spoke with Jason Schwartz and Alex Sheyn, creative director and designer respectively at a foundry that consistently produces impressive work, including an artist series featuring artists and designers from the community.

In the episode, we covered a lot - from the beginnings of ATC to what goes into designing typefaces, all the way to the challenges type designers and foundries face when it comes to distribution and licensing.

Before we look at the full rundown, take a sec to check out ATC online and find Jason and Alex on Twitter.

  • Journey to Avondale
    • Bright Bright Great’s type-heavy projects
    • The learning curve
    • Getting fonts into people’s hands
  • Wait, who am I talking to?
    • Alex, concerned with the type
    • Jason, creative director
  • ATC’s Process
    • Where typeface names come from
    • Diving into Glyphs
    • Handwriting and humanist
    • In-use testing, living with a typeface
  • Testing
    • Put the pieces together
    • Convey an emotion
    • Personality vs emotion
  • Where the software of type can improve
    • Managing typefaces
    • Updating
    • Distribution in general
    • Beta testing
  • Piracy and licensing
    • What licenses mean
    • Possible ways to protect files
      • Who would be the first to do it?
    • iTunes vs distribution
  • Type’s impact on viewers
    • Intent vs usage
    • Seeing a font in use
    • Type trends
      • Everything can’t be helvetica all day
  • Type, design, and culture

with Max Ignatyev of Sympli

This week I spoke with Max Ignatyev, the founder of Sympli.io, a tool that bridges apps like Photoshop and Sketch with IDEs like Android Studio and X Code to ease collaboration between developers and designers. Here's the full rundown:

  • What is Sympli?
    • How does Sympli compare to competitors like Zeplin?
  • The journey to creating Sympli
    • Being non-standard in non-standard ways
    • Tracking design changes and automation
    • Design handoff, collaboration, and implementation
  • What kind of tool would accommodate early design collaborations?
    • Tracking design changes
    • Open source for designers
  • The design process at Sympli
    • Designing for designers and developers in the same tool
    • Sympli’s full redesign
      • … Was made with Sympli
  • Choosing and imagining new features
    • Until robots take over
  • Will AI design and develop?
  • Project Comet/Adobe XD
    • Photoshop vs building a design tool on purpose
    • Adobe building a new tool from scratch, without legacy

with Ryan Oldenburg of Pushbullet

For this episode of DESIGN NOTES, I spoke with Ryan Oldenburg, the founder of Pushbullet. Pushbullet, for those who don't know, is a service that allows users to "push" files and info back and forth between their various devices, from a simple interface that integrates with Chrome and Android's system sharing interface.

During our chat, Ryan and I covered a lot of topics, from Pushbullet's vision and product design to the design process at Pushbullet, to opinionated design and even monetization and advertising in today's app and web economies. Here's a full rundown:

  • Pushbullet's story and vision
    • How do you define done-ness?
  • How did Pushbullet evolve into its messaging-style interface
    • A process users are familiar with that lends itself to simple back-and-forth record keeping
  • Design at Pushbullet
    • The constraints of time and effort
    • Having an overall goal and measuring design choices against that
    • An app you don't even need to open
    • Ensuring you have extensible design solutions
      • Keeping Android extensible and light
  • Biting into the hamburger menu and opinionated design
    • How UI patterns work
    • Measuring the wrong metrics
    • If everything is bold, nothing is bold
    • Software voice
    • Everything can't be the main thing
    • Actually, we're all still figuring out how to do things on mobile
    • Users aren't static entities, and they'll get what they want
    • Feature draw
  • Monetization and sustainability in the app ecosystem
    • How Pushbullet arrived at its subscription model
    • Users are used to free software
    • Subscription vs Ads vs IAP
  • Advertising specifically
    • The internet
    • People get paid to do things, so where does that come from?
    • How ads spiraled out
    • Ads will bottom out and recover
      • It's in everyone's interest to be "that one guy" 
  • Presenting things to the public
    • Final result vs thought process

with Dina Rodriguez of LetterShoppe

For the first episode of 2016 and the first episode ever streamed live on Twitch, I spoke with Dina Rodriguez of LetterShoppe. Dina is an artist with an amazing skill for hand-lettering and a penchant for sharing her knowledge in as many ways as possible, including her live Twitch stream at twitch.tv/lettershoppe

In this episode, we talked about getting inspiration, looking at projects from a new angle, the ins and outs of streaming creative work live, and the benefits of being transparent in your work. See the full rundown below!

  • Dina’s journey to hand lettering
  • The distinctions between hand lettering and traditional typography
    • Hand drawn fonts
    • Visual interest, uniqueness, and conceptual expression
      • You can’t fake authenticity
    • Pacifico and Lobster
  • Process: how much material is on the cutting room floor?
    • Usage rights
    • Keeping your sketches
  • Process: Context and stepping back
    • Taking breaks
    • Turning things upside-down
      • Fill in your letters!
    • Using context for inspiration vs breaking out of context
    • Getting original ideas from inspiration by using your memory
  • Process: how do you decide when the work’s done?
    • Go to 90% and avoid falling off the cliff
  • Color: creating and choosing palettes
    • Logos & branding: Single color importance
    • Logos & branding: the re-skin trend
  • Twitch streaming
    • How the creative community expanded on Twitch
    • The League of Letters and engaging candidly with a community
      • Goals & Twitch perks
    • Viewers are great for community AND for improving your work during the actual process
    • It’s scary to get started, but do it anyway
    • This is not a webinar!
  • Transparency
    • Importance of talking about failure
  • Advertising & promotion as a freelancer
  • The best way to learn is to teach
  • Q&A from chat!

with Nick Butcher of Google

This time on Design Notes I chatted with Nick Butcher, a Design/Developer Advocate at Google focused on Android. Nick has the design chops to cook up a great sample app like Plaid, and the development knowledge to bring it to life. In the episode, we talked about making a great sample app that is also functionally useful, the nuances of giving and receiving feedback, and plenty more. Here's a full rundown.

  • Nick's Google journey
  • Making a great sample app
    • Focusing on limited features and demonstrating their use and implementation
    • How sample features work together
    • Making sure developers can "get in" to the sample
  • Balancing practical and demonstrative in the I/O app
    • Shepherding features
      • Deciding to demonstrate something and sticking to that guideline
  • Sharing design resources open-source
    • Reluctance to share works-in-progress
    • The value of seeing process
    • Motivation to hurry up and share
  • Separating identity from work
    • 100 positive comments and 1 negative comment
  • Material design for developers on Udacity
    • Material design development for designers
  • Designers + Code
    • The value (or not) of prototyping tools
      • Tools try to encompass every situation
      • Tools approaching code
      • Why not just code, then?
  • Two different brains myth
    • The mystique of design
    • Both are rigorous skills that can be learned
    • What is a designer, really?
    • Sharing a common vocabulary while still specializing fosters speed
  • The relationship between developer and designer when working remotely
    •  Shared understandings about communication
    • Establishing a baseline of understanding
    • How I communicate designs
  • Type design and math
    • Deviating with purpose
  • Structuring design feedback
    • The fidelity of your artifact will influence what kind of feedback you get
    • Choose the right medium
  • Asking for feedback
    • Know what you're asking for
  • Adaptive design and accounting for screens from the start
    • There are no off-the-shelf solutions yet
    • But there are ways to get your mind into the right space
      • Don't hardcode values, use dimens files
    • We need to develop patterns of how layouts can adapt
  • How much do experiences need to match between device sizes?
    • Inferred differences in how devices are used and in what contexts
    • Research and empathy help intuition
    • Don't fall back on your own use cases
      • Unexpected use cases learned from users
    • Research with the community