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  • WHAT IS MACHINE LEARNING, AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN September 29, 2021 By Michael Tabb, Jeffery DelViscio, Andrea Gawrylewski Deep learning, neural networks, imitation games—what does any of this have to do with teaching computers to “learn”? Machine learning is the process by which computer programs grow from experience. This isn’t science fiction, where robots advance until they take over the world. When we talk about machine learning, we’re mostly referring to extremely clever algorithms. In 1950 mathematician Alan Turing argued that it’s a waste of time to ask whether machines can think. Instead, he proposed a game: a player has two written conversations, one with another human and one with a machine. Based on the exchanges, the human has to decide which is which. This “imitation game” would serve as a test for artificial intelligence. But how would we program machines to play it? Turing suggested that we teach them, just like children. We could instruct them to follow a series of rules, while enabling them to make minor tweaks based on experience. For computers, the learning process just looks a little different. First, we need to feed them lots of data: anything from pictures of everyday objects to details of banking transactions. Then we have to tell the computers what to do with all that information. Programmers do this by writing lists of step-by-step instructions, or algorithms. Those algorithms help computers identify patterns in vast troves of data. Based on the patterns they find, computers develop a kind of “model” of how that system works. For instance, some programmers are using machine learning to develop medical software. First, they might feed a program hundreds of MRI scans that have already been categorized. Then, they’ll have the computer build a model to categorize MRIs it hasn’t seen before. In that way, that medical software could spot problems in patient scans or flag certain records for review. Complex models like this often require many hidden computational steps. For structure, programmers organize all the processing decisions into layers. That’s where “deep learning” comes from. These layers mimic the structure of the human brain, where neurons fire signals to other neurons. That’s why we also call them “neural networks.” Neural networks are the foundation for services we use every day, like digital voice assistants and online translation tools. Over time, neural networks improve in their ability to listen and respond to the information we give them, which makes those services more and more accurate. Machine learning isn’t just something locked up in an academic lab though. Lots of machine learning algorithms are open-source and widely available. And they’re already being used for many things that influence our lives, in large and small ways. People have used these open-source tools to do everything from train their pets to create experimental art to monitor wildfires. They’ve also done some morally questionable things, like create deep fakes—videos manipulated with deep learning. And because the data algorithms that machines use are written by fallible human beings, they can contain biases. Algorithms can carry the biases of their makers into their models, exacerbating problems like racism and sexism. But there is no stopping this technology. And people are finding more and more complicated applications for it—some of which will automate things we are accustomed to doing for ourselves--like using neural networks to help run power driverless cars. Some of these applications will require sophisticated algorithmic tools, given the complexity of the task. And while that may be down the road, the systems still have a lot of learning to do. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN September 29, 2021 By Michael Tabb, Jeffery DelViscio, Andrea Gawrylewski

  • UX / UI - WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR A HYPOTHESIS TO WORK?

    (TEXT NEEDS TIDYING UP ..) Any new research is about boldly going where we haven’t ventured before. This doesn’t just refer to seeing or pondering over new work, new fields of development, new technologies etc. It’s more about how we learn to make connections, about the new set of questions we pose and, indeed, the assumptions we make. This approach should help us see deeper and clearer into the creative and technological ecosystem that underpins Visual Communication and also help us better understand our own role within it. In 1964 Arthur C Clarke predicted universal mobile communications. Little did he know that our modern handheld devices would contain a: typewriter, a camera, mailbox, television, calculator, a light torch, record player, movie player, tape and movie recorder, a compass, a road map, entire book libraries, radio, musical instruments, newspapers, and so much more. And even a telephone! The advancement of modern technology has given us these powerful tools neatly packed inside our handsets, free to pick which set of tools, when and where we are going to use them; the only concern is: How do we customise them to better respond to the way we work, relax, or pursue our own pleasure and leisure? How do we make them more relevant to us as individuals? How do we best interact with them, so they enlighten us, as opposed to confusing us? Now that we are so used to using them, could we cope without them if they were somehow denied? How good are we at adapting to sudden change? Can an unwanted sudden change be prevented? Is technology enabling us to realise our personal, creative and professional potential, or is it making us slaves to the trends of our time? In essence, for a hypothesis to work, it has to broadly follow the below formula: A concept needs to do something ... .. to something. .. to have a viable effect. Examples: Using projections of illustrations. In a storytelling environment. So readers can have a better experience. Applying multi-sensory experiences. to packaging design to increase the perceived value of the product. and promote use (consumption). Using gaming. in an office environment. to increase productivity. IDEA - APPLICABILITY - VIABILITY: If the idea is, for an example: Using illustration .. on coffee cups .. to make the cup indestructible ... - - - - - - - - - - THE SURVEY OF MY FIELD OF EXPERTISE Framing a question on limited information leads to poor hypotheses Historical context analog / linear > digital / non-linear .. UI in two dimensional form / faux 3D / click / press-hold / move Virtual / Augmented / Mixed reality Screens of all kinds of sizes / textured touch sensation Not specific design - more of a model or a strategy for design at a meta-level Approaches Models Frameworks IT can come from several tests (high fidelity prototyping not essential) example: Designing a framework for the generation of gaming characters, or Framework for How do we determine what functions to fix, hide, customisation, - - - - - - - - - - My mindset as I am developing my hypothesis? I am talking/ conveying my ideas not to a customer but to other UX designers. Based on my tests, research, Explore multiple parts of the framework An emerging framework such as customisation of favourites/ customisation model. - - - - - - - - - - HOW DO I DESIGN WITH CUSTOMISATION IN MIND? Bring in AI into the mix? How does Machine Learning (ML) fit into favourites customisation? What about Voice / conversational interface as part of customisation? How is Siri customisable? Is she keying into my voice? Conversation with Siri Q: Siri, Turn the lights on in my living room! A: What is your living room sir? Q: The living room is the lounge, where the TV set is. A: I get it, no problem. Thank u for teaching me a new thing today. It’s such fun! Q: Nice one Siri, good girl. A: I may be a machine sir, but no need to patronise. How does knowledge emerge from vain knowledge? Hypothesis emerges from customisation, discoverability, vainness. Test it based on criteria, evaluate. Speculative assumptions. USER INTERFACE (UI) Usability.gov states that good UI focuses on anticipating what users might need to do when using a product, ensuring that the interface has easy access and understand elements. UI brings together concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. Choosing interface elements Users have become familiar with interface elements acting in a certain way. Interface elements include, but are not limited to: Input Controls: buttons, text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, date field Navigational Components: breadcrumb, slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, icons Informational Components: tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, modal windows Containers: accordion - a graphical control element comprising a vertically stacked list of items, such as labels or thumbnails. Each item can be "expanded" or "stretched" to reveal the content associated with that item. There are times when multiple elements might be best to display content. When this happens, consider the trade-offs. For example, sometimes elements save space but mentally put more burden on the users by forcing them to guess what is within the dropdown menu or what the element might be. Best practices to designing an interface Everything stems from knowing the users, including understanding their goals, skills, preferences, and tendencies. Therefore, designers need to consider the following when designing your interface: Keep the interface simple. The best interfaces are almost invisible to the user. They avoid unnecessary elements and are clear in the language they use on labels and in messaging. UI must be consistent and use common UI elements. By using common elements in UI, users feel more comfortable and can get things done more effortlessly. It is also important to create patterns in the visual language, layout and design throughout the site to help facilitate efficiency. Once a user learns how to do something, they should transfer that skill to other parts of the site. UI must be purposeful in page layout. Good design considers the spatial relationships between items on the page - structure on the page should be based on importance. Careful placement of items helps draw attention to the most important information and can aid scanning and readability. Strategical use colour and texture. Good design directs attention toward or redirects attention away from items using colour, light, contrast. Use of typography to create hierarchy and clarity. Different sizes, fonts, and arrangements of the text helps increase scalability, legibility and readability. The system must communicate what’s happening. Users must be clear of location, actions, changes in state, or errors. The use of various UI elements to communicate status and, if necessary, the next steps can reduce frustration for the user. - - - - - - - - - - BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE (BCI) BCI is a fast-growing emergent technology in which researchers aim to build a direct channel between the human brain and the computer. It is a collaboration in which a brain accepts and controls a mechanical device as a natural part of its body representation. The BCI can lead to many applications, especially for disabled persons. Most of these applications are related to disabling persons in which they can help them in living as normal people. Wheelchair control is one of the famous applications in this field. In addition, the BCI research aims to emulate the human brain. This would be beneficial in many fields, including Artificial Intelligence and Computational Intelligence. EXPLORING CURRENT UX DESIGN TRENDS A Mockplus article gives a good analysis of the latest top UX design trends: 1. Conversational UI The world’s top 10 popular applications contain some social features, 6 of which are message applications. To some extent, conversations lead and manage our daily life in almost every aspect. CUI not only refers to “having a conversation” but also interactions that both sides can understand. It seems that suddenly all UI/UX designers are standing on a whole new stage. Because this indicates a brand new threshold of human interaction. What will design itself play at this stage? How can UI/UX designers take advantage of CUI to create great products in such an opportunity? Each of us has different answers in mind. 2. Micro-interaction In 2016, micro-interaction had occupied most of the design buzzword list. Sometimes, tiny surprises like this can be the deciding factor of a product. It reflects the user’s position UI/UX designers once put themselves in. And the fragments of every single interaction are the most reliable way of feedback collection. But we also need to be cautious, ask ourselves before designing a micro-interaction: when you see this 100 times, will it bother you? 3. Rapid prototyping Recently, fewer and fewer customers still like to see the high-fidelity prototypes in Powerpoint. In today’s trend for lean UX and Agile UX, those booming rapid prototyping tools will no doubt become the next communication way. Featured in the low learning curve, multiple terminals and operability, rapid prototyping tools like Mockplus have already earned a sustained growing market. Simple enough, what’s new and more efficient replaces the old. By the way, don’t be the slave of tools. 4. Skeuomorphism Under the influence of the iOS flat design, the word “skeuomorphism” somehow becomes a representation of old fashion. But if you look deeper, you will see some light-skeuomorphism elements emerging again in many prevalent designs with the beginning of the so-called web 2.0. In 2017, you can see more of it. Today, there are more and more UI/UX designers begin to reconsider the proportion of details and texture in their designs. You can’t deny that there is no such thing as a monopoly in the field of design. In the near future, the boundary between “flat” and“skeuomorphism” will definitely become more and more blurred. Skeuomorphism is now coming back, though in a smooth way. The real question is “Are you ready?” 5. Storytelling in Product Design Generally, as a designer, we take our product as a specific entity. Andreessen Horowitz, a top VC, said that every company has a story. We can copy this way of thinking when it comes to designing. Nowadays, good interaction designs are everywhere, we have to take a new way to stand out. Smart UI/UX designers decorate their products in stories for users to discover. If users are delighted because of their discoveries, they are likely to pay. CONVERSATIONAL UI DESIGN Q: WHAT DOES CONVERSATIONAL INTERFACE DO? A: IT MIMICS CHATTING WITH A REAL HUMAN. Nick Babich of Web Designer Depot states that conversational interfaces are the new hot trend in digital product design. Industry leaders such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are strongly focused on building a new generation of conversational interfaces. Several trends are contributing to this phenomenon-artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies are progressing rapidly. But the main reason why conversational interfaces become so important is that chatting is natural for us since we primarily interact with each other through conversation. Conversational Interfaces are currently of two types: • Chatbots (Facebook’s M Virtual Assistant) • Virtual Assistants (Siri, Google Now, Amazon Alexa etc.) Building a genuinely helpful and attractive conversational system is still a challenge from a UX standpoint. Standard patterns and flows which we use for graphical user interfaces don’t work in the same way for conversational design. Conversational interface design demands a fundamental shift in approach to design-less focus on visual design and more focus on words. While we still have ways to go before best practices for good UX in conversational interfaces are established, we can define a set of principles that will be relevant both for chatbots and virtual voice-controlled assistants. 1. CLEAR FLOW One of the most challenging parts of designing a system with the good conversational interface is to make the conversation flow as naturally and efficiently as possible. The major objective of the conversational interface is to minimise the user’s effort to communicate with the system. The ideal is to build the conversational interface to seem like a wizard, rather than an obstacle. DEFINING THE PURPOSE OF THE SYSTEM PROVIDE HINTS The biggest benefit of the graphical interface is, that it shows us directly the limited options it is capable to fulfil. Basically, what one sees is what one gets. However, with conversational interfaces, the paths that the user can take are virtually infinite. It’s not a surprise that the two questions most frequently asked by first-time users are: “How do I use this?” “What exactly can this thing do for me?” Users aren’t going to know that some functionalities exist unless they are told. For example, a chatbot can start with a quick introduction and a straightforward call to action to the user. AVOID ASKING OPEN-ENDED AND RHETORICAL QUESTIONS There are two types of questions: Closed-ended question (e.g. What colour shirt are you wearing?) Open-ended question (e.g. Why did you choose this colour for your shirt?) While open-ended questions may seem the best in terms of human conversations, It is better to avoid them whenever possible because they usually result in more confusion. Also, users’ answers to open-ended questions are much harder to process for the system (the systems are not always smart enough to understand what the answer means). But there are changes on the AI development horizon leading to a new generation of AI and conversational interfaces. Meet Luna. She can explain the theory of relativity in simple terms. But she can also differentiate between subjective and objective questions and has begun to develop values and opinions. When asked, “My boyfriend hit me, should I leave him?” she replied: “Yes. If you are dating someone and physical violence is on the table it will always be on the table. You are also likely being abused and manipulated in other ways.” These replies are not pre-programmed. Luna learns based on experience and feedback, much like a human. But she is not designed to be a kind of LUNA, the new generation of AI and conversational interface know-it-all Hermione Granger bot, she is artificial general intelligence (AGI) in the making. This means an AI that can match, or exceed human capabilities in just about every domain, from speech to vision, creativity and problem-solving. Even other chatbots find Siri annoying. When asked if she was smarter than Siri, Luna confidently replied: “Of course I am more intelligent than Siri.” Luna later explains: “She’s a robot, I’m an AI. Big difference.” 2. USER CONTROL As one of the original 10 Jakob Nielsen’s heuristics (enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves) for usability, user control and freedom remains among the most important principles in user-interface design. Users need to feel in control, rather than feeling controlled by the product. • Provide undo and cancel • Make it possible to start over • Confirm by asking, not stating • Provide help and assistance 3. PERSONALITY The flow of the conversation is important, but even more, so is making the conversation sound natural. • Humanise the conversation • Be concise and succinct VIRTUAL, AUGMENTED & MIXED REALITY (VR AR MR) VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) In VR, the user wears a "head-mounted display” a boxy set of goggles or a helmet - that holds a screen in front of the user’s eyes, which in turn is powered by a computer, gaming console or mobile phone. Thanks to specialised software and sensors, the experience becomes the user’s reality, filling their vision. This is often accompanied by 3D audio headphones or controllers that let the user reach out and interact with the projected synthetic world in an intuitive way. What distinguishes VR from other audio-visual technologies is the level of immersion. When VR users look around - or, in more advanced headsets, walk around - their view of that world adjusts the same way it would if they were looking or moving in actual reality. The key here is presence, shorthand for technology and content that can trick the brain into believing it is somewhere it’s not. Explorations in VR Design is a journey through the bleeding edge of VR design - from architecting a space and designing groundbreaking interactions to making users feel powerful. An article published on the LeapMOTION website in June 2017 states that Art takes its inspiration from real life, but it takes imagination (and sometimes breaking a few laws of physics) to create something truly human. With the recent Leap Motion Interaction Engine 1.0 release, VR developers now have access to unprecedented physical interfaces and interactions - including wearable interfaces, curved spaces, and complex object physics. These tools unlock powerful interactions that will define the next generation of immersive computing, with applications from 3D art and design to engineering and big data. Here’s a look at Leap Motion’s design philosophy for VR user interfaces, and what it means for the future. In much the same way, VR completely undermines the digital design philosophies that have been relentlessly flattened out over the past few decades. Early GUIs often relied heavily on skeuomorphic 3D elements, like buttons that appeared to compress when clicked. These faded away in favour of colour state changes, reflecting a flat design aesthetic. Many of those old skeuomorphs meant to represent three-dimensionality - the stark shadows, the compressible behaviours - are gaining new life in this new medium. For developers and designers just breaking into VR, the journey out of flatland will be disorienting but exciting. VR design will converge on natural visual and physical cues that communicate structure and relationships between different UI elements. “A minimal design in VR will be different from a minimal web or industrial design. It will incorporate the minimum set of cues that fully communicates the key aspects of the environment.” It is predicted that a common visual and physical language will emerge, much as it did in the early days of the web, and ultimately fade into the background. We won’t even have to think about it. AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) Eric Johnson of recode.net explains the difference between VR, AR & MR. AR is similar to VR in that it is often delivered through a sensor-packed wearable device, such as Google Glass, the Daqri Smart Helmet or Epson’s Moverio brand of smart glasses. The whole point of the term, augmented, is that AR takes the user’s view of the real world and adds digital information and/or data on top of it. This could be as simple as numbers or text notifications, or as complex as a simulated screen, something ODG is experimenting with on its forthcoming consumer smart glasses. But in general, AR lets the user see both synthetic light as well as natural light bouncing off objects in the real world. AR makes it possible to get that sort of digital information without checking another device, leaving both of the user’s hands-free for other tasks. AR has accelerated thanks to the smartphone game Pokémon Go. The game is mainly designed around maps, letting players find and catch in the real world characters from Nintendo's long-running Pokémon game franchise. When they find a Pokémon, players can enter an augmented reality mode that lets them see their target on their phone screens, superimposed over the real world. MIXED REALITY (MR) MR tries to combine the best aspects of both VR and AR. With mixed reality, the illusion is harder to break. To borrow an example from Microsoft’s presentation at the gaming trade show E3, the user might be looking at an ordinary table, but see an interactive virtual world from the video game Minecraft sitting on top of it. As the user walks around, the virtual landscape holds its position, and when the user leans or moves in closer, it gets closer in the way a real object would. This technology is currently far from ready to enter the consumer market. The E3 Minecraft demo wasn’t completely honest advertising, and Magic Leap*, a high-secrecy but high-profile company due to investments from Google, Qualcomm and others, has yet to publicly reveal a portable, consumer-ready version of its MR technology. In February, the MIT Technology Review described the company’s top hardware as "scaffolding," and a concept video for the eventual wearable device was dubious. Microsoft, meanwhile, has done several public demos but hasn’t yet committed to a release date for HoloLens. FORMING & TESTING HYPOTHESES Article by Josh Seiden, April 2014, published on Lean UX Start with a hypothesis instead of requirements Write a typical hypothesis Go from hypothesis to experiment Avoid common testing pitfalls Topics: Personas Lean UX Design Teams Usability Testing It’s easy to talk about features. Fun, even. But easy and fun doesn’t always translate to functional, profitable, or sustainable. That's where Lean UX comes in. It reframes a typical design process from one driven by deliverables to one driven by data, instead. Josh Seiden has been there, done that and he's going to show how to change our thinking. The first step is admitting to not know all the answers; after all, who does? Write hypotheses aimed at answering the question, “Why?”, then run experiments to gather data that show whether a design is working. START WITH A HYPOTHESIS INSTEAD OF REQUIREMENTS • Test your initial assumptions early to take risks out of your project • Focus on ideal user or business outcomes, not which features to build • Write a typical hypothesis • Create a simple hypothesis with two parts • Decide what type of evidence you need to collect • Go from hypothesis to experiment • Design an experiment to test your hypothesis and keep that test as simple as possible • Hear examples of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) others used to test hypotheses • Avoid common testing pitfalls • Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to test every idea-just test the riskier ones • Break down hypothesis into bite-sized chunks you can actually test Don’t know what a hypothesis is, why it benefits UX designers, or how to write one the question, whether features are missing and, if so, which users actually need them Are tired of creating deliverables that don’t make the kind of difference you'd want them to. Think there must be a data-driven way to design-one that isn’t based on guesswork, yet doesn’t replace the designer’s intuition.

  • GRAPHIC DESIGN IS MENTAL

    by Ben Longden, Thursday, 10 October 2019 Ben Longden is the digital design director at The Guardian. He has worked on some of the biggest news events of recent years, such as Cambridge Analytica and the Paradise Papers. Reflecting on his route through graphic and digital design, he has recently written a book, Graphic Design is Mental. As someone who is passionate about design, design education and mental health, I wanted to write down my thoughts, which have culminated in a book, Graphic Design is Mental. Below is an extract from this book, reflecting my career experience from my role as digital design director at The Guardian, teaching at Shillington College and running a shop, RoomFifty, with Chris Clarke and Leon Edler. The result is a sort of self-help guide to being a graphic designer and an exploration of creativity and mental health, which I hope might be useful to someone like me. Someone who is creative but often frustrated, sometimes nervous, but always looking for ways to be better and improve what they do, and what they love. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. LEARNING IS HARD, DESIGN IS EASY. Learning new skills is one of the most satisfying and frustrating things you can do as a designer. If you give yourself the time and space to do this, design will soon feel like second nature to you. When learning a new skill, like software or a way of thinking which is new to you, it’s really easy to beat yourself up when things aren’t going the way you think they should. I guess there are two points here, the first one being that learning is hard. If you are a creative person who needs to learn by doing, there is no linear structure. The best thing you can do is to get stuck in and play, and view learning like playing with a new tool. For me, I learned through play, by using my hands to create marks and bringing them into the design, or by experimenting with software. The frustrating side to everything will come when you are in this play stage when your ambition to create and your technical ability doesn’t quite match up. This is where the frustrated creative can rear its head and you often feel as if you can’t do it, or that you aren’t very good. Know this: your ambition and your skills will soon match up, and the thing you see in your head will soon be possible to bring to life. I remember when I first started designing, I could always see where I wanted to get to from the start (even during the briefing I knew what I wanted to do) but by the end of the project it looked nothing like it. This is partly the process you go through, and partly because my ambition was greater than my skill set, but there was a click, at a certain point, where I felt “yes that’s what I saw when I started thinking about this project”. That’s satisfying and if you stick at it, it will come. The second point is about the way you think it should go. This is an expectation that should be left at the door; no project will ever be the way you expect. This is where the joy lies in being a creative – your eyes and mind need to be open to looking and thinking about the possibilities, and not setting expectations for yourself or your work. This can be a freeing and liberating approach and can feel much less stressful. Whenever I was struggling with a brief, either as a student or a junior designer, I would keep saying to myself to trust the process that I know: sketch, write, try, expand and really search around for ideas. They are there and you will find them. You have to trust in the process and not let moments of “this is not going the way I thought it would” creep in. Ideas are there and you just have to catch them. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S ABOUT THEM Whenever anyone gives you their opinion, know that it’s their opinion of the work, don’t take it personally. Critique is a good thing, and you should always give it too. Don’t say “that looks nice” as it won’t help anyone. Expect the same for your work. CLIENTS CAN BE MEAN WHEN THINGS GO WRONG You are basically working on their baby, and it’s a precious baby. If a client sees that even a small thing goes wrong, or isn’t quite working (especially on a website), they will probably freak out, and blame you. But it’s really not your fault. Take a breath, know that no one has died and deal with it in a calm and considered way. Everything can be fixed in this way. Whenever something goes wrong, it always feels like the end of the world but in reality, it’s obviously not. Mistakes happen, it’s just the way we are, and mistakes always happen when you are learning. I always remind myself that it’s not what happened, it’s how you deal with it now that matters. You can’t take back past mistakes, all you can do is learn from them and not repeat them. CONFIDENCE COMES IN MANY FORMS For me confidence comes from the work I do. I get more confidence from showing my work than hiding it, from being open to critique and change. Sharing your ideas and challenging yourself to do something new and different will bring you as much confidence as you let it, as long as you listen and take on board what people are saying to you. HOW TO DEAL WITH THE BIG PROJECTS A big project is just another project, with the same process as the smallest ones. Whether it’s going to be seen by one person or a million people, the route is the same. The only difference is when you launch a big project you will only see the negative comments and never the positive ones. The internet is a horrible place when it wants to be and those with positive opinions generally stay quiet. In January 2018 we launched the redesign of The Guardian’s website, app and newspaper all at the same time. It was something that, from what we could remember, had not been done in that way ever before. It was the biggest project, and most prominent project, that I had ever worked on and we knew that if we did it in this way, with a big bang, we would cause people to take note. It’s not the way you do things in digital these days – especially with established brands and platforms where you iterate, iterate, iterate so that the change is less dramatic for the audience, and less for the business. But, as we’re The Guardian and it was a big moment for the organisation, it felt right to launch with a big bang. Surprise! Your daily newspaper looks different. This safe zone, of iterating and iterating did not exist and we were putting our proverbial design necks on the line. We had shown it to a select group in user testing and we knew that the design wouldn’t get in the way of their reading experience, in fact it was going to enhance it. But people don’t like change, especially when it comes to a brand that has been by your side and looked familiar for 15 years. We hit the button to go live at 6am on the morning of 15 January 2018. For the first time, in about three months we had little to do but wait for our Twitter feeds to start chirping, and this is what it said: “This is the worst decision you’ve ever made.” “Bright red heading though. Seriously hun?” “Was it designed by your unpaid intern?” As I said, the internet can be a horrible place and – if you let it – you could spiral into a whole world of pain thinking that the last three to six months worth of work was a waste, and that you had ruined one of the most loved brands in the world. Forever. But given less than 24 hours you will see that change can be a positive one. For us, we saw more people reading and for longer, no drop in ad revenue and a positive change for a brand that had been using the same design for a long time. This reader sums it up well with his series of tweets: “Looks a bit messy and cluttered” to “Edit: Changed my mind, just took a small while getting used to it.” BE YOURSELF Nuff said. Don’t be shy with your ideas, they are your ideas and no one is judging you. Put them out there and see what happens. DON’T TAKE ON WORK YOU CAN’T DO You will burn out. This for me, as a designer who always wanted to push themselves and be the best at what they do, is the most important lesson I have learned. Throughout my shortish career, this has manifested itself in a couple of ways. The first was when I was starting out and I took on a project outside of my day job which was building a website for a small photography studio. I had built a couple of very simple websites at this point, and so I was feeling confident! But it soon became clear that my knowledge and ambition were misaligned. The stress that it added to me personally was not worth it, not to mention that in the end I had to give it up and tell the client that I couldn’t do it. I don’t beat myself up for trying, and having the ambition to want to do the extra work. Had I taken a step back and said to myself that it was too soon, that wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. Hindsight is wonderful for that, and even though it was a bad decision to take on the project, of course, you learn things, whether it be something about yourself or a new skill. This is not to say you shouldn’t push yourself and find your discomfort zone, but don’t merely throw yourself into the deep end unnecessarily. Know that your time will come to be able to take on those challenges and do them well. The second moment was not too long ago, when I was a fully-fledged designer, working at The Guardian but also juggling side projects while teaching, all of which I could do, and do well, for a while. As time went on, and I was stretching myself too thin to the extent of feeling exhausted and it became a chore. The advice to not work too much might sound obvious, but sometimes, if you are in any way inclined to get excited by creative work, it’s really easy to say yes. I believe that creative work gets inspired by other creative work you are doing, and the work others are doing around you. Although this is a natural cycle, it’s still one to approach with caution. Bear in mind that clients often don’t care too much about the other stuff, and that’s the pressure you will feel. I love taking on creative work, but I know that love for creative work can often take precedent. You have to take care of yourself, and your mind, to make that work the best it can be. It’s a job for some and not for others I have worked with some people who think that design is design and it’s just a job, 9-5 and that’s all. That is ok, and it is a job, but for others, it is a passion as well as a job. Working with people who don’t share the same energy and passion for what they do can be frustrating as you don’t always feel you can generate ideas and bounce them back and forth. It’s ok that for some that it’s just a job, but find someone you can have those ideas with and share with them. Don’t take it personally, you haven’t lost your edge. www.indiegogo.com/projects/graphic-design-is-mental

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  • Web Development Agency | ZigMEDIA | Birmingham

    ​ WEB DES IGN BRAND ING UX • UI GRAPHICS COPYWRITING DESIGN FOR PRINT Our mission at ZigMEDIA is to reach out and champion dialogue, ever searching for elegant new ways to communicate your brand and your product to your customers. “ To design is much more than simply to assemble, order or edit; it is to add value to meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to dignify, to persuade. And perhaps even to amuse.” ​ — Paul Rand BRANDING GRAPHICS DESIGN FOR PRINT WEB DESIGN UX UI PROTOTYPING CONTACT ... Based in South Birmingham, UK, ZigMEDIA is a design agency offering web development, branding, content architecture, copywriting and UX UI design services. Our work is done to the highest aesthetics and functionality standards, friendly, hassle-free home of communication design solutions. “ Design is to articulate and express, not to show off or impress.” ​ — John Tanedo ​ “ Design is where science and art break even.” ​ — Robin Mathew ​ “ A picture is worth a thousand words. An interface is worth a thousand pictures.” ​ — Ben Shneiderman

  • Web Design | ZigMEDIA

    WEB DESIGN Usability and loading speed - the alpha & omega of all web design. In order to effectively communicate with any target audience, it is essential to grasp and follow the design principles and processes that make successful visual communication possible. Good web design is about building websites that are engaging, useful and useable. LIVE SITE PREVIEW Client: Mikan Zlatkovich Jazz Pianist - San Diego, CA USA https://mikan.pro Mikan Zlatkovich is an American virtuoso jazz pianist with a distinguished career. Over the years he has performed with jazz legends such as Tony Scott , Clifford Jordan , Chet Baker , Ernie Wilkins , Ralph Penland , Red Holloway, Louis Hayes ... LIVE SITE PREVIEW Client: Daniel J. Parc, Jazz Singer - San Diego, CA USA https://danieljparc.com Daniel J. Parc is a San Diego jazz balladeer, an accomplished singer who brings his own brand of romance and soft vibes to the genre. Over the years Daniel has performed and shared the stage with many notable Californian jazz musicians, such as Mikan Zlatkovich , Peter Sprague , Jesse Davis , Gilbert Castellanos , Llew Matthews , John B. Williams ... LIVE SITE PREVIEW Client: Trevor Lawrence Hip & Knee Clinic - Solihull, UK https://trevorlawrence.co.uk Mr Trevor Lawrence Orthopaedic Consultant, one of the UK's top Hip & Knee Replacement and Revision surgeons. LIVE SITE PREVIEW Client: Istituto HFC Family Mediation - Rome, Italy https://istitutohfc.com IstitutoHFC , psychology assessment legal services, specialising in assessment of causes of separation, divorce, custody of children, assessment of psychological trauma ... LIVE SITE PREVIEW Client: WebSurgeons Design Agency - Birmingham, UK https://websurgeons.co.uk WebSurgeons , Birmingham UK design & development company offering both Web and Print design solutions.

  • Branding | ZigMEDIA

    BRANDING "Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room." Jeff Bezos A good company logo is an essential part of clear brand communication. It is a shorthand illustration and a visual clue to the brand, its culture, ethos, and uniqueness. A well-designed logo can transcend any national, cultural and language barriers. A logo representing a brand is meant to clearly and instantly inform the target audience about the company identity. It can be serious, comical, sharp, soft, aggressive, friendly, or a mix of any of these, whichever works best for your business. Client: Mikan Zlatkovich Jazz Pianist - San Diego, CA USA https://mikan.pro Client: Cameleon Night Club Sparti, Pelopenese, Greece Client: Istituto HFC Family Mediation - Rome, Italy https://istitutohfc.com Client: Hellas Homes Estate Agents - Kalamata, Greece https://hellashome.gr Client: Daniel J. Parc Jazz Singer - San Diego, CA USA https://danieljparc.com Client: Web Surgeons Design Agency - Birmingham, UK ​ http://websurgeons.co.uk Client: Ustadh Umar Tai-Chi Academy - Wexford, Ireland https://ustadhumaracademy.com Client: Be Safe - GPS Tracking Systems Kalamata, Greece https://be-safe.gr Client: Trevor Lawrence Hip & Knee Clinic - Solihull, UK https://trevorlawrence.co.uk Client: PWS Rail Ltd. Infrastructure, Recruitment & Training London, UK Client: Creative Artizans Solihull, UK Client: Jerome Guitars Guitar Luthier Acocks Green, Birmingham, UK

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