rjslade.com - Monte Castello di Vibio - last modified Jan 20th 2015



design thoughts of a  designer

Design Thoughts -


April 2017

That is not a typo - It has been some two years since I have added to this page. Not that I have not been collecting things, trying new and evolving software and following new trends - there have been a few other things going on in my life as you can read about on the latest.


There are so many possible ling I think I will just work backwards through the list
- as usual it is quite a mix!


I am always interested in fonts - the use, the history, the technology. This site Typographic Double Takes gives some great advice on Font Pairing. as a blog of a particular font producer they do use thier fonts to give you examples but the ideas are applicable to other choices


15 Great Google Font Combinations For Your Next Design Project is another article on font pairing, this time using the freely available Google Fonts . If you have not been to the Googles site or learnt how to use there fonts in web site design and layout I would make it a priority.


The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web is a fantastic resource on the web covering fonts in general and exploring subjects such as 'Rhythm & Proportion' and 'Harmony & Counterpoint'


Smashing Magazine, always a great source for web stuff has a page on Best Practices of Combining Typefaces which has further links to other font resources. These people have also put out a number of books, both hard copy and e-books. The specific ones on typography can be found here


Probably one of the better study of font pairing has been put together by Typewolf , in his own words "an independent typography resource created by Jeremiah Shoaf."

He has produced a lot of useful material, not all of it free but of very high quality: I have both his

The Definitive Guide to Free Fonts and Flawless Typography Checklist - this latter is not cheap

but does live up to his description "An exhaustive typography master course that doubles as an interactive tool that will help you achieve flawless type on every design "


OK enough fonts this time, onto some other gems. One of the wonderful things about the internet  is the wealth of information provided by companies marketing their services. Hubspot have a wonderful article titled 20 Stunning Examples of Brand Style Guides which is just that. As a designer you will be asked to design an identity for a company sometime and the work of others can be a great guide. This article will provide with a link to the sites that illustrate many of them.


How To Price Design Services is a video worth watching. Chris Do who is part of thefutur.com and they provide all sorts of material about running design business's. But this is free!


One thing about an identity is the consideration of what it will be used on and where. This article

Designing a styleguide: elements that go into building compelling products has a web focus but does cover a lot of important points.

And here a link to Mozilla's Guide to Firefox branding. A classic guide for corporate style is British Rail Corporate Identity Manual which has been put up on the web! Or you can buy it in hardcopy. KickStarter has been a great source of these manuals being reproduced. Given my past history with Canada Post I have for a very long time had an old version of the British Postal Service Guide but I also did buy into the KickStarter that re-created 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual

Of course it is always fun to see how the logo's, brand, identity evolve over the years. Designshifts had a good article on Penguin group logo development from 1935 to present day.


Talking about going back in time : This is one you might want to support "Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more." I support a lot of causes - I have been lucky in my life, mostly - and do try to give something back. For a laugh this is the earliest link to a website that I had as rjsid.on.ca .  It can be very amusing to see how things have evolved - that page is only some 20 years old!


So that is enough for today. I will try to add to this much more often with new stuff that I find design related and interesting and post some of the older material I have stored as well.

Happy designing - Ross



April 5th 2015

It is only April and I have over 100 new links of interest since I last posted here - The design world moves on which is exciting to see.


I will start with a link that was pointed out today. It was http://federicobabina.com/ARCHIZOO/.VSDktc5UkWw#.VSEpA85UkWw the site of one Federico Babina, an illustrator by profession I would assume - This set is of Architectual Animals - great fun!


I love icons - they fascinate me! And visual languages that create the interface with which we interact with technology. The good folk at Mercury have provided free vector based UI Kits of iOS 7, and 8 amongst other things



With the advent of Web Fonts, designers again are not limited to the 'standard font sets' of the various OS's of the platform and the use of fonts can reflect the content which is being imparted. There are some funny examples of font misuse but Typewolf is a great resource that trolls site and documents font use as well as documents type guides and resources



Now here is a fellow who has identified a niche market! - Your site is ready to launch - you think - but will your prospective user be able to comprehend your site navigation and do what you want them to. Enter the Drunk User -  http://theuserisdrunk.com of course -- who will kick the tires of your site for a reasonable fee. in his words


More details:


I am a UX professional and full stack developer. I've been doing this for a long time. Here is my website, my github, and my twitter.


One of the core tenets of UX is that you've got to design like "the user is drunk." Any feature of your site has to be able to be used by someone who could be drunk - because, invariably, the user will mess it up otherwise. Wonderful idea. The thing is, it is hard to test.


I and a lot of beer will test this for you.


On the site http://thenextweb.com/ you will find an article Kerning, and other aspects of typography explained. If you don't know its contents, you ought to, but it could be a primer to those who have forgotten or a source to those you want to educate. The site acts as a design news aggregater and they host a Technology Conference


Here is a site in Japanese - and no - I cannot read it. But the scooter they are advertising/announcing is an electric version and boy would it help me get up and down the local hills. Given my wife's aversion to motorbikes I doubt I will be buying one but I can alway dream

Want to design Interactive Interfaces ? May this is for you - https://itunes.apple.com/app/id942636206 and/or  http://facebook.github.io/origami/  In their words:


Just over a year ago, we released Origami — a free tool for designing interactive user interfaces. We’ve used it here at Facebook to design many of our products including Instagram, Messenger, Paper, Slingshot, Hyperlapse, and Rooms. Since releasing Origami, our number one feature request from designers has been the ability to run Origami prototypes on iPhone and iPad as well as on their computer.


Today, we’re excited to release Origami Live for iOS along with a major new version of Origami for Mac. Origami Live is a new app that lets you use your Origami prototypes on your iPhone or iPad. Alongside it, we’re releasing Origami 2.0, which has a ton of new features, including code exporting, powerful gesture support, Sketch integration, presentation mode, and more.


Unreal Engine 4 Kite Open World Cinematic - which can be found embedded here or on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zjPiGVSnfI - is a movie that shows off what is possible with gaming engines these days. Pretty impressive! A long way from PacMan!



Coming as I do from Canada this article on a better snow plow caught my attention. It is on Core77, a site that I visit 4-5 time a week. It is product design oriented but does cover many aspects of design, summarizes a lot of Design Shows and has job postings for those still looking for jobs... Well worth a visit.


On the same Core77 site they recently had an article on layerless 3D printing as developed by a company called Carbon3D. The stuff of science fiction when I was in design school 3D printing is making great strides and if you are at all involved in product design you need to know more about.


I have many times mentioned TED Talks.


TED is a platform for ideas worth spreading. Started in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, TED today shares ideas from a broad spectrum — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independent TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.


The diversity of thoughts on this site will blow you away - you should never have to waste your time watching 'mindless soaps' on TV. Here is a link to 10 talks you won't be able to stop thinking about

A good place to start. They also have a free ipad Ap so when you are stuck waiting for a client to show...


And while linking to video I should mention this screencast UI Animation Reviews: Web Navigation – All The Right Moves. Sure a link can be just a link but there are other, possibly better ways to segue from on screen of data to another.


Now here is a useful resource - You live in a big city and have decent Internet access - good speed - bandwidth. But what about your clients? whatdoesmysitecost.com will test your page or site and give you some idea of what it will cost different users to access your stunning creation!


I thought this was an interesting site - the grid.io - Maybe not something as a designer I should mention but... I have many times designed a site based on a clients stated needs and then have it fail for lack of content - Maybe your time, effort and expertise would be better spent creating or sourcing the content for your clients site


Favicons - those little graphic in the title bar of your web site - well that is but one place to put them. Here is a resource, Epic Favicon Generator that will create them for you once your client has a decent logo. The site also has links to other icon resources.


a2zkeywording.com has an answer to another problem - image keywording. You have figured out Adobe PhotoShop and use Lightroom to index your 20,000+ library of images but is is now time to submit them to a stock agency. Good Luck. Over the years my wife sarahsladephotography.com has worked out a system that works for her and the agency we supply images to but that has been over a 20 year period - you may not have that long to feed yourself. This company seems to fill a niche with the Keyword Perfect, especially if you are trying to market it to one on the agencies that they have customized their interface for. In my opinion well worth a look and a play to see if it will meet your needs.


And if you need some Design Inspiration, here is an article on Top 10 City Logos on blog of inkblot by Stuart Crawford, a Freelance Graphic Designer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here is one that I particularly liked.

I'll end here this time - this posting has covered the last month of the best of the links I have bookmarked. I hope you enjoy some of them!



December 26th 2014

I have twice during November - gone through my list of interesting clipping that I thought related to design, or were interesting to a designer. I include both of them here:




Interesting books of London infographics



Great short lecture on site navigation by interface expert Luke Wroblewski



The RGB guessing challenge



Another colour game



Brain Pickings article on  The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton with

a short presentation on  ‘What is Philosophy for’



Wonderful images of the planet form the ISS



And from Stumbleupon, night images from the ISS



Stories/interviews from companies founders



If you cannot afford AdobeCC Suite, this is an alternative to Illustrator



10 Solutions if you need something less that PhotoShop



A beautiful visual collection of maps



What fonts are supported on what OS and Browsers



If you cannot wait for an iWatch or want another solution



A new IKEA connector



Brand logos with hidden messages, a graphic



A beautiful leather bag, on of many nice Gadget flow products



‘The Impossible Project’ - the remaking, remarking of Polaroid film



From Apples own Marketing guideline



A National Geographic site of Architectural images



A calendar for those who cannot resist popping the bubble wrap packaging - Gadget Flow



Stunning images of Portuguese Man of War



If you have to decorate you Mac portable - what not have fun



Design templates, sizes etc for iWatch, iPhone 6



Screen resolutions of various iPhones and implications



A Guardian site on the seven digital deadly sins - assorted essays



Bert Monroy on using google as a aid in his artwork - a Lynda.com presentation



Smart Ass comment for/by designers in relationships



David Attenborough Spoof on ‘FanGirls’ - a wonderful youtube video



Bedtime Story Bookmark - another product from Design Gadget - will make you smile every time you return to your book



How half-a-dozen ceramics masters practice their craft - a wonderful video



A series of photo essays on interesting places - highlighting places in them you should visit



A series of short talks by Designers in the UK



Debbie Millman and a curated reading list on design



FROM PAPER TO SCREEN - video on types move from paper to screen



Generic and Overused logos



A fantastic plugin to Wikipedia



why do we use [x] for closing a page


That was the initial group - as you can see it is eclectic!

And the second group, note some of these have two links to a similar subject:



The story of the 'most complicated' watch in the world



Double exposure photography merges people and environment


http://poppyfield.org/ and


The poppies at The Tower in London -  a very evocative art piece



The Rosetta land the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko



If you work on the mac or its associated hardware these design Guidelines could be helpful


http://hellohappy.org/beautiful-web-type/?1 and


With the advent of web fonts the designers are back in the seat when choosing appropriate text for web sites.



An interesting site for the Art Historians without much time



If you need to promote yourself, this fellow shows the way - a nice portfolio of talent.



On the release of the iPhone6 and Apple Watch announcement Steve jobs lost interview, a striking summation of how technology giants like IBM and Xerox lost their foothold at the height of their success.



If you have been to Sn Francisco - GO. If you have, this video found courts of Nackblog will bring back memories.



English 3.0 is a 20 minute documentary that explores how the internet has influenced the way we communicate in the digital age and whether the changes witnessed have had a positive effect on the language.



A commemoration to the Wall - The Berlin Wall -



Amazon gets into the hardware market -  if you get tired of talking to Siri, try this.


http://www.ted.com/playlists/171/the_most_popular_talks_of_all and


TED should be your go to site for some of your downtime - Wonderful talks on an amazing array of subjects



from the front page - Step into Van Gogh's world. Discover the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum



If you want to get some idea of the scope of the internet and what it is providing...


iPhone (MetroGnome Remix) - YouTube

You probably never had any idea of just how much music was in you iPhone!



September 14th 2014

One of the disadvantages of living on a hilltop is that you have to get up it - going down is easy - you can coast - although brakes are required. So I have an interest is electric bikes! My wife (a medical doctor amongst other talents) forbids the idea of a motorcycle so maybe this would be a common ground. We actually brought bikes with us when we came 9 years ago but the sit, unused, in storage. I am pretty lazy when it comes to exercise for exercise sake.


Philippe Starck, a designer of some fame, has turned his hand to said means of transport. The Moustache M.A.S.S. series , which stands for Mud, Asphalt, Sans and Snow have been designed complete with a line of accessories, such as those below:


The clue here is the fur - so obviously the snow version. For a pdf of all four click here. For the rest of the velospeed  line, which is a little less whimsical click here.


This last week has seen the unveiling of the iPhone 6 and 6+ , the Apple Watch (so much for the iWatch!) and probably the biggest of the three if it catches on, Apple Pay.  The phones are bigger and better for the same money with an evolved design using first class manufacturing techniques and process - what we we have come to expect of Apple. The Watch fits in nicely with the other smart watches that are already in the marketplace, and has been introduced in enough configurations to keep most fashionista happy. With it, the integration with the needed smartphone and the way in which it works is all important - they appear to have given that aspect a lot of thought. Here they have announced an AppleWatch Kit, a set of API and programing guidelines that will allow 3rd party developers to create novel uses for the watch - basically an extension of the ApStore. But ApplePay will be the hot item - Apple have lines up Mastercard, Visa and Amex and employed NFC technology to allow secure swiping for payment backed by fingerprint recognition and security - cute! And of course Apple will get a cut.  Another income stream if they can pull it off.


If you want to see some beautiful footage shot from the International Space Station (ISS) click here or on the image below:



I found this via www.stumbleupon.com and I must admit, I am not sure I found that site, probably via swissmiss. If you have the inclination there is a lot of interesting content - If you are a designer you need to make the time to review some of it.


Another Stumbleupon find was the10Most



I have on a few occasions anted to use world clouds in a project - I am sure you have seen them.

These were created from the text so far in this posting


Some Wordpress plugins create them as they can be useful to indicate the importance of some content on a site. www.wordle.net is a site that allows you to make them, simply - you need to run java and if you want to print the result - so that you can get an editable file that you can open in Adobe Illustrator, you will need to read and install this.


One thing that always annoyed me were getting design files with no order - as if the designer were trying to cover their tracks - I always made a point that if I was doing design work for a client, they would get an electronic copy of the files in exchange for my payment. You as a designer are not obliged to do this - it is a personal decision but one that the client should be aware of from the get go. But even you might have to revisit what you have done in the past and if you need to drag out that old file and figure out what you have done some Photoshop Etiquette is called for.


Do you use Wikipedia ? If you don't, you need your head examined - I did not say trust it implicitly, in fact I will say - don't - but it is a wonderful source, in multiple languages, to start a search on virtually any subject. I even have an offline version of it on my iPhone. But is Wikipedia one ugly site!

The people at wikiwand have come to the rescue - a free extension for apple Safari. Heaven knows how they pay for it but using it will make your browsing experience a whole lot better!


September 1st 2014

The entries in my  design folder is growing - 121 since the entry below - there has to be a better way. I have tried Pinterest where I have some pages, but I tend to drag the web url into a folder and there it moulders until I steal some time from something else. There is just so much stuff on so many interesting subjects. Add to that  Apple have a semi public beta program underway on its upcoming  OS 10.10 , better known as Yosemite.


I know, as a man I am not supposed to look at a map or read a manual but I actually do - I am constantly reading about software I use and might like to use. To that end I have rejoined Lynda.com an excellent source of on-line training of all things computer based.


On that site I came across this video of Bert Monroy, a well know and very talented computer artist describing how he uses Google Maps as a reference to his work, in this case a piece of Amsterdam. You can see the video for free here but if you want to have more detail, it too is a part of a training series. If you have not looked at Google Maps or Apple Maps recently I strongly suggest both - they are not equivalent - and explore the things that are possible with them - I am constantly amazed.


There appears to be a growing trend to decorating the aluminum cover of one portable with stickers and those that incorporate Apples iconic apple can be a lot of fun. Here is one from Gadget Flow. Click  on the image if you want to go to the specific page, or have fun browsing the site.



Cannot remember how I got to this site, as I have mentioned before, I subscribe to numerous sites that act as aggregators for things of design and or computer interest - not to mention things political, and social - I thought this movie on the work of a number of Japanese ceramic artists was wonderful. The YouTube movie it links to is on a page in Japanese - a language of which I know nothing! (wait a second, I just tried that link again today - and it is in another language today! When you click through to the page author you  do find a video in Japanese - go figure)



As a designer new materials and manufacturing techniques fascinate me and over the last 10 years the field of 3D printing has blossomed.  One of the interesting things as a product designer is using those technologies when the opportunity arises but not being stuck with any one of them. The site Core77

is a must for any product designer, and interesting to those just interested in design. Here an article on

3D printing with epoxy-based thermosetting resins to create lightweight structural lattice with added carbide "whiskers" and discrete carbon fibers - from a June 2014 article on the work of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University


Another new find was oneofmany.co , a monthly series of photo essays about twelve American cities and their creative communities. either click here of the image of their site below to see the initial article of Charleston SC


I will end here today but be back soon - R


May 25th 2014

Todays first entry is a style guide - in this case for The Lonely Planet - the travel guides.

Just because you are working on the web does not mean you do not need to properly document the design work you are doing. I think this is a great example of  it well done.


It includes colours, fonts usage and all the various component and utilities used in the web presentation of a consistent corporate image. (I need to thank Sidebar for pointing this out to me - Sidebar is a great summary email that arrived daily of web design issues that I subscribe to - visit them here to sign up!)


As someone who started on a MacPlus with its grey scale screen that showed the magic of black text on a white background - like paper! - at a time that amber of green monotext on a dark screen  was the norm - the whole issue of screens has been of interest over the years - I have probably had them all form dual 9" mac colour monitors on a MacFx to a large SuperMac and Radius screens. The Apple Thunderbolt monitors of today and those included within the iMacs are pretty impressive and sure make design on screen a lot easier.


One of the features that caught my eye when the new Mac Pro was announced was it assumption that  4K screens were going to become the norm. Apple still have not uncovered their own solution and currently only offer a 32" Sharp solution which has a price that will limit the options you can afford to but on the computer itself, but other solutions are entering the marketplace and apple in the latest upgrade of the OS has improved 4K support for other models and been more a realistic about the user being able to modifying options such as interface font size - see this note from Apple if you are interested.


If you have never seen a 4K screen - Wow! It is like looking out a window. Here is a link to a youtube clip that is available in 8 different resolutions - see the little gear symbol on the bottom right - click on that to change the resolution and then watch a full screen


To clear up some of the questions, the people at thegadgetflow.com have put together a useful overview that is available here


And the last thing today is a Google+ feature - You use Google don't you - Even as a alternate email address you ought to. Google has some amazing technology. Living as I do here in Italy, I constantly use Google Translate but as you will see from the flyout below I take advantage of a lot of their technology .


So todays new feature -  Google+ Stories (again I need to credit the Nackblog for bring this to my attention) Watch the video and then try it out on some of your own uploaded images - I have three done here



May 18th 2014

A few more entries today - the first about photo technology.



Lytos the developers of this unique product a few years ago have not been resting. For those not familiar with the technology these people rather than capturing light that lands on a sensor like traditional photography, they work backwards and look at where the light comes from - from their web site I quote


The Lytro Light Field Camera captures significantly more data than a conventional camera does.


At the highest level, light entering the Lytro camera goes though the main lens and then hits our proprietary Lytro Light Field Sensor.  The Lytro Light Field Sensor incorporates a special compound lens known as a micro-lens array (MLA), which is comprised of thousands of tiny lenses. This special sensor is what allows the Lytro camera to take in all of the light in the scene, capturing information on the direction, color, and luminosity of millions of individual rays of light.


This rich set of data is then provisionally processed by the Lytro camera, letting you refocus each "living picture" directly on the camera.


Later, the Lytro Desktop software computes the light field more fully, creating even richer and more detailed versions of each living picture.


So neat technology, but unfortunately a rather small image. Now they have come out with this - or I should say, are coming out.



The details are available here - exciting things happening in photography.


Another passion of mine as a designer is fonts. I recently supported this effort on kickstarter - Prototypo is an open-source online typeface editor - with it you can start shaping a complete typeface using sliders, then refine spacing and outlines.



I have embedded the promotional video here - to me it is interesting as we seem to be moving away font the long standing fontographer as being the only real solution


And I close with a couple of sites - first a project by Simone Massoni who is exploring what fonts say to him on this site

and a nice exercise in colour on another designers personal site





May 17th 2014

I think it rather appropriate that I restart this section with an add of an iconic vehicle that was don on new and amazing technology. I must thank Nackblog for the link but I include here the direct link to the video on YouTube.  Called 'Intelligent Details', it is a short documentary film commissioned by Bentley Motors that was filmed in the Bentley Mulsanne in New York. Watch the film to the end as they show some of the production details - it was shot with Apple iPhones and edited on the iPads within the car - Amazing!



The market for smart watches is heating up with offerings from a number of large player ( can you spell Samsung? ) but here is what I would call a nice looking one from cogitowatch which offers an interesting set of features and is water proof as well.



And finally for today - for you designers that can never find the graph paper with the correct grid - a web source that might help you - gridzzly.com - you can change the nature and size of the grid and print it out. If you get clever and print as a pdf (you know how to do that on a Mac I presume) you will have a master copy - albeit a raster version! - Could be useful.