Thots and observations about design 2010
By Jim Watson
Some of my renderings inspired by the genius of MC Escher.
While purging files and fotos, I found this note from my high school art teacher, Ms. Hudson. She heavily influenced my teaching philosophy, as evidenced by her suggestions - Think and contemplate. Have a reason for everything. Be critical.
Confusing graphics on YouTube
The thick line (I guess its the edge of the shirt cuff) on the thumbs up or down symbol is so close to the numbers that it looks like a '1'. Glance at the example on the left above - looks like 12,736. On the right is a tweaked version - I thinned that thick line - in which the numbers are clearer and easier to read. As we all get used to the medium of online reading, especially on small phone screens, we must adapt to the medium and the user. Users today are less patient and seek info clearly and quickly.
A blocked sidewalk
So, I'm walking along the mall in Washington DC and I see this construction fence and the temporary sign. Coincidentally, right when I noticed how the temporary sign blocked the sidewalk, a family approached with a child in a wheelchair. The chair couldn't get between the fence and the base of the sign. I dragged the sign over to the right, where it should have been. Now there are visual cues apparent in the sidewalk that guide the pedestrian.
Assessment of the names of network morning shows
The Early Show
Early is not typically associated with something positive: early to a party, early to work, early in the morning. "Dang, Its awfully early." "Why are you up so early? And why are you dressed like that?"
The Today Show
A bit better, at least its neutral. One can't deny the fact that it is today.
Good Morning America
This is the strongest - positive, cordial, and patriotic.
Appropriately, the program with the negative name is in third place in the ratings.
Questionable Hostess Gifts
Makes me wonder what the theme of the party might be.
Took a walk in the naberhood and came across this sign.
A great idea
This just makes so much sense - a sink built on top of a urinal. You use the urinal, then wash your hands and the washwater rinses the urinal, saving water. It makes even more sense in multiple units in men's rooms, saving both space and water. From the designer's website: To save water, Eco Urinal uses the water that was used for washing hands to flush the urine. We don't have to use water twice after using the urinal. Moreover, it reduces the establishment's expenses by optimizing the materials and floor space. The sink base is made of glass - to provide a clear view for users. It also promotes hand washing since people need to wash their hands to flush the urinal.
Any 'yucky' factor is tempered with the current system of yucky germs in the sink. (Better: the back of the urinal should not be flat as that causes direct back-splash on to the user's pants.)
The combo Eco Urinal makes more sense than a waterless urinal and probably saves as much water. Gray water use never looked so good.
Why do we use clean water to flush wastes? Here's a similar idea:
Tacky door handles at an otherwise high-class place - Lincoln Center
An iPhone home page that does not require swiping to other pages - it exploits the new feature of folders. More info and other ways to make the iPhone better.
Comparison with the screen as shown in iPhone ads.
A monopoly that the government hasn't yet prosecuted: Coca Cola & Pepsi Cola are the same product marketed under different brands.
The last name of Pepsi is Cola and the last name of Coke is Cola. Coincidence? I don't think so.
The scene: a hallway just off the main entrance to the Museum of Art on the Princeton University campus. On the right side of the hall is a mounted mosaic artwork with a wooden cabinet underneath. Concern: apparently people had been leaving items on top of the cabinet and the staff was worried that the mosaic above might be damaged. Assumptions:
1. People had a need for a horizontal surface on which to set things.
2. The mosaic is fragile (even though there is a water fountain and bench under the mosaic).
Staff solution: ignore the need of the users and post a sign demanding that nothing be left on top of the cabinet.
Better solution: Move the cabinet. See the wall opposite - move the far bench to under the mosaic (that must be okay since there's already one bench on the mosaic wall) and put the cabinet where the bench was. That groups all storage units - coat rack, shelves, and cabinet - together and groups two benches underneath the mosaic.
Another example of thoughtless design: stuff on cabinet, must be outlawed, post a sign. But that solution is shallow, doesn't take into account the needs of the building user, and places restrictions on behavior. All unnecessary.
Wisdom worth repeating
Great design should be about content and substance - not gimmicks or pretty pictures. Great work should be honest, true, and full of integrity.
Flipping thru the internet.
Overheard this one in a conversation in NYC. It harks back to print days of flipping thru a magazine - flipping pages. We do similar behavior online - we flip thru pages on websites.
More spelling words
Spelling Wensday, probly, and Febuary more intelligently sure makes sense. But how about the word restaurant? Few of us say rest • au • rant. We often say restraunt, but I'm not yet sure how this should be spelled. Restrant? But that looks too much like restraint (which we often do not have in restraunts). Restrawnt? Too clumsy. Restraunt seems to be the most logical and clearly communicated.
This is different from rest runt, which is a command to the smallest dog in the litter.
Here's a great idea: mount the sanitizer dispenser outside the bathroom door. This way, people don't sanitize their hands and then have to touch the door handle to get out of the bathroom. This one makes so much sense that i hope it becomes quite common.
At the Picasso exhibit (which was outstanding) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this gallery had one entrance (on the left in the fotos) and videos playing on the other three walls. There were also some mounted displays on the wall to the left. So, the guy in the red shirt grabs a chair and moves it to where he and his wife (just guessing here, it could be his mistress) can sit together with plenty of room. But he doesn't consider how inconvenient his chair location makes it for other museumgoers to see the mounted work.
Vandalism on an airplane
I'm sitting on the plane with Sean and his wife when I look up and notice that the panel overhead has vent holes in it - but, the vent holes are not arranged symmetrically. See how the number of holes in each row changes by two. Except for the top two rows. Weird. To fix this, I took out a pen and filled in the two depressions that should be holes (foto on the right). There. Better.
Two examples of thoughtful thinking
1. Crystal Light marketed a packet that is the right size and shape to easily add the powder to a bottle of water. They recognized the fad of bottled water and the potential for sales to people who didn't want to give up flavor for water. A perfect match to what the consumer wants. It is a great idea.
2. Staples, the office supply store, positioned the boxes of Crystal Light on top of the cooler of bottled waters. Smart.
Locking and unlocking the front door when it is well-lit is as simple as stick and twist, but trying to find that little key hole in the dark can be a real pain. This is one of those so-simple-and-obvious designs that you almost have to wonder why no one has thought of it before: not only does it provide a simple channel for sliding your key down into the lock each and every time, but its distinct shape makes the entire lock housing easier to find in the first place while groping around in poor lighting. Inventor: Junjie Zhang.
This is absolutely brilliant. The new packet, the first major ketchup packet design change in 42 years, has a top that can be peeled back for easy dipping or a tip torn off to squeeze onto foods and was developed after more than two years of research. It will be released across America in March. heinz spokesman: "The biggest complaint is there is no way to dip and eat it on-the-go. From dipping nuggets and fries to squeezing ketchup on hamburgers, the new design gives customers more flexibility, so they can enjoy eating ketchup on whatever or wherever they want.”
Designers found that what worked at a table didn't work where many people use ketchup packets - their car. So, two years ago, the company bought a used minivan for the design team members so they could give their ideas a real road test. Studying what each required, researchers discovered that drivers wanted something that could sit on the armrest while passengers wanted the choice of squeezing or dunking. Mothers wanted a packet that held enough ketchup for the meal but didn't squirt onto clothes so easily.
Simple improvement However, the graphic design of the packet can be clearer. See that white line above the word DIP in DIP & SQUEEZE? I guess its a highlight to convey dimensionality of the ketchup bottle, but, because its tapered and in stand-out white, it looks like an arrow pointing from Dip to the top. But the top is for squeezing - dipping is at the bottom.
The learning curve on this new packet should be very short - within one usage, the user should be able to figure out which end is best for dipping and squeezing - there is no real need for the explanatory arrow (if that's what it is). The package even looks better without that white line.
Idea: Custom pills
Years ago, while having breakfast with my parents in their home, I noticed that each had a pile of pills that they had to take. Different sizes, different colors. And now I'm doing the same. I take about 6 pills each morning. Once a week, I fill a weekly pill box with each of the pills. So, I wonder, why can't a pharmaceutical company create a custom pill with all the elements I need.
How it could work: For OTC (over-the-counter) drugs like vitamins, minerals, and supplements; the customer could check items and mg quantities online. The company would then assemble the pill and ship them each month. For prescription drugs, the doctor could submit the prescriptions online. The prescription and OTC components could be mixed together or there could be two separate pills. The pills could be color coded: yellow = morning, blue = evening. The customer would have to renew each month - allowing/requiring the customer and the doctor to keep ingredients current (it could simply be an email reply ‘No change’).
Another idea: combined ID and debit/credit cards
Why not just one card? Many of us carry a photo ID (driver's license), credit card, debit card, student ID, medical insurance card, and others. There could be one picture official ID with photo, signature, and an embedded chip or a magnetic stripe containing information and credit card info. They all have sensitive information, but that information could be contained in a single database and accessed by a scanner. To purchase something with the credit card, the scanner would access the card and determine which info was appropriate for the purchase and display or use only that info. The digital info can be adapted and loaded with whatever the user requests.
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