Ugly Gerry

Link: Ugly Gerry

I’m always interested in how art becomes a means to communicate social and cultural movements. However, I’ve never seen a font used that way — until now.

Meet Ugly Gerry, a font made of gerrymandered congressional districts.

An image that says, "With Liberty and Justice for Some" written in a font created by congressional district shapes.

100 Days of Beautiful News

Information Is Beautiful: 100 Days of Beautiful News

Happy Birthday Beautiful News! We’ve just published the 100th graphic in our project celebrating good news, positive trends, uplifting statistics and facts.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled a few uplifting statistics about the Beautiful News project itself.

There are some amazing and inspiring data visualizations here. Whether you are an information enthusiast or a designer, you owe it to yourself to look over the great work here.


Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

Dieter Rams is one of my all time favorite designers, and I try to return to these principles in everything I do.


Links: The Best & Worst Brand Identities of 2018


These are a great set of overviews from UnderConsideration’s BrandNew blog about some of the most notable brand refreshes that happened in 2018. Some surprises include:

What really struck me about the worst reviewed designs isn’t that any of them are outright bad. It’s how remarkably unremarkable they are. For example, the Best Buy and Argentina updates make their brands look generic. In contrast, some outright confounding redesigns, like the Library of Congress don’t make the worst-reviewed list at all.

In a way, it makes sense. In today’s market, the last thing you want to be is forgettable. An unremarkable brand identity makes you forgettable. Generic is worse than bad.


Tools and Resources for Illustrators


This is a lovely collection of tools and resources for digital illustrators.

screenshot of homepage

Does Website Sameness Matter?

CSS-Tricks: Website Sameness™

Myself, I’m not sure how much I care. If a website fails to do do what it sets out to do, that, I care about. Design is failing there. But if a website has a design that is a bit boring, but does just what everyone needs it to do, that’s just fine. All hail boring. Although I admit it’s particularly ironic when a design agency’s own site feels regurgitated.

My emotional state is likely more intrigued about your business model and envious of your success than eyerolly about your design.

As long as I’m playing armchair devil’s advocate, if every website was a complete and total design departure from the next, I imagine that would be worse. To have to-relearn how each new site works means not taking advantages of affordances, which make people productive out of the gate with new experiences.

I’ve certainly leaned on templates and frameworks for web design in the past. (I haven’t even created a unique WordPress template for this site.) And I certainly feel where the author is coming from. Yes, any designer wants to put their own unique stamp on a client’s site or other project, but that should not get in the way of the site’s usefulness.

If your site is useful, clean, and easy to navigate, then I can forgive it having a similar look-and-feel to other sites.


Take Design Feedback from Non-Designers

Tiny Tactics: How to Take Design Feedback from Non-Designers

There’s no shortage of great articles about how to give and receive design critiques. But what I’ve learned over the years is that most of your design critiques will be with teammates outside of your design team — those surely not versed in design theory and technique.

Instead designers spend most iterations based on feedback from users, technical teammates, and stakeholders. Handling this feedback is much different than that from your designers.

In fact, how you handle this feedback is much more important to your career than how you handle design critiques.

Informative and humbling.


Bad UI and Missile Alerts

Kottke: Bad Design in Action: the False Hawaiian Ballistic Missile Alert

The employee made a mistake but it’s not his fault and he shouldn’t be fired for it. The interface is the problem and whoever caused that to happen — the designer, the software vendor, the heads of the agency, the lawmakers who haven’t made sufficient funds available for a proper design process to occur — should face the consequences. More importantly, the necessary changes should be made to fix the problem in a way that’s holistic, resilient, long-lasting, and helps operators make good decisions rather than encouraging mistakes.

The false alarm is not a left v. right issue. It’s not about any particular administration. It might be reductive to say it’s solely a design issue, but bad design leads to errors. Leaving designers out of anything people will interact with is never a good idea.

Value good design.