He also introduced the white dot inside each finger hole that later became a fixture of rotary phones. After the phone was redesigned at midcentury, with the letters and numbers moved outside the finger holes, users, to AT&T’s bewilderment, could no longer dial as quickly… With blank space at the center of the holes, Mr. Karlin found, callers no longer had a target at which to aim their fingers. The dot restored the speed.. (via df)
Start with our Best Hits on Design
- ⋆ Reminder: Design is still about words
- ⋆ The Typography and Layout behind the new Signal vs. Noise redesign
- ⋆ Backstage: How we use Basecamp to collect, share, and discuss inspiration
- ⋆ Backstage: Using Basecamp to build the Basecamp calendar
- ⋆ Behind the scenes: Reinventing our Default Profile Pictures
- ⋆ Behind the scenes: Highrise marketing site A/B testing part 1
- ⋆ What happens to user experience in a minimum viable product?
- ⋆ Lessons learned from implementing Highrise's custom fields feature
- ⋆ Ten design lessons from Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture
- ⋆ Flashback: Every time you add something you take something away
Our Most Recent Posts on Design
Signal vs. Noise is a founding member of The Deck advertising network
The Porsche 911 celebrates its 50th anniversary. What an incredible run. The 911 has always served as special inspiration to those who believe in long-term iteration. Excellence takes its time.
Click away from the pen tool…
Put down your Pantone book…
Stop rearranging your layers…
Close your stock texture folder…
Log out of your Dribbble…
And god dammit, hug your copywriter…
Designing for the web is still about words.
Find more opportunities at We Work Remotely.
THAT’S THE THING ABOUT ALL OF THIS. IT’S ABOUT CHOICES. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT WITH A CAMERA, BUT WHEN HULK ASKS THAT ALL IMPORTANT QUESTION OF “WHY?” THERE BETTER BE A REASON FOR IT. AND WHEN YOU GET THAT ANSWER, IT BETTER SPEAK TO THE ACTUAL DESIGN OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FEEL FROM IT. OTHERWISE, YOU ARE NOT IN COMMAND OF YOUR MOVIE. YOU ARE NOT IN COMMAND OF YOUR CRAFT.
Take a tour to see why others use Basecamp every day.
A few months ago I made a custom emoji for use in two of our products: Basecamp, the best project management app; and Campfire, IMHO the best real-time team chat.
Why Neckbeard? At first it was a joke—picking up on that Internet meme. But now he’s quickly become one of our most beloved emojis in Campfire. He’s also the unofficial mascot for our neckbeardiest co-worker’s pet projects. Neckbeard also made his way into GitHub and Turntable.fm (thanks guys—shout out to Emoji Cheat Sheet too).
I like Neckbeard so much, and I don’t want him to be limited. I want you and your friends to use Neckbeard in ways that we can’t. I want you to modify him and improve him as you see fit.
Here’s the downloadable vector illustration. The Creative Commons license is below. Thanks for downloading Neckbeard. I hope you have fun with him as much as we do!
License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported. You are free to Share—to copy, distribute and transmit the work, to Remix—to adapt the work, and to make commercial use of the work. Please attribute this Neckbeard depiction to 37signals.
There’s a lot of talk about how important details are. But what’s often left out of the discussion is timing. Details and timing are intimately related.
God, the devil, beauty, perfection, precision – these aren’t the only things you’ll find in the details. You’ll also find stagnation, disagreement, meetings, and delays. These things can kill morale and lower your chances of success.
How often have you found yourself stuck on a single design or code element for a whole day? How often have you realized that the progress you made today wasn’t real progress? This happens when you focus on details too early in the process. There’s plenty of time to be a perfectionist. Just do it later.
Don’t worry about the size of your headline font in week one. You don’t need to nail that perfect shade of green in week two. You don’t need to move that “submit” button three pixels to the right in week three. Just get the stuff on the page for now. Then use it. Make sure it works. Later on you can adjust and perfect it.
Details reveal themselves as you use what you’re building. You’ll see what needs more attention. You’ll feel what’s missing. You’ll know which potholes to pave over because you’ll keep hitting them. That’s when you need to pay attention, not sooner.
(Reprinted from Getting Real, The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application.)
Interface design is a two-person dance. By definition it connects two things—the customer experience and the hidden machinery. As a designer, you need a programmer to accomplish anything significant.
I’ve been thinking a lot about teaching UI lately. How do you teach interface design if you can’t get anything done without a programmer at your side? Pair beginner programmers with beginner designers? Sounds like a mess.
Then I remembered my own experience. When I started making interfaces in sixth grade, I didn’t need a programmer because I had Hypercard. Shortly after that it was Filemaker and Microsoft Access. These tools let me connect with data and display it in different ways without convincing a programmer to work with me. It was plenty to learn the fundamentals.
I haven’t seen a UI course that starts with a tool like Filemaker. And Hypercard doesn’t even exist anymore.
If I was designing an introductory interface design course, I think I would start with this kind of tool. Something that lets you gain the experience of putting affordances on the screen, accepting input and displaying output, moving around and enabling tasks.
That way students could get a feel for interfaces without getting into the complicated dance of communication, programmer languages and shared requirements. That all can come later.
About two years ago I was approached by Jason to make some art on the 37signals office walls. Around that time I was also beginning to delve into the notion of cityscapes. The first wall I did was an extension of an idea I doodled on a pizza box with a Sharpie marker.
In the time since I have been back to update the blackboards at the office several times and I have explored the cityscape idea further on my own. I have drawn and painted imaginary cities as cross-sections, from above, from every direction at the same time, quick and dirty, slow and precise, cloudy, vacant, abstracted, cartoonized, covered in streets that are like noodles, blanketed in billboards, brightly colored, monochromatic, big, small, and on and on. Each city is a new discovery to explore from whichever vantage I choose, and I’ve only just begun.
One of the things I love about being a “fine” artist is the freedom. When I’m starting a new painting or drawing, I am free to push the idea wherever it takes me. The onus is on me to take the ideas further, and venture out of my comfort zone. There have been so many times that I’ve gotten halfway done with a piece and thought to myself that this particular piece was a failure and amounted to nothing more than a bunch of wasted time and supplies, but then somehow, as if by magic, that work turns a corner and becomes my new all-time favorite. This transformation amazes me every time and it bolsters my often fragile confidence.
I have been an artist for a long time and I have gone through many phases. For years I exclusively did large abstract oil paintings, and there were times when I would draw nothing but cartoons. These past lives would seem to have very little to do with my current work, but the lessons learned from past experiences are not wasted. Instead, the skills and knowledge gained from being an abstract expressionist and in-class doodler will inform a new drawing. These are the tools I can use to build a brand new city, one that I never could have imagined before my hand began making the marks.
Last month we launched the redesign of our blog. During the process, we wanted to make it feel distinctly ours with a visual nod to its very name—signals and noise.
I wanted our blog to feel special, aesthetically unique, but not gaudy. I took a quick survey of our blog structure and found a great area for opportunity to explore style: our post categories. From design, programming, business, support, writing, to sysadmin, anyone from our team can categorize a post they write.
To give each post an identity, I riffed on these category themes. From there, the obvious presented itself: try illustrating waveforms to harken back to “signals and noise.” Although I had a focus on illustrating, I still started with words, and more specifically, questions to myself.
What does “writing” look like?
So, with Illustrator fired up, I started generating waveforms that would wear the identity of “design,” “programming” and so on. It quickly became an exercise in shape, color, and line densities. The process was fun, and the results were full of surprises.Continued…