Design + Banter 18

See ya later, suckers

Rik Lomas (@riklomas)
Founder, Steer & SuperHi

  • Moving to NYC. How do you move there and be self-employed?
  • Google says it’s a nightmare.
  • Rik got a lawyer, went to see here.
  • She asked, “What is your job?”
  • He rambled, she asked, “What is a developer?”
  • They went over and over it and came up with a single sentence: “I teach people to make websites.”

User wants complicated thing –> simplify –> User can do that thing
(Applies to both the lawyer and to building websitess)

5 problems that SuperHi solves

Learning to code is scary

  1. Have sensible defaults
    • Get simple stylesheet when you open SuperHi
  2. Remebering difficult concepts
    • Colour: small color next to hexcode that brings up colour picker
    • Make margins and paddings easier: again a hover state that shows the margin and padding
  3. Technical copywriting
    • Making Git easier to use for normal users
    • Two buttons: Save to history, go back in time
    • Try to keep copy as simple as possible
  4. Getting a site online
    • “All you need is an FTP program, and hosting platform, and a domain…”
    • Make it easy to get a site online: create an account, create a project, publish.
    • Most tools are aimed at advance users. For beginners, be opinionated.
  5. If a tool isn’t there, make it
    • Example: making background videos easy

Our job is to help people do the things they want to do, and not get in their way.


Use your words: talking about your work

Camilla Grey (@camillagrey)

  • Was head of content at Wolff Olins. Brand strategist before that.
  • Does both brand & content.
  • Likes to help designers write.

Make friends and win work and get promotes and influence people

There is a need for articulating the thinking behind a design.

Things she keeps hearing:
* “We keep losing work to F***** ****”
* “We need to editorialise our process.”
* “We want to be a part of a community of digital leaders.”

  • Make friends: – Assumption that a blog post needs to go viral. The most important thing is connecting with your peers.
  • Get promoted: – Every agency: the designers that get promoted fastest are the best at communicating why their idea is the best.
  • Win work – The ability to talk about your work in the frame of a brief you’ve been given.
  • Influence people – Talk and find other ways to communicate your visuals means you can help shape the future of thinking in your field.

Five things to help you get going

  1. Practice – you don’t have to publish the first thing you write
  2. Read – identify who writes well, and unpack why their writing works for you
  3. Plan – get someone to “emotionally spot” you. tell your boss you want to do more writing. get them to read it and give you feedback
  4. Respond – if you can’t think about something to write, write about something happening in the world around you
  5. Move the last bit to the top – The place where you land at the end of it all is where you should probably start.

The Anti-Complacancy Design agency

Neil Cummings (@NeilCummingsEsq)
Creative Director, Wolff Olins

Big D

  • Design is getting a seat at the table.
  • No longer a part of R&D, product, etc.
  • Bigger customers, bigger challenges, bigger questions design needs to answer
  • Big companies are bringing design in house
  • Young talent want to work for big brands as much as big agencies
  • The type of agencies that are being brough in house are agencies taht have a specialist function (mobile, service design, ux, innovation agencies)
  • A big agency shouldn’t be seen as a specific function. Wolff Olins is disassociateing themselves from “brand.”
  • Wolff Olins needs to be seen as an “and” business
  • Briefs come from big and fundamental business challenges, WO needs to be able to attack those and draw on a broad range of skills.
  • Spirit – Wolff Olin’s spirit is “push it” – designers should be open to push every aspect of what WO does
  • Push ambition – use this to drive your work forward
  • Push people – this is about getting the user into the conversation during the development process
    • testing is often about validating pre-formed ideas
    • how do you involve users to make design more radical, more thoughtful?
    • example: sent a box with a button around the world, and asked people: “This is what a box that is going to do one thing for you. What is it?”
  • Listen – this opens up how you can make your brand come to live. It comes to life with the tiny interactions people have with your business.
  • Lessons from Tim Allen
    • about participants not audience
    • experience design is about people, and those people aren’t you
    • experience design is about making (brining in and integrating a development team)
  • Push craft – this isn’t just about typographic craft, finding new ways to find visual effects that you want, how to make your ideas more relevant, make your vision replicable by others,
  • Push culture – when you create ideas for business, it’s hard for them to replicate it. They are kind of anti-design. You have to teach them how to design. Give them the tools and create spaces where it’s comfortable to be creative.
  • Push process – you have to be serious about how you design the process of your project. Better ways to design things aren’t in the brief.