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December 23, 2015

A bit of football

Filed under: Football,Uncategorized — admin @ 10:18 am

It’s been a bit of an interesting week for football. First, Mourinho was sacked (again) by Chelsea (again). He’s currently waiting to be installed as Louis van Gaal’s replacement at United.

Guardiola has told Bayern he’s leaving but his destination remains unclear. I can’t believe a man of his meticulousness hasn’t already got his next role lined up, possibly at City or United. My guess is those clubs are waiting – City are waiting for Pelligrini to slip up or for the season to end (whichever comes soonest) and United seem to be waiting for van Gaal to lose another match. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up managing the two Manchester clubs – it could be two of the most successful and interesting managers in the sport.

(I don’t think Guardiola would touch the Chelsea job with a bargepole. Their short-termism approach to management doesn’t fit well with his desire to build legacies and empires.)

July 26, 2015

Why you need design

Filed under: Design — admin @ 8:16 am

So much of this excerpt from ‘You’re My Favorite Client’ by Mike Monteiro is great. One quote won’t do it justice, so I’d urge you to read the whole thing (and then buy the book, as I did):

…when we build websites or apps, we often wait until the last minute to bring in designers to “apply” design, or look and feel. This is akin to baking a cake and then hiring a baker to make it taste good.

July 23, 2015

Renault to buy old Renault team?

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 9:45 am

Renault are in talks to buy the Lotus team.

You know, the team that used to be Renault around 5 years ago before they were caught cheating and sold it to Genii.

March 21, 2015

Macintosh User Manual – Clicking

Filed under: Apple — admin @ 8:57 pm

Here’s a great photo of two pages of the Macintosh manual explaining how the mouse manipulates the operating system. Second nature to us today, but imagine having to create that content back in 1984.

Form A Cartel

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 8:54 pm

Gary Hartstein:

I’ve just built a bottling factory. Modern, efficient, state-of-the-art. And you, well you have a soft drink you need bottled. A very popular soft drink indeed. People all over the world want to drink it. And you want to use MY factory to bottle it!

When the time comes to do the deal, you tell me “there’s just one thing Gary. Our business model is a bit . . . unconventional. You see, normally I’d pay to use your factory. But since my beverage is SO popular, YOU’RE gonna have to pay ME for the privilege of hosting my drink”.

Totally agree. F1 is about Eau Rouge, 180R and Copse as much as it is about Ferrari, Williams & McLaren. I can’t think of a Tilke track that has a corner in the same bracket as the classics.

February 11, 2015

Thoughts On Contracting

Filed under: Working — admin @ 8:52 pm

It’s been a month since I made the move from a full-time agency job into the world of contracting. For the sake of posterity and in the spirit of paying-it-forward, if you’re thinking about making the move yourself, here are some thoughts based on my limited experience so far.

You’ll be working with a new team of people. Take the time to get to know who’s who and where you fit in.

There’ll be new structures, hierarchies and lines of reporting. You’ll need to understand where you fit into all that.

There’ll also be new — and different — personalities you’ll need to gel with. Take the time to figure out who’s who, where you fit into the overall structure and how you’ll handle the different personalities.

Try not to think short-term (e.g. “I’m only here for a few weeks, I don’t need to worry about getting on with that person/fully understanding that process”).

Your contract may only be for a matter of weeks or months but if your mindset is short-term, you’ll subconsciously avoid doing all the things listed in my first point. Additionally, you’ll inevitably do a sub-standard job if you don’t fully appreciate what you’re being asked to do.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There’ll be all sorts of unique-to-your-client things that you won’t understand: acronyms, other projects, people, terminology, documentation, processes — you’ll need to figure out what you need to know and ask the right questions to get the information you need to do your job.

“I’m a contractor. I don’t have to care as much”. Yes, you do. You really do.

You have to care about the work you’re doing. You have to be an active member of the team(s) you’re doing it with. You have to be sensitive to the inevitable politics that’ll derail you in some way.

If you’re a good visual designer, it’s not enough to simply be a good visual designer. You have to be good at being part of a team, part of a process and part of the solution.

Once you’ve secured a contract, forget about what you’re being paid.

There’s no doubt you can earn more as a contractor than as a permanent member of staff and, whilst looking for work, it’s “all about the day rate” but once you’ve signed that contract, it should all be about the work. If you’re distracted by what you’re being paid, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You’re being paid to do a job. Do it to the best of your ability.

Recognition won’t always come your way.

You won’t always be slapped on the back for a great idea or a job well done. As a contractor, you’re expected to do a job to a certain standard. Strive for above-and-beyond that, but don’t be disheartened if it’s not always recognised. Don’t work weekends just to be seen to be working weekends.

Everything you do — good or bad — reflects on you.

Make sure people remember you for the right reasons. Have your own standards, make them high and be the person you’d want to work with.

Making the move into the world of contracting is a big decision. Although it’s only been a month, I’ve no regrets about making the move. I’m really enjoying working within a new team and within an incredibly complex set of new constraints. The work is challenging, the problems are complex — but the payoff is that the satisfaction is incredible when you get it right.

Frere-Jones: Typeface Mechanics

Filed under: Design,Typography — admin @ 8:03 pm

Tobias Frere-Jones has posted the first in a new series of articles on type design. If the rest of the series is like this, I’ll be hooked.

Before I read the article I did not fully appreciate that these nuances existed in something like type design. The parallels with other design disciplines are obvious to draw but most interesting to me is that day to day, the digital, pixel-based world I make my living in posits that if it “is (mathematically) right”, then it follows that “it’ll look right”.

It’s always wonderful to be reminded of crafts that exist outside the digital space where “if it looks right, it is right” is the mantra. It talks to the skill of the craftsperson to know this and — more importantly — to know how to get it right.

January 29, 2015


Filed under: Design — admin @ 9:19 pm

A 3D printable model of a phone that lets you create quick paper prototypes. Great idea!

Don’t Describe A Unicorn Unless You Really Think You Can Cage A Unicorn

Filed under: Design — admin @ 9:12 pm

I come across a lot of job descriptions and their quality varies wildly. The descriptions that exist in the UI/UX contract design community are intended to snare the widest pool of talent possible — from a recruiter perspective, the more potential candidates, the more likely the role will be filled. But this often leads to awkward interviews, where it quickly becomes apparent that your skills do not match the role.

This guide from Google Ventures summarises what makes a good job description. Like anything of value, it takes time and craft to prepare but the payoff is more suitable candidates applying for roles.

How to Make Side Projects Work At A Digital Agency

Filed under: Culture,Design — admin @ 9:06 pm

Spending time working on non-client work is something I believe is key to maintaining motivation within a creative team. Taking a break from client work to spend time solving a completely different problem is mentally and creatively refreshing.

Smashing Magazine have an article on the subject that’s definitely worth a read. From my experience, the biggest challenge to these internal side projects is making it commercially viable. But to only consider side projects in a commercial light is to miss the bigger picture and the greater benefit they can bring to creative teams.

As a contractor, I doubt I’ll be partaking in any side projects during my contract work. I do, however, plan on working on some side projects in my own time.

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