When LayerVault 2 launched earlier this spring, we believed that we were taking a risk by pursuing an entirely flat interface.
Well-loved products on the web share a similar design aesthetic, with roughly the same kinds of bevels, inset shadows, and drop shadows. For designers, achieving this level of “lickable” interface is a point of pride. For us, and for a minority of UI designers out there, it feels wrong.
We certainly didn’t invent the flat style but arriving at it was a violent process. We tore through hundreds of revisions (we have the LayerVault timelines to prove it) to potential interfaces before arriving at the answer that now makes us say “of course.” The desk at LayerVault’s original headquarters (my Manhattan apartment) still has the battle scars from objects being slammed down in anger. At one point, while working on a mockup, a MacBook was slammed shut so hard it was nearly unhinged.
Well, we don’t like it at all.
But first, what is spec work? From the NO!SPEC website:
“‘Spec’ has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing.”
This past weekend, Kelly and I attended WordCamp NYC at Baruch College. It was my second WCNYC and overall, pretty fantastic. While the building we were in was very confusing, I was eventually able to find all of the rooms I wanted to go to sessions in. All the sessions I attended started and ended pretty much on time, which was a big change from the last WCNYC.
There were a ton of sessions this year (over 12 tracks on Saturday) and a lot of really great design & front-end dev sessions I could attend. I especially enjoyed Jeremy Clarke’s session on DRY CSS and Sarah Winnem’s session on WP Template Hierarchy. There were a bunch of presentations I wanted to catch, but overlapped with other sessions I wanted to attend.
I also spoke Saturday morning about Designer-Developer Communication. You can find my slides here.
I met a lot of great people at the Speaker/Sponsor party Friday evening, and then again Saturday during the After Party. WP parties are definitely some of the best parties. I also got a chance to hand out a lot of my new business cards, which I’ll eventually be taking pictures of and posting up here.
I had hoped to spend a lot of Sunday in the hacking room, trying to get involved in core contribution, but a lot of the attending core contributors ended up speaking on Sunday, so the room was mostly Codex editing and documentation. (We still met a few great people for the short time we were in there.) We watched a few of the Core presentations and the Q+A (which was both informative and highly entertaining) before the long trip back to MA.
Overall, WCNYC was a complete blast and I’m really glad that we attended. Can’t wait for the next one!
If you’ve stopped by in the past week or so, you might have noticed a few (well, many) changes. I’ve redesigned my site!
First, some quick insight into why. I’d been thinking about redesigning for a few months, but couldn’t decide on whether or not I wanted to completely redesign, or just refresh. My old site was static — it started out just html, then got a small upgrade when I learned a little php. That worked okay, but it made updating my portfolio kind of a pain. I eventually wanted to move my design-oriented tumblr directly onto my site, so I ended up setting up WordPress on a subdomain. However, this meant that even though I was keeping my blog on-site, there was a visual change between my main site and my blog (since I decided to use twentyeleven and keep it mostly unchanged).
Well, with WordPress comes bliss and ease and all of those wonderful things. It was inevitable that I would move my whole site onto WordPress. Once I realized this, I debating whether or not to just convert what I had to a WP theme and call it a day, or make some changes. My old site was feeling a little monotonous, so I tried some simple refreshes in Photoshop. Nothing looked right. I got frustrated. I tried something new. It didn’t look right. I got frustrated.
Finally, I managed to design something I liked. Then I sat on it for a few weeks. The more I looked at it, the more I wanted to simplify it. I tried an interior, scrapped it. Tried another interior, scrapped that one as well. I looked back at the homepage, and realized, did I really need that much text? I’m not much of a text-person. I don’t really blog all that often. Are my tweets even relevant?
So, I decided to cut it down. I cut it down so much, I ended up with just a catchphrase. There was something really simple about it that really pleased me, so I ran with it. It was around that point that I realized I wasn’t going to get much further in Photoshop, so I decided to jump head-first into designing it in-browser as I went along.
It worked out okay for me. I started with the _s WordPress theme, but ended up getting a little lost (I’m not much of a developer). I’m pretty comfortable and familiar with Toolbox, so I switched over to that and really got rolling. Interiors came pretty naturally from there. Things probably aren’t as cohesive as they would have been had I done it all in Photoshop, but I really need to just do it, or else I wasn’t going to do it at all. I had some fun trying out new things, such as Isotope and Lettering.js. Lettering.js was especially nice, since Chaparral had some pretty horrendous default kerning.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my results. I wanted something simple and clean, and I think that I’ve mostly managed to achieve that. It’s still a work-in-progress, of course. A few things I have left on my list to complete:
Thanks are also in order for a specific awesome person who helped me out. Thanks, Kelly Dwan, for being my dev support and helping me integrate Isotope with WordPress. You’re a champ. Seriously.
Anyway, if anyone sees anything odd or things something I’ve done is awkward/looks bad/can be improve, let me know. Iteration is a healthy thing.
When I came by the Creative Market launch page, the first thing that struck me was the fantastic attention to detail:
I love the logo. The small cuts/indentations along the edges blend perfectly with the wood theme — instead of looking just like it’s on top of the background, it complements the background. It really does evoke “handcrafted.” I also really love the kerning between the “t” and the “i.” Also, those staples? Those are some nice staples.
It’s all about the little details.
An infographic after my own heart: http://wgrd.com/how-beer-saved-the-world-infographic/