Archive for the 'Design' Category

The new BBC homepage
Lots of this about the internet up your ego , keith , and martin B. But now it’s officially visible and I’ve had a play with it, here’s my thoughts, God it’s weird to experience this from the outside.

• I like the bigger promos, the mixture of picture promo (are they still called that?) and traditional.

• In many ways it reminds me of a fancy version of Gateway – the BBC’s Intranet – which also had fold up/down sections.

• I’m not sure about the all page colour change – but at least it gets away from that f**king cyan/blue

• I like the ‘display options’ thingy, High viz, comfort, increase text size, fully customisable – content and layout are separate.

• I’m glad the hideous logo’s gone, after 4 years! That was some of the worst designing I’ve ever seen (I’m looking at you Fitch!) and I hated it from the moment I saw it. At the time anyone who objected to it was taken outside by Marketing stormtroopers and shot through the head.

• The Sin Bin has gone, the daft double search has gone, the contains-no-tools toolbar has gone. Hell it’s all gone, Finally. I love it because it’s a clean break, it’s all new. It seems to be based on functionality and users needs rather than empire building, marketing and which petal head has the biggest genital organ. Maybe this is because dept heads aren’t there anymore, are they? Isn’t it all ‘Vision’ now?

And now to my only real criticism, and it’s this. The BBC could, and should, have done this two years ago. I also wonder what this project was like to work on? Was it fun? Were their tears? Did the opinions of tech, editorial or design fall on deaf ears or were they headed? Was it run like the iPlayer project by external powerdroids or was it a small agile team of talented people and Sven style light touch management? I want answers Beeb people!

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D-Construct 2007

D-Construct 2007

Friday saw me hop down to Brighton for the D-Construct User Expeience conference. The day got off to a bad start when I didn’t get my morning coffee until 10am. Then it got worst… Jared Spool was the first speaker. On he comes… loud… talking about MP3 players. He then goes on for 20 mins about the iPod. . . about how easy it is to use, about what a great experience it is. I look around at all the attendee’s and over 80% are typing what he’s saying on Apple Macs. Listening to him go through the numbers of how many iPods have been sold since 2001 is possible the dullest thing I think I’ve ever seen at a conference ever.

He then goes on to talk about Netflix vs Blockbusters DVD postal rental service. fails to mention or any UK version. He says two things towards the end that I bother to write down. 1. ‘You’ve got to know what you’re doing’ and 2. ‘Don’t underestimate the cultural differences’. I think he failed on both those points. After eating into the first coffee break time with a stupid magic trick I meet some of the other delegates outside for a quick chat. A girl from is equally livid. ‘that’ she says ‘was Conference spam’. I’m incline to agree. I’d never been to a Mac Keynote… until today, I’ve never wanted to heckle and a geek conference, until today. I meet Matt Jones who’s a little nicer, he says ‘that’s the presentation he gives to CEO of large multi-nationals’. Personally I think he’s totally mis-judged the audience.

Up next, is Peter Merholz who starts brightly looking at the early history of Kodak (which I knew all ready) but then throws up a slide about products being ‘cool’ and my blood chills. And sure enough he’s off talking about the iPod. He then talks about Tivo, another product/service which we’re all familiar with and yet isn’t available in the UK. My brain switches off till lunch.

Leisa Reichelt takes the stage and talks about hwo to organise projects, it’s all the standard things ‘small groups’, ‘quick iterations’ ‘washing machines are good’, etc. Only as well all know projects just don’t happen like that, do they BBC iPlayer folks? Anyway, I quick like her hand-drawn post-it note slides.

A swift pint and a sandwich at the Pub next door and I’m expecting much better stuff from the afternoon. Up comes Cameron Moll, interaction design from the LDS Church (Mormon) in Salt Lake City – where’s this going I wonder? Alas he also mentions the iPod, but at least finds time to look at a Dyson advert as another example of ‘good design’.

It’s not until after 3pm that anyone British takes the stage. George and Denise do a nice relaxed sofa chat about the early histories of B3ta and Flickr. Denise has a nice phrase of turn ‘we did what’s now called viral marketing but back then was just called fucking about’. Neither of them mention the iPod.

Quick break and I’m expecting great things from ex-beebers Matt Webb, up next, and Tom Coats. Matt runs through the A-Z of the experience stack, though I’ve seen his ‘ windows 3.1 buttons / antelope’s belly’ story back in 2005 when I was at the BBC. But he’s delivering good ideas statements and observations in quick and relevant matter.

Tom Coats takes the stage, and declares his talk to be 100% iPod free, and is his usual animated self, his main thesis is ‘you’re product is not your website. It’s everywhere it touches the network’. Which is true.

Then it’s to pub, where I’m in the food queue next to one of the organisers who asks me what I thought of it.

Far too much focus on the iPod as the only example of good design which is too lazy, there’s like a billion others, the wheel, the brick, the bic biro, and I say this as a ipod and MBP user. Difference in style: the American’s gave us preeesentations the Brits either chatted or gave us a lecture. By that I mean that I found the American’s to slow and lacking substance, that room was full of the UK’s Alpha geeks, folks who can absorb information at quite a high bit rate. I wanted zipped-up concentrated information I’ll still be thinking about days later, that’s what conferences are, some of the speakers were operating on 56k. Mid way through Jared’s talk I wanted to shout out ‘please tell me something I don’t know!’. And it’s not like I’m a tech conference whore too, I don’t eTech or Future of Web App’s, I maybe take in a couple a year.

Finally he asked me if ‘had I paid for it myself (£100) would I be disappointed?’ And I’m afraid I answered ‘yes, slightly’. Still, rather that just moan about it on here, I said I’d be delighted to feed into next years conference. We shall see.

Note: I rather liked Brighton, 50 mins to Victoria… living by the sea. tempting.

Restaurant websites often undercooked

152 Aldeburgh – Tel: 01728 454594

Why sub-editing or (even a spell-checker!) is important… I hope their cooking is better than their spelling (and it’s good according to this). The missing hyphen is forgivable*, but a restaurant that can’t spell restaurant! First impressions and all that…

Also the wines page could do with a spruce-up, as it currently says ‘Andrew recommends…… House wines.”

It’s a shame that after almost 10 years of the ‘digital age’ in the UK most small businesses still suffer from poor web presence. That’s fine when you run a hardware store or MOT garage where people just need your name, location, opening hours, and a phone number, but restaurants should make a little more effort. After all, they’re selling an emotional experience and the promise of a good time. Small places like this are often labours of love with a single owner – what Americans would call ‘Mom and Pop’ places. If you go in most nights you’ll see the owners working there. It’s this personality that more smaller operators should make more of, I think, even if it’s a big cheesy grin photo and some nice welcoming words.

Here’s the website for the Hungry Monk in Jevington, Sussex. Whilst it’s not going to win any design award and hardly uses cutting-edge web tech, it does have all you need to get a sense of the place. Address, directions, reviews, menus, prices, and some images of where you’ll be eating.

For bigger, more urban places, there’s other things you can do to capture web users. Restaurant Magazine had an article on restaurant podcasts and blogs the other month – even if it’s your head chef chatting about what’s in season, or taking a delivery from a supplier, or the head waiter talking about a visit from a celeb. Yes, it’s a lot more effort than having a continuing ad in the local rag… but those days are gone.

*A friend once saw ‘Hand cut skin on chips’ on a menu, all without hyphens.

My first go on an iPhone.

Not wishing to add to the iperbole but a visitor to Channel 4 scored maximum “ooooo-aaahh”points today when he showed off his 8gig iPhone to the new media dept after a meeting. I got to have a go, the pinch/push nav is a no brainer, the screen is bright and clear. I typed out ‘the quick brown fox…’ it came out ok. There was a slight ‘Newton‘ moment when Euan typed his named and it came out ‘Wuan’. Another thing was the girls were just as smitten as the boys, this is a key reason why the ipod sold so well I think, because it was quite gender netural. (See here for a female perspective of the iPhone.)

Strawpoll: Everyone wants one in this office, … they’ll sell like hotcakes on a cold day I reckon, despite the low spec camera that can’t shoot video.

Barclays eagle causing a flap after 317 years

Barclays eagle is causing a flap after 317 years-Business-Industry Sectors-Banking & Finance-TimesOnline

More logo bafoonery with the news that Barclays are to drop their ‘Tutonic looking’ eagle logo lest it offend the mild mannered Dutch who proabbly couldn’t care less. Ditch it because you don’t like it, or that you want to create someting new, but don’t ditch it because it may offend… customers are offended by sloppy service and outrageous bank charges, not this surely?!  Also, there’s a reason for the eagle, from Barclay’s history page1728 Freame and Gould move to 54 Lombard Street at the sign of the Black Spread Eagle.”

Barclays Eagle

Furthurmore plenty other country in Europe neigh the world has used the eagle at somepoint, including the dutch town of Berg en Terblijt.

Looking at the list of FTSE 100 top 30 Co.’s with a large market cap it’s worth noting that Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Barclays, Lloyds, and BAT are the only ones to use anythign from the natural world in their branding…


Royal Dutch Shell



4 GlaxoSmithKline
5 Vodafone Group
6 Royal Bank of Scotland Group

Barclays plc

9 AstraZeneca
10 Anglo American

Lloyds TSB

12 Tesco

British American Tobacco

14 Rio Tinto Group [1]
15 Diageo
16 BT Group
17 Xstrata
18 BG Group
19 BHP Billiton [2]
20 Aviva
21 Standard Chartered
22 National Grid
23 Unilever [3]
24 SABMiller
25 Prudential
26 Reckitt Benckiser
27 Imperial Tobacco Group
28 BAE Systems
29 Scottish and Southern Energy
30 Centrica
31 Marks & Spencer
32 Cadbury Schweppes
33 Scottish Power [4]
34 Land Securities
35 Legal & General

Big Brother Eye Logo.

There have been a few comments in the Channel 4 feedback log questioning whether the Big Brother eye design is in anyway influenced by or an homage to Madeline McCann’s eye condition.

This years BB logo was designed months ago as far as I know, the master version I’ve got has a created and modified date of 13th April 2007, Madeline went missing on the 3rd May.

I remember seeing designs for it as far back as January and if anything I think the designers were aiming for more of a futuristic test card feel with colour and gradations of tone (though the test card is a BBC thing). You can see this if you look at the animated version.

So the short answer is no, it’s just coincidence.

Surely this is nothing more than the human ability to see patterns and relationships in things and to make imaginative leaps in context. It probably came in useful on the Plains of Africa for distinguishing lions from the grass. However we now no longer need that skill much, so we now use the ability to make wild speculation that comes with the silly season that is BB.

Take a Test – Photoshop Test

Link: Take a Test – Photoshop Test.

I got 9/20! That is HARD! Mind you, I reckon it’s not very fairly done. Look at this for example..

To move a layer down in the stacking order in the Layers palette, you could…

1. use Layer>Arrange>Move Down
2. use the Layers palette pop-up menu and choose Send Backwards
3. Command-[ (left bracket) (PC: Control-[)
4. Option-] (right bracket) (PC: Alt-])

eh? Or you could just click on it and drag it down, as using two key shortcuts means taking the stylus of the tablet. Photoshop is bonkers really… there’s like a 100 ways to drive it, my mate Jaypod has the menu bar set…at the bottom of the screen! URGH!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
February 2020
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