Final post…

So… it’s done.  The last obligatory post has been posted, the final blurb of self indulgent content has been splayed across my page.

What has been learned?  Well, prior to starting this blog, observations of things I’d seen or heard about were simply that – no proof that they had taken place at all.  It was simply a stream of thoughts that ultimately would slide from my head into the mayhem that surrounds me.

With this blog challenge I was given a storage room to hold a small number of thoughts.  No longer was a building “nice” – it was more than that.  It was a deeper thought and awareness about how it was built, why it was built and how it worked within it’s locale.

in short – this blog made me think harder and deeper about design around me.

Did I enjoy it?  Yes I certainly did.  This blog taught me to think harder – to think better!

It may not be the best blog in the world but it was fun to do.


What design means to me?

Deign to me is many things.  It’s a creative solution to a problem.  It’s a novel way to recreate something banal.  It can be surrounded by “best practises” that have been institutionally accepted as the norm or it can be something that is simply outrageous – often ending up as an exhibit at “Best Fails” exhibition.

Design elements can be conjured from seeing fonts that I like or don’t like – it can be thrust upon me  in a glance out of a bus window.  It can also be encased in the simple natural surroundings it resides in.

Simply put -design to me is  simply taking a function and simplifying it for the end user.  It’s an effort to enhance the aesthetics of an item.  It’s a challenge to be inherently intuitive.  

 What I have learned about creativity and design?

Creativity is boundless that’s for sure.  But to get the balance of good design within the creation is the ultimate goal.  No point in having something pretty if it falls short on being fit-for-purpose.  Creativity is useless without good design.  Good design is seldom found without creativity.

What I have learned about visual communications?

We generally operate on a visual level first.  In seconds we have decided if we like something or if it appeals to our sense of self.  A well-balanced approach with use of imagery and font type can actually evoke an emotion within us.  A specific colour can make us feel!  The same statement placed in different design elements can conjur different emotions.

What I have learned about user experience?

Very few designers are designing things for themselves.  They have been given a brief to satisfy.  If the end user experience is tainted by bad design – then the overall result is a fail.  People want to be pleased.  Whether they wish to be pleased visually or by the very experience of the new design – we want progress.

Sometimes simplicity is at the heart of a good user experience.  Designers understand that all improvements in design come with a necessity to simplify processes or to enhance emotions positively.




Monday Morning Edition

WooHoo – free imagery from Getty! News

In our fast-moving lives, it’s easy to sometimes miss out on great things. Before starting a new week on, be sure to check out the features that made a splash on  Hot Off the Press  last week:

Pro tip of the week: Did you know you can…

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As we stand on the ledge of life, we must ask ourselves three questions:

Do we run and leap into the wide ocean?

Do we wait to be pushed only to hit the rocks below?

Or…. do we simply stand still and gaze upon the wave that could have taken us anywhere.

Exhibition Trip

When faced with a “Go to an exhibition” instruction – I went for the closest one (as the crow flies).

I took myself off to the FailBetter exhibition around the corner at Trinity College Science Building.

DSCF5858 - Copy

I deliberately didn’t do any research into this trip in advance so I’d arrive with a blank slate with no expectations.  I’m so glad I did that.

True to form I found myself getting lost in words I found around the room.  Yes of course most of the exhibits were interesting but big words on walls captured my attention more.  Perhaps I found myself wondering more about the belief in success more than the failure of failing.

A footwear Fail

Ok so  I saw some some mountaineer’s boots that didn’t quite take him to the top of Mount Everest.  Hmmm – ok. I failed to get the whole “failure” message at first till I read into the accompanying information sheet about this guys attempt to reach the summit.  It turned out he cut corners with the quality of his boots – choosing an inferior pair as they were lighter and in his opinion made better sense for the purpose they were required for.  Needless to say he never made it to the top in these boots.

It was not the boots that failed.  It was he who failed as he made a bad decision in the planning -process.  This guy learned from his bad decision and later went on to conquer Mount Everest in the proper souped up boots that were designed for purpose.  Perhaps we could take the same lesson with regards to web design.  You get out what you put in.  If you use the correct formats, the advised methodology and dont’ always go for the easiest/cheapest option – the result is bound to be a superior one!

Samuel Beckett  -a fail??

Samuel Beckett once said “to be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail”.  I think it’s only in failure that we can truly realise the potential within us – to challenge ourselves to further reach for perfection within our craft.

beckett quote


Of course we saw many things at this exhibition – but I didn’t find myself going “wow” as often as I had hoped.  For the most part I believe the underlying message was to do your  research work well – know your customer – know your user/reader and understand what ultimately will be the elements the item will be remembered for.

best fails exhibition trinity college 2014


fonts 19.03.14x

What is our fascination with fonts?  We all have an opinion on them.  There’s the ones we regard as looking like it’s been written personally by our loving grandmothers and others that make a 3 year old child look like a virtual calligraphist by comparison

Why do we always have to change things?  Perhaps change is the reason why we are currently evolving new and ever creative ways to express the written word.

For me, fonts are an expression of tone.

I often write little notes or short poems and find myself yearning for that perfect font to display it in.  That just-right font that will illicit the emotion that the words themselves are trying to convey.

But that’s just me…….

When it comes to design and fonts – the rules and red tape seem to be abundant.  Companies & institutions want to invoke trust from their reader.  Messages of different importance need to be represented in an equally “important” font.

web font purple

When fonts go wrong

We’ve all seen the various advertisements that at a glance look wholly inappropriate right?

Here’s a reminder:

flickering lights    gumballs

No of course there’s no need to point out the blatantly obvious bad choices that were made when selecting the fonts.  Sometimes – it’s as simple as how one letter bumps or bleeds into another that causes nothing short of a foulmouthed inbreeding of characters.

Fonts have names – don’t confuse them!


There are utterly thousands of different fonts – but unless used correctly – the message conveyed may indeed be lost on the reader.

(I’m secretly  ‘loving’ the obvious gaffe made by the scribe of this particular gravestone – perhaps I’ll request it for mine !)

So fonts have names and personalities and tones and depth and underlying messages…..

It’s no wonder people are so afraid to be creative with their fonts.  It’s the old classic ‘ fear of being judged’.

Even with the introduction of Google fonts for websites – I fail to notice any dramatic change in what I see online.

Fonts have an anatomy too!

components of a font

We’ve come along from the cave drawings of yore.  We now have come so far along the typographic journey – we have now almost humanised our fonts.

So, as in life – we have to dress for the occasion.

We just have to figure out the right top-hat, tails and fancy cumberbunds to dress up our messages in.  Will our font people look cluttered when standing together or alternatively will they look like billy-no-mates when aligned in a row with a gaping space between them?

If it’s a party invite go with the slightly innebriated-looking comic sans (if it’s a kids party) or a slightly more elegant font for a more formal gathering

Will you look at that font!

I can’t believe my eyes – not one for keeping up with the Jones’s – I giggled inwardly when I found a forum where a reader was wondering what type of font was used for the most recent Royal Wedding invitation cards.  Over-enthused about discovering the answer – I duly followed the thread.

Hmmmph – nothing special!

zapf antiquaDesigned by Hermann Zapf (born November 8, 1918- ) – Zapf Renaissance Antiqua (1984–1987)

“You are but a flick of the wrist

Upon which I entrust my sentiment.

Take my words along your path

And deliver untainted to my muse.”


Design & Proportion

Divine Proportion / Golden Rule

Hmmmm so it’s all about design v proportion this week.  Golden rule?  I don’t know about you but generally if somebody tells me there’s a rule I ask myself why.  So, when faced with a challenge that involved discussing same – I thought …. “How the hell am I gonna get enough time to trapse around town snapping all the buildings that may have been designed using this divine proportion notion”.

I needn’t have worried though – due to an extreme shortage of spare time I decided to see if I could find some everyday examples of this concept in everyday items at home.  It took all of about five minutes and I had found a couple.

docking station golden rule   

Fearful of having to learn some incomprehensible “Mathematics Law” in order to understand this concept, I was only too delighted to find a simplified way to calculate it.

It would appear that the Golden Rule (Divine Proportion) has been derived from and is closely related to Fibonacci numbers.

Fibo what??

Simply put fibonacci numbers are numbers that are calculated by adding the two previous numbers together.

Fibonacci numbers

So, armed with the solution to create this miracle of design (and PowerPoint software)  – I couldn’t help but try it for myself.

Divine Proportion using Fibonacci rule

Divine Proportion using Fibonacci rule

golden rule ear

I found it funny to find out that some of us have perfect ears based on the Golden rule!

Divine Proportion in Website Design

Having been advised that this rule is so prevalent in website design – I checked it out for myself.

Twitter could’t have used this design any better.

twitter site

Coloured by Emotion

It’s not often we take our own “personal colour analysis test” but I sometimes wonder what the results would be if we did.

Green:  ttp:// Blue: Brown:  Black:  Red:

It’s commonplace to be seeing RED or feeling BLUE.

mood colour strip1 24.02.14

I’ts pretty powerful however when you see the effect that each of these colours have on each expression.

There’s obviously a good reason why we humans do make the connect between an emotion and a colour.  Probably because colour is such a highly personal thing for so many of us.  Perhaps colour enables us to personalise by shade  how we are feeling at any given time?

Green: Blue: Brown: Black: Red:

For today however, I choose to continue wearing my………

rose tinted glassesas life seems so much more fun with them on!!

Green:  ttp://
Red: l0I/AAAAAAAAAqg/o0HiRGa19Rs/s320/mustafar_by_dominiquewesson-d5phhk9.jpg

10 Myths About Writers and Writing

Glad to know my suspicions about creatives are true and not deluded notions 🙂 …. perhaps I shall become one …. one day!

P.A. Moed

In order to write creatively, we need to exercise our free-spirited and impulsive right brain.  It might take a while to “liberate” this side of the brain especially if we have worked in fields that are linear, concrete, and require rationale thought.  This is what happened to me many years ago when I switched from a career in teaching and publishing to full-time writing.   As I began my apprenticeship in the creative arts,  I had to dispel several myths about the writing process and writers.

"Incognito: The Hidden Self-Portrait" by Rachel Perry Welty, DeCordova Museum. “Lost in My Life (Price Tags) ” by Rachel Perry Welty, DeCordova Museum.

1.  Myth: Writers Are Strange.

There is an element of truth to this!  Writers (and other creative people) must be willing to look below the surface of everyday life and explore the world and relationships like a curious outsider.  This perspective sets us apart, but at the same time, it allows us…

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