King & Man - a new side project

I've been working in an in-house design team for more than four years now and like any designer I'm drawn to opportunities to design for different types of brands.

Recently I've become involved in a side project called King & Man. It's essentially an online journal for 'modern gentlemen'. The idea of designing a 'lifestyle' brand was something I didn't want to pass up.

At this stage King & Man is still very much in 'startup mode' running a minimum viable product, but it has a very clear plan for progression. My role has been designing the identity and directing the overall tone. I'm currently working on future app releases and revenue generators.

More King & Man work samples here


Perfectly executing the wrong plan (from Google I/O)

  1. You Didn’t Understand The Problem You Were Solving
  2. You Asked Your Friends What They Thought
  3. You Listened To Users Instead Of Watching Them
  4. You Didn’t Test Your Riskiest Assumption
  5. You Had A "Bob The Builder" Mentality 
Harsh but worthy presentation from Google. Full article available on FastCo


Hey Guevara doesn't like IE

Hey Guevara is a new peer to peer insurance service currently in Beta. Probably not a disrupter, but certainly something that could cut through the overly complicated, bad user experiences of most insurance providers.

Mostly importantly unlike most insurers they don't take themselves too seriously. Check out their browser response page.


Old clip, but still a great presentation. Designing Obama's election campaign, by @simplescott

Not only did this team understand and implement an agile environment, before we turned it in to commonplace, but they also demonstrate the importance of bringing offline and online brand decisions in to one stream.


Tomorrowland music festival wearable faff

Well it's a good try and a broadly speaking it's a good concept, however it falls down in the execution. The finite details of setting it up and how everything has to be so precise sounds like far more work than it's worth to ultimately get emails and some random Facebook suggestions. Ultimately it doesn't do anything more than signing up on a website or getting a standard lanyard. The effort/reward ratio is way off.

Perhaps if the bracelet had unlocked extra access that would be something. Even better if it recorded locations and activities to produce a personalised summation to enjoy after the event. For triple points it could have acted as a payment service or alerted you to your favourite acts starting. Sadly not.

That said the launch vid (above) is really nicely produced. Good animation, charming voiceover and it's pitched just right for the Tomorrowland identity.


Google's Creative Lead joins a bank!

Dan Makoski, one of Google's Creative leads is leaving the search giant and going to work in-house for Capitol One.

For a Designer this seems like a strange story and indeed a strange career move, but according to Dan "here are few spaces as ripe for technology and human-inspired re-imagination as how people relate to their money"

He also goes on to point out that Capitol One has been building a significant internal creative team for some time. Just check out there offices

In my book that's one big hurrah for in-house design.

via FastCo


Thoughts on Google's Material Design language

At yesterday's IO conference Google announced a new common design language called Material Design. Strangely the announcement didn't come with a new product launch. Instead they've laid out their intention for redesigns and new projects.

Hats off to the Google design team for the depth of work that's clearly gone in to this. The visual details are beautiful. The colour palettes are delicious and the breadth of information on how to achieve the design standards are unlike anything else i've seen before.

As yet there are no mainstream products that have carry the new design language, so it's impossible to offer any real commentary on how successful it is. However there is little evidence that Google has something 'own-able'. Unlike Apple's 'aqua' UI and Microsoft's 'metro' UI there doesn't seem to be anything that you can say is distinctly Google. They've used a lot of existing design trends and skilfully woven them together, but does it mark them out as unique?

My belief is that a design language is a brand's own personal tone of voice. It's the distinct accent in which you communicate and if you want to appear alternative to others talking you need to seem different. Perhaps this was never Google's intention. Perhaps their strategy is more subtle and they want to be quieter. Perhaps Google is making the effort to seem 'everyday' and therefore more accessible.

Either way the visual design rigour that has been applied here has to be admired. I'm looking forward to seeing it appear on the biggies like Maps, Search and Gmail.


Skype Design team put Windows in your iPhone

Sneaky bunch at Microsoft!

They created a beautiful new design language for Windows Mobile, that's since made its way all around the Windows brand. Since purchasing Skype there has been signs of the Skype brand slowly and subtly adopting elements of the MSoft brand.

When it came time for Skype to redesign their iOS app those clever pixel wranglers threw away any references to the Apple iOS language. They've taken the Windows Design language, smashed it with the Skype brand and put it in your iPhone. Possibly one of the trickiest UI/Brand design challenges imaginable and the team at Skype have done a lovely job of it. The translation of the Windows UI is subtle enough to make it feel distinctly Windows, but the details in the surrounding elements (moving clouds, wobbling menus etc) keep it firmly in the Skype personality.

Along with the new UI comes this nice little clip that plays in the app when it first loads.

The Skype Design teams showing huge talent in bringing together facets of the UX.


I'm looking for a Senior UI Design Wizard

The Global Digital Design team here at RSA is expanding again and I'm hunting for a Senior Designer to join me.

RSA is over 300 years old. Although it has a rich heritage we recognise that digital technology is a critical factor to its future. We are big. I mean *really* big. Being big comes with benefits (good pay, big budgets, stability, discounts, pensions, annual bonus etc), but it also comes with challenges and our team has been tasked with breaking the old rules.

RSA Digital is an agency style internal team that covers UX, Design, Analytics, Content and Build. We work across RSA's entire global network (from Canada to Singapore and most places between). Our work touches every aspect of the insurance experience, across multiple RSA brands, as well as partner brands (e.g: John Lewis, Argos, Tesco). We want to change the way things are done and we will fight for the user at every step.

You'll be working with the Lead Designer (me) and Junior Designers to create low fidelity prototypes and high fidelity mockups. You'll be the bridge between the UX Strategists and Frontend Developers.

As a Senior Designer you'll be expected to actively support the more junior members of the Design team, present your work to clients, develop new ideas to share with the team, get your hands dirty helping mould the team.

RSA is a Windows based organisation, but the Design team is kitted out with MacBook's and Adobe Creative Cloud. You'll get paid in money and the tea flavoured water is free.

There is lots more I could tell you about the job, but the best thing would be to drop me a message (ideally with a link to your work samples) and we can talk over a coffee.



Jony Ive biography by Leander Kahney

OK this book is not brand new, but it's taken me until now to create the time to read it.

Getting any decent info on Apple and Jony Ive's design process is notoriously difficult. Not only is Apple wrapped in secrecy, but Ive himself has always been reluctant to offer any details of practical design matters. Instead in interviews he tends to stick to general design philosophies.

Leander Kahney's biography could easily have been an exercise in hero worship and conjecture, but it's surprisingly insightful. The book is comprised of interviews with former Apple staff and suppliers. The level of detail is unlike anything I've read before on Apple. It details team members, roles, structures, equipment, disputes, difficulties, triumphs and discarded design concepts.

A lot of material appears to have been taken from evidence submitted in Apple v Samsung which covers the inception of the iPhone and the various prototyping stages it went through.

Of course there is an amount of fluff around Ive's family and "genius", but beyond this padding there is, what I believe to be, the first insightful look at Apple's design approach and how it's changed over the years. If you're in any way interested in hardware design (industrial or otherwise) and if you've admired Apple's work, then I recommend getting a copy.