“Ma, it’s not a phone, it’s a computer that has phone”

It’s yet another truth from my astute son.  That’s exactly what we are using when we manipulate the touch screens of our handheld devices – a micro-computer complete with an operating system and applications that help us run our lives. They run the gamut from calendar, address book, e-mail,  camera (for stills and video, of course), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, text messaging , media player, links to social media  and other applications to personalize the experience for the user.  Oh, and yes. You can even call someone.

Ma, it’s not a phoneBack in the 80s I remember experiencing my first fax machine and I was so impressed!  No longer would I have to pack up the artwork in a portable, though sometimes cumbersome, portfolio, drive to the client for the required in- person meeting and secure approval for a magazine ad. Today if someone even suggests sending me a fax … or even asks for my fax number … I have to smirk. I now send my clients pdfs and in seconds ads are in front of them where they can study them and get back to me at their convenience – now that’s progress.

I use my handheld to pay for my coffee at Starbucks, show my boarding pass and check into a flight,  use coupons at the department store and text my husband to see what’s for dinner. I read and answer email or play FreeCell when I have to wait, and I  take photos and post them to social media when I’m feeling kinda social … man has life changed.

So in this age of the handheld, the next device that features a faster processor, a high def screen, and a longer lasting battery has my vote. I will be opening my wallet and upgrading. My latest love is the HTC M-8 phone (oops I mean computer) in glamour red … sweet!

 

Skeuomorphic vs Flat Design

What, you may ask, is skeuomorphic design? Although the term might seem unfamiliar, it’s actually something you probably experience every day while online.

Skeuomorphic design is simply digital design that incorporates shadows, gradients, reliefs, animated functions and other details that have been created to resemble how objects would look and act in real life.  Apple is quite famous for its application of skeuomorphic design. From their calendars to their tool bars, to their ibook bookshelf, Apple’s design elements have been derived from real world objects.

 

Skeuomorphic Design

 

Like most things in life … there are pros and cons to skeuomorphic design and should be considered when developing your website.

Pros:

  • Skeuomorphic realistic design orients people immediately. It is safe and familiar to a large variety of users and allows for more intuitive use, which in a way opens up the floodgates for a larger demographic.
  • Skeuomorphic design may enrich the user experience. With more “do-dads” in play, there’s a chance that your visitors with more time and/or less attention span will stick around.
  • It’s a designer’s dream! We love textures and attention to detail and that’s exactly what skeuomorphic design is all about.

Cons:

  • Skeuomorphic design reflects the philosophy that “more is more” which could very possibly hurt the audience that has a specific reason for visiting your site. When someone is looking for your contact information, they couldn’t care less about your perfectly constructed gradient over stitched-leather texture (the truth can hurt).
  • With such an incredible amount of data in the design, the page is slower to load and render in a browser – and depending on one’s computer speed … this could really be an issue.
  • These designs take more development time and look dated faster.
  • It is not really “responsive web” friendly.
  • With its attention to realism, this type of design may be perceived as less creative to the non-graphic user

Which brings us to….drumroll please….flat design!

The Windows 8 platform is a perfect example of flat design.

Pros:

  • Usability, usability, usability. The user experience is swift, clean and smart. More thought is put into how the site works instead of how realistic it looks, so you can bet your bottom dollar that your viewer will be able to get done what is needed to get done, every time.
  • You can make buttons look pretty all day, but if they don’t work then what’s the point?
  • This type of design is responsive web design … way more important for mobile friendly environments.
  • It’s straight forward and honest. Flat design has been referred to as “two-dimension design for a two-dimensional screen”. It allows the user to feel like they can really see everything that’s going on.
  • It requires little or no illustration so it can be faster and more economical to develop.

Cons:

  • At the end of the day, lots of sites will start to look similar. [From the pictures above you can see how distinctive the geometric shapes and bold colors are.]
  • It is an art (pardon the pun) to be able to hold back as a designer and with flat design there isn’t too much deep design going on. Yes, there is design planning and layouts for different devices, etc., but not as many creative button designs and such.
  • Sometimes things are so simple that it confuses people. Flat design calls for the designer to be able to strike the right balance between smart and convoluted.
  • Believe it or not, successful flat design can be more difficult in that it calls for so much more engineer-like creativity. Users may be willing to sacrifice ease of interactivity and usability in order to engage with a beautiful, skeuomorphically designed website.

So that is what’s trending in web design. Faster, cheaper, better? You decide.

#trending

So I read today that Merriam-Webster welcomed 150 new words to the Collegiate Dictionary’s 11th edition!  Among them are the cultural obsessions “selfie”, “steampunk” and “auto tune”. Even the culinary creation known as “turducken” made the list.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how colloquialisms become the norm as our digital and social media driven-lives continue to evolve.  Here are some examples:

Trending”

Let’s take a look at what our friend Webster says about the verb To Trend: “to extend in a general direction” or “to veer in a new direction”.  According to today’s Urban Dictionary, the word trending has gone from a movement, to a state of being.  A state of what’s currently popular.  Or to coin another expression from another time … What’s “in”.#Trending

Here’s what’s trending today on Yahoo … Dick Cheney.  Duck Dynasty.  Lady Gaga.  Largest Dinosaur. It looks like there is a little something trending for everyone.

Like so many other colloquialisms, this one is vastly popular, particularly as it pertains to the social sharing phenomenon, Twitter.

There are those who believe strongly that if you are not trending…but should be…you are toast.

“Hashtags”

Speaking of Twitter, if you happen to participate, you are well acquainted with the term hashtag. According to the Urban Dictionary, a hashtag is a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic and a way to begin a conversation. For example, if you search on #LOST (or #Lost or #lost, because it’s not case-sensitive), you’ll get a list of tweets related to the TV show. What you won’t get are tweets such as  ”I lost my wallet yesterday”. Which I guess is a good thing because that story is not very sexy anyway.

Hashtags are now a vital part of news, fashion, music, politics … it’s an amazing shift, on the keyboard and in concept.

“Reach”

In the business of advertising and media, reach refers to the total number of different people or households exposed, at least once, to a medium during a given period. Reach may be stated either as an absolute number, or as a fraction of a given population, or demographic (for instance ‘TV households’, ‘Total men’,  ‘Adults 25–54′, ‘Women 18-49’, etc. ). While reach (and frequency of exposure) are two of the most important statistics used in advertising management, reach does NOT mean the number of people that will actually be “reached” by advertising messages.  What with DVR and the wonders of the fast- forward button, the business of advertising today presents us with, shall we say, unique challenges.

Still, in a world where demographics are drivers of ad placement, Reach is key in measuring metrics. Geez.  I never thought I would need to know so much about analytics to be in advertising!

SMS, Texting, Sexting … oh my!

Brief electronic messages between mobile devices started out as Short Message Service (SMS) and from that the term texting (an obvious blend of text and messaging) was coined. Let’s just say that texting created some innovative and yes, controversial opportunities for sharing….case in point, ‘sexting’ … the act of transmitting explicit sexual messages over mobile devices.

These trends they are a’changing.  Yikes!

How smart is your watch?

Smart Watch1Gone are the days when we were satisfied with the ability to merely tell time, here is the age of the SmartWatch.  A smartwatch is a computerized wristwatch, complete with functionality that is often compared to a PDA.  Recent designs in smartwatches do much more than the basics of calculations, translations, and game-playing. Todays’ smartwatches are actually wearable computers. They run mobile apps and function as portable media players, offering playback of FM radio, audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth headset.  Why is that woman staring at her wrist … oh, she appears to be watching a video. Some smartphone models, (also called watch phones) feature full mobile phone capability, and can make or answer phone calls. Wait … that woman appears to be talking to her wrist … oh, *looks confused* is she on the phone?

Smartwatch devices may include additional features such as a camera, thermometer, calculator, cell phone, touch screen, GPS navigation, map display, graphical display, speaker, scheduler, watch, SDcards that are recognized as a mass storage device by a computer, etc. and a rechargeable battery. It may communicate with a wireless headset, heads-up display, insulin pump, microphone, modem, or other devices. Seems many companies are searching for the next best thing to the iphone … and all devices will be subject to push that envelope.

Some have “sport watch” functionality as seen in GPS watches made for Training, Diving, and Outdoor sports. Functions can include training programs (such as intervals), lap times, speed display, GPS tracking unit, route tracking, dive computer, heart rate monitor compatibility, cadence sensor compatibility, and compatibility with sport transitions (as in triathlons).

Smart Watch2So … I waited for the day my phone replaced my watch … now I will shop to see if my watch can replace my phone … lol

Well … now I’ve seen everything … Google Glass

google glassGoogle glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project. The mission …. to produce a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a Smartphone-like hands-free format, that can communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.

The Explorer Edition is available to testers and Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500, while a consumer version will be available some time in 2014 for “significantly less” than the Explorer Edition. On July 2, 2013, Google launched an informational press site for Glass, which stated that the company’s goal “is to make Glass available to a wider group of Explorers later this year, with even broader availability next year.

http://www.google.com/glass/start/

check out the fashionable eye-wear … what will they think of next?

The Creative Habit

twyla tharp the creative habitI read a book written by a woman I greatly admire entitled “The Creative Habit” and it was nothing short of a validation of my own life. The woman is Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers. In the book she explains that being creative is not an occasional thing … it is not done every once in awhile, no… it’s a habit and a lifestyle.

I feel like am luckier than most. I have a studio that
I can walk into every day and be surrounded by other creatives and the creative tools of books, media and technology. Of course there is tons and tons of inspiration. It’s my creative place … my sanctuary
for allowing that creativity to flow and be recorded,
fine tuned, evaluated, validated and ultimately launched. I am lucky also that I never once dreaded the walk into this studio … it is truly my happy place.

I imagine I identify with this woman because in my young life I was a dancer. Early on I adapted the ritual of routinely taking dance class, a discipline that became a joyful habit. Dancers need to keep their instrument tuned and toned, fit, healthy and working smoothly. For this reason, they go through the ritual of class every day to insure that their bodies are ready for the expressions that will flow from them. To this day I take at least 3 dance classes a week … not that I am a dancer professionally … but it is a habit I adapted early in life and my body loves the feel of it.

Twila Tharp dancingIn the book, Twyla describes how a great chef spends every morning tending an urban garden that dominates a tiny terrace of his Brooklyn home. Obsessed with the idea of fresh ingredients, this creative environment allows him to think about blending flavors and creating new dishes. She also speaks of a painter friend who cannot accomplish anything in her studio without propulsive music pounding out of huge speakers. Another writer friend cannot work indoors because he feels he will miss something. This writer takes his morning coffee outside to the porch and begins his day in the warm sun of southern California. These are all creative habits.

So each day when I enter my studio and think “What I will create today?”, I know that the discipline of my creative habit … the fact that every day I deliberately and happily move into a space that will ignite inspiration and free creative thinking , insures my ultimate creative success.