Sep 09

Recent Work

Plink Art – Visual recognition app for Android phones

Really cool technology seeking a clearly defined application – this builds a visual search around art, letting you identify works from a phonecam snap, and exploring connections from there.


BBC Micro Model N

Quick mockup during the interminable nonsense being spouted during a Digital Britain webconf. An modern version of the early 80s push by schools/government/bbc to promote digital skills and tech to the widest possible audience through subsidised hardware, software and broadband access would do more than any of the DB proposals.

BBC Micro, model N

BBC Micro, model N


Some UX/UI and general redesign for this pregnancy and  parenting portal. http://www.bounty.com



Nice little intro animation, not unlike something I did for tioti a few years ago. http://www.palringo.com

Feb 09

Existential Design Angst

See, having stepped away from an intense, blinkered three years in a social network startup and having had a brush with mortality, trying to define what to do next has got me a bit stumped.

As a designer, it’s fulfilling to make good things so it’ll be along that broad path I think. While doing visual stuff is great fun, especially in motion graphics and the like, the youngsters seem to have a good deal more energy to put into it than I do just now. As design in a more basic sense, there are ideas around that are entering a phase of frantic arrival into reality – these include ubicomp, spimes, personal informatics. Massively interesting and important fields that are an inch away from mainstream everyday applications.

On the other hand, having been involved in a bigger picture for a while, something in the broad field marked strategy feels a bit more comfortable now, picking up on trends such as those mentioned above and fitting them into others from the ground (the street, more correctly) up.

Sep 05

Un-Blog Design Roundup Continued

Continuing a theme I’m noticing, Powazek has that fat bottom-of-page block of links/colophon/functions and archives I’m seeing around the place. I wonder if this is because getting this stuff is difficult to fit (and code) into a third column or that it’s making sense for people to keep it at the bottom of the site? Why have it at all? I’m noticing a big ‘intro’ block at the top of blog front pages too, usually text only – example at nokrev.com. I have almost no opinion on that I guess.

And blimey… there are a lot of very dull entirely similar WordPress sites these days. I’ve heard the alphageeks have been singing it’s praises, hence the recent mass adoption, but is it so bleeding hard to re-template? If so, why use it? Not terribly impressed kids.

Sep 05

Un-Bloglike Blog Design Roundup

I’ve always been quite interested by The Register’s front page, although technically it’s not a blog, but the new design of Gawker’s Sploid really pushes this approach out further. It does tend to smush into a big fog of headlines, pictures and captions though – maybe a little reinforcement of the grid would be better? (see pic) hey… what do I know?

Sploid Gridded

Anyway, it got me having a look around a bit more – you know you really miss this stuff through a newsreader, I’m not sure there’s any way round that – enforced custom CSS? Nah. Anyway, Eurogamer is another almost-blog site I think works – yes it’s noisy and brash, with big ads, but the ads are well sold with rich media, trailers in there and it has a strong community backing up each story, in some ways a lot of what I had hoped for the London Line site. Who else? We like Stop Design – great layout on the frontpage, lots of cute infomative graphic details – the posts are more typical though. Jaketracey.com has a fairly standard 2 column page, but hey those tabs on the right are certainly cool – very, very slick. William Peng’s Bombast is a clever twist, reminds me of Matt Webb’s Interconnected for some reason, but crikey, he’s only 16. Respec. Or whatever the kids say these days…

More surfing and design picks later.

Aug 05

The Traveller

Well that was an enjoyable read, although of course made me paranoid as fuck. Being at the Big Chill while reading it wouldn’t help with that obviously and I read that the same weekend police were using facial scanning technology at V2005 over in Staffordshire. Brrr. But there’s more: a nicely designed little online marketing/support campaign. Very nice. Or is it real? See, paranoid. Why not try starting here or here.

Jul 05

Designing Websites and CSS for Sony's PSP

I spent a while looking around online and couldn’t find anything about adapting websites to work well on the new Sony PSP browser so I guess I’ll write it myself. It’s a good browser with broad and accurate CSS support for a handheld. It’s also going to sell lots of units and be an important test browser, with over 5 million sold already, and not even released in Europe for another month still. Bloody Sony… but I digress. Having just spent a day re-working this site there are a few key notes worth recording.

1) The screen width with is very tight, 480 pixels I think. Once you’ve got a brandmark top left and some navigation in there don’t expect any space to spare. Consider small pixel font nav graphics to maximise this. Keep them trim. Every pixel counts!

2) The sans-serif face is quite open and easy to read, but large – much larger than the serif face – so be careful about balance.

3) Memory is tight – I have had a few out of memory errors loading pages with many images or very long blog-style content layouts. Keep it short.

4) Make it a liquid layout that scales with the browser window width if you can. Use percentages to make the layout work, use max-width to keep the page to a sensible width in PC browsers. Use this hack for IE to handle max-width too.

5) Trim out scrappy code, comments, whitespace. Keep image alt tags short. It ain’t a quick browser.

6) It supports iframes! Very handy for making inlne content changable and interactive without reloading and rescrolling a whole page.

7) Do not get annoyed and throw the PSP across the room when it fucks up. Ahem…

8) Being almost 2:1 widescreen the screen is very different to what we usually design for, so make use of this and try splitting your content into columns.

9) If you are not going for a liquid layout, stick your advertising far right and expand your navigation into direct content links on the left.

10) Trim your body margins, especially the top. Wasted space is a bit rude at this level.

You’ll notice most of these points are good general points for using CSS anyway, and indeed re-working Bunker along these lines finally gave me a liquid layout and broad compatibility with IE and firefox, etc. I’ve been a bad man and avoided some of these points for a long time now, usually for reasons of design-first (and more specifically a 3 or 4 column page) but I repent now because the PSP browser is important enough to warrant the compromise.

Update: Apparently the browser is a NetFront browser by Access. More info. I had fun extreme pain with this when doing some SVG work for Vodafone last year. Maybe it supports SVG out of the box? Reports say it supports downloaded media such as MP3 which is interesting, and has a plug-in architecture so Flash (Flash Lite most likely) can’t be far off. Another reason to dust off those Flash 4 manuals I think…

Jul 05

We've Come A Long Way Baby

I’m going to fold this into the “Big 10 Years At Large Post” later, but I thought it interesting to note that i’ve spent the evening watching half a season of a TV show (West Wing Season 6 – Christopher Lloyd playing Lawrence Lessig? Great scott!) that hasn’t been shown yet in the UK, that has clearly been grabbed from a US Tivo digital tv recording device, copied to a PC, adverts stripped out, cleanly re-encoded and distributed through a global peer-to-peer broadband network and then streamed from my kick ass unix box to a thin client hooked up the TV.

10 years ago i had just started my first job at BT research labs and the coolest networked media I had seen was an animated GIF. Now that’s progress.*

* Progress : the motto of my home town. heh.

Jul 05

Server Moved, Movable Type Reinstalled

Yay, we’re now hosted at media temple. All is good, eventually.

Apr 05

Best GUI Slider Ever

Mobster runs alongside itunes, grabbing recommendations of stuff in and outside your library… best part is the *GENIUS* hipster <—> mainstream slider…

Hipster Slider


Nov 04

How RSS changes web design

Essentially moving to an isolated page design outlook, rather than the 2000-2004 world view of having full and self contained navigation and functionality drilling down from a whizz bang homepage. That’s how i’ve been proceeding anyway with the redesign to Bunker and Neuromantics in general also.

The page IS the visit (if there is any visit at all using full content in the RSS).

Home Alone? How Content Aggregators Change Navigation and Control of Content