Great presentations are really great stories. It’s great stories that move people, not stock images, bullet points, or diagrams. To achieve that we needed to create a new category of presentation apps. One that starts with what you want to say.
Presentation apps haven’t fundamentally changed at all since the early 90s. In all that time they’ve never really solved the human side of the problem. As designers, we feel compelled to create a new solution, one with a slightly different emphasis. By changing our focus, we change the likely outcome. To avoid reinventing the wheel, it is useful to look back before moving forward.
There’s a simple, efficient, and fun way to prepare and tell a convincing story. It’s called the Rhetoric Canon and it’s the standard way to prepare a speech since ancient times:
|Idea||What do I say?|
|Structure||Order and Orientation|
|Style||Make yourself heard|
|Practice||Rehearse and remember!|
|Delivery||Tell your story!|
What looks like a step-by-step approach is in reality a more complex process. The idea evolves with the structure, the structure evolves as you elaborate your style. Practicing your presentation will inevitably lead to alterations. And if you hold your speech more than one time, the delivery will again push you to work on every part of your presentation.
The rhetoric canon was developed for holding speeches. Presentations add visuals, design, and handouts to the mix. As you can see, the interdependencies then become a lot more complex. There are more elements to be taken care of, and each influences the other. If you change a tiny detail here it impacts every other part. We quickly get lost when we think about everything, idea, script, visuals, fonts, colors, and the design of our handouts at the same time.
We asked you last year what you’ve struggled with using PowerPoint. You sent us hundreds of passionate responses to our boring questionnaires. Your main concerns were that in traditional presentation apps you
This is not a surprise when you look at how of PowerPoint & Co. structures the creative process. Comparing how presentations were created before and after PowerPoint shines a light on what might have gone wrong.
To stay focused we need a direction and go step by step towards the goal. The interdependencies will inevitably influence us as we move forward, but we get better results if we think before we act. How we start sets the tone.
A presentation is not about us, our nerves, our insecurities, or the medium we happen to be using, it’s not even about what we think. A presentation is about our audience. The obstacles standing in the way of their goals, and the solutions they might adopt to keep moving forwards.
With this in mind, we start our creative process with two questions: Who is our audience, and what is the purpose of your story? When developing a presentation, we believe that it’s far more effective to focus on what we are going to say first. Not just on what our audience is going to see. In traditional presentation apps you start by picking a design theme. Then you fill out a mask and pick the next page layout.
We think that great presentations are really great stories. And that it’s great stories that move people, not stock images, bullet points, or diagrams. To achieve that we needed to create a new category of presentation apps. One that starts with the story.
By developing our story using a simple text interface, we can begin to create a compelling and persuasive narrative. A narrative that has structure and purpose. You know the deal: Beginning, middle, end. What is the problem? What are the obstacles? How do we overcome them?
iA Writer, our focused writing app, taught us a lot about helping people with challenging creative tasks. Writer is 12 years young and continues to help millions of people to get focused, get started and share their voice with the world. In the same spirit, we believe that the best way to start making a presentation is not with a template or an empty slide, but with a blank writing screen.
A blank writing screen removes the temptation to play with shapes and colors, or to entertain ourselves with transitions. It sets the tone for the task. Calm and clear. It whispers to us – What’s important here?
Sometimes we find ourselves starting with a basic structure, adding big ideas, then fleshing those ideas out until we have a rough script. Other times we have a head full of ideas that we just want to get down on the page and organize later.
Whatever path our mood takes us, we are always focused on the idea and the audience. We are developing our narrative, as we would a movie. We don’t start out thinking about camera angles and costumes. Or in this case slides, layout, fonts, and transitions.
We develop our narrative by writing and organizing our script. A script focused on what we want to say. A script that keeps our audience attentive, interested, and engaged because it’s about them and the challenges they are facing. The script discerns what is said and what is shown:
Once we started to think about our presentations as a story, not as a series of split-up visuals, once we focused on what we wanted to say, not what they needed to see, it dramatically cut our creation time and made our presentations more engaging.
We no longer had to start from scratch every time we wanted to turn a memo, email, tweetstorm, or blog post into a presentation. We could just copy and paste our existing work into our text-based script editor and we were halfway home. What does that script editor look like and how does it work? Well, let’s finish our main thought first…
Only when we’ve worked out exactly what we’re going to say, do we think about what our audience is going to see while we’re speaking to them. And it turns out this doesn’t work as we first imagined.
Once a script has been drafted it becomes obvious where an image or two will offer a clear benefit to our audience. A picture can be worth 1000 words. And if it is, then we should use it. But not every picture is worth a thousand words. We believe that most of the time, our audience doesn’t need to be looking at unnecessary imagery. A boring presentation doesn’t get more engaging with replaceable stock images. Images should direct the attention towards your message.
Simple headlines and great illustrations reinforce what we’re saying. They give the audience a visual hook to hang the idea on and keep them focused on the voice of the person presenting.
Let’s think about the topic of practice for a second. When we practice our story properly two things are happening. First of all, we’re not just repeating it, we’re making it our own. We’re experiencing our own argument, hearing our own voice. Noticing the snags and the rough edges, we’re smoothing them out. The experts call this deliberate practice and it makes a difference. It helps to have an editor that lets us make rapid changes while we practice.
The second benefit of practice is that it eases our anxiety. Any uncertainty we might otherwise encounter, starts to fade into the background the more we engage with the script. We’re laying down memories, one on top of the other, and calming our nervous system: “That didn’t kill me”, “That wasn’t as bad as I remember”, “That was thrilling”, “I can’t wait to do that again”.
While we are all-in on the benefits of proper practice, we didn’t want to rely on it as a solution. We wanted a safety net, for when we’re in the hot seat and all eyes are on us. The traditional “slide notes” seem like such an afterthought. When I’m under pressure I don’t care which slide is coming up next, all I care about is the next sentence that needs to come out of my mouth.
We believe that nothing calms the nerves like knowing that there is a backup. Imagine you always have the option of seeing exactly what we need to say, big and bold right in front of you. An experience more akin to that of a teleprompter, or an autocue. But without the expensive equipment. Just our story, in big, bold type, that’s easy to read and easy to scroll.
We have this just in case. If we wrote our story, illustrated it properly, practiced and optimized it, we don’t need to read from the slide or from teleprompter.
We still feel a shot of adrenaline the moment we step up to speak. And that’s ok. With all our ducks in a row that shot of adrenaline is exactly what we need to give our story a spark. It lights a fire under our ideas and helps move our audience to act.
In times of responsive web design and mobile-first approaches, PowerPoint still forces us to obey strict resolutions and aspect ratios. That the main form of business communication nowadays uses unresponsive static slides is simply stunning. If we change the resolution of the our presentation the whole presentation falls apart. A device-independent, flexible, mobile-friendly design format is what you want in 2022.
If you get a presentation on your phone, you should be able to read it like an email. No zooming, no pinching in and out. Contemporary digital design adapts to the world of 100’000 different screen sizes, and most of all, mobile screens. Contemporary presentations need to be readable on a handheld device.
Okay, but then how do you control the layout? You don’t! You shouldn’t have to.
Imagine not having to deal with layout at all. All you do is writing a text, editing on headlines, illustrating your story where it makes sense. The layout gets picked automatically. But how would that work? An algorithm? AI? Black Magic?
If you limit the amount of information to not compete with what you say, there are not that many layouts to cover. If you get rid of the pressure to use slides as index cards, and you eliminate reading from the screen, you end up with a handful of slide types. These can be picked algorithmically based on the number and type of elements you use on a single slide:
The amount of layouts multiplies again when you automatically scale and reorganise the elements depending on screen aspect ratio. A horizontal comparison f.i. becomes a vertical comparison on a phone. Static cards on a landscape layout become scrollable in portrait, etc.
This is also liberating. No more pixel pushing. You don’t design a static page, you design a flexible story that will work on different devices.
The story is the backbone of a good presentation. A story-based presentation app allows you to:
Once the story works, you know it by heart and you almost don’t need it anymore during the presentation. Except that after the presentation it comes in handy again: To create a readable handout.
Taking a story-based approach, allows you to start with regular text and finish with regular text, exporting your presentation not as a labyrithian mosaic that needs pinching on a phone and slaloming through an A4 with little cards, but as a standard text document with images.
In Part I, we looked at the challenges that we’ve been dealing with when making presentations with the existing tools: Getting started, understanding the weird and time-consuming format of slides, remembering what we want to say, and not being boring.
And in this post, we shared our belief that in order to solve those challenges we need a presentation app with a different emphasis. A way to create presentations focused on stories and one that puts the storyteller’s needs first. Because a prepared, calm and supported presenter makes for a more interesting and compelling presentation.
To achieve that we: Start with a blank slate. Write the script first, and sort the visuals later. Take advantage of existing work. Then tell a moving story that’s impossible to forget. Coming up in Part 3: What we made.
– Presentation apps haven’t fundamentally changed at all since the early 80s. In all that time they’ve never really solved the human side of the problem. As designers, we feel compelled to create a new solution, one with a slightly different emphasis. By changing our focus, we change the likely outcome. To avoid reinventing the wheel, it is useful to look back before moving forward.
– Our meetings take too long, our presentations feel empty and no one pays attention. Tools like PowerPoint and Keynote shape the way we live and work, and boring slide presentations are part of the meeting theatre. Could better presentation tools help change the culture of never-ending boredom?
– The most influential companies in the world put all their energy into getting us to click, react, and consume. If you work on a computer, procrastination awaits you everywhere, all the time. How do you beat it and get things done?
– No matter how many times developers compare their apps to coffee... apps are not coffee. The question is not: How many coffees does an app cost. It's: How many apps does a cup of coffee cost? And the answer is: Apps are not coffee but coffee machines.
– We’ve been locked away, a cabin in the mountains, working on the problem of presentations. And it’s time to invite a few more people around the fire, to participate in the process. What’s your perspective on the problem?
– A piece of writing aiming to be academic must be 'clear, concise, focused, structured and backed up by evidence'. We believe that Markdown writing tools make it easier to focus on content and thus support the main aim of academic writing. iA Writer has a couple of tricks up its sleeves that other apps do not.
– These days we all fight to stay focused. People with ADHD are specialists on the matter. We asked you to share your experiences with iA Writer. Answers revolved around the topics of distractions and the ability to focus, which are key concerns of the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Let's see how iA Writer helps you tackle the challenges of writing as explained by users with ADHD. Their insights can help us all.
– After its launch on Mac and iOS last summer and its recent introduction to Windows, Style Check has arrived on Android with version 2.1 of iA Writer. It has been one of our best received and most requested features, therefore we worked hard to make it available for all platforms.
– There is a ton of specialist advice out there regarding writing for high school and university students with ADHD. Most of these suggest a distraction-free writing environment that allows for channeling one's energy into the task at hand.
– iA Writer for Windows 1.4 is now available and it brings Style Check in a free update. We launched Style Check on Mac and iOS this past summer and we have never received so much praise for a new feature. You sent us request after request to bring it to other platforms. We doubled our efforts to bring it to other platforms as soon as possible. It's ready for Windows as of today. We are working on bringing it to Android next.
– Apple will lower its commission to 15% if you make under one million US dollars per year. For small developers, this is fantastic news and overall it’s a good step in the right direction. In the bigger picture, more steps need to follow.
– This week we published two long posts on Monopolies, the Apple Tax, and Subscriptions. Both articles come to the conclusion that lowering the 30% fee Apple charges developers would benefit everyone. The tax is at the core of their Antitrust case, at the core of the developer's business model. And in the end, it is in our common customer's interest to lower it, because profitable development produces better software.
– Companies selling apps via subscriptions use drama to sell: "Either subscription or we die.” As customers, we don't like to add more recurring payments to our monthly credit card bill. Begrudgingly we all accept subscriptions as a new reality. There is a limit to how many we can add to our credit card bill before we ask: Is this necessary? Is there only one business model for software, and, well, for anything now?
– Google has built a complete monopoly on search. Amazon uses the sales data of its resellers to continuously expand and solidify market dominance. Facebook copies the competitors that they can’t bully into being bought to keep their dominant market position. Apple is partying in antitrust land forcing its competitors to hand out 30% of its revenue. The game is rigged. And no one is enforcing the rules. Except for Epic, the maker of one of the most successful games of all time.
– Style Check is like having a personal editor-in-chief on your device, carefully reviewing your text for redundancies, clichés and filler words as you type. It's simple, different, powerful, and available for Mac, iOS, Windows and Android.
– You've waited patiently for it, and now it is here. Version 1.2 of iA Writer for Windows has launched. This release packs in a boatload of improvements, making it the biggest update to hit the platform since the initial release.
– People sometimes ask us "What tricks do you designer guys use on your Macs that I don't know of?" We don't know what you don't know, but there are a couple of general tricks using macOS that you might not all be familiar with.
– It seems the times of free online advertising for indies are over. Blogs are not what they used to be, RSS is about to be buried. Facebook is a commercial and moral nightmare, and so is Facebook's Instagram. On Twitter, our main marketing channel since 2007, our engagement is sinking year after year. On Google, VC powered startups steal our ad positions, and we're all too old for Snapchat or TikTok. So what can you do in 2019 to get the word out?
– We make music when we speak. When we write, the music is in our head, and typing we play the drums. Being fully immersed in writing is like composing and playing music while we drum up our perceptions into letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. How does it all play together?
– iA Writer for Windows came out one year ago. We launched version 2 and called it 1.1. It comes with a cleaner UI, sweeter typography, tighter templates, better word export, and a powerful file library. At first sight, it just looks like we've closed a gap to its older sibling, the Mac app. But there is a subtle twist
– Facebook fishing for our email passwords, Roomba is hovering up all the data on our homes, Amazon is listening to our conversations for laughs, Tik-Tok spying on our kids. And that we see so much dirt on the surface makes it likely that under the surface it's even worse. The solution for all of this: "Ethics". Design ethics! Tech ethics! Business ethics! Ethics for AI!
– The next update of iA Writer does some extreme typographic acrobacy. It comes with three variable fonts which give us 1000s of grades. This allows us to adjust the weight of the font depending on size, device and background color. Additionally, we adjust the line height and spacing depending on column width and type size. The crazy part is that you probably won't see any of this. But you might feel it.
– Creating the latest update to iA Writer was a slow burn. Beginning with some basic maintenance and then improvements for the new iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, the Kraken was released in the final weeks of preparation. The all new Tags and x-callback-urls are so hip they'll take you to funky town.
– As the success of design has become measurable, it has transformed a handicraft into an engineering job. Not the master designer but the user is the arbitrator of good design. The key performance indicator is not beauty but profit. As financial and technical performance was gained, beauty left the stage. Now it feels like something is missing.
– Both iA Writer for Mac and iOS are localized in English, German, Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. For this update, we've decided to add a little present: 17 beautiful wallpapers for your desktop, mobile phone, or tablets.
– iA Writer for Mac, version 5.0, is now available for download in the Mac App Store. It comes with a brand new document library, and apart from English, German and Japanese, it now also speaks French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Portuguese.
– You may have heard that the best way to deal with the “information overload” is to switch off your devices. To take a break from the Internet. Go for a run. Roll out the Yoga mat. Read a book. Talk to your friends. Switching off is good advice. But eventually, you’ll be back. How about changing? Changing from passive, to active. From scroll to search, from react to rethink, from like and retweet to write and link. Take the power back.
– iA Writer 5.0.5 for iOS introduces a fail-safe backup system for any documents opened from other applications. This means if you’ve opened a file from Dropbox, Google Drive or any other storage provider, everything you write in iA Writer is preserved—no matter what.
– Language has the power to make us understand others, to feel like others through time and space. To almost become someone else. Used as tool, computers can help us amplifying the use of language. But if we talk to them alone, they can extract understanding for commercial use and make us die a little.
– Everybody that has an interest in influencing public opinion will happily pay a handful of Dollars to amplify their voices. Governments, political groups, corporations, traders, and just simple plain trolls will continue to shout through bot armies—as long as it is so cheap.
– Step by step, Facebook has cut the news from its feeds. Yesterday, they confirmed that they will focus on content from friends and family while de-emphasizing news. How come? A brief history of the odd partnership between Facebook and the news industry and what it means for us.
– iA Writer for Windows has been a long time coming. Ever since we first launched iA Writer for Mac you have asked, “Will you make a Windows version?” After over two Million downloads on iOS, Mac and Android, we’re excited to bring iA Writer to the world’s largest desktop platform. And to fulfill the vision we have for this app, we’ve just launched our first-ever Kickstarter campaign.
– You may have read or heard that the ideal paragraph consists of one thought. Clearly, there are various ways to begin and end a thought. One way is to start with a claim or topic sentence, offer examples for your claim, explain how your examples support the claim, repeat the claim in the light of the examples, and build a bridge to the next thought. It is not clear if the ideal paragraph has five, six, seven, a maximum or a minimum number of sentences, as it is not clear what one thought is, where or how it begins, and where or how it ends. On second thought, one could as well argue that every sentence consists of one thought.
– Artificial Intelligence is a complex riddle for all sorts of experts. It’s full of magic, mystery, money, mind-boggling techno-ethical paradoxes and sci-fi dilemmas that may or may not affect us in some far or near future. Meanwhile, it already shapes our everyday life. Things already go wrong. And no one is responsible. What can we do?
– The excerpts from recent Alan Kay emails are a gold mine. The text itself is a raw cut-up from a series of private emails. Kay argues that fundamental innovation and following objectives run counter to each other. Very much like art, fundamental research needs to be free from objective purpose.
– In 2017, we gave you a major iOS rewrite, the complete redesign of Android and a new type of writing font. 2018 is going to be a big year for iA Writer. There is an upcoming update of the Mac library and a backup solution for iOS is under construction. Next, we’ll add a Windows version, web collaboration and a physical product to the family. What? When? How?
– Monospace is the typical choice that communicates writing. With iA Writer Duospace, we went a step ahead. After seven years of offering no font options to write, iA Writer now comes with a choice. Next to the monospace Nitti you will now find a brand new duospace font. Duospace?
– 10 months in the making, we built iA Writer 5 following three specific goals. Through the 10 months of iterations, training our focus on these objectives has kept us on track. So what did we choose as our guiding principles?
– “Only write when you have something to say.” It’s short and sound advice. Like “Think before you speak.” But, how do we know if we have something to say? Something to say *to whom*? Is there some other way than speaking to find out if we had something to say? Is there a formula?
– Last week we explained how we believe that technology evolves from raw to complex to simple and how this relates to iA Writer. In order to simplify it even more, we asked how you see iA Writer in future—and what and how you’d expect to pay for it. To a handful of questions we received a warm wave of response from you. You all agreed on on thing: Let's keep it simple.
– Technology evolves from raw to complex to simple. From the fist to the hand axe to the hammer. From carts to the Model T to Tesla. From switchboard-operated phones to digital phones to smartphones. From SMS to Facebook to Messenger. From the crude to the cooked to Sushi.
– We’ve been hard at work producing the next major update to iA Writer, and we’re happy to announce its arrival. iA Writer 4 adds a whole new dimension to how you can work with your documents. We’re excited—and a little nervous—to unveil how this all works…
– To spice up our monster essay on icons, we created an icon monster shooter arcade game. Planned as a one week hackathon, it turned into an amazing one year adventure. Here is what UX designers learned creating an arcade game.
– In the classic era of word processing, text was born between MS Word and a printer. Today, it is written and edited on multiple devices and apps, then mailed, printed, copied, pasted, annotated, published, RSSed, shared and re-shared, using all kinds of tools and platforms. Stubborn proprietary file formats fail in this frantic new environment. Plain text does better, but lacks Rich Text’s formatting. Markdown could be our golden gun. If only it looked a little shinier!
– Icons sparen Platz. Icons sehen schick us. Icons geben einfache Antworten auf nervige Fragen wie: Kann man das alles etwas etwas frecher machen? Wie können wir da mehr Marke reinbringen? Womit peppen wir den Entwurf nun noch auf? Icons sind praktisch. Icons sind ein Segen. Wir ♥ Icons. Bis zum Wahnsinn.
– Icons save space. Icons look crisp. Icons give quick answers to hard questions: How do we make it nicer? How can we brand it? How do we make it more fun? We ♥ icons. Until they start messing with our minds.
– In 2013, iA Writer introduced Syntax Control: syntactic highlighting as an editing feature. We kept it minimal: only one part of speech at a time, in blue. With version 3.1, iA Writer breaks out of its minimalist straitjacket. Syntax Control now highlights parts of speech in blue, yellow, orange, purple and green. She’s a rainbow.
– Five years ago this month we released iA Writer for iPad. We built apps for Mac, iPhone, Android, and a whole new iA Writer Pro branch. People who use iA Writer enjoy the experience of writing with it, they love its purity. We released iA Writer 3, the third generation of our writing machine, as a free upgrade to iA Writer Pro.
– In the summer of 2014, we started dabbling with the Android SDK to get a feeling of what it would mean to develop an Android adaptation of iA Writer. We discovered a dev-friendly world with scant traces of the Android horror stories we had in the backs of our minds.
– Will information technology affect our minds the same way the environment was affected by our analogue technology? Designers hold a key position in dealing with ever increasing data pollution. We are mostly focused on speeding things up, on making sharing easier, faster, more accessible. But speed, usability, accessibility are not the main issue anymore.
– To get a good perspective, we start our projects with research. We go mobile first for prioritization, and we want all the content first so we can design in the browser… Unfortunately, the reality of web design follows a different stereotype.
– Everybody likes logos. Everybody wants their own logo. Everybody wants to make their own logo. Everybody has a computer and some fonts. Anybody can make a logo. What makes designers think they are so special?
– Im allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch ist «Digital» all das, was mit Computern zu tun hat. Aber was hat heute schon nicht mit Computern zu tun? Der Unterschied zwischen digitalen und analogen Geräten verschwimmt immer mehr. Wie sinnvoll ist es noch, von «digital» im Unterschied zu «analog» zu sprechen?
– Herr Reichenstein, kürzlich hat Facebook für die unglaubliche Summe von 1 Milliarde US Dollar das kleine Unternehmen Instagram geschluckt. Werden die Information Architects bald von Microsoft geschluckt?
– The following Interview on iA Writer and the secret of its success has appeared in Business Insider, who reached out to us, “to get the story on where his app came from, where it's heading, and what's wrong with contemporary text editors.”
– Since iA's work is informed by its presence in Europe and Asia, The Verge wanted to know our thoughts on the differences between the two, and in particular where he sees the state of Japanese design right now.
– How do you deal with erroneous tweets? Not any erroneous tweets, your erroneous tweets. The tweets that you misspelled or, worse, that contain information you later discover is false, or a late night knee-jerk response you regret in the morning.
– When we built websites we usually started by defining the body text. The body text definition dictates how wide your main column is, the rest used to follow almost by itself. Used to. Until recently, screen resolution was more or less homogeneous. Today we deal with a variety of screen sizes and resolutions. This makes things much more complicated.
– Our call to question the common practice of blindly adding social media buttons to every page got a lot of attention, and found many friends across the board. This proves we are onto something. Let’s look at some of the more critical reactions.
– Promising to make you look wired and magically promote your content in social networks, the Like, Retweet, and +1 buttons occupy a good spot on pretty much every page of the World Wide Web. Because of this, almost every major site and brand is providing free advertising for Twitter and Facebook. But do these buttons work?
– Werkzeuge sind Verlängerungen des Körpers: Die Brille ist eine Verlängerung des Auges, der Hammer eine Verlängerung der Hand, der Hut eine Verlängerung des Kopfhaars. Was ist ein Computer? Die Verlängerung unseres Geistes? Steve Jobs meinte, der Computer sei ein Fahrrad für den Geist. Eine schöne Vorstellung. Wenn man aber schaut, was insbesondere das Mobiltelefon mit uns macht, dann wirkt der zeitgenössische Computer eher wie ein Hamsterrad.
– With the chaos of different screen sizes and a new generation of web browsers, the design paradigms of layout and typography have shifted away from static layouts and system fonts to dynamic layouts and custom web fonts. Screens are changing not just in size, but also in pixel density. Now we need not only responsive layouts, we also need responsive typefaces.
– There is a difference between checking Google Maps on your iPhone and asking a stranger for directions. It matters whether you listened to Beethoven’s 9th in a concert hall or in your living room, whether it plays from a vinyl LP or from your iPod. King Lear is not the same experience when seen at the theatre, studied on paper, or scanned on a Kindle.
– Oft ist die Weltpolitik relevant für eine Region und manchmal ist die Politik einer Region relevant für die Welt. Bei Regionalzeitungen mit überregionalem Anspruch bewirkt dies zuerst und vor allem ein zünftiges Kuddelmuddel in der Ressortnavigation. Wilde Kategorienmischungen wie bei der WAZ sind keine Seltenheit: "News – Lokales – Politik – Sport". Wo sind denn die lokalen News – und finde ich den Lokalsport nun unter Lokales, Sport, oder an beiden Orten?
– Interview with William Channer for DRT, focusing on “the importance of keeping interfaces simple, why current websites are complicated and the pitfalls of research and why it's a good starting point to understand user expectations.” This is the unedited transcript of the interview.
– It's been two weeks since the launch of Writer for Mac and it went off like a rocket. We sold almost 5,000 copies in two weeks. Of course, version 1.0 had some birth defects (1.01 is out now), but the feedback was overwhelmingly positive—with the exception of a few complaints, mostly about the absence of features, and the price.
– A better tool doesn’t make a better craftsman, but a good tool makes working a pleasure. iA Writer for Mac is a digital writing tool that makes sure that all your concentration goes into the text instead of the program.
– Der Geschäftsleiter eines grösseren Medienunternehmens hat mich kürzlich nach meinem Standpunkt zum Thema Pay Walls, diesen Online-Bezahlschranken gefragt. Worauf ich, wie üblich, mit Schema-F antwortete: Die Grundwährung von News-Websites sei die Aufmerksamkeit und nicht Moneten.
– Ich weiss ganz genau, was wir hier bei iA machen. Der Kollege, den ich vor einem Monat nach langer Zeit wieder einmal traf, der wusste das nicht. Wie er mir erzählte, hatte auch das eingehende Studium unserer Webseite daran nichts geändert.
– I'm not a nuclear expert. I am a 40-year-old Swiss web designer, with a degree in philosophy, living in Tokyo. And I'm a father of a two-year-old boy. I was nonchalant about nuclear energy so far, but recently, I've read a lot about it; it's hard to understand the discussion.
– Computer, Smartphone, Tablet-PC, IP-TV, Spiele-Konsole, Navigationsgerät und vielleicht sogar im Display des neuen Backofens. Das Web soll uns ganz wie von Bill Gates vorhergesehen überall Information übermitteln. Ob das wirklich Sinn macht, ist eine andere Frage.
– We're tracking the performance of iA Writer with a wonderful app called AppViz from ideaswarm. AppViz not only allows you to track your own sales—you can also use it to evaluate how much other apps make, if you have comparable sales numbers. My first question was: How much does WIRED make?
– When asked which four iPad apps he couldn't live without Stephen Fry replied: IMDB, Instapaper, Soundhound, and Writer. “Astonishingly simple. Everything goes away except for the writing experience.”
– How do you navigate content on the iPad? Scroll or flip? In 1987, the biggest neck beards in tech held a conference on the Future of Hypertext and there were two camps, “Card Sharks” and “Holy Scrollers”. They had an epic battle over this question: Should you scroll or flip pages on the screen? Who won the fight?
– I wasn’t expecting this. In three weeks, we’ve sold over 13,000 apps and every day we seem to climb up another rung in the App Store. While selling apps makes the product feel real and secures future development, the biggest personal satisfaction comes from the feedback our app gets from professional writers.
– There has been speculation about whether the Gap redesign was a super-dynamic marketing stunt, or just mere tomfoolery. If you know how plump most big corporations are, the answer to that seems pretty clear (tomfoolery). In the light of the recent run of brand redesign hullaballoos, it’s worth discussing whether scandalous redesigns help brand awareness or hurt brand image.
– Do architects design houses or do they design “inhabitant experiences”? The bullshit answer is “They design inhabitant experiences”. The pragmatic answer is: “They design houses”. The cautious answer is: Architects design houses that lead to a spectrum of experiences, some foreseen, some not. But they do not design all possible experiences one can have in a house.
– «Das Buch wird niemals sterben.» In der englischen Simultan-Übersetzung klingt es fast wie «wir werden immer reiten und brauchen keine Autos». Doch der italienische Redner eines wissenschaftlichen Fachverlags ist sich seiner Sache sicher.
– First, the paper magazine was crammed into the little iPad frame. In the form of a PNG slide show. To compensate for the lack of interactive logic, this pretty package was provided with a fruity navigation.
– Hier ist unsere nächste Web Trend Map. In diesem Jahr gibt es keinen Metro-Fahrplan und auch keine Internet-Adressen. Stattdessen zeigen wir die 140 einflussreichsten Twitter User mit #Namen, #Alias, #Kategorie, #Einfluss, #Aktivität sowie wann und was sie zum ersten mal getwittert haben.
– Interview von Ulrike Daraghma und Pascal Jeschke für Design Made in Germany. DMIG «wollte wissen, ob es die perfekte Webseite gibt, ob Online-Nachrichten-Magazine eine Zukunft haben» und wie wir uns «die Zukunft von Text generell vorstellen.»
– Over the last two months we have been working on several iPad projects: two news applications, a social network, and a word processor. We worked on iPad projects without ever having touched an iPad. One client asked us to “start working on that tablet thing” before we even knew whether the iPad was real.
– From December 2006 to February 2007 we were in touch with the product manager of Facebook. The prospective: Redesigning Facebook. Eventually. Since the contract was never signed, we kept our designs in the drawer. Until now…
– It’s one year since our last Web Trend Map. A lot has happened, but there are not enough changes in the landscape of domains in the last 12 months to create another domain-based Web Trend Map. The big changes happened one level higher, on the social layer, that is: On Twitter and Facebook.
– Am diesjährigen Media2010 Event in Sydney wurden Marc Frons (CTO, New York Times), Nic Fulton (Thomson Reuters) and Oliver Reichenstein über die Zukunft der Nachrichtenindustrie befragt. Die beiden Hauptfragen lauteten…
– Last week at Media2010, Marc Frons (Chief Technology Officer, Digital Operations, New York Times), Nic Fulton (Chief Scientist, Thomson Reuters), and I were asked several questions on the future of news…
– Am 12. Januar 2010 meldete Google in einem Blogeintrag wie ein Blitz aus heiterem Himmel, dass man eine "neue Herangehensweise" an China ins Auge fasse. Man sei nicht weiter bereit, die Suchresultate der chinesischen Google-Suchmaschine zu zensurieren.
– What makes Japanese design so special? Basically, it's a matter of simplicity; a particular notion of simplicity, different from what simplicity means in the West. So are things in general better designed in Japan? Well, actually, it's not that simple…
– I got an email the other day from a young entrepreneur that asked whether we send out press releases. The answer is twisted: So far I have refrained from sending out press releases. But that might change…
– When confronted with the necessity of offering news for free, editors are quick at pointing at the cost involved in news production. Which of course is beside the point. Information on the Internet is as common as snow in the arctic. You can't expect Eskimos to buy a snowman.
– Diesem Artikel ging eine schockierende Selbstbeobachtung voraus. Lange habe ich mich geweigert, den 140-Zeichen-Dienst Twitter auch nur aufzurufen, geschweige denn zu – das Wort auszusprechen fällt mir heute noch schwer – twittern.
– Die 100jährige Internetfirma wird ein Pharmakonzern sein, stets auf der Suche nach der nächsten grossen Rezeptur. Oder ein Filmstudio, das 10 Produktionen im Jahr finanziert, um einen Blockbuster zu landen.
– Recently, there has been a quality renaissance in the discussion about the economic future of journalism. While some are still touting the one miracle solution (usually alluding to Google’s business model and success), a lot of ideas have arisen that will probably make up for the economic future of journalism as a whole. Time for a summary.
– Eine fertige Website weist zahlreiche Aspekte eines Hauses auf. So lässt sich das Treppenhaus (sagen wir die obere Navigation) oft nicht mehr verschieben, ohne dass die Mieter (sagen wir eine Partnerintegration) gestört werden und das Fundament (sagen wir Drupal oder Typo3) bestimmt die Stabilität und das Entwicklungspotential des Gesamtgebäudes mit.
– While the first map was hacked together in an afternoon, the second took a week, and the third devoured a month of concentrated work, the fourth Web Trend Map (due in February) has already taken more time in preparation than all previous versions combined.
– In einem Nachmittag zusammengeflickt war die erste Web Trend Map, die zweite kostete uns eine Woche und die dritte verschlang bereits einen ganzen Arbeitsmonat. Die Web Trend Map Nummer 4, erscheinen soll sie im Februar 2009, hat bereits jetzt mehr Vorbereitungszeit in Anspruch genommen als alle ihre Vorgängerinnen zusammen.
– With websites turning more and more into web applications, functionally as well as aesthetically, it'd be interesting to look at what makes a Web app work in terms of skinning. We start off by comparing two different approaches: HTML-skin vs. desktop-application-skin. In other words, Google versus Apple.
– A 14-year old video blogger named Fred somehow managed to get a fan base of almost 45 Million users. Now instead of asking how that's possible, Seth Godin and Robert Scoble trivialize his success. Did they forget what Elvis said?
– We had to be unusually secretive about the following developments. But now, we can finally lift the curtain. First, the big news project is finished. Second, we have opened a second office in Zürich, Switzerland.
– The IT-Revolution promised to free and enrich us. To free us from propaganda, to free us from mindless TV, to free us from advertisement torture, and to enrich us by letting machines do all the boring work so we'd have more free time. So, how did it go?
– We are happy to announce that the coolest gift for geeks, the A0 poster of the 2008 Web Trend Map, as featured by The Guardian, WIRED, Le Monde, Corriere, kottke, Boingboing, Techcrunch, Mashable, Valleywag and literally thousands of blogs.
– ここに、ついに2008年度版Web Trend Mapを披露させていただけるときがやってまいりました。私たち渾身の、栄光のベータ版です。今回は300件近い有名な、または影響力の大きなサイトをピックアップし、東京首都圏路線図に配置してみました。そして、前回より多くの方のご要望をいただき、ポスターのサイズもA3からA0へと大きくしました。ご自宅や、オフィスのワンポイントに、自信を持っておすすめさせていただきます。
– We present you with the 2008 Web Trend Map, in all its beautiful beta glory. This time we’ve taken almost 300 of the most influential and successful websites and pinned them down to the greater Tokyo-area train map.
– Those familiar with the new Swiss train station maps may recognize one source of inspiration. We’ve adopted some concepts from our good friend Adrian Schaffner’s work on mapping Swiss train stations.
– The release of music for free online is certainly no new thing, with many bands finding success through file-sharing. That fill-sharing kills the record industry is also nothing new, however Radiohead recently made it official by showing that it's possible the make and reach millions without either.
– We have hated this thing for over 12 years now—the button that launches a pull-up menu. Only the twisted minds over at Redmond could come up with this. Yeah, I know it's not a real "Start" button anymore, with Vista it's become more of a clickable logo like the Macintosh one. But, after all this time, it is still a push-up menu. And that is another major branding crime. Why?
– A company may choose to rebrand itself because of a merger, a bankrupting scandal, or because they simply have outgrown their name. These are solid reasons; however, on the web, rebranding should be considered with the caution of a face transplant.
– The last couple of days we have received some excellent feedback on our article “Washington Post Redesign as a Wiki”. First of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to study our problem and form an opinion. To be able to receive input from the best people in the field is rare and rewarding. We got lots of applause, together with some questions and reservations.
– News organizations cannot continue to ignore the global shift from institutionally-controlled media to user-controlled media. They have to redefine their processes and face the obvious question: Do we still need old media for news?
– You often hear people saying that other people understand or don't understand the media. Funny enough that the appreciative "he/she understands the media" is applied to success in old media, while "he/she does not understand the media" is applied to old media people fumbling with the Internet.
– When I read this morning that USA Today "refashions itself as a social network", I got a little shock as I was worried that they are going to eat our client's lunch. Fear nothing, client. Among information designers the USA Today redesign is a laughing stock.
– You should read Mike's latest article several times. Not because it's hard to understand, but because it's amazing stuff. Read it again and again and then read through a whole series of his related articles.
– Yes, we still get requests from people that want us to work for free or deliver comps and sketches “just to see”. And we did some work for tire kickers in the past and once got really screwed by a couple of con-men. So actually we do have some advice for young creative companies and students that work in our field.
– Since the PR giant Edelman and Technorati are working together they are both trying to become an industry reference for statistics on the blogosphere. The question is how reliable is Technorati’s data?
– Web 1.0 started as a streaming publish-to-read medium; web 2.0 has established itself as a publishing platform for everyone. Now web 3.0 is said to be a technologically advanced Internet, where the user executes and the machines do the thinking.
– If you have a website that is not user friendly, you have an unfriendly website which basically means that you lack manners. The specialists use that word (“user friendly”) so often that they forget that “friendly” actually is an ethical term.
– Last Sunday, they started airing the "Hello, I'm a Mac… and I'm a PC" ads here in Japan. And here's a surprise: they're different. The Mac guy isn't particularly cool and the PC guy is a real "salary man" type. The ads aren't as obvious as the Western originals.
– When people ask me about my background, they're confused. I studied philosophy. How come I do web design? In short: The old Greeks brought me here. What can Internet workers learn from the old Greeks?
– An avalanche of comments, hundreds of applauding blog entries, honorable mentions from cooler and more sublime and hotter and higher places, forum discussions, translations in Chinese and partially in Italian and even blunt plagiarism was incited by one of my recent notes.
– In 2001, usability guru Jakob Nielsen—according to USA Today “the next best thing to a true time machine”—was convinced that by 2007 books would be gone and “fully replaced with online information”. Was he being serious?
– Brands make us associate positive values and positive experiences with the products they mark. Brand values are defined by the senior management in the “Brand Matrix”. Coca-Cola recently changed their brand matrix. Are we soon going to associate other things with Coca-Cola?
– All things have an interface. Shaping interfaces is shaping the character of things. The brand is what transports the character of things. When looking at McDonald’s, iPod, or Nintendo DS it becomes quite obvious that the interface *is* the brand.
– 95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.
– Simple websites are easy to use, easy to understand, nice to look at. In practice, websites are either unusable or ugly and filled with too many words. Why do designers have a hard time to keep it simple?
– The Internet business took a hard hit around 2000 after the tech bubble burst. To call yourself an “Internet agency” or even an “Internet startup” was considered nothing less than masochistic. That is when most Internet companies started to get into “consulting“ and “branding” and “marketing”.
– We now have over 75 million websites we can go to, but still we only visit six of them regularly, as we just learned from a study recently made public by Directgov. Their findings make us think of a new phase of the Internet.
– Your website is more important for your company and its brand portfolio than your business card, your brochures, the products you sell, your packaging, the address and the building your company resides in.
– As an information designer the interfaces we currently work on—no matter whether Apple or Windows—bother me. Yes, OS X looks a lot better than its predecessors, and Windows’ upcoming rip off of OS X looks better than the previous rip off.
– Whoever performed any usability tests knows that users look at the content straight away. Users first look the pictures, then at the titles, then at the text. Navigation often gets completely ignored. In my seven years of conceiving websites and monitoring usability tests I am tempted to say that navigation is useless.
– Internet users can give websites a thumbs up or thumbs down in less than the blink of an eye, according to recently published study report. Nature.com and Wired recently reported on the fact that we pass judgement on a website in less than a second. This sounds like good news for web designers. Is it?