Inspired by Roger Federer’s icon-only approach, we created a font that turns the 2,000 most used English words into emoji. It was just an experiment—until Apple opened the door to their Messages app…
The iA Blog has attracted a diverse audience—including design and tech professionals—by providing in-depth analysis on subjects such as interaction design, digital strategy, online marketing, app development and web technology. If you are interested in how we speak internally we suggest you have a look at our own iA Dictionary.
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 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.
The iA Dictionary is a growing compendium of lingo and slang that we use internally. It offers a quick insight in the way we speak, think and work.
iA is speaking at a wide range of design and Tech conferences. An overview of past and future events.
It comes almost without features. The number of design flourishes? Exactly zero. Font sizes? One. Line heights? One. Support? Nonexistent. You want to make the logo bigger? Sorry, we got bad news for you.
Information Architects is opening an office in Berlin. This is not just another city for us. We are adapting our method to a new format, crossing a delicate threshold. We will bring our way of thinking to motion design.
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?
Learning to design is learning to see, an adventure that gets more and more captivating the further you go. A love letter to my profession.
Interview von Christoph Ebert für Webmagazin anlässlich der MobileTech Conference in München.
iA Writer for Mac is the first native text editor that uses a responsive design. Why did it take so long?
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?
Apple has been working on its file system and with iOS it had almost killed the concept of folders—before reintroducing them with a peculiar restriction: only one level! With Mountain Lion it brings its one folder level logic to OSX. What could be the reason for such a restrictive measure?
The following Interview on iA Writer and the secret of its sucess 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.
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?
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.
The Swiss newspaper NZZ just launched its much anticipated redesign. The design was made by the German agency Meiré and Meiré that has also done the print design. Commenting on work from people in your own field is a delicate matter.
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?
Der folgende Text über die Grundregeln des Bogenschiessens stammt aus dem sogenannten Shaho-Kun. Er lässt sich leicht auf die Kunst der Kommunikation übertragen.
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.
The idea: Look at the history, shape and sound pattern of each letter, sum it up in 140 characters, and collect a beautiful specimen for each letter.
I had a perspective-changing talk on the subject of pay walls with the chief executive of a big publishing company (no, I can’t tell you who). He asked me what I think about pay walls.
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?
After an anecdotal back and forth with Zeldman about the .Net awards where he was sponsor, judge, and recipient of three medals, @jobgold asked whether I was against prizes in general or just the “circle jerk” prizes, I answered that “All awards should go from old uncles (like me or @zeldman or whoever) to young people. They need it.”
Here is the lecture iA’s Oliver Reichenstein gave in 2010 at Keio University on creativity, information, and innovation.
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?
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.
A presentation with the title “iA on IA,” held at EuroIA 2010.
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.
Jeron van Geel interviewed Oliver Reichenstein on Jonny Holland. He asked a series of questions about about the relationship between Philosophy, Design, Japan and Western culture.
„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.
Our latest Web Trend Map tells the story of Twitter and its 140 most influential Twitter users. Surprisingly, it’s even more popular than Web Trend Map 4.
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.
I’ve been asked by the Italian magazine L’Espresso to write an article on The Future of Web Design. Here is the (longer) English text.
2009 ist sicher in unseren Erinnerungen verstaut, die Nullerjahre sind überstanden - Zeit für einen Ausblick.
I sat down with the video team of GaijinPot for a short interview about the Web Trend Map.
First, think of a number between one and ten. Then take a step back and look at the words “User Experience Design” as if you had never seen them.
We decided to sell the WordPress template of our own site. The problem we had to solve was not “why?” but “how much?” After a long debate we decided to try something new: dynamic pricing.
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…
Obwohl ich immer wieder grosse Projekte leite, habe ich nie intensiv über das Handwerk der Projektleitung nachgedacht. Ich sehe aber, dass selbst gestandene Projektleiter immer wieder scheitern.
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.
As we all perfectly know, designers are narcissists; programmers are nerds, and whoever wears a tie must be a clueless jerk. Designers, programmers and business people love to hate each other. That’s why we keep them separated.
It hangs in the headquarters of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, WordPress, and Yahoo! Japan. Even the CERN in Geneva has its own copy. The WTM4 poster has caused quite a stir.
Blog comments have an innate communication problem: You can’t discuss and moderate the discussion at the same time.
Der wichtigste Antrieb, sich für ein soziales Netzwerk wie Facebook anzumelden, ist das Bedürfnis, Leute auszuspionieren, die man nicht physisch trifft.
“Social media marketing” is bullshit. If that upsets you, don’t read the following text.
We all waste too much time reading (and writing!) boring text. Here is one solution to the problem.
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.
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.
After all, blogging is over now, isn’t it? Very probably so.
Das Internet ist reich an Text und arm an Qualität. Drei japanische Tricks, um Zeit und Nerven zu sparen.
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.
Dieses Internet wird sicher irgendwann wieder verschwinden“ hat mancher Verlagsmanager noch bis vor kurzem gehofft—bevor er sich gerade noch rechtzeitig in den Ruhestand retten konnte.
Der verlinkte Bürger hätte heute die Möglichkeit, zum Datengourmet zu werden. Das Angebot besteht. Alles, was man tun muss, ist reduzieren.
Die Rezession ist das Beste, was uns passieren kann. Uns Lesern. Uns Konsumenten. Uns neuen Medienmachern.
Japanisch für Anfänger oder was von anonymen Blogkommentatoren zu halten ist.
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?
The supposed recession is the best thing that could happen to us readers, consumers, new media makers. Avalanche, take us with you!
Dear anonymous reader, if you intend to be critical: Be our guest. But if you’re our guest, act like a guest.
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.
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.
We’ve redesigned the Web Trend Map from scratch. It’s now presented as an isometric landscape.
This year we have seven predictions. If they are as accurate as last year’s, we should make this a paid service.
Here’s what we said was going to happen in 2007 one year ago, compared to what really happened…
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 wonderful example of what not to do if you believe that Brand = Interface. Copying interfaces defines you as a second choice company.
The Interface is the brand—but few interfaces qualify to leave out the main orientational element—the logo.
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.
We have done it before, and now we’ve done it again—the poster of most successful websites, mapped to the Tokyo Subway, is back!
The other day we got a telephone call from a business man that planned to “exponentially increase” his Internet performance. His budget? $1000.–
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.
After our last post on “The Future of News” we have been asked again and again to illustrate what a newspaper as a wiki would look like. We’re happy to oblige…
Earlier this year we speculated that in 2007 “Big ad investments start streaming in”. Our prognosis was heavily understated.
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?
The San Francisco Chronicle is in financial trouble. InfoWorld stops printing. Time Magazine redesigns its print edition and fires 50 people. Quo vadis, newspapers?
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.
The amount of spam and flooding blogs and mailboxes is getting worse and worse and worse. How should we stop it?
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 related his 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.
What started as a fun new years card made quite a few waves. The Web Trend Map’s reception so far…
Apple’s iPhone proves again that user experience is brand experience. But I’m still unsure if I really want one; they’re kind of too big and too complicated for an old man like me.
As a Christmas and New Year’s present to our clients and readers we have created three fun Internet overviews.
After looking closer at what made the web in 2006, it is time for some bold predictions.
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?
We all had a bad feeling about this right from the start. Why is the blog watch-and-search engine Technorati bonding with the the No.1 PR giant Edelman? Can we trust them?
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.
Good books are good people: Books are people speaking with signs. Meeting cool people several times is nice.
Since Mondays are typically low energy days, I’d like to share this story with, to reassure you: If you have a strong vision—no one can stop you.
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.
Using 10 pixel Verdana made sense in a time when screens were 640 pixels wide. Today it is a mistake.
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.
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Corporate design manuals, CSS, information architecture and object oriented programming follow the same principle. They are modular.
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”.
Since I’ve started developing websites I’ve been looking for the ideal layout. Today I got another hint on the direction to take. Jacob Nielsen calls it the “F‑Pattern”.
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.
If it is your side column on your website you want it. But does your user read—or even: see—it? You might argue that the side column is standard. So we do need it. Do we?
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 second. This sounds like good news for web designers. Is it?
I needed an accountant for my new company and so I checked out a couple of websites and made a couple of appointments. And if you think accountants are boring, you are so very wrong.
Setting up a company in Japan as a foreigner isn’t as difficult as you might guess. Of course, it helped that I knew some things about Japan, and starting off—before I started off.
An idea is not some pink cloud that looks like a bunny. The Greek word “Eidos” originally meant “form, shape”, and that is what a real idea is.