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Category: Digital Strategy and Design

Apple cuts 30% commission to 15% for small developers

– 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.

Why is Facebook not Paying the Apple Tax?

– Why should Facebook—the biggest beneficiary of the iPhone, its tools, and its infrastructure—pay nothing, when small developers have to pay tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars?

How to Think Different

– 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.

Subscription or no subscription? That is not the question.

– 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?

On Monopolies, Apple, and Epic

– 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.


– 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.

Designed in China, Assembled in California

– As China starts outdoing us economically, technically and strategically, we are turning Chinese, slowly losing the spiritual, cultural and political texture that made us different.

How does sending traffic to the App Store affect your App Store ranking?

– Sending too much traffic too the App Stores might negatively impact your App Store ranking.

Design is Political

– Everything around us is designed. Design shapes cities, gives form to houses, sketches and connects spaces; designers define our environment, our things, bodies and minds. Design is political.

Who serves whom?

– 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?

Information Entropy

– 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.

Putting Thought Into Things

– 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.


– ウェブサイトを作るときは、まずは本文のテキストを定義することから始めるものだった。本文の定義次第で、中心となるコラム(列)の幅が決まり、その他はそれに連なって自ら定義される。これは昔の話。近年までは画面の解像度は基本的に共通だった。しかし、今は様々な大きさのスクリーンや解像度に対応する必要があり、事情は複雑になっている。

Improving the Digital Reading Experience

– 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.

“Why Simplicity Creates Great User Experiences” (DRT)

– 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.

Business Class: Freemium for News?

– 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.

Business-Class: Ein Freemium-Modell für Zeitungswebseiten?

– 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.

iPad App Sales Numbers: WIRED vs. Writer

– 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?

Can Experience be Designed?

– 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.

WIRED on iPad: Just like a Paper Tiger…

– 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.

Cosmic 140 – Per Anhalter durch die Twitter Galaxis

– 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.

Designing for iPad: Reality Check

– 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.

iA’s 2006 Facebook Designs, Redesigned

– 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…

What’s Next in Web Design?

– 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.

Was bringt 2010?

– 2009 ist sicher in unseren Erinnerungen verstaut, die Nullerjahre sind überstanden – Zeit für einen Ausblick.

Can Experience be Designed?

– 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.

Der Weg des Projekt-Samurai

– 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.

The Value of Information

– 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.

Future of Journalism: A Little Bit of Everything Please

– 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.

The Spectrum of User Experience

– Designers are narcissists, programmers are nerds, and whoever wears a tie must be a jerk. Designers, programmers and business people love to hate each other. That's why we keep them separated…

Das Spektrum der Nutzererfahrung

– 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.

Social Media Marketing? Kaboom, Baby!

– "Social media marketing" is bullshit. If that upsets you, don't read the following text.


– 私たちは、つまらないテキストを読むことに(そして書くことにも!)時間を浪費しすぎています。そして、そんな私たちの問題を解決してくれるものを今回はご紹介したいと思います。

Webapp Death Match: Google vs. Apple

– 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.

Elvis and the Opposite

– 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?

Surfing the Avalanche

– The supposed recession is the best thing that could happen to us readers, consumers, new media makers. Avalanche, take us with you!

Trend Map 2008: What’s New?

– We’ve redesigned the Web Trend Map from scratch. It’s now presented as an isometric landscape.

Face Off: The Essentials of Online Rebranding

– 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.

A Word on Design Value

– The other day we got a telephone call from a business man that planned to "exponentially increase" his Internet performance. His budget? $1,000.

Newspaper Wiki: Schematics

– 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.

wiki型新聞再構築(Washington Postデザイン考察)

– 前回の記事には多くの反響をいただきました。特に、どゆこと?という詳細へのご要望が多かったのが

Washington Post Redesign as a Wiki

– 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…

Web Ad Spend Overtakes Newspapers

– Earlier this year we speculated that in 2007 "Big ad investments start streaming in". Our prognosis was heavily understated.

The Future of News: How to Survive the New Media Shift

– 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?

10 Newspaper Myths Deconstructed

– The San Francisco Chronicle is in financial trouble. InfoWorld stops printing. Time Magazine redesigns its print edition and fires 50 people. Quo vadis, newspapers?

USA Today: Mission Accomplished

– 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.

Pushers and Spammers Should Pay

– The amount of spam and flooding blogs and mailboxes is getting worse and worse and worse. How should we stop it?

Tirekickers & Co. Ltd.

– 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.

Technorati: Big Business with Bogus Data

– 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?

Partner in Astroturfing: Boycott Technorati?

– We all had a bad feeling about this right from the start. Why is the blog watch-and-search engine Technorati bonding with the No.1 PR giant Edelman? Can we trust them?


– ユーザーフレンドリー(user friendly)でないサイトは、オーナーのマナーのなさを暴露するものです。専門家の方々は、このユーザーフレンドリーという単語を乱用しすぎて、元来「フレンドリー」という言葉が道徳用語だということを忘れてしまったのではないでしょうか。

The Electronic Gentleman

– 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.

New Athens

– 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?


– コメントの嵐、多くのブログでのお褒めの言葉、ちょっと恐れ多いような方々からもご意見をいただき、またフォーラムでのディスカッション、中国語やイタリア語への翻訳など、ほんとうに色々と皆様に反響をいただきました。一つ一つにお答えすることが難しいので、いただいたご質問、反論などから多かったものについてこちらで少し追記させていただきたいと考えています。この作業によって、結果的に自分でも色々と整理出来た気がします。

Reactions to 95% Typography

– 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.

Web Design is 95% Typography

– 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.

CI and CSS

– Corporate design manuals, CSS, information architecture and object oriented programming follow the same principle. They are modular.

Usability News: The F-Pattern

– 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”.


– 企業のウェブサイトというのは往々にして顧客との最初の、そして緊密な接点となるものです。その点で、ユーザビリティとオンライン・ブランディングはどのビジネスにも重要です。しかしながらウェブデザインとユーザビリティはしばしば矛盾するのです。今回は、私たちがどのようにその矛盾を解決しているのかをご紹介したいと思います。

Usability and Branding

– 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.

What is an Idea, and How Much is it Worth?

– 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.