Strategic Planning @ DDB | Design Analysis | Visual Curation.
I write about design, tech, Apple, UI/UX and occasionally about cool stuff going on in Madrid.
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☞ Elements of Design →

I wonder, though, how many designers will agree with the sentiment at the end of the video: “Design isn’t a science. Just move things around until it feels right.” I’d personally disagree. What makes design so special is that it is a fusion of both art and science. And there’s definitely more to it than just moving things around until it feels right.

I’m just in awe of how pretty this is. Wow.

☞ Airbnb wants you to think of belonging, not eviction, when you see its new logo →

A few of the site’s other new features are a useful Discover section, so you can find travel ideas you wouldn’t have considered otherwise, and an option for hosts to offer neighborhood tips and maps on their listing.
This is where Airbnb should direct its attention. Logos are fine and all, but features keep people coming back.

Exactly. A good logo with a beautiful story behind is great, and it can muster tremendous iconic power, but in the grand scheme of things it’s just another element that must add up to something greater, something bigger. That something is what keeps people coming back.

☞ The Most Annoying Problem In Computing →

This has been my biggest concern and annoyance for the 6 years I’ve been an iPhone user. In fact, I’d be willing to buy a larger iPhone just for the sake of a larger battery. This bit killed me:

Google is trying the first kind of solution. Android L, its new mobile operating system, includes a battery conservation feature known as “Project Volta.” Among the company’s most disturbing findings was that waking up your smartphone for one second causes two minutes’ worth of battery loss, due to the number of tasks it carries out automatically each time the screen is activated. 

Two fucking minutes. Crazy.

☞ The smart problem-solving behind Android’s new design language →

I’m pretty excited about this new direction taken by Google. Now that hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity it’s up to software to continue delighting and enhancing the user experience. I also love the idea of “liquid” software, that changes shape and size depending on the container. This and Apple’s Continuity features announced at WWDC have made me extremely excited about the future of tech. I just can’t wait to see how far it can go.

A solution to space shortage:

…this place is a promising solution to the growing concern of most Londoners - the space shortage. The design is insightful and it presents to space utilization a very fresh perspective. This functional layout uses one single volume as the element dividing dining, sleeping, storage, living and working spaces. 

This is amazing.

☞ Facebook’s Slingshot Challenges Snapchat With ‘Reply To Unlock’ →

[…] today Facebook officially launches Slingshot for iOS and Android in the US, an app where friends send you photos and videos, but you have to reply with your own before you can see them. “Everyone is a creator and no one is a spectator”, says Product Manager Will Reuben, and that makes it different from Snapchat.

Slingshot’s success will hinge on whether people perceive the reply-to-unlock mechanic as a needless hassle, or as a fun incentive to keep sharing.

Looks interesting but it’s once again US-only, I wonder what Facebook is aiming at with this policy. I can see clearly what they’re aiming at with the app though: those Snapchat-loving teens for whom Facebook is oh so boring.

★ OS X Yosemite: first impressions and a few quick thoughts

Here are some considerations after a short time playing with the upcoming release of OS X, due to make its public debut sometime next fall. In case you’re wondering, I installed Yosemite on a separate partition to make sure I could play with it safely. Now, take these words with a pinch of salt (or a handful even) because they’re based on the very first beta of OS X 10.10, and we all know what a long way is yet to come until it hits golden master.

So, Yosemite. Most of what we saw at the keynote is there: the new UI, the beautiful new icons, the new typeface…but many others elements aren’t quite there yet. Only the main default apps have been updated to the new design while the rest (I’m looking at you, iTunes) still bare the design language of Mavericks. Other elements such as the system sounds or the on-screen indicators when changing the volume or ejecting a drive still sound and look the same, but something tells me all of that will slowly change as it did through every iOS 7 beta (the improved system sounds didn’t come to iOS 7 until the GM). All of this is to say that although Yosemite feels quite consistent as it is today, it will surely gain harmony in the following months.

Using is believing 

Like with iOS 7 when it was released, Yosemite can’t be judged based exclusively on images. You need to actually use it to get a real sense of what it’s like and what it brings to the table. To start with, it’s nowhere near as strident as it looks on the screenshots. The new icons have a perfect balance between flat and 3D resulting in a much more streamlined and harmonious set but without losing their essence. Not to mention they look gorgeous on top of the new frosted glass Dock. My biggest fear was that Apple would go too iOS 7 with the redesign, and I don’t mean that about the colours but about typography. iOS 7 was conceived and designed for Retina Displays and if you’ve had the misfortune of using it on a non-retina iPa, you can surely tell why. And even though I’m certain OS X Yosemite will look its best on Retina Macs (like pretty much anything), it doesn’t lose any sparkle on a good old Mac. 

Not just for Retina

I’m typing this on a 15-inch MacBookPro with a frameless matte display, a model Apple no longer sells and which came with a high density display that packs the amount of pixels of the old 17-inch model on a 15-inch frame. The result is a better-looking display (nowhere near as good as Retina though) where everything is scaled down a little. That means that on this Mac everything looks a little tinier, including the fonts. And yet I’m having no trouble whatsoever reading menus and submenus in the new system font, Helvetica Neue. So concerned designers, you can go back to bed and stop suffering about legibility problems.

Dead wood

One thing that can be said for sure is that, just like iOS 7 felt light after years using iOS 1-6, Yosemite makes your Mac look and feel as if it had lost several pounds all of a sudden. The brighter colors, the translucency and the “whiteness” that takes over the system produces a feeling of freshness, as if the interface took a step back to let you focus on your content. While browsing in Safari, for example, you almost forget about the UI itself as the title bar, now reduced to its minimum expression and given a nice whitening, seems to fade away. In short, we could say that in Mavericks and previous versions of iOS the windows and the UI elements seemed to be ‘hanging’ there, while in Yosemite they’re more like effortlessly floating.

Finding common ground

The change of font not only makes the whole OS feels more modern and (dare I say it?) “serious” in comparison to the more round and relaxed Lucida Grande, but also adds consistency when jumping from an iOS device. From the color palette to the use of translucency and now even the system font, going from one OS to the other feels more seamless than ever, and Continuity isn’t even enabled yet on the first beta of Yosemite. Little by little Apple has managed to bring both iOS and OS X to a middle ground where they both can coexist without becoming one entirely nor without losing what made each of them what they are today. OS X Yosemite is 100% OS X as much as iOS 7 remained 100% iOS. but now they feel close than ever. 

☞ Mac OS X Yosemite Under the Magnifying Glass →

I’ve been playing around with Yosemite after installing it in a partition (you should do the same if you’re thinking about taking it for a spin) and I quite agree with this critique of the visual refreshment. I’m putting together some thoughts and first impressions but so far I can only say I’m impressed. What we saw at the WWDC keynote was incredibly exciting and we’re barely scratching the surface of everything that is yet to come for OS X and iOS next fall.

☞ Rethinking iOS App Store Reviews →

Henri Liariani for Medium:

Apple, listen up.

☞ Apple vs. Google: It's War, and Thank Goodness →

The most important weapon on display was the notion of instantaneous cross-platform interoperability — or in the slightly more user-friendly Craig Federighi term, “continuity” between all your Apple devices. Get a call on your phone, answer it on your laptop. Send texts and audio messages and video from wherever to whomever. Every screen you pick up, so long as it has an Apple logo on the back, is the same screen. Mac OS X or iOS? It barely matters any more.

Apple is putting all its chips in the one place where Google’s most lacking: consistency. Of course, only a brand that has been building an ecosystem like Apple has for so long can pull this off, and for those of us who have been longtime Apple users it couldn’t be more exciting. 

GIF Illustrations by Rebecca Mock:

Brooklyn-based illustrator Rebecca Mock draws very beautiful illustrations in animated gifs for different web medias. The illustrations fit into the contemporary era by setting scenes of characters in the subway, holding an iPad or a messy desk with a vibrating iPhone and a graphic tablet.

Love this. It’s amazing how one tiny little detail can convey so much meaning. I’m not sure why but I find these tremendously peaceful.

☞ Understanding UX Design →

By far the simplest, clearest explanation of UX I’ve ever read.

☞ Motion UI Design Principles →

With the increasing emphasis on motion (largely thanks to the more paired back design of iOS 7) its important that it is implemented with the same integrity and purpose as all the other aspects of UI design. With the exclusion of skeuomorphic design there is now a freedom for content to behave in an unrestricted manner. Gone are the awkward and sometimes absurd transitions that appeared to break all laws of their pre-defined physical environment. Now the space has opened for there to be a much richer identity and defined language or landscape to mobile UI and motion is very much an integral part of that.

Now that heavy textures and extremely detailed design seem to be a thing of the past, animations have become the new area for app designers and developers to truly shine and stand out. While some are making great use of it and have taken iOS app developing to new heights (animations alone are one of the key reasons that make Facebook Paper such an enjoyable experience) others have gone overboard and added complexity. This could easily be the unwritten Apple guide to iOS animations. 

☞ Apple: Environmental Responsibility →


It’s a powerful word. And a powerful idea. It makes us look at the world and want more than anything to change it for the better. To innovate. Improve. To reinvent. To make it better. 

It’s in our DNA. And better can’t be better if it doesn’t consider everything. Our products. Our values. And an even stronger commitment to the environment for the future. To use greener materials. Less packaging. To do everything we can to keep our products out of landfills. Changes that will benefit people as well as the planet. 

To us, better is a force of nature. It drives us to build things we never imagined. New data centers powered by the sun and wind. A new manufacturing facility that runs on 100% clean energy. And new product designs that make use of recycled materials. All ways to reduce our impact on the environment. We have a long way to go, and a lot to learn.

But now, more than ever, we will work to leave the world better than we found it, and make the tools that inspire others to do the same.

The fact that this is the very first Apple ad narrated by Tim Cook seems like a pretty clear sign of just how serious Apple takes environmental issues. I think it’s an incredibly powerful message that few companies in the world can truly deliver, and picks up where Tim left it when he confronted a stakeholder who wanted Apple to reduce the investment in eco-friendly policies. All in all, if you still think you’re just buying tech when you buy an Apple product you’re terribly wrong. It’s so much more than that.

☞ The thinking behind Monument Valley →

The people from ustwo, the studio behind the amazing Monument Valley, released a statement when the game came out which sheds some light on the creative process and the reason for the game’s aesthetics and the sensations it produces:

  • The game would be so simple it needed almost no instruction.

  • The game would appear friendly and engaging. If Escher could make artwork that was both beautiful to behold and geometrically fascinating to a wide audience, perhaps we could achieve a similar feat in the interactive medium.

  • Players will appreciate quality play time over quantity of play time. Instead of creating as many levels as possible, we would only add levels when we had something new and unique to say. Keeping the experience short would allow more players to see the story through to the end.

  • Challenge is not the focus of the game, and difficulty is not the central arc. The feeling of discovery and the joy of exploring a new world can be just as powerful and stimulating.

  • We wanted to earn the player’s emotional engagement. The art, sound, text and animation are restrained and subtle, designed to permit empathy, not force it.

These are not only interesting but also true to the facts, because that is exactly what the game achieves. It’s a wonderful experience in which gameplay itself, going through every level, is truffled with wonderful little details that makes you want to stop and contemplate every scene instead of rushing to the finish line. If you haven’t tried it yet I can’t but recommend it, it’s easily the best 3€ I’ve spent on a piece of software in a long time. Go grab it!