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My Handbook43:24 with Mark Boulton
Over the years, every designer picks up a ton of little tips and tricks along the way. Scraps of code, ways of doing things, stories of how not to do it, and how to do it. In this talk, Mark will share some thoughts from his notebook. You'll hear tales of designing by committee, the death of typesetting, content mountains and what happened when he led a team of designers in India for a week.
[MUSIC] 0:00 >> So, today my talk is about it's about My Handbook. 0:03 Which is a bit of a silly title really for, I think everybody, 0:07 every designer, I'm a designer. 0:10 Every designer goes through their career and 0:12 they pick up, they pick up ways of doing things along the way. 0:14 So that's basically what this handbook is. 0:19 It's my way of doing things. 0:21 These are like my, my design principles. 0:22 These are things that are star to sail my ship by, they keep me on track. 0:25 So I keep referring back to them time and time again. 0:30 And they've changed over the years, you know. 0:33 Right now in my career, I now work for, 0:36 I used to run a little design company, I now work for Monotype as Design Director. 0:38 So they kind of change, you know, you change environment and 0:42 they, they change to, change with you. 0:44 So hopefully they're gonna be useful, they're kind of practical. 0:46 But first of all I'm gonna talk about what you guys call faucets and 0:49 what I call taps. 0:53 So I have got a growing collection of photographs of taps. 0:55 It's a bit of a thing that I'm kind of embarrassed to talk about. 0:58 But I so, so this tap is a, 1:05 the temperature is on the right, and this controls the water flow, right. 1:07 It's a little bit odd. 1:12 We've all seen these, where you put your hands and the magic happens. 1:14 First of all soap, and then water, and then air. 1:19 Now if like me, I have ghost hands. 1:23 So this doesn't work. 1:26 I wave them around. 1:27 I'm the guy at the supermarket or 1:29 at the airport, going like this along every, every tap, right. 1:31 There's this one, this is a personal favorite of mine. 1:36 This again, was ghost hands. 1:38 So I was kinda waving them around underneath, and nothing was happening. 1:40 And then this happened, and I got, my arms got soaked. 1:43 >> [LAUGH] >> Taps should not require instructions. 1:46 Is my point here, right? 1:53 So, this comes to my first principle, 1:56 my first thing in my handbook, which is the thinginess of the thing. 1:59 So when I was in in university, I studied to 2:03 be a typographic designer after failing at trying to be a forensic scientist. 2:06 A bit of a change. 2:11 >> [LAUGH] >> So 2:13 I was in my third year at university and, and everybody you know we, 2:14 we write a dissertation which is like 10,000 words long. 2:19 And I was dreading it, cuz I didn't like writing. 2:22 And, I was like what am I gonna, write about I have no idea. 2:24 So I went to see the, the the, the kind of, art design history lecturer. 2:28 And I had this idea right, I'm gonna, 2:33 I'm gonna write about post modern graphic design and you know, David Kassan and 2:34 Emma Gray it was all the things you know, post grunge stuff. 2:39 And, and you could see the look on her face, she was like, 2:42 every single design student has said exactly the same thing that day, so 2:45 she was like, well no, maybe you should go away and have a think about it. 2:49 I was like, what does that mean? 2:53 Does that mean that was a rubbish idea, probably. 2:55 So I went away and I had a think about it. 2:57 And I, I, I in the end, I wrote my dissertation on 3:00 Gibsonium Cyber Culture, which again wasn't like, you know. 3:04 I was just, just reading, Mona Lisa Overdrive at the time. 3:09 I thought it was a pretty cool good book so 3:12 it was like right, it was, it was not a good decision. 3:13 But what, what ha, off the back of that was 3:16 a growing interest in this thing called the internet. 3:19 And a growing interest into the possibilities of it. 3:23 And I was the only person on the course who wrote a dissertation like that, 3:27 but also as part of it designed a website. 3:32 And now this website, and, and you know, for 3:36 the final major project of the year I also had a website. 3:38 And the, for the, my final, part of my final major project for 3:42 the year I did a website on Elvis. 3:44 I don't like Elvis. 3:46 I don't know why I would pick Elvis. 3:46 >> [LAUGH] >> It was pink. 3:48 That I remember. 3:49 I, I should dig it out. 3:50 It'll be somewhere, horrific code, 3:51 capital letters, are deprecated elements, all the rest. 3:53 But what that process of learning the Web, 3:57 you know everyone else, every other designer was making pretty things and 4:01 holding them up and getting their friends to take photographs of them, right. 4:04 Everyone wanted to make something beautiful, and 4:08 I made something really ugly. 4:09 But, it didn't cost me anything. 4:11 Now every time somebody printed something at University, 4:16 it was a big A2 dye sublimation printer. 4:18 And it spit out a big print and it would cost 10 Pounds. 4:23 So as a student, I was living for a week on 10 Pounds. 4:27 If I made a typo, I didn't eat, right. 4:30 >> [LAUGH] >> It's high stakes. 4:33 >> [LAUGH] >> So, but the web, it was free. 4:35 All I had to do was publish. 4:41 And that gets me on to the thinginess of the thing, of the web. 4:43 And that's what it, in essence, I think it boils down to. 4:47 Sure, you've got lots of other stuff. 4:50 Progressive enhancements, hyperlinks, collaboration. 4:52 The very foundations of how the web was born. 4:56 But really the, the barriers aren't there compared to other traditional media. 4:59 We can just publish, and that's brilliant. 5:03 That is the thinginess of the thing. 5:07 So whenever I find myself straying around, 5:09 getting a little discombobulated with the web and projects, I just remind myself how 5:12 brilliant how we don't have to order steel from India, and get it shipped, and 5:18 have supply lines, and, and all of this stuff that could go wrong. 5:23 We don't, we just publish it, and if it's wrong, we publish it again and it's right. 5:27 And that is awesome. 5:32 The other thing about the internet, which is great, is this. 5:35 I'll read this, well you can probably see. 5:37 If you want an image of London, 5:39 imagine a terrapin riding a dead fox in Regents canal forever. 5:40 This is what's brilliant about the internet. 5:44 Is you can just publish, that is actually a terrapin on a dead fox. 5:47 You can just publish this stuff. 5:50 >> [LAUGH] >> Right? 5:52 And cats. 5:53 So, this had a well, three and a half thousand re-tweets or something crazy. 5:54 so, thinginess of the thing. 6:00 My next my next point is, so in the 1950s, and you know we've probably seen this on, 6:04 those of you who've watched Mad Men or, and 6:09 those of you who have worked in advertising, right. 6:12 Those of you in the room who are designers even developers, you know, 6:16 all of us really. 6:19 We've been sold a lie since the 50s and 60s. 6:21 Commercial design in the 50s and 60s was something that, 6:24 particularly in advertising, was something that happened free. 6:27 Right? Because the ad agencies were 6:31 making money elsewhere. 6:33 So they made money on their media spend, and then they just, you know, 6:35 creative was free. 6:38 So that's the first thing. 6:40 And the second thing is that because it was free, it had to be done quickly. 6:41 Because, otherwise they'd waste loads of money and time. 6:45 So they'd bake in this linear process and you can have changes at points a, b and c. 6:49 Right? 6:56 That is a lie that we were sold then and clients are continuing along that lie and 6:57 it's kind of entrenched. 7:02 There's this the, the, 7:06 one of the partners at IDO has got this great [COUGH] this great model of, 7:07 of how they work and they, they kind of you know, they sell it in to clients. 7:13 And thankfully we, we've come around to this way of thinking now on the web. 7:16 Certainly you know, I think the reality is that we don't really do it. 7:20 But we say we do, which is, there's this sine wave of iterating and testing, right. 7:25 Where, you know, you, you make something, you put it in front of users. 7:30 You test it. 7:34 You change it. 7:35 You test it. 7:36 You change it. 7:36 That's very hard to do commercially, 7:37 because no one's gonna really write a blank check, right. 7:39 So, but in house you can do that. 7:45 Even though there are other pressures. 7:47 But I think there's another sine wave along there, which is the feeling of 7:48 something being great and then awful, and then great and awful. 7:52 And they, those map to, I'm in my little designer bubble. 7:56 I'm making great things, and then I put it in front of somebody and 8:01 they can't use it and I'm like oh, woe is me. 8:04 So making things is a really messy, squiggly, horrible business. 8:09 This is my lounge last year. 8:13 So my I was having a, so there are kind of random photos of my house in here. 8:16 It's just a state of I'm, I'm kind of doing up my house. 8:22 So but there is a point. 8:25 This was a, so I was having a new fireplace, and it's a really old cottage. 8:27 And there's a guy called Di Cook it's the Welshist Welsh name of 8:32 the Welshist Welshman you've ever seen in your life. 8:35 He's perfectly round. 8:38 >> [LAUGH] >> He's got, he's got huge hands. 8:39 He's perfectly designed for picking up rocks. 8:44 So he's, he's a, he's a stonemason, and this is what he does for a living. 8:46 And he makes an absolute mess wherever he goes, just mess follows him around. 8:52 and, I mean I'm kind of dreadful with, soon as I get any kind of tradesman in 8:58 and, an stuff, I'm, I'm just kind of like a little kid. 9:01 I stand there watching them, they're like, what can I do for you? 9:04 I'm like, nothing, do you want a cup of tea? 9:06 >> [LAUGH] >> I'm just watching what you're doing. 9:09 This is what design is like, right. 9:13 I think design isn't points a, b, and c, signing off stuff. 9:16 Design is a big fat squiggly mess. 9:21 Until something kind of all right pops out at the end of it. 9:23 And then, sorry, that sounds so depressing, doesn't it. 9:27 well, you know, it's kinda true. 9:32 All right. 9:34 So, making things is messy. 9:36 I did run a publishing company for a little while. 9:40 A little publishing company, which is still going. 9:43 Five Simple Steps. 9:45 And what we did there was, well, I wrote a book. 9:47 And I published it myself, 9:50 because I didn't want publishers making an ugly book, from my words. 9:51 So it's kind of, selfish. 9:55 But then other people wanted me to publish books, which was nice. 9:57 So, we did. 10:00 And we published lots over the years. 10:02 But God, did we screw up. 10:05 Weekly, daily, we made an absolute hash of it continually, the whole time. 10:07 And one of the, one of the principles I keep coming back to, one in my, 10:14 in my handbook is, you know, just, Frank Chimero, for those of you who know him. 10:19 He did a wonderful talk, 10:25 at the DO lectures called The Long, Hard, Stupid Way. 10:27 And, there is real benefit in doing things the long, hard, stupid way. 10:31 Because, you learn way more than if you just went out and 10:37 got a shopper file license, right? 10:41 No. 10:45 We made, built our own thing. 10:45 We did our own fulfillment, which was ridiculous. 10:47 We hired a little company in Derbyshire in, in England. 10:51 And when it snowed really badly and 10:54 Andy Clark's book was released, it snowed in the yard about this much. 10:56 And they wouldn't get the truck out. 11:01 Andy was like, what do you mean you won't get the truck out? 11:03 He's like, can't do it. 11:05 And and that was it. 11:07 [LAUGH] So, the whole book was delayed two weeks because some guy, 11:07 like hm, no, you know, not doing it. 11:13 So it was ridiculous but there's a benefit in that. 11:17 I like to think I learned something along the way. 11:20 So, The Long Hard Stupid Way, I thank Frank for that. 11:23 It's a, it's a, 11:26 it's a lovely phrase to make you feel better about not giving up on something. 11:27 So, you know there's a really great book called, 11:35 Creativity Ink, I don't know if you've read it. 11:37 It's from the other guy from Pixar. 11:40 He must hate being called that, but he is. 11:42 He's not Steve Jobs, and he's not John Lasseter, he's the other guy. 11:44 I can't even remember his name, I have to look. 11:48 Ed Catmull, right. 11:50 So he talks, it's a really good book, he talks about, 11:51 one of the kind of founding sort of, management techniques and 11:56 principles that he has there is, is, is paying attention, all right. 11:59 So as I ran a, a studio. 12:05 You know, I had a team of designers and, and now I'm a design director and 12:07 I have a slightly larger team of designers who work with me. 12:12 One of the, the things that I I 12:17 try to do every day is to just be mindful about what is going on around me. 12:20 And the people around me, right. 12:25 Cuz that's really what it boils down to. 12:26 I was talking to Paul who sat here yesterday and 12:28 Jen Simmons about what it is that, that like, where I am with design. 12:32 And, and it has a lot more to do these days with the people and 12:37 the environment in which I'm doing the work. 12:44 Because if those people are rubbish at what they do. 12:46 Or if they're idiots. 12:50 Or if the environment is not conducive for 12:52 good work to happen, then good work won't happen. 12:56 You can be the best designer in the world and push pixels around until you 12:59 create the most beautiful thing, but if the environment's not right in which that 13:03 work can be taken and, and made real, then you're totally wasting your time. 13:07 So I spend a lot of my time paying attention. 13:13 And that means attending meetings. 13:17 It means speaking to people on the phone. 13:19 It means doing all of this stuff that maybe you wouldn't consider design. 13:21 But I think it is, it's part of the picture. 13:26 Cuz if you don't do that, you're not designing, really. 13:29 You're making pretty things and they won't, they won't get made. 13:32 So kind of noticing these seeds and ideas that float by in the day. 13:37 People have a million, a million ideas every day. 13:41 You know, if you're in a team things will crop up all over the time. 13:44 And so it's paying attention to how they do that and when, right, so 13:48 a lot of us work remotely. 13:52 It's the tools and mechanisms that we have in place to get those ideas right, 13:55 you have to grab them and nurture them, because if you don't nothing will happen. 13:59 So, so that's that. 14:04 Well I, this is a sign from a, from Lu Rutan whose six and 14:08 this is a hotel lobby in New York. 14:14 And I like to think that these are five rules that I can live my life by. 14:17 Building lego, drinking chocolate milk, 14:23 playing with my friends, not talking on the phone too much. 14:24 What six year old talks on the phone all the time? 14:27 >> [LAUGH] >> And draw everyday, 14:29 which is kind of nice, that last one especially. 14:32 All right this one, this one's really important,. 14:36 So a, a little while ago I worked with the Drupal community, who works with Drupal? 14:42 A few of you. 14:48 Who works in the Drupal community? 14:50 One person. 14:51 >> [LAUGH] >> Well, that's all right. 14:52 I was in the Drupal community. 14:55 I'm not really anymore, through no fault of my own. 14:56 [LAUGH] so Drupal is an open source content management system. 15:00 The way they get things done, is they talk, right. 15:03 Largely, and they do that in, in, issue queues they call them. 15:07 It's just basically a big forum and ideas go in there and they get 15:11 kicked around until there's something else and then they come out in the end. 15:15 It's kind of like the House of Lords in the UK. 15:18 And things, things get beaten up and kicked around and 15:20 completely something different comes out, but the process of talking and 15:23 how things happen, I mean that is how things happen. 15:27 And that is how things happen with, with design too, right. 15:30 If you're in your own little designer cupboard and 15:34 you're not talking to clients, colleagues, users. 15:37 Again I don't think you're really doing design. 15:42 There's a big anti-meeting backlash, right. 15:44 We've seen it with, you know, 37Signals book. 15:47 We've seen it with you know, everyone's like, 15:50 I don't do meetings, we don't have any structure, there's no management, 15:53 there's no this thing, there's no that thing, we just, we just work. 15:55 We make brilliant things. 15:58 Bullshit. 16:01 frankly. 16:02 No you don't, because meeting is the work. 16:03 As I was saying, right, it, meetings, talking to people, and getting things done 16:07 in the environment in which work happens, is as important as beautiful typography. 16:12 It's probably even more important. 16:17 Because without that other stuff this beautiful typography is just created in 16:19 a void, it just doesn't go anywhere. 16:23 Right, so I spend a lot of my time doing this, 16:25 to colleagues, to clients, to management. 16:27 And always be talking. 16:32 Another, another thing about this which is what we're all really good at in here and 16:34 in the, in the web industry is that we do talk about our work. 16:37 We have blogs, we have Twitter, we have, we do great stuff. 16:40 And I do, I don't want that to go away. 16:43 We're actually kind of unique. 16:45 A lot of other design industries don't do that, they're all scared of each other, 16:46 and they're all competitive, and they don't collaborate. 16:50 You go to an architecture conference and 16:53 it will be some guy stood up here talking about his work. 16:55 And we did this building, and we designed this building, and 17:00 this building we designed like this. 17:02 There's no, there's none of this. 17:04 There's no sharing. 17:06 There's no getting better at what we do. 17:07 And that's ace. 17:09 We, we shouldn't change that. 17:10 Right. 17:14 It's amazing how many people don't do this. 17:16 Absolutely amazing. 17:19 People are weird, right? 17:21 >> [LAUGH] >> People are just so odd. 17:22 And we don't get enough contact with them. 17:26 It boggles my mind how user research is quite often 17:31 relegated as a project expense. 17:36 It's a line item on a proposal, user research, 10 grand. 17:39 [NOISE] No chance. 17:42 I just wanna carry on and build this thing in a void and 17:45 just hope it's okay at the end. 17:49 I was once, when I first started work in in London, I worked, 17:53 this is many years ago now, 1999, whew. 17:57 And we, we designed this project for a paper merchant site, portal. 18:02 Turns out people trade paper, well at least they did then. 18:07 Which was a bit weird. 18:11 And we have to design an app that did it. 18:13 And people traded papers. 18:15 So, you know, 1999 there was a lot of money flying around. 18:17 So we did use the testing because it was a line item that was like 10 grand 18:20 or whatever. 18:24 And we, we got some participants in a room and we tested them. 18:25 The first guy that we tested, I don't know he was in his 60's, and 18:29 he sat down, and we're all behind like mirrored glass, you know. 18:32 I sat there waiting, and he put his mouse on the screen. 18:35 >> [LAUGH] >> And started moving it around. 18:39 Right. So there was that reaction in 18:43 the room [LAUGH] idiot. 18:45 There was just, oh that stupid man. 18:48 And then, then, well that was only very quickly until we've all felt dreadful. 18:51 And then, then, there was this moment of, we've got bigger problems. 18:55 >> [LAUGH] >> Right? 19:02 This audience is like this, and 19:04 we're designing this big app and we, they can't use computers. 19:07 So, of course, the site failed. 19:11 They all lost loads of money. 19:14 We didn't, we didn't lose, well, no, some people did lose their jobs. 19:15 So the story [LAUGH] the, 19:18 the lesson of that is is to just bake this in from the beginning. 19:19 Don't make it optional. 19:25 I mean, I since I don't know, 19:27 2009, the, when, when I worked in my studio, we, this was not optional. 19:30 You know? 19:36 When, when clients that we worked with, we were like we are going to test stuff, 19:37 we are going to do research, and it's all just part of the cost. 19:40 They try to remove it, but like, well no. 19:43 Because, well, why would you. 19:46 So, and it's really easy, then this is the thing as well is that, 19:48 usability testing, those two words, we shouldn't call it that. 19:52 Because it implies academia and rigor and 19:57 all this really scary academic stuff that just puts people off. 20:00 And it's to steep of a learning curve. 20:04 Just put stuff in front of people. 20:06 Watch them use it. 20:09 Gather some feedback. 20:10 Spot the trends in the feedback, and 20:13 you've got something that you can work with. 20:14 And it's not hard, you know, it's not that expensive. 20:16 Give them like a 20 quid Amazon voucher, they love that. 20:19 Just under 20 pounds, or dollars or whatever. 20:23 They're like thanks! 20:25 so, you know, it doesn't cost a lot. 20:27 [BLANK_AUDIO] 20:29 All right, I told you there'll be, there'll be photographs of my house. 20:31 So, this was just shifting tack completely. 20:33 This is in my near my kitchen. 20:38 Right? And it's a four gang light switch. 20:40 And I wanted to replace it. 20:44 It was in a plastic one that the electrician put in and it was horrible. 20:46 He didn't even ask me he just put it in. 20:50 I was like, I can't have that. 20:51 So, I went away and bought a new one and put this in. 20:53 Now, before I replaced it, I took a photograph to see where the wires went. 20:56 Aah. 21:01 See? 21:03 What a good little trick. 21:03 The thing is, I put the wires back in exactly like this and it didn't work. 21:04 So now when I go into my utility, I, I turn one light switch on. 21:09 And nothing happens. 21:13 And I have to go to the other side of the room and press another light switch. 21:14 At which point the light comes on. 21:16 Then, if I wanna turn it off, I have to go into another room. 21:18 My point with this is that, know your limits, web designers. 21:25 Get an expert in, if you don't know how to do something. 21:32 Because just sometimes it's better. 21:36 Especially if your life is on the line. 21:39 Right? 21:40 So. 21:42 All right. Now, 21:46 I'm getting a little tired of this phrase, MVP, because I, 21:46 I'm not sure it, it, it means what a lot of people thinks it means. 21:50 And I get a little hooked up on semantics, meaning of words, 21:55 because they're really important in organizations. 21:59 Right? Because absolute clarity of what things 22:02 mean is how things change or, or, or get changed. 22:05 Is, you have to be really, really clear. 22:10 Look, anyway so I mentioned material costs, right? 22:12 We don't have to, we don't have to order steel, pencils don't cost anything. 22:15 they're, they're freely available. 22:21 So, it doesn't have to be perfect. 22:23 Thinginess of the thing. 22:27 We can just publish. 22:28 So this is where the, you know, the minimum viable products, 22:30 really minimum viable products, is something that I actually to the. 22:33 You know, everyone gets really bored about me going on about MVPs at work. 22:36 Because I'm like, no what is it really, what is it really? 22:40 I keep hammering on to try and get to the nub of what minimum means. 22:42 Cuz that's the problem with this phrase. 22:47 It's not viable product that's fine. 22:49 It's the minimal bit. 22:52 So I don't know what my point is. 22:53 My point is just to be mindful of it, really. 22:57 Is to, you know? 23:00 Oh, this is ridiculous. 23:02 So, [LAUGH] it cuh, I keep say, 23:04 a lot of things are the thing with me right now, at the moment. 23:08 And content is the thing, because without it nothing happens. 23:10 And I am still, my mind boggles. 23:14 So we did work with Al Jazeera for about three years. 23:16 They are a, a broadcaster. 23:20 And they produce lots of content, right? 23:22 And that's fine. 23:26 But they also wanted to kind of ignore the content problem a little bit. 23:28 They another organization to we've worked with will, you crack 23:32 on with the design and the development and you'll just put the content to one side. 23:37 Oh, we'll get to that. 23:42 I'm sure you've all heard that. 23:42 Oh, yeah, yeah we'll come to that. 23:45 Show me this interact, let us have a look at the prototype. 23:46 We'll get to the content, let's not worry about it. 23:50 And you just build this big content mountain to climb at the end of 23:52 a project, right? 23:55 And that's where everything just grinds to a halt, 23:55 because things have to go through legal, and all of that kind of stuff. 23:57 So basic content is really everyone's problem. 24:01 Little tic that I did, and I urge you to do it, you just make it up. 24:04 It drives clients absolutely insane when you get their facts wrong. 24:09 They hate it. And they'll go on, 24:16 oh that's not right, that's not right, we'll have to change that. 24:17 It's like oh yeah great okay sorry about that. 24:19 [LAUGH] So don't hide from content. 24:22 Make it up when you put it in your prototypes. 24:28 Even loads of, you know, lots of it. 24:31 Put recipes was a good one that I did. 24:33 Intermingle recipes with real, real content. 24:35 Cuz then people actually have to read it. 24:37 [LAUGH] And that works well, too. 24:39 This one's really simple. 24:42 It's [INAUDIBLE] the kinda principle behind this is be clear. 24:44 I have, I have loads of Post-It notes going. 24:48 You know, we all do. 24:51 Whoever makes Post-it notes, the 3M, they must make a fortune out of this industry. 24:51 They are stuck all over the place and 24:57 this one I found on my on my wall next to my Mac. 24:58 And I had no idea what that means. 25:02 I have no idea at all and there's a lesson there, right? 25:05 Which is, this may be some kind of alter factor of a discussion, and that's great. 25:10 But unless you put a little note as to what it is, I'm like, 25:15 I have no idea what that squiggle means. 25:17 So, be clear, document things. 25:19 ooh, this one's contentious. 25:23 So, when is it useful to design by numbers. 25:27 Right? I think this differs from 25:32 industry to industry. 25:35 But when is it important to A/B test? 25:36 When is it important to to apply UX techniques 25:40 to arrive at an optimal solution for better conversion and all the rest of it? 25:47 Well, yeah, it is useful. 25:54 Sometimes, but not all times. 25:56 Right? Because this is also useful. 25:58 Instinct not data, right? 26:01 I cannot, they're different parts of your brain, I think, 26:03 they're different parts of my brain. 26:06 I can't approach a problem. 26:08 Frankly, things like A/B test, I have no patience for that kind of stuff. 26:10 It's like you know, what else requires patience? 26:15 Fishing. Actually that's a bad example because I 26:18 quite like fishing, but you know, it's something that takes long, a long time. 26:20 I have no patience for setting up A/B tests, and 26:24 thinking that's, that's, you know, the famous shades of blue thing. 26:29 That's not how you arrive at something beautiful. 26:33 All right? 26:36 I think that for, for the longest time man has been trying to, 26:38 mankind, humankind, has been trying to quantify beauty, right? 26:41 That's why things like cannons of page construction come from. 26:47 It's where a lot of theories of Greek architecture come from. 26:50 You know, all of this kind of stuff is, and there's good reason for doing that. 26:53 There's good reason. 26:57 Because if you can quantify it, you can replicate it. 26:57 And if you can replicate it, you can manufacture it, right? 27:01 And Apple do that really well. 27:05 But at the heart of things like Apple. 27:07 I don't wanna hold a thing to Apple, cuz everyone gets sick of that. 27:09 But what they do is do is that they have good instinct. 27:13 At least they did. 27:16 [LAUGH] Sorry, was that, I sound a bit bitchy. 27:19 It wasn't meant to be. 27:21 [LAUGH] I don't like the watch, it's horrible. 27:22 But [LAUGH] so. 27:24 So, yeah. 27:27 The, you know, a spark of inspiration is much more likely to 27:28 get something beautiful at the end of it, than testing whether or not this button 27:32 should have rounded corners, or square corners, or flat, or rounded or whatever. 27:37 That stuff, frankly is just boring. 27:43 This is a table in a chip shop, fish and chip shop in Tenby in South Wales. 27:49 So, I went there in January with my wife's birthday, for 27:58 my wife's birthday, with the kids. 28:00 And Tenby is a holiday town. 28:02 So I've never been there in winter. 28:04 And we were the only people there. 28:06 So kind of walking around this weird ghost town. 28:08 And we found a fish and chip shop that was open. 28:11 And we got to the table and this was on the, on the table. 28:12 And I took a photograph of it because it made me smile, and that's all. 28:15 So I think there's there's something nice about delightful mundane things. 28:19 And if we can made the most mundane thing delightful, whilst doing it carefully, 28:29 then we, we do better design, right? 28:34 We can get it horrendously wrong. 28:39 And if you're a bank and 28:41 you try to be cute with your language [LAUGH] that's not great, you know? 28:42 So don't make that delightful. 28:46 Don't make paying your mortgage delightful. 28:47 but, you know, little delights and mundane things. 28:51 So look after the basics, so this is about a couple of things. 28:58 So I flew, is there any martial artists in the room? 29:05 Anybody done martial arts? 29:09 No? Well, one or two. 29:10 Okay. 29:11 So I did martial arts for years as a kid, and into, kind of, adulthood. 29:12 I don't do it anymore. 29:15 I'm too rickety and old now. 29:16 I'm a cyclist instead. 29:19 I only have to move my legs for cycling. 29:19 so. 29:23 What's my point? 29:24 My, my point is, in, in martial arts, 29:25 you go through, like the first 10 years in martial arts and you amass techniques. 29:26 Right, you're like a sponge. 29:30 Oh, I can do this thing and I can jump in the air and spin around. 29:33 I can kick someone in the face. 29:36 And you, you amass all these different techniques. 29:37 And then, eventually what happens is that you get to kind of, 29:40 you know ,10 years in black belt level. 29:43 And those techniques disappear and you start focusing in on one or 29:46 two things that work really, really well, 29:52 and I am finding the same thing is happening to me in my career. 29:54 Certainly with design, 29:59 I find early on in my career that I was amassing all of the things. 30:00 Like a big sponge, right? 30:03 Like a little kid, like teach me this, teach me this, I want to do this thing and 30:05 oh look at this type face and oh. 30:09 And over time I was like, I just can not take it any more, so I am going to 30:11 pick a few, so I have a few favorite type faces that work really, really hard. 30:15 Like Georgia, still. 30:20 A brilliant, brilliant typeface. 30:23 The Donner, actually, at certain sizes is brilliant typeface. 30:26 When it gets big, it gets ugly, but it was never really designed to be big. 30:30 So but once you know, 30:33 you pick those few things you can really start looking deeply at them. 30:36 And you begin to understand them and begin to apply them in different ways we, we, so 30:41 this little rant about kinda what typography stuff. 30:45 But we got, we got really good on the web at typography now I'm 30:47 not talking about picking type faces that's not typography. 30:51 We got really good at understanding way better then our print, 30:54 the majority of our kinda print cousins, right? 30:57 We got really good at understanding hierarchy. 31:00 About understanding, applying different type weights. 31:02 We only had a handful, and a handful of weights, right? 31:06 But we used them. 31:10 We used Jaeger in a myriad of different ways. 31:11 And it looked different. 31:15 Right? And that's, 31:16 that's good typographic design. 31:17 And my worry about, you know, 31:19 opening these floodgates of type, is that, that, you forget that, right? 31:21 And it comes back to this basics. 31:26 Is to just focus in on those basics again. 31:28 Spend time away from all the new fangled stuff, and, and 31:30 get back to just types in an article, really, really, really, really well. 31:35 so, the real product Muhammad Ali, and in 1974, 31:41 I have to look at my notes because there's quite a lot to remember here. 31:45 In 1974, he fought,uh, they, they fought in the rumble in the jungle. 31:50 And, Ali had lost, and he came back. 31:54 He's getting on a bit, he's getting old, and Foreman was young and hungry and 31:57 strong, and they had the most incredible battle. 32:01 And what happened throughout it is that Muhammad Ali was against the ropes, 32:06 you know, with his hands up here. 32:11 And Foreman was just hitting him with everything he had, and 32:13 then in the later rounds and, and all that Ali was doing was just soaking it up and 32:16 soaking it up and soaking it up. 32:21 And in the later rounds knocked him out, because he tired him out. 32:23 So, I look at this particularly, 32:27 you know joining them into big complex organizations now. 32:30 I mean housing the complex big organization, 32:34 is that sometimes people just want to beat you up. 32:37 Verbally, or politically. 32:40 Maybe not really, that wouldn't be very good. 32:42 But they, they, they want to let it out on you. 32:46 Sometimes you're an easy target, especially if you are a consultant. 32:49 Sometimes that can, that can happen. 32:52 And it's our job to sit there on the ropes and take if for a bit. 32:53 Because you'll win in the end, they just need to let off steam. 32:58 And the amount of times I've had that in projects, 33:01 because what we'll do when you go into these big complicated. 33:04 And our responsive design, 33:06 actually, we have a really tough time now with web design. 33:07 Cuz it was once kind of understood and now it's a big mess. 33:10 So we're going to organizations where they're trying to get their heads 33:13 around this big mess, and responsive design touches so 33:16 many facets of the business that clients don't really understand it will do. 33:19 Things like content, even organizational structure. 33:25 We did some work with Serne and they thought we were redesigning their website, 33:28 and we ended up in three years. 33:31 Reorganizing their communications department. 33:33 That was an odd job. 33:35 It just kind of happened. 33:36 I should've charged more. 33:37 [LAUGH] But it was the, and 33:38 there were times on that project where we just had to do the ropa dope. 33:41 It was a big mess. 33:44 We were breaking more eggs than we were making omelets. 33:45 And the, the client was like going oh, it's such a big mess. 33:48 What are, you know, what are we gonna do? 33:52 That was fine, he was just letting of steam. 33:55 This isn't of a advertising one. 33:59 So again my bad but they, you know, it's so well researched. 34:01 Is, is anybody ever worked in advertising it's kind of spot on even until today, 34:05 but there's one thing that advertising bills get right that we 34:09 don't get right on the Web. 34:13 I don't think. 34:16 In professional services, anyway. 34:18 Is that, in advertising, when you win an ad client, you don't win a project. 34:19 You win an account. 34:24 And an account is for a year, right? 34:26 It's time based. 34:29 And it's usually a year. 34:29 Sometimes three. 34:30 Up to three years. 34:32 So it's high value. 34:33 There's a lot at stake. 34:34 This is why ad agencies put so much into things like pitches and, 34:35 and all of that to actually get the work, because it's not a project. 34:38 It's not over in 12 weeks for 30 grand. 34:41 It's for a year or, or three for $1 to $6 million. 34:45 But more importantly than the money, what it is is a commitment. 34:50 Right? 34:55 Ad agencies and and, and clients, there's a commitment there. 34:56 It's like we will work with you for one year, and we're gonna learn your business. 35:00 And the, the client is you know, we're gonna work with you for one year and 35:05 we're gonna tell you about our business and our problems. 35:08 The problem when we condense that down into a project is that it 35:12 is just too quick. 35:14 You don't have time. 35:15 You're in and out the door. 35:16 Even half way through a project. 35:17 You know, if you're running a studio, you're looking ahead. 35:18 You're not now, you're like we need more work and into the pipeline, right. 35:21 So, I think that's one thing that we can, we can take from that. 35:26 Kevin Spacey applied this, to of course to, to getting House of Cards on Netflix. 35:28 So the, what they did there, they didn't do a pilot. 35:34 Right? 35:38 So the, the, the, the, the way that TV gets made here is that you have a pilot. 35:38 And based on the success, numbers not instinct 35:44 of the pilot is that you the, the season is commissioned. 35:50 Right? 35:55 Well, there's a lot to do in a pilot. 35:56 In 40 minutes, you've got to establish the plot, 35:58 the characters, you've got to set up some cliff hanger. 36:01 There's a love triangle, there's a car chase, there's, you know, some aliens. 36:03 That, that all has to happen in 40 minutes. 36:08 Enough for everyone to go, I can't wait to watch the next episode. 36:10 And Kevin Spacey was like, we're not gonna do that. 36:14 Because we needed time for the story to play out. 36:17 And I think that, that's what we need when we work for 36:22 commercial projects on the web. 36:23 We need a commitment. 36:25 We need to make an account, not a project. 36:27 And the most successful work that I did over the past 6, 36:30 7 years has been commitment. 36:33 We worked with ESPN with the for whole time I was there. 36:35 I, I, I run the company. 36:37 CERN, we've worked for CERN for 3 years. 36:40 Al-Jazeera, we worked for them for 3 years. 36:42 And that was an ongoing commitment. 36:44 We're gonna solve your problems. 36:46 We didn't even know the problems with CERN in nine months. 36:47 We, we couldn't. 36:51 There was too much to do. 36:53 So, that, that was that one. 36:56 This one is digital things age differently. 36:58 This is about patina. 37:01 So there's a wonderful phrase in Chinese cooking called wok hay. 37:03 And wok hay means, breath of wok. 37:06 And what that means is that the patina in the wok 37:10 imparts it's favor onto the food and it does that through time, right? 37:13 Now, some things get better with age, right? 37:20 These jeans apparently do that I am wearing. 37:23 I am not supposed to wash these for 6 months. 37:25 So if I am a bit stinky when you come and talk to me later, that is why. 37:27 Yeah, sorry, that's so gross. 37:31 no, I they're [INAUDIBLE] that much. 37:33 But they get that over age, right? 37:36 They, one thing's nice, I've got another pair of these jeans, cuz I did wear for 37:38 about eight months. 37:41 They weren't [INAUDIBLE] they were pretty smelly. 37:42 Is so, I did, I washed them, and what happens is, 37:44 is it takes all the indigo, the dye out. 37:48 And you see where you have spent the most time. 37:50 So I had like, I have got two little kids, so I, it was just white on my knees, so, 37:53 and it was just blue everywhere else, I looked ridiculous. 37:58 So, and then some things look dreadful when they age, right? 38:01 Food. [LAUGH] 38:05 Stuff, you know, 38:08 fruit and things, it rots, it is just awful. 38:09 And it's just a question to myself when I'm working on 38:13 a project is how is this going to age? 38:16 Right? What happens, 38:18 what happens when more data goes in this. 38:20 So many designers design for the perfect state of things. 38:22 We've seen this with the Apple Watch. 38:26 Right? And 38:28 those stupid four pictures of people with names with three letters: Bob, Jim. 38:29 It's like, mm, what about Sebastian? 38:35 mm? [LAUGH] So that's one thing as well, 38:38 it's like just, let's just break stuff early on 38:43 in the design process by seeing how it will age, put data in it. 38:47 Break it. 38:52 Put more data in. 38:52 So the British cycling team won a load of medals at the Olympics which was great. 38:57 And sky cycling team aren't doing so good right now. 39:02 But that happen they're almost you know, dominant. 39:07 I'm a cyclist so, you know this interest me. 39:10 And, so what. 39:13 The thing about why they're so successful is that they applied a, 39:15 it's actually a kind of a management technique that they applied to 39:18 their to their team called marginal gains. 39:21 So when a cyclist takes drugs to race, 39:24 they get about a 17 to 20% advantage on those that don't. 39:30 That's a phenomenal, that's why all the cyclists took drugs. 39:35 Is because if you didn't you'd be an hour back on the road. 39:39 Right? You'd just be way back. 39:43 So, but Dave Brailsford who runs the teams, he was like, 39:45 we're gonna go clean, and everyone was like, [LAUGH] no you won't. 39:48 but, so what he did was he applied this marginal gains technique which was looking 39:52 across the breadth of every part of a cyclist life across the whole team, 39:58 and apply little, tiny changes everywhere aggregate together to make 17 to 20%. 40:03 So the cyclists take their own pillows with them. 40:10 They, you know, little things like that. 40:12 They watch every bit of their diet. 40:14 They, a multitude of things. 40:16 And I think we can do better work by adopting that. 40:20 It's like looking across the entirety of project and not making big changes. 40:23 Big change is really hard to make, because of management, because of money, 40:28 because of time, of this thing and that thing. 40:31 But little changes you can do without telling anybody, right? 40:33 You can just go, yeah, I'll just tweak this little bit of code or 40:37 I'll just do this thing, I'll just do that. 40:39 And it's just better work because of it. 40:41 This is my daughter. 40:45 Sorry, I was supposed to give you a little nod, and I didn't. 40:48 Nah, it's not working. 40:52 [SOUND] Okay. 40:55 >> [SOUND] It's quiet. 40:58 >> I know that time. 40:59 >> That's one like me. 41:05 >> Boy, me and you. 41:08 >> Twinkle, twinkle little star. 41:11 How I wonder what you are. 41:15 >> I'm not gonna that goes on for ages I'm not gonna bore you. 41:20 It just repeats the same verse over and over, and over. 41:24 So I'm not sure if you've noticed in that clip so 41:27 what happened was so, you know Furbies? 41:29 You got, well, [INAUDIBLE] relatively new for us. 41:33 So I, it was a bit of a surprise when we got one for the girls for Christmas. 41:36 Cuz, it started all like nice. 41:41 Like ooh, ooh, hee, hee. 41:43 You know, Furby all nice. 41:44 And then it turned evil. 41:45 [LAUGH] 41:46 Cuz she wasn't giving it enough cuddles or whatever. 41:48 I don't know. I didn't really understand it, but 41:51 we came in one day and it was like, [SOUND]. 41:52 She was like [LAUGH]. 41:54 But what, what it what that clip showed I don't know if you heard it but it farted. 41:57 [LAUGH] Now I don't know whether I think that's acceptable or not. 42:01 [LAUGH] And my point here is that I'm getting older. 42:07 And things are happening to you know, 42:14 in, in consumer electronics and the way people consume content and toys that fart. 42:19 [LAUGH] Is that I'm getting further and further away from from those people. 42:22 And it goes back to this thing of watching real people. 42:29 Right? 42:32 Is that the further I get away the more important it is to watch those people, 42:32 because I have no real kind of empathy, I am just like that is not acceptable. 42:36 That toy is going in the bin. 42:40 [LAUGH] so, so that is that, I do not think it is acceptable. 42:42 And it is just kind of getting older generally, I think, 42:46 this is kind of what happens, you turn a big grumpy. 42:49 And my last point, 42:52 my last thing is I actually have a picture of this in the studio of Bob Ross. 42:53 [LAUGH] Now, of course, Bob Ross was just happy, wasn't he? 42:57 Right. Whatever he did was just great. 43:04 And he'd make little mistakes and he'd turn them into raccoons. 43:07 And, you know, it didn't bother him, but he was just so happy. 43:10 Bob Ross is the reason I'm a designer today, 43:15 because I wanna be that happy when I, you know, till the day I die. 43:17 Thank you very much. 43:22 [APPLAUSE] 43:24
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