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Post-Revolutionary Web Design32:32 with Inayaili de León Persson
We like to talk about craft and our role as makers. We are inspired by the example of the artisan and the craftsman. But is this really where we should be looking? Now that we are more comfortable with the mechanisation of our work, whose example should we be following instead? How can we push our work forward and achieve the same quality previously associated only with handmade goods?
[MUSIC]. 0:00 Hello. 0:13 My name is Yaili. 0:13 About three years ago. 0:15 I gave a talk at a conference called [UNKNOWN]. 0:20 Which was entitled, mechanical revolution. 0:23 And, in that talk I, I talked about how we should as, as designers and as 0:27 html and CSS authors, we should be letting the machine more into the work that we do. 0:33 And in the past three years there's been significant change in the way that we see 0:41 mechanization and in the way that we let more mechanized ways into the process. 0:46 For example, a lot more people now are using things like Sass. 0:54 We are more comfortable creating our own frameworks, and working with frameworks. 0:59 People are more comfortable, or a little bit less afraid of working with 1:05 things like terminal, and even CSS is becoming a lot more, more complex. 1:10 But I still feel that there is. 1:15 This. 1:19 This ideal of the craftsman still present. 1:19 This idea of craft. 1:23 It seems like everywhere that I look today. 1:26 And maybe that's something that is even more, more evident here in London. 1:30 I see people obsessed with creating things in an artisanal way. 1:34 For example everywhere I see people selling artisan bread and 1:40 artisan chocolate and there's craft beer and specialty coffee. 1:46 And it can make me feel a little bit worried sometimes because I see all these. 1:52 Very clever and intelligent people and people that 1:58 are clearly very passionate about what they're doing 2:01 working in this way, going back to this 2:05 hand made way of creating things and I wonder. 2:07 Is this something that I should be doing in my job as a designer? 2:10 Is this something that we should be doing as well? 2:14 But then I realized that I didn't really become a 2:18 designer to make things for a handful of people in Hackney. 2:21 so, how can we move forward as designers. 2:26 We now let the, the machine into our, our work a 2:32 little bit more, but how can we take that, that next step? 2:35 I think that has to do, with, redefining quality. 2:40 Redefining what we mean by, something how when 2:44 do we say that something is, is, good work? 2:48 When do we say that something is great? 2:52 What do we mean when we say that something is, is, is, quality work? 2:54 If we step back in time and think about the Industrial Revolution 3:00 when, when the industrial revolution was already quite established 3:06 around the middle of the 19th century, this new movement came up. 3:13 The arts and crafts movement. 3:19 And the arts and crafts movement, they, they 3:22 didn't like the products that were being created. 3:26 At this point they felt that the products that were being created mass produced. 3:29 They were of very poor quality. 3:35 They were badly designed. 3:38 they, they didn't think that they were 3:41 respecting the materials that were being used. 3:42 And they, they were advocating for products to 3:45 be created in a way where form followed 3:49 function very well designed, they respected the materials 3:51 that were being used like, like wood or fabric. 3:56 But also they wanted things to be handmade, and 4:00 this was not a realistic approach to product design. 4:05 And for every movement, there's, there's a reaction, and 4:10 in this case, the, the Bauhaus School of art in Germany. 4:15 They were influenced in the way, they were influenced by arts and crafts in the way 4:21 that they believed as well that in this idea, that form should follow function. 4:26 In the idea that, that good design is beautiful design. 4:31 But they also had a different approach to, to 4:36 the production, to the way that things are actually made. 4:38 They, they understood that the way forward wasn't 4:41 to go back to the ideal of the craftsman. 4:44 They, they, they knew that at that point in time they had to be able to merge 4:49 good design with the new mass production techniques so that things would have. 4:56 More reach, so that more people could have good design. 5:03 And I think that we sit at a very similar point in the evolution of our profession. 5:06 So how can we go, how can we take that step further? 5:12 What things should we, should we be thinking of? 5:16 I think that first we should be thinking about the. 5:19 That quality is, is not a synonym of luxury. 5:24 They, they're not the same thing. 5:28 Secondly, we should embrace the constraints and we should embrace 5:30 the limitations within the projects that we are working in. 5:34 And then finally, we should be talking about this idea. 5:39 Of specialization, and, of division of labor. 5:44 So, I don't think that craft is a bad word. 5:53 But, when we think about the craftsman process, it's, it's a luxury process. 5:57 So, to give you an example. 6:02 The Savile Row Tailoring. 6:04 Savile Row is a street in central London, where, the best of 6:07 the best in the world of tailors have their shops and their workshops. 6:12 And you can go there, and you can buy. 6:17 A suit that is custom made just for you. 6:20 And it will cost you anything from maybe 3,000 Pounds. 6:23 That's probably if you get the cheapest fabric. 6:26 And the way that the, the, these clothes are created, they are, they're hand made. 6:31 They are made from scratch. 6:36 They're made one by one, and they're made obviously very slowly. 6:37 And, of course, the result, what you're gonna 6:41 get with that is absolute quality and absolute perfection. 6:44 But it's also something that is luxurious. 6:48 It's a luxury product. 6:50 And I think that the way that we talk about. 6:53 The craftsman process when we relate it to, to the work that we do. 6:55 It, it doesn't have to do with, with the luxury side of it. 6:59 It, it relates to how we want our work to be quality work. 7:05 We want it to be good. 7:09 We're not creating. 7:13 Luxury or artisanal products just for a handful of people. 7:15 And the Bauhaus understood that. 7:20 They understood that handmade wasn't affordable and 7:21 wasn't efficient and that something that is completely 7:25 bespoke, it's perfectly fine but it's just not achievable for what they wanted to do. 7:29 And they didn't see a reason to, to recreate things all over again 7:35 from scratch every time that they wanted to create a new, a new product. 7:40 And they achieved great design that integrated these mechanized processes. 7:43 And, just like the Bauhouse. 7:50 We can't, as designers and developers, we can't and 7:54 we shouldn't create everything from scratch and that's fine. 7:57 The Web Design process is a process that, that involves using existing 8:02 molds and every day we are reusing other people's research. 8:09 We are reusing existing design patterns. 8:14 We're reusing. 8:17 Someone else's scripts and someone else's plugins. 8:18 We were using existing techniques and someone else's grid systems. 8:22 For example at Ubuntu we are currently in 8:29 the process of responsively retrofitting our, our main website. 8:31 So what that means is that we're trying to use existing design components, 8:37 that we once created to be used in large screens. 8:42 We're, we're using them and trying to see how they can work in, in smaller screens. 8:48 And it would have been impossible to, to work on this project if we. 8:54 If we wanted to do something from scratch. 8:59 So ideally when we're are starting a, a, 9:01 responsive Web Design project, ideally you start from scratch. 9:03 You do it mobile first. 9:06 But we didn't have that, we didn't have that 9:09 option if we really wanted to take that step further. 9:11 We knew we wanted to take that step in our 9:14 websites and we also understood that we had to compromise somewhere. 9:17 So, we, we re, we reuse these, these design components. 9:22 We reuse these elements. 9:27 We also reused design patterns from across, from across our products. 9:30 For example, the, the small screen grid 9:35 that we were using in that responsive project. 9:39 If we, we take, we have taken it from the, the phone operating system design. 9:43 So some people in the design team 9:49 have been working on the phone operating system, 9:51 and they've spent a lot of time creating 9:54 a, a very flexible grade for small screens. 9:56 And we thought why, why should we, why should we try to create something 9:59 from scratch let's see if the other team has something that we can reuse. 10:03 And that will save us a lot of time that we really don't have. 10:07 So, we should change that attitude towards hand made. 10:11 I thought it was really interesting in, in Sarah's talk. 10:16 She was talking about how even though she had the skills to create a brand new site 10:20 for her, for, for Blushbar, she was using 10:25 Squarespace because that just saved her tons of time. 10:27 I mean, buy the artisan bread, I buy the artisan bread and I think it's delicious. 10:32 But software design and product design are completely different things. 10:37 And it's true that each client and 10:42 each design problem has its own individual solution, 10:45 and that's what we're here for, we're here 10:49 to find the solutions for those particular problems. 10:51 But the manufacturing process doesn't have to be. 10:54 The artisanal one for the result to be excellent. 10:58 Because the design, we can produce quality results without 11:02 following the luxury methods of the Savile Row Tailors. 11:07 And, when we are evaluating our work 11:12 and when we're, we're evaluating someone else's work. 11:15 We just su, shouldn't assume that because something wasn't 11:20 made from scratch that it's of a lesser quality. 11:25 So, we should think that quality doesn't, doesn't mean luxury. 11:29 [COUGH] So, other people have asked. 11:34 This question before. 11:43 Why do we keep praising the superficial design? 11:44 You know the, those, those kinds of unsolicitary designs 11:47 that are popping up of big brand names that have been done in a weekend. 11:53 But we don't actually. 11:59 We don't really share the huge massive 12:01 improvements that we can make to not-so-pretty designs. 12:03 Well if you, if you think about it, design 12:09 that is created without any constraints, that is created 12:11 with no business constraints, technical constraints, time constraints, budget 12:14 constraints or the constraints that come from even having customers. 12:18 The design that is done with no constraints like 12:23 that is, is not design, it's just pure decoration. 12:26 Going back to the arts and crafts. 12:32 The, the products that they created were 12:34 unaffordable to the majority of the population. 12:36 No expense was spared in the process of good creation and, 12:41 and the material things were created slowly, and it was very expensive. 12:44 The ways that they were made, made them even 12:51 too expensive for the people that were making them. 12:55 So, the artisans, the craftsmen, they couldn't afford them. 12:58 You have to be quite wealthy to be able to, to buy them. 13:02 And, that's the same with the Savile Row tailoring. 13:06 The, if you really think about it, there, there's not many 13:09 constraints in a suit that costs something from 3000 Pounds, 6000, 10000. 13:12 But most design projects don't start with that clean slate. 13:19 So I think that we should be. 13:24 Thinking of different kinds of examples that we want to follow. 13:26 [COUGH] So, who here has ever bought something 13:31 from IKEA, even if it was just napkins? 13:35 I think the other ones are lying. 13:41 [COUGH]. 13:44 IKEA's mission is to offer a wide 13:46 range of well-designed functional home furnishing products at 13:48 prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them. 13:52 So they are working within very tough 13:58 constraints and very tough limitations, really tough. 14:00 The first constraint that they set is as designers, that they are set. 14:04 Is the price when they are creating a new product. 14:09 So they will say something like how can we 14:11 make a new sofa that will cost under 129 pounds. 14:15 That's the first thing that they decide. 14:20 And then second the second huge constraint is that 14:23 they have to create things, they have to design things. 14:26 That are appealing in a very hugely universal way. 14:30 So the sofa will have to be appealing not only in Sweden but 14:34 in the UK, in America, and Russia, and China, and Portugal and Italy. 14:39 Everywhere. 14:43 Otherwise they will be, they will fail. 14:44 And. 14:48 What these two are huge constraints, but they still have to think of other things. 14:49 They have to consider previous designs, previous objects that have been created. 14:53 So they have to they will have to see, have these legs have 14:58 been already can we use legs that have already been used for other sofas. 15:02 Or the back of the sofa, the way that it's built, because. 15:08 If they can't, that means that it will be a lot more costly to create the new sofa. 15:11 They will have to retrain their staff. 15:16 They will have to find new ways of manufacturing it. 15:19 They also have to consider what materials are going to be used here. 15:22 They have to consider very importantly the way that the thing is 15:26 going to be packaged, because the way that it's going to be packaged. 15:29 Is what also makes it cheaper or 15:33 more expensive, because then that will impact on 15:35 distribution costs so that it will impact 15:38 on how much storage facility they will need. 15:41 And throughout the whole process they also have to 15:44 think about sustainability of that product that they're creating. 15:46 Is it going to create a lot of waste? 15:50 How can we reduce waste? 15:52 As an example, to understand the, the impact 15:55 of these, these design decisions made within, within constraints. 15:59 A few months ago, IKEA announced that they were going to 16:03 discontinue their EXPEDIT series, which is a series of, of bookshelves. 16:07 And they were going to replace it with a new series. 16:14 And, a lot of people felt really strongly about this. 16:17 Strongly enough that they, they created Facebook campaigns. 16:20 They signed petitions, they wrote lots of book posts and articles saying 16:25 how, how, how upset they, were trying, trying for IKEA not to do that. 16:30 And that is interesting because the 16:38 differences in the design were actually minimal. 16:41 In fact, the, the interior dimensions of the shelves were are identical. 16:45 And a lot of people were worried. 16:52 That they were using the previous exporter 16:54 to store their, their, their record collections. 16:56 And they were worried that they were not going to 16:59 fit in the new, the new KALLAX as they called it. 17:01 But the dimensions were exactly the same, they didn't change that. 17:05 So why did they decide to change this best 17:09 selling product that sells millions and millions of units. 17:11 Around the world every year. 17:15 Well, IKEA uses 1% of all the commercial 17:19 wood that is produced in the world every year. 17:23 1% of all the wood in the world is used by IKEA. 17:28 That's a lot. 17:32 And, [COUGH] if you compare the two you can see that in the new one, in 17:35 the Kallax, the only difference is that the 17:40 edges of the bookshelf are just slightly thinner. 17:43 I actually prefer the new design but. 17:48 This'll probably, the small design change well, they will not only really 17:53 be able to say, we've made an improvement in our, in our line. 17:58 But it will also have a huge impact on the production costs. 18:02 And the distribution cost, and the packaging cost. 18:06 If someone, if a company is using 1% of all the woods 18:11 produced in the world in one year, then just shaving off that, 18:16 that little bit of, of wood of their, one of their most 18:20 sold products, imagine how much money they're not going to be saving. 18:23 And, I love this kind of design example, you know, this little. 18:27 Iteration that is just completely unassuming and it's not flashy and 18:31 actually incorporates so many important business decisions and strategies. 18:39 And this is the kind of work that I like to see praised. 18:45 Not the superficial redesign. 18:50 That is done with, with, in a vacuum with no context. 18:54 And there are just empty. 18:59 I'm sure that everyone in the room, me, 19:02 anyone else, could do a, a prettier IMDB website. 19:04 But that would just be completely self serving. 19:10 It would only please me, it would please my 19:13 designer friends, and it would be useless for everyone else. 19:16 Because to do something really worth putting out there, 19:20 I'd have to understand IMDB's mi, business model and strategy. 19:24 I'd have to. 19:29 Understand their, their business goals, their advertising models, 19:30 their, their customer base what's their content strategy. 19:33 Who's creating their content? 19:37 What about user created content? 19:39 And what about, usability testing, findings that, that they 19:41 might have or any, any metrics that they might have. 19:44 Or, technical limitations that their team might be having and so on and so forth. 19:47 I think that we should be praising different kinds 19:54 of examples and one of the ones that I 19:57 like particularly is gov.uk and I was lucky enough 19:59 to sit in Joshua's talk yesterday and it was great. 20:03 Most people in the UK have used this site and it was created within. 20:07 Very tough constraints for an audience of virtually 20:11 everybody not only citizens, but the civil servants. 20:14 And the purpose of it was to hide the complexity of the British government, 20:19 from the users, so the website has to do all the hard work for the user. 20:24 And also save money by thinking about 20:31 digital services in a smarter way than before. 20:33 And, it has to combine, websites from hundreds 20:37 of government departments and agencies and public bodies. 20:42 So it's a huge undertaking and it's, it, it takes 20:47 its time, and, it, and it's hard and they have to 20:50 make tough decisions and we should be, we should proud and 20:53 we should be cheering at design that is made with limitations. 20:56 And I'm really happy to see that this kind of work is 21:00 now getting recognition and, and winning awards and being acknowledged for, for. 21:03 The good quality work that it is. 21:08 So we should be, we should be proud of the work that we're doing that 21:12 involve tough decisions and involve balancing and involve 21:16 compromise and that involve solving really difficult problems. 21:19 So our job title's important. 21:30 Who here thinks that job titles are, are important? 21:32 One, two, three, four, maybe less than ten. 21:37 Okay, the, this idea of division of labor, it started in the cent, 16th century. 21:43 And it was a huge part of the industrial 21:50 revolution of the 19th century and it's basically workers when, 21:53 when workers specialize and carry out a single task instead 21:58 of being involved in the, in the entire production process. 22:03 And the goal obviously is to increase productivity and then increase efficiency. 22:08 And the Bauhaus also encouraged specialization in 22:13 the way that they, they structure their studies. 22:16 But for most of it, the division of labor produces 22:21 a bored work force and a work force that is siloed. 22:24 Into different stages of the production process, and a lot 22:29 of people have voiced their concerns about specialization in Web Design. 22:33 But I don't actually think there's anything wrong with that. 22:40 I don't think there's anything wrong with all 22:42 the different job titles and all, and specialization. 22:44 Other professionals if, when you think about it. 22:48 Specialize in their areas. 22:50 Engineers specialize. 22:52 Architects specialize. 22:54 Scientists absolutely specialize. 22:55 Solicitors, doctors, even chef, chefs specialize in their jobs. 22:58 But what I do think is that 23:04 we should have specialization together with collaboration. 23:06 So for example, take an industrial designer. 23:11 An industrial designer has to have a range of knowledge. 23:15 He needs to understand the entirety of a process. 23:18 He needs to understand the manufacturing processes that are going to be 23:22 used, he needs to understand the materials that are going to be used. 23:25 Needs to understand the social and historical context of 23:29 the products that is going to try to create. 23:32 But, the teams are multi-disciplinary and people don't, don't 23:36 just know a little bit of everything there are specialisms. 23:40 There is probably going to be the, the packaging expert or. 23:44 The 3D modeller or the brand designer or the interaction 23:47 designer or the prototyper or the researcher and so on. 23:51 And, that's probably the way that we also work in our own jobs and 23:56 especially those of us that are in larger teams or they work in larger companies. 24:00 I think that having someone that is absolutely 24:06 exceptional at something unspecific is just extremely valuable. 24:09 For example, at Canonical, when we decided that we wanted to create 24:15 our new, our own font for operating system and for other material. 24:20 We commissioned the font designer to create that font because it would have, it 24:24 would have just been completely ridiculous for us to try and, and do that ourselves. 24:27 We also just recently hired a, a specialized 24:34 copywriter that knows the company well and knows 24:37 the products to write the content for the 24:39 release of the operating system which is next week. 24:43 And it was really important that he knew the company as a whole. 24:47 He knew how all things fit together. 24:51 We also just hired a, a user experience designer to 24:54 complete one specific project that we were having a lot of. 24:58 Difficulty finishing maybe we just didn't have enough time. 25:03 And we weren't able to focus properly on 25:06 it and give it the attention that it deserved. 25:09 We also have a full time icon designer. 25:13 There's a person on our team that all he does. 25:16 Is design icons for our operating system, for, for our websites, for our tools. 25:19 He creates standards and guidelines for other people 25:26 to create the icons and that's all he does. 25:28 Um,and no one else on the team would ever dream of ever being able to 25:31 do that work in the same way and with the same quality that he does. 25:35 But we are also involved in every one else's work. 25:41 And all of these people, and all of these 25:43 projects, they are in constant communication throughout each project. 25:46 And we, we feedback on, on each other's work. 25:50 But for this to work, well. 25:55 I think it's important to know what each person's responsibility 25:58 is from the start and why is this person here. 26:01 If you want to create a space where people are able 26:05 to give their opinions and share their ideas with the other 26:08 people that you work with, without fear of stepping on each 26:13 others toes or offending someone, I think it's very important to know. 26:16 What someone's ultimate responsibility is. 26:21 Because that will just make it easier. 26:24 I really liked that I think it was the 26:27 responsibility assignment matrix that Paul just showed in his talk. 26:29 I thought that was really, it was really 26:35 interesting, I'm gonna have a look at that later. 26:36 In Canonical's case so. 26:39 We know usually for, for any given project we usually know 26:42 that someone is going to be in charge of the content. 26:47 Someone is going to be in charge of the user experience. 26:50 Someone is responsible for the brand and the visual direction. 26:52 Someone is responsible for the front end development. 26:56 And someone is probably responsible for the back end development. 26:58 And of, of course not mentioning the, the marketing people 27:03 and the business people that also need to be involved. 27:06 And sometimes depending on the style of the 27:09 project, the person that is in charge of the 27:11 content might be the same person that is 27:14 in charge and responsible for delivering the user experience. 27:16 And this doesn't mean that the other people don't feed 27:20 back on that part of the process but there is someone. 27:22 There is, that has the ultimate responsibility of making the decisions of, 27:25 of ensuring that the side of the project is going to be perfectly delivered. 27:31 And if we didn't have the specialisms, I think we'd be a lesser team. 27:37 But if we didn't collaborate. 27:43 We'd also be a lesser team for that too. 27:46 So I think that's saying, that you 27:49 shouldn't specialize or that you should specialize. 27:51 They're both wrong and they're both right. 27:55 Specialization is not a bad thing, it makes us create 27:58 the amazing things that we wanna put out there faster. 28:01 But understanding what is involved in each 28:05 aspect of what we're creating is also important. 28:08 And I don't think that the, the idea of the division 28:11 of labor is a bad thing, as long as there is collaboration. 28:15 For example at Canonical we often have to hire people. 28:20 And we, when we need to hire someone, we try to 28:25 find someone that is exceptional at one thing or in one 28:28 particular area but that also has that ability of seeing the 28:31 bigger picture, you know, of understanding the design process and beyond. 28:36 And that is actually quite, quite hard to find. 28:41 [COUGH]. 28:45 [BLANK_AUDIO] 28:45 So, as designers we've come a long way, but as a 28:51 profession I think we're as mature as a cinematographer in the 1890s. 28:56 For those of you that remember Paul, Paul Adams talk 29:03 yesterday he talked a little bit about something like this. 29:05 And we should move forward past that moment when, yes we 29:09 finally let machines into our jobs, but we still can move forward. 29:13 The designers early in the 20th century, 29:18 they redefined beauty and they redefined quality. 29:22 And they understood that the machine could be used. 29:27 To produce really well designed products. 29:30 And we should also make an effort to 29:35 redefine quality in Web Design and software design. 29:38 Remember the quality doesn't mean luxury. 29:44 A good designer and a good developer. 29:48 Knows when to reuse something that already exists. 29:50 And he knows or she knows that if time can 29:54 be saved on one thing, for example time can be 29:57 saved on creating a new navigation pattern it can be, 30:01 it can be focused on something else more important, like. 30:05 Writing content that will actually be useful for our customers. 30:09 And a good design professional also doesn't shy away from constraints. 30:14 You have the courage and you have the ability and you 30:18 have the will to overcome the constraints and to find the solutions. 30:21 We, we're all doing work for clients and for stakeholders with limitations. 30:26 And if the work isn't difficult from our 30:31 end, then what problem are we, are we solving? 30:34 If we're not the ones who have to make the tough decisions in 30:38 our design process, then where is the challenge in the work that we do. 30:40 I certainly want to be challenged in my work. 30:45 And if all you have to show after years and years of being 30:49 a designer is work that is done without limitations, then you're not a designer. 30:53 In order to produce quality work, we need 31:01 specialists, and we also need collaboration between everyone involved. 31:03 So, these are the points that I think are key 31:09 to creating quality work that can be used by many people. 31:12 Let's talk about and let's share the messy work that we've been doing. 31:19 I like to see more, more of it talked about on Twitter and shared on Dribble. 31:23 And spoken about at conferences. 31:29 I think we should really be celebrating designs that are done 31:31 with limitations rather than the designs that are done without any constraints. 31:34 And we should be proud of that work. 31:39 We should remember that we're solving problems for people 31:42 and companies and it's a messy and complicated process. 31:45 But i'ts that difficulty that makes us useful for everyone else. 31:49 And it's our job as designers to make sense 31:54 of the complicated, and, and to sort out that mess. 31:56 Because we're not just here to make things pretty, that would just be too easy. 32:00 That's it. 32:06 also. 32:07 If you are looking f, to work at a company that 32:08 has lots of limitations and constraints, we are hiring for a 32:11 big range of roles in the design team, so you can 32:15 talk to me later on or just reply to me on Twitter. 32:19 [SOUND] 32:22
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