I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.
Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.
After they finished watching the Bond movies, I figured the next series John Gruber and Dan Benjamin would discuss on The Talk Show would be Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. But Gruber refused — too personal for podcasting, he said. Disappointed, I rewatched 2001.
Instead of acknowledging the wisdom of leading from behind, the Right jumped on the Obama administration’s handling of Libya as yet another example of at best incompetence. They lost me there.
Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was still only 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust this US President.
Nobody from usesthis.com has asked me what my setup us, nor is likely to anytime soon. So I’m just going to mouth off here about it. But first, some background.
On the Leon Wieseltier/Andrew Sullivan spat, Walter Russell Mead seems to want to have his strudel and eat it too.
Defeat in the Olympics bid may focus the mind in the Oval Office where it should be: Afghanistan.
There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. It’s a hot July Wednesday morning. Things are reasonably busy. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown — Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.
just finished the Extreme Elements website, to be launched March 1st at extremeelements.com. Although I’ve driven myself batty over it, it’s been a privilege to have been given the time to implement the vision that the client and I developed last year. Tonight I’m spending a little time surveying my handiwork, as is my wont, serenaded by Prokofiev’s 4th symphony. Such time spent looking at the completed thing before it becomes stale and a commonplace is not, I don’t think, useless resting on one’s laurels. I’ve worked long and hard to get it looking this way, these are the things I produce, and it feels good. Humbling, a little, somehow. A smooth relief that the work is done. Some mild anxiety that others won’t like it as I do.
The site benefits from a couple of high-profile designs that I worked on in the past but didn’t get used. The first was a redesign of The Jerusalem Post, done when I worked there back in 2004. In that design the photograph was the single dominant central visual element of the page, a layout lesson that has stuck with me ever since editing the yearbook in high school. To me The Guardian is currently far and away the most bold and gorgeous practitioner of this value (the print version, not the web site — though the erstwhile ‘Post editor did tell me to do something in the spirit of the Guardian site, which I resisted because I never much liked it — too narrow and restricting despite its neatness). Anyway, the ‘Post redesign never got close to being implemented, even though I’d been totally fixated on it — I’m embarrassed when I think of the fawning I did there to try to have it see the light of day — and I guess ever since then I’ve been seeking an outlet to express what I was hoping to achieve back then.
The second unused design was for the United Nations World Food Programme. It was very nice and neat, modeled after a newspaper for daily updates, but after it was approved new people at WFP decided they didn’t want that sort of look & feel but rather a more occasional features look. I suppose that was not unwise as it’s probably more in line with the actual usage patterns of the site: WFP is not the BBC, you don’t go to it daily. The design had a nice threeness about it that I coined the triptych — we’d constructed an A-B-C narrative of WFP’s content, with a closing D for what you as the visitor can do about it, ie, give money, that unravels down from the top. It also had the one dominant photo and what I coined the “bleeder”, a wide background photo along the top bleeding off the top of the page that somehow gave the page some visual breathing room (to mix my organs).
All the above principles survive in the new Extreme Elements site, but instead of the donations area unravelling down from the top, it’s a nice big wide integrated Google Map relating to the contents of the page. The triptych idea was coopted into the three elements into which the sports are organized: water, earth and air. There’s a bleeder. And there’s a big photo together with a thumbnail gallery around which the text wraps nicely.
As I look at it, I’m secretly hoping that this configuration — hidden unraveller; bleeder; top area comprised of main photo, gallery and wraparound body text; then contrasting triptych; all with narrow menu and sidebar to the left and right — becomes a classic layout. I hope the page itself has a recognizable shape, that it comes across as simple, consistent and graphic, which is what separates first-rate web designs from others, I believe. It’s not just the elements that have to be nice, but the entire screen should come together as a recognizable, memorable whole. Two websites jump to mind exemplifying this: A List Apart and Airbag.
Within this shape, the choices we made in the architecture of the page were based on the company’s business model, that of selling holidays. Any design excellence will of course be worthless if the design doesn’t actually help the company sell. I do believe that today more than ever good design makes all the difference commercially, and so, having not yet undergone the withering criticism that comes when you launch something — or worse, the complete bypassing of the thing — I believe (well, hope) that the site’s design will contribute significantly to the company’s bottom-line success.
I have my worries, oh yes. As I look at the various templates I see the site follows the common web pattern of being more visually developed at the top than at the bottom of the screen. Also, we decided to have each page contain a lot of information, hidden behind tabs. I thought this would be more pleasurable for the user, as once a page is loaded you can probably peruse it for five minutes or so, but it does mean that pages load slower than on most sites.
It’s been months, but my focus can now shift to something else. Good weekend.
Reminds Me of Tel Aviv