Lost In Symbols

Apr 22

On tastes, trends and personal styles

Apr 15


Apr 14

Guardian open journalism: Three Little Pigs advert - video -


On Tastes, trends and personal styles -

An article I wrote on Specky Boy Design Magazine about how a designers taste is influenced by a lot of factors and how in the end this taste shapes the personal style of the designer.

An illustration I made while working at PG. It is a satirical take on how the normalisation process followed during CAT 2010 left a lot of high scoring candidates at the bottom of the list.

An illustration I made while working at PG. It is a satirical take on how the normalisation process followed during CAT 2010 left a lot of high scoring candidates at the bottom of the list.

Perfection vs Closure

I work as an in-house graphic designer and everyday my work gets judged by a lot of people, some with a bit of design sense while others without much. After being in the design industry for some time I have come to realize that perfection is a relative ‘feeling’. What might seem perfect to me might not seem perfect to another person…it might not even seem perfect to me after some time. Perfection is a feeling that changes from person to person and from time to time.

A lot of people confuse perfection with closure. Making sure that the edges of the text-boxes in your comp line up is not a sign of obsession with perfection, it is just an effort to attain closure while testing 41 shades of blue
to find the perfect shade is.

Rather than trying to attain perfection I try to attain closure in every work I do which means that if I have 5 minutes to create an artwork and send it to the printer I will spend the last one minute pre-flighting the files.

Jul 23

A designer’s identity crisis

Recently there was a discussion in twitter about the various titles for a design professional. One side was of the opinion that titles do not matter and at the end of the day they are all designers while the other side was of the opinion that it is important to pay attention to your titles especially when you are working in a large organization. I can understand where these two points of view come from. For a designer working in a small startup titles are the last thing they are concerned about. In a start up almost every employee is required to wear more than one hat. As far as I know that is one of the most fun part of working in a start up. You learn a lot on the job. Even if you screw up something no one is gonna give you the stare. They all know that you are trying as hard as everyone else and it is through mistakes that you learn. The organizational structure itself is so fluid and bureaucracy doesn’t even exist. Whereas for the guy working in a large MNC, titles are as important as the pay check at the end of the month. It is regarded as a status symbol. A title like UI designer kind of gives the feeling that you are doing something brainy rather than just setting fonts and pushing pixels.

Why does such a divide exist between designers themselves as to whether they should give importance to titles or not. The only reason I can find is that designers are not the kind of people you would put in cubicles. They are not the kind of people who should be working 9 to 5 jobs. A lot of designers realize this after working in MNCs for a year or two and they break off from the system. During their time in these companies they pick up a number of unhealthy habits and one of them is this obsession with titles.

The bitter truth is that specializations are not the forte of this industry. In most other professions skill and interest level often push people to take up specializations. It takes a lot of skill for a physician to specialize in surgery while the skill level required for a UI designer and that of a print designer are almost the same. It just requires a different set of KNOWLEDGE but not a different skill set. A surgeon might decide to go for a specialization in cardiac surgery or Orthopedics based on his interest. Each is a field vast enough and people dedicate their entire lives to be masters at what they do. When it comes to design the curiosity that almost every designer is born with pushes him to try his hands on other specializations as well. There is no knowledge barrier that is blocking him. Almost every designer I know started out by mucking around in Photoshop. I am yet to meet a designer who specializes in Print design alone. Almost every one has tried their hands on web design either for the bucks or for the fun. When specializations itself are so vague in an industry, titles don’t make any sense at all except in a large organization for the sake of the organizational structure.

At the end of the day, just let your work define what you do rather than the title on your business card.

Jul 19

The curious case of Follow button

I have been working on a project which has the Follow/Unfollow functionality. The above pic shows how designers usually think about the Follow/Unfollow buttons but while implementing it in the UI I came across some unforeseen issues. Below is the best fit solution I could find.

1) The Follow button instead of Grey should be Green in color to catch the Users attention. A grey button can go unnoticed with all the white space in the background. Clearly the button needs to beckon the attention of the user as it is a ‘kind of’ Call To Action.

2) Once the user has clicked on the Follow button and started Following the user the ‘Following’ button can have the Grey color because now the button need not compete with other elements for the attention of the user. The major action of following the user has already been done and now all the button is doing is displaying that information.

3) A better management of the screen space available will make use of just one single button. ie: one button to Follow and Unfollow an User. So that means on hovering over the ‘Following’ button the button will change to ‘Unfollow’ with the red color. This means that the unfollow button need not have three states but just two (normal & active state) and for the ‘Following’ button just the normal state.

Pic courtesy: Matteodicapua. You can download the PSD for the buttons from 365PSD