Battle over the Internet
Aug29

Battle over the Internet

Introduction It's hard for most of us to imagine life without the Internet, even though it's actually quite a recent development. Although not originally envisioned as the ubiquitous entity it now is, its elegant design of distributed command and control means that its management and future have always been contested and to a large extent, in our own creative hands. Whilst many of the early wrangles through organisations like...

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Apple v Samsung: innovation’s the loser

As a result, Samsung’s share price has dropped more than seven per cent. While Samsung remains the world’s largest mobile-phone and smartphone manufacturer, with an operating profit in the second quarter of this year of $5.86 billion, its reputation and future commercial prospects have been significantly dented. There is another important aspect to the court ruling. Samsung is the leading producer of smartphones that run on Google’s...

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What use for usability?

Go to Railtrack’s website (www.railtrack.co.uk). There, the most essential feature to you and me – the timetable – is an easy-to-miss button with a murky typeface. In fact, it looks like an ad. Now key in your destination station. You often don’t find anything. But is redesigning the site to improve usability the answer? And is asking prospective passengers what they’d like of the site really a solution? Ever since Sony introduced the...

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Success is more than counting clicks

  Today things are reversed. Out: politicians with conviction; businesses who innovate with products and services. In: politicians who interpret opinion polls; businesses who make sure everything is ‘tested-to-death’ so it works technically. Voting by clicks offers engagement with a button not a political idea. Similarly, businesses who chase their customers for ideas will end up in the same cul-de-sack as everyone else. While...

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Dark-sky thinking

This was a pertinent question, when in the same week one of Britain's biggest high-street banks promised to 'turn banking on its head'. Abbey National made the creative decision to change its well-established high-street name to plain old Abbey. The bank reportedly spent in excess of £11million on this rebrand. For Abbey's customers, there is first-name informality. For its staff, there is a dose of therapy: at the...

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Disabling innovation

Website publishers and designers like myself have been targeted under the act since October 1999. In a recent survey of 1000 websites, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) found that over 80 per cent did not meet basic accessibility standards and so discriminated against the disabled. While the legal definition of what constitutes a 'reasonable adjustment' is vague, organisations like the DRC and the Royal National Institute...

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Comment: Design in denial

Nowadays, design is justified in terms of being sustainable and ethically responsible without much debate. Consequently many have become shy to defend aspects of good design that we’ve previously taken for granted. After all design is the result of how we able to process and master resources, taming them for our consumption and use. But who will today stand up (unless you are Jeremy Clarkson) and commend a car’s design for its...

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Tracing the history of Helvetica
Oct16

Tracing the history of Helvetica

  The Helvetica typeface is one of the most ubiquitous design classics of our time. And to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary this year, Gary Huswit has produced and directed a well-made film, with a sublime soundtrack, about its genesis. Full of examples of where, how and by whom Helvetica has been used, the film contains insightful interviews with many leading contemporary designers and typographers. While Helvetica is variably at...

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Are marketers hiding behind UGC?

  This is a widespread problem. Our faith is being tested when we are no longer in awe, inspired by or able to believe in anything remotely interesting put in front of us. And on the other side of the coin, those purportedly with ideas seem exhausted and vacant: they look towards their ‘users’ for inspiration. As one pundit put it: brand marketing is no longer about ‘telling the brand’. What matters is ‘agreeing it’(1). That is,...

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Winners and losers in a troubled economy

One thing will be certain: winners and losers will emerge over the coming period, defined by how they chose to adapt to a tightening market and their increasingly demanding customers. The web certainly offers expanding opportunities for marketers to communicate with wide and diverse audiences, but it also throws up a whole new set of new challenges as consumers' expectations and values shift. Success stories such as Facebook and...

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Guest Comment: Creativity versus Counting

Understanding what people do online has never been easier and yet so fraught with difficulties. The huge recent growth in the customer analytics industry indicates that businesses are increasingly keen to learn about how their customers use – or avoid – their websites.  But beyond the burgeoning trend, many continue to draw too bold a line between what customers click on, and what they desire. As recent research from E-Consultancy...

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Britain’s uncreative approach to design

Who’s he kidding? What Cable has actually produced is a website and a series of nominations by MPs for random stuff made in their constituencies.  The list includes the Aga cooker, Young’s fish fingers, McCain Smiley Potato Faces, McVitie’s custard creams, The Flight Caddy innovative golf-club case, Great Heck cask ales and last, but not least, the SCA Toilet Roll! There are, thankfully, a few more serious contenders, such as the...

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What’s innovation good for?

Past innovations spawned whole new industries such as television, nuclear power, even fledgling bio-tech, capable of creating millions of new jobs and truly transforming society. Elsewhere, innovation has driven huge increases in productivity and revolutionised infrastructure. While UK manufacturing has recently been growing at its fastest rate for 15 years, this seems to owe more to the low pound than radical innovation. And while...

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The future of Internet retailing

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