DESIGNING FOR MYSELF…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOOKING AT ALTERNATIVES – TRYING OUT ADOBE MUSE

Adobe’s new Web publishing and design tool Muse promises to enable creatives to design and publish Web sites without writing HTML codes. Something that a lot of non-web designers have been waiting for, me included. After two certified Dreamweaver courses I am still struggling to get it right, most likely because I lack the hours of practising. My future plan is to get it right with Dreamweaver. However, right now I am lacking the time needed for practicing so in the meantime I am curious to find out what Adobe Muse can do for me. I need to start redesigning my own website and if Adobe Muse is as easy as Adobe says it is, it might just be what I am looking for right now. According to Adobe, Muse defines four steps of the Web site production process: Plan, Design, Preview, and Publish. The first step—Plan—has designers define every page on a site, including “master” pages that will serve as templates for different areas of a site that can share common logos, footers, and headers. The Design view borrows the most from InDesign, enabling users to select and layout images, text, and other content—specializes widgets enable designers to set up slide shows and bring in content from sites like YouTube and social networking services without having to think about markup. Preview enables users to test their site, while Publish—available only to folks with an Adobe Business Catalyst account*—will push a version of the site to Adobe, where users can show it around to coworkers. Adobe says once Muse’s trial phase is over, creators will be able to pay Adobe to host their site, or choose to host sites at other providers.

Adobe Muse is available in beta form right now from Adobe for Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.6 or newer. Adobe has not announced any definitive schedule or pricing for a release version of the software. Rumours say they expect a 1.0 release in “early 2012″. Is Adobe Muse going to be as expensive as the rest of their products?

Here are some examples of websites built by using Adobe Muse;

Example 1
http://www.happyvalleyadventures.org/
As you review the muse file for this site, notice the following:
In the Master Page, a series of gradient filled rectangles provide the backdrop for longer page content. The Home page includes a footer graphic with horizontal tiling background image set to span 100% width that is pinned to the bottom of the browser window. A second footer graphic (the mountain peak) is centered and also pinned to the bottom of the browser, and is arranged to display above the other tiled footer graphic by choosing Arrange > Bring to Front. This strategy accommodates any monitor size.The navigation links on the left side jump to anchor tags that are added to the long vertically oriented page. As visitors click the links, the page scrolls to display the corresponding content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example 2
http://www.kevinskoffeekart.com/
This site incorporates two similar Master Pages: the Master Page without the Flash media is applied to most of the site pages and a second Master Page with the Flash movie is applied only to the Home page. Both Master Pages have 100% width footers with transparent design borders and use the same Menu widget for consistency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example 3

http://www.morethansquare.com/
In this example, almost all of the common page elements are in the Master Page. This strategy makes it easier to update the site and make changes to the individual page content. The Master Page contains a non-scrolling background graphic for the footer image, which is pinned to the bottom left side of the browser. The Master Page also contains the rounded corner, semi-transparent page design with the site navigation. All of the site pages have a pinned graphic in the top right corner that is arranged to display in front of the page content to create the illusion of perspective that is carried through the angles of the building images.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My example
This is my example. I spent 30 minutes on developing this first master page, to get to know Muse functions and possibilities. My first verdict is that Muse is very similar to InDesign and Illustrator. It is easy to get started. I have not tried to upload my page yet so I can not make any comments on this. I will make another post once this is done.

*Business Catalyst is a hosted (SaaS) all-in-one solution for building and managing business websites. The company uses the term “Online Businesses” to represent a new approach to building and running websites. An online business differs from an ordinary website in that it has greater awareness of its visitors and customers. At its core, it has a built-in customer relationship management framework and is complemented with rich sales, service and marketing features such as eCommerce and Email Marketing tools.

References;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Catalyst
http://www.adobe.com/newsletters/inspire/november2011/articles/article1/index.html?trackingid=JLRCU

THE FUTURE IS IN-HOUSE

In the article about “Why branding’s future is In-House”, Andy Epstein talks to Julia Hoffmann, who is the Creative Director of Advertising and Graphic Design at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York where she oversees brand identity and design for exhibition graphics, advertising, signage, and collateral projects for all of MoMA’s exhibitions and programs.

In this article Julia talks about the differences between the work at agencies and within in-house groups. This is very interesting as there is an increased demand on the market for in-house design people. This new trend is very interesting. It gives a complete different dimension to the way a project is being handled. Companies are going high-tech and with that comes the in-house design department. Julia states that one of the main benefits for the clients is that you as a designer becomes part of “the” team. Working “in-house” automatically gives the designer a closer look at the needs and philosophies of the company. The communication channel is direct, therefore less loss of important information. There is a better overall quality control. She says that working in-house eliminates the individual ego, you become your own client, who you truly care about.  While you work in-house, everyone is in the same boat for the long run. Working at an agency, you quickly dive in and out of a project, it’s fast and intense, and then you move on to other projects and clients. Both have of course pros and cons. But from a company’s perspective, an “in-house” design team would surely provide the company with a better control and quality. Today, a lot of professionals agree that in-house design studios are the future of successful branding. However it’s important for an “in-house” design team to get an outside perspective once in a while, to stay fresh. As an “in-house” you can get blinded by the closeness of the brand and therefore slow down the progressive path.

In the  summer of 2011, The Creative Group partnered with Graphic Design USA and polled hundreds of GDUSA’s American In-House Design Awards winners, gathering perspectives on what lies on the horizon for this group of creatives. Respondents to The Creative Group Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners provides valuable insight on a wide range of topics, including the implementation and influence of technology in the workplace, collaboration and also how in-house designers are influencing organizations’ business decisions and directions.

In summary, The Creative Group’s Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners shows us that the influence, role and expectations for in-house design departments are all expected to rapidly increase in the next three to five years. In addition, as technology continues to change the face of communication, marketing and advertising, in-house design departments will be expected to stay ahead of the curve while also lending valuable insight and problem-solving skills to the decision-making process.

 

References

http://www.aiga.org/momas-julia-hoffmann-on-why-brandings-future-is-in-house/
http://www.gdusa.com/issue_2011/july/inhousesurvey.pdf

IS BLACKMAIL TYPOGRAPHY A SYMBOLIC REACTION AGAINST AUTHORITY?

While looking for inspirations for my Dyslexia designs, I came across blackmail typography. Blackmail typography can be described as letters cut out from magazines and newspapers to create a message. Often these messages come across as threats or warnings. Though I decided not to use this type of design for my FAT1, I was still interested to read about it and to find out where it comes from. Below is an example of this type of typography;

Image

Jamie Reid is a graphic designer that became famous for his use of blackmail typography. He designed many of the posters and record covers for the punk group Sex Pistols. Although shocking at the time, the posters and images of Jamie Reid, represent a natural progression of style which can be traced back to Dada, Surrealism, Pop art and Situationist art.

Jamie Reid, was born in 1947. At the age of 16, Reid went straight from Croydon normal school to Wimbledon art school, but soon dropped out, preferring to attended the local qualification-free ‘vocational painting’ course at Croydon Art School.

Jamie Reid is probably one of the few graphic designers who have made a name and style for themselves without having received a formal qualification. It was at the Croydon Art School that Jamie Reid first met Malcolm McLaren, the future manager of the music group “The Sex Pistols”, for whom Reid later designed the well known posters and record cover graphics. Whilst at Croydon Art School Reid became acquainted with direct action and student politics following the student led riots which occurred in Paris May 1968. In 1970 Reid co-founded his own printing press company called ‘ The Suburban Press’ producing a radical Neo-Situationist magazine that promoted local Croydon political issues blended with the obscure ideology of the Situationist International.

The work of Jamie Reid was clearly influenced by the image and type collages of the Dadaists and the Futurists. These influences on Reid’s typography, with it’s deliberately erratic and eclectic mixing of fonts, sizes and styles, can be seen in the 1923 Dadaist poster for the theatrical work ‘The bearded Heart’. 


The artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) developed the technique of collage into an almost one-person art movement with his prolific production of ‘Merz drawings’ or collages in which ready-made objects found in the streets were composed into works of art.

Reid’s use of ‘found type’ mirrors this process. Another collage artist that has had an influence on the development of Reid’s work is the English Pop Artist Richard Hamilton, in particular, the work entitled “ Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?”. The same ironic humour and anti-consumerist message, that is also present in Reid’s work, can be sensed in Hamilton’s piece. The power and ability to transform the everyday object into art is a major theme which runs beneath the collage technique;

The famous Sex Pistols Poster “God save the Queen”

In Reid’s poster for the 1977 record ‘God save the Queen’ by the Sex pistols, the techniques of‘Detournement’ are used to suggest that the head of the royal family is, in fact, the leader of an ‘International terrorist organisation’. This is achieved through the use and manipulation of certain contemporary visual codes which the mass media, and particularly the ‘tabloid press’, were using at that time. 1977 was the year of the Queen’s silver jubilee and throughout the British media, preparations were being made to celebrate via the mechanism of nationwide ‘streets parties’; something which Reid and other radicals would have seen as a ‘negative detournement’ of the street events of 1968. In Reid’s various versions of the ‘portrait of the Queen’ he took an existing image of the Queen from a postage stamp, enlarged it and added hand torn newspaper heading-type collaged in the manner of the stereo-typical ‘kidnapper’s ransom note’. In some versions the type was pasted over the eyes of the queen in a style reminiscent of the black square placed over the eyes of a person or criminal whose identity is being protected. Reid is using the ‘ready-made’ visual codes of the ‘wanted poster’; a common image from the media, in the late seventies, after the terrorist groups the ‘Baader Meinhof’ and the ‘Red Army Faction’ began a series of politically motivated assassinations of German industrialists. The terrorist groups in Germany were influenced in part by the same late 1960’s radicalism of which Jamie Reid and the Situationists were a part of. In another version of the poster; a safety pin was placed through the lip of the Queen, echoing both Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Mona Lisa’  readymade, in which Duchamp drew a moustache and goatee on a reproduction of Leonardo De Vinci’s painting, and also an unnamed graphic from around the time of the Paris ’68 riots, that it is very likely Reid was aware of . That common object, the safety pin, has since become a modern symbol of the style and attitude of the punk movement, which Jamie Reid was at the forefront of designing.

Feeling inspired from Kurt Schwitters work, I decided to make a collage of my own. The theme is Love in Paris. You can see my final artwork below.

To create my design I have used a photograph of a couple kissing on a bench. This photograph is in color. I have added a black and white photograph of the eiffel tower with a transparency of 26%. I have then placed a grunge background with a transparency of 72%. In photoshop, I have created a “cloud heart” with motion in it. I have placed a stamp like a flag on the eiffel tower to increase the feel of a postcard. Finally I have placed the text, which I created using different fonts.


DYSLEXIA AROUND THE WORLD

Dyslexia may manifest itself differently for speakers of different languages. The findings suggest that dyslexia among Chinese language speakers may be more complex and multifaceted than that of English speaker[1].

Dyslexia in English-speakers is primarily due to a sound-related processing problem, they struggle to separate and keep track of specific, individual sounds. Dyslexics in English-speakers get tangled up during reading because the process requires them to connect the phonics.

Among Chinese language speakers, it is driven by both visual and sound processing disorders. Whereas in English readers can use letters to sound words out, pronunciation of specific characters in Chinese languages is dependent on rote memorization[2], a learning technique which focuses on memorization. The major practice involved in rote memorization is learning by repetition by which students commit information to memory in a highly structured way. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it.

In Hungarian, there is a good letter to sound correspondence, but the auditory processing is more difficult. Sound discrimination, segmentation and auditory memory are very important.

References:
[1] Current Biography Volume 19, Issue 19, R890-R892, 13 October 2009
      Developmental dyslexia is characterized by the co-existence of visuospatial and phonological disorders in Chinese children.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_learning

 


 

 

PUSHING DYSLEXIA

After the FAT1 I took a break from brainstorming and relaxed by drawing this character pushing the word Dyslexia “over the edge”.

A HELPING HAND…

Today I have been confronted with the perfect example of a frustrating homework for someone Dyslexic. I would like to share this example with you. Before doing so, I just want to give you a little background of the situation. I am a mum of a bright, young boy who is mildly dyslexic. He is in the Swiss public school system, year 5. Ever since he started school, reading, spelling and writing has been a daily fight. But the good news is that finally, after years of battling with his difficulties it is paying off. He is doing well! But it doesn’t come easy. He is a hard working kid who never looses his motivation. I don’t know how he does it. Most people would give up.

So let me share with you our daily struggle. Today, my son came home with the  page below. He will have a written test in French on Friday. He will need to learn number 4, 5 & 6 off by heart.

 

 

This is a perfect example of what not to give a dyslexic child. First of all, there are 11 different text boxes placed on this A4 page. They have all been placed in an non-organised manner. One has a black background with negative text. The others are just black text on a white background. They are using different fonts and different font sizes. This is confusion for someone dyslexic. It will take my son at least 10 minutes just to get going with the learning. He is overwhelmed even before starting it!

In the early days he would bravely get on with this type of homework and would come back home after a couple of days with a bad grade. However, we have found a way that works for him. Most of the time, I rework his homework so that he is able to concentrate. Below you will find an example of how I do it.

 

This works for my son. This is a special font called Lexia and it has been developed specially for people with learning difficulties. There are plenty of ongoing discussions about this font and other fonts aimed at Dyslexic people. Some people believe it works, others do not. I have noticed that the font Comic works as well as Lexia for my son.

So what I have done here in addition to just changing the font and making it bigger is that I have added bold to the first letter in every phrase. I have also applied bold to the punctuation so that he knows when a phrase is finished. Because the french language has some additional letters including accents, I am also highlighting these, to make him pay extra attention. He also likes me to place lines in the middle of two lines. It helps him to stay on the right line. Notice that I have applied a light colored background which facilitates the reading for a dyslexic. White can be blinding.