04 Sep
   Filed Under: Personal   

I must be killing all of you with the excitement of the release tomorrow but I just wanted to show how great it is for me now that I happily run MarsEdit 2. It’s a great piece of desktop blogging software, originally by Ranchero (the guys behind NetNewsWire) but it’s been acquired by Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software. Daniel has done some great work on MarsEdit, from giving the interface some much-needed spit and polish (including some great icons) to Flickr integration, which allows me to share with my frequent blog readers that I, too, have a new flickr account with icon sketches and icon designs that I will also use a lot more in the future. Here’s an easily added image of my Flickr sets that I put into this blog post with a simple click;

Doodles and terminal.

The image above is the new Terminal icon replacement for the War on Bad Design set, which had been teasing the 110 viewers of my photostream since a few days already, and will now serve as the final teaser before everything will be new again. Stay tuned, and if you blog, check out the two-point-oh of MarsEdit here (it’s a free trial for unregistered users!).

02 Sep
   Filed Under: Design, Icon Design   

When John Gruber pointed out that there was a preview of Nokia’s new *cough*original*cough* design for a phone, I looked at the photo’s, I watched the small, low-res video, and I fell on the floor and died. At least, part of me died.

Picture 9.png

This little shot above is not the icon design of the latest and greatest just-over-a-hundred-dollar (or euro) MP3 player with color screen. It is also not the PSP’s icon design. It’s actually Nokia’s idea of ‘cutting edge design’ which is supposed to compete with, uh, this. Let’s make a bit of fun and guess what the icons are for, from left to right. Starting left… uhh? I think I can make out vaguely that it is a rectangle with text smeared on it. One would logically assume this is the most important ‘thing’ you can click, as it’s way on the left, where your eyes start scanning the row of icons. Can’t make that out. Next to it; music. Way to go not copying Apple’s general grouping of ‘entertainment’, as Nokia has done in previous phones like the N95. A lot of icons follow that are either crystal clear (uh, a TV screen), completely unclear (a file? A person?) and completely ripped off (a compass??).

I am having the feeling that Nokia, who hasn’t been a great choice for people who like nice icons on their phone until now, doesn’t really hire the right people for the job here. I mean, general opinion is one thing here, and you may or may not like such mashups of the PSP and iPhone icon design, but there’s something you can see easily here; The iPhone’s icons are not only a lot more discerning (in general and from each other), they actually have more factors to discern by. They have color, for one, and they are also logically separated.

I live in Europe, and as such, the Nokia phone is the phone you see most often. I always amaze myself at the incredibly complex hierarchy of menu’s and the placement of functions. Me, and I think about every ex-Nokia user over the ocean is eagerly tapping fingers until the iPhone arrives, waiting for the horror of searching through 10 menu’s to find that one application or bluetooth setup utility.

This may seem like a huge rant about Nokia gone bad, but I’d rather want to show you what makes Apple special. It’s knowing what people you hire and even then, checking them and running them by a design philosophy that’s proven and about as simple as it can get. I want to thank Nokia, even, for a great example of where we don’t want to go when it comes to icon design.

ps. Yes, I know September 5th is close. The work is killing me but it’s proving to be quite an awesome release soon. Stay tuned!