On interfaces in films

First seen on Snarkmarket – this amazing little site belonging to the guy who designs fictional user interfaces for movies. Here’s one from the Bourne Identity:

And here’s a fascinating little exchange in the comments, in answer to the question “do you get your ideas from existing government interfaces?”

There is little access to government interfaces and that which does exist, tends to be very old (having undergone a mandatory clearance time period). The fact is, they would use very little that is different in look and feel from any other systems and interfaces out there. If anything, a basic knowledge of the slow pace at which any government service operates, technologically, one could make the assumption that it is a few years out of date.

Overall, the look we go for in these circumstances is almost a hybrid of what Mac, Windows and Linux would look like. The content itself is made to look ‘techy’ but fulfill just one primary aspect. Tell the story.

Reference points we would go to for this kind of thing is no different than the content shows. Image liraries, video feed and camera installations. Databases and communications. All stuff that exists in the real world, used by many other people, not in government. The common assumption is that they have their own unique systems, whereas they probably do not. The way their system work and interact along with odd tools might be unique but generally, not a lot different.

The irony here is that the perception they have something different from the rest of us, is probably propagated by films.

via The Bourne Identity | Mark Coleran Visual Designer.

New design

Sometimes I have to redesign this blog just to remind myself how marvellously easy it is to do so in WordPress. This month’s template is Elegant Grunge by Michael Tyson, and I think it’s my favourite ever. It also fixes the annoying bug whereby some people on some flavours of Firefox on some flavours of Windows couldn’t see the Submit button on comments. So expect to see thousands of commenters appearing magically out of nowhere. Not.

Sage thoughts on magazine design

A Question of Balance – The Atlantic (November 2008)

For a graphic designer, few jobs are as challenging as designing a magazine. Unlike a logo or a poster, the design of which can rely on blunt simplicity, a magazine is a complex organism, the result of an intricate interplay of words and pictures. Any single issue represents thousands of minute decisions about typography, layout, photography, and illustration. And these decisions are made within an accepted system of conventions—preconceptions we all share about how a magazine is read—and more practical and mundane limitations like budgets and schedules.

When I used to work on magazines, I found the design to be the hardest thing. That paragraph encapsulates why – and also counts doubly for websites, which not only have to incorporate all those elements but have to transform “interaction” from something as simple as turning a page to a rich, multi-possibility thing.