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Designy reflecting

Categories: Learning things, Our work

8th birthday celebration image, with an octopus and eight-shaped underwater vessel

Supercool are eight years old. Eight!

To mark this milestone, we've been reflecting on eight years of intelligent, well-considered and effective design. While we were doing our thing …

200430 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) won the RIBA Stirling Prize.

2005Git was released.

2006 Twitter launched.

2007 – Apple unveiled the first iPhone.

2008 – Jos Buivenga designed the hugely popular Museo – a font for print and screen.

2009 'In Praise of Shadows' was part of the London Design Festival.

2010 Get Satisfaction won the 'Business' category of the SXSW Web Awards.

2011 – A Book Apart published 'Responsive Web Design' by Ethan Marcotte.

All aboard!

Categories: Our work

Some months back we were approached by 'social web' gurus MySociety who were looking for some help with the branding and user interface design of their latest major project.

MySociety are kind of a big deal and do some ace projects so we were pretty chuffed they got in touch and wanted to work with us – especially as this was the first time they'd ever worked with a design agency.

And what a project to work on.

Fix My Transport logo

Now, the fruit of everyone's labour – FixMyTransport – has officially launched; and to rather wonderful (worldwide) reaction.

At a basic level, FixMyTransport makes it easy for people to send problem reports to the companies or authorities responsible for those problems. (You can find out more about it on the FixMyTransport 'About' page – have a read.)

Sounds like a simple idea, right? Deceptively so …

With around half a million bus and tram stops, train stations and ferry ports across the country, each needing to be linked with (possibly several different) transport operators, it's been a work in progress for a good while and, with MySociety blogging about the project's progression, has been eagerly awaited.

Following a few weeks of beta testing, on the official launch day it had fantastic press coverage, including articles in Wired, The Guardian and the BBC over here and The Wall Street Journal across the pond.

We were especially pleased with this Guardian Professional article, which picks out the site's user-led interface and design as being a key factor in its success so far. Hey; we worked on that! So that was nice.

Primarily, however, the site's success is due to the ideas, clever coding, hard graft and sheer tenacity of MySociety senior developer and all-round good egg, Louise Crow. (Who is also thoroughly adept at using video conferencing and instant messaging to explain the ins-and-outs of Ruby on Rails, ERB, HAML and PostgreSQL. Quite a feat.)

According to MySociety's blog, on the day FixMyTransport was officially launched after its quiet beta, there was a 550% rise in visitor numbers and more than 70 new campaigns were created; with lots more smaller problems being sent directly to the relevant operator. Those are some impressive stats.

All told, it's been a pretty smooth and thoroughly pleasant journey; definitely no complaints. I think we can confidently hail this project a success.

The dark side of dessert

Categories: Our work, Silly

Apropos of nothing, other than it's something that's been languishing in my 'stuff I've drawn' folder for ages, along with a good deal more metaphorical kilograms of illustrated fruit and veg. It turns out I like drawing food.

The above'd be best served with a damn fine cup of (Georgia) coffee, I'd say.

Dance, design and a living doll – Part II

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff, Our work

So, this is my contribution to Pointe Blank; the Birmingham Royal Ballet collaborative project I mentioned t'other week. (Dance, design and a living doll – Part I)

Rather than write a load of waffly prose about the thinking behind the design, which'd not only take me ages to compose but you ages to read too, here instead are my waffly notes and a picture of the individual design elements:

  • It's a comic story so needs to look light-hearted.
  • Layers! There are many layers to the story. Show this.
  • Give it a hand-made quality but produce it by mechanical means.
  • Background pattern = based on an embroidered costume from the ballet.
  • Hearts! There's lots about love and broken hearts, so that needs to come through.
  • It's set in an Eastern European village so the buildings should show that.
  • 'Crest' to include ears of corn - used by Swanilda to test Franz's faithfulness.
  • No suitable font for the title, so hand-drawn lettering used.
  • Wanted to do a bit of copywriting: "Magic, misdirection … and a girl with enamel eyes".
  • Bunting was the last element to be added; frames everything else and hints at the festivities at the show's climax.
  • Colours palette = sympathetic to the production design (both costumes and set).
  • Include a level of mystery, wonder and magical-ness so people associate it with fairytale-type stories.

This was a great fun project to take part in and I have my fingers crossed there'll be more where this came from.

You can have a look at the other 26 submissions on the Pointe Blank website; there're some absolute stunners:


UPDATE: Oops. I neglected to add photos from the launch event which was held on Monday at one of BRB's studios over at Birmingham Hippodrome. Here y'are …