In this research investigation 3Desque, I explored design possibilities and constraints for 3D enhancements of graphical user interfaces for the Mac OS.
Challenge: The challenge was how could you convey more information to Mac users whilst using less screen space and avoiding visual clutter?
Response: I designed and prototyped a set of information rich behaviors for the onscreen representation of users documents, containers and working environment. Dr. Gavin Miller built a C++ prototype based on my designs and took the exploration of “window” behavior to a new level of sophistication, making them appear to “slap back” moving from a 2D to 3D projection.
Some of the features we developed included live scrolling of windows and support for the smart layout of icons (documents) and trays (folders). Information associated with documents could be explored without opening the application saving users time.
“Periphs” which were black lines at the edge of a 3D window indicating more content was available beyond the window boundary were created. Innovations in lighting and shading techniques and along with environments designed for different user needs were designed prototyped and tested.
The prototypes allowed us to demonstrate the viability of content rich interface behaviors for finding and working with user content on the Mac.
Result: By projecting the Macintosh finder into 3D, we were able to make greater use of screen space and provide a better context for displaying the relationship between user interface elements.
We demonstrated 3Desque at the 1996 Apple Developer conference to good reviews. We also published an article “3Desque: interface elements for a 3D graphical user interface” in the Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation in June 1999.
With less than six weeks before the Annual Report was scheduled to arrive in recipients’ mail boxes, I was engaged to design the 2006-2007 annual report for Peninsula Habitat for Humanity.
Challenge: The annual report had to accommodate different content types including homeowner stories, lists of volunteers, and columns of financial statistics.
Response: Constrained for time it meant working with what content was available rather than going out and shooting new images or writing new homeowner insights. To bring the content together, I created a flexible grid with a consistent layout of across each page and spread in the report.
A consistent visual design language for each page element, including headings, body text, paragraphs, numbering schemes, lines, borders, and captions brought unity to all the parts creating a flow and rhythm to the report as you flicked through its pages.
Results: Working with both time and resource constraints, I had to assimilate quickly all the components and design a container that would gracefully hold the report together in a manner befitting the brand. Constraints can be creative opportunities to produce value for a client. In this example, value came from a high quality design without high end production costs. In fact the report was printed simply on recycled paper a choice that sat well with the non profit organization and its supporters.
A winning poster design for the 1993 Admirals Cup Yacht Race at Cowes sponsored by Mumm Champagne.
Challenge: As a student at the Royal College of Art, it was common to find industry sponsors offering large prizes to students in return for giving them new ideas to help out their marketing departments. Such was the case with Mumm Champagne who offered champagne prizes to winning students in return for posters promoting their sponsorship of the boat race in Cowes.
Response: Using Photoshops’ latest styling tools, I digitally manipulated an image of a yacht to imply the view of the yacht race from the bottom of your champagne glass.
Results: The sponsors loved the poster and I received a magnum of champagne for my efforts.
BBC Children in Need is a registered charity that has been making annual broadcast appeals to raise money for children in need since 1927. As a student, I designed a poster to encourage people to “get up” and make a donation to cause.
Challenge: Inspired by the work of the great poster creators, Abraham Games and Ian McKnight Kauffer, I wanted to create a high impact, attention grabbing poster that would motivate people to contribute to the charity.
Response: Created on paper using line drawings and overlays of colored film, the image tried to capture the moment someone left the room to go and make a donation. The intention was to inspire others to do the same.
Results: Each year the BBC receive donations from supporters across the UK that allow them to fund projects for disadvantaged children. If my poster encouraged one person to get up and make a donation, then it performed its job well.
During the summer of 1990 I worked for the BBC as a graphic design intern for award winning TV stylist Bernard Heyes. Of the countless projects Bernard had me work on, my sketch for a new Childrens’ show “Clockwise” come to life on TV several months after my internship ended.
Challenge: To develop the visual look n feel for a new kids TV show “Clockwise”. I knew very little about the show and preferred to industriously generate lots of concepts before asking questions of my superiors about what they were looking for.
Response: Sketching ideas for logotypes, titles sequences, content graphics and end credits was how I spent my time. The initial work was all done with paper and pencil. My sketches were reviewed by Bernard and some disappeared for review with the TV show producers.
Result: Six months after leaving my internship and returning to my Graphic Information Design degree, I was watching TV and the show Clockwise came on. I instantly recognized my design applied to the set of the show and was so excited to see my sketch brought to life.
System 8 is a design research investigation for Apple that explored how the Mac OS could become more adaptive to the user as they worked at their computer over time.
Challenge: Apple Computer’s Human Interface Group asked students to design an adaptive computer system. As part of a team from the Royal College of Art in London, I helped develop a prototype for a working environment that would accommodate the way people use their computers.
Response: Our mission was to make the computing experience more relevant, forgiving, fun, and productive. We decided to have an adaptive system informed by the patterns of computer usage by the customer.
By observing and recording user behavior over time, the experience of using a Mac could support greater productivity and enjoyment. We developed several features to personalize the user experience, so it could be more adaptive:
- Customer Templates: An alternative look- and-feel for different user groups including designers, children, and executives were proposed. Our system came pre loaded with customized content, applications, user interface attitudes and behaviors to suite each demographic.
- User interaction Signature: Records customer interactions and allows them to be played back, making light work of frequently repeated user tasks.
- The Lens Tool: Detects user activity, allowing repetitive tasks to be automated and run in the background, thus saving time and reducing overhead.
- The System Watcher: Proactively monitors and communicates user and machine performance levels to optimize the computing experience letting users know they are getting the best out of their machines, and they can work smarter, not harder
Result: System 8 was a winning entry in the 1993 Apple Computer International Student Design Awards. I was offered an internship and then a full-time job with the Human Interface Group at Apple following the competition.