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Cognition

Articles By:

Jeffrey Zeldman

  1. Chairman’s Message

    Posted on 1/2/14

    Never look back, Steve Jobs said, or maybe it was Bernie Madoff. But at this time of year, it is customary to look at where we’ve been, and take educated guesses about where we’re going.

    As web designers, we are in a time of new patterns. But we are making sense of these patterns and naming them. I traveled the world this year. Everywhere I went I heard the same four or five ideas.

    From Cardiff to Costa Mesa, in every business meeting and at every conference I attended, we all spoke of responsive websites, finding new design and approval processes, and the challenge of delivering great design and appropriate content to a continually expanding universe of devices.

  1. The Dumbest Man in Congress

    Posted on 7/18/13

    Years ago, when men wore hats and the world was black and white, a small-town newspaper roused the ire of its hometown legislator, one Phineas P. Farnsworth, by labeling him “the dumbest man in Congress.”

    Not one to consider the merits of a criticism or take it lying down, the offended congressman immediately convened a press conference in Washington, DC. Journalists representing all the big American newspapers duly gathered to learn what was on the heretofore-unnoticed representative’s mind.

  1. Blue Beanie Day – Celebrate You!

    Posted on 11/30/12

    A funny thing happened on the way to the multi-device world we design and live in. The web standards movement happened.

  1. Discontent

    Posted on 5/24/12

    Have you ever had to fit three lead stories onto a web page that was designed for only one? Ever needed to hastily rework a design because nobody realized that a product description might run to more than 200 characters until after you delivered the templates? Ever found yourself slapping big yellow alert banners and screaming headlines onto an otherwise tastefully designed home page because the layout actually distracted your users from the site’s most important content? (And why did the layout distract them? Not because it was elegantly designed, but because it was designed before the client figured out the content strategy.)

  1. Patience and Fortitude

    Posted on 9/22/11

    A short dozen blocks north of Happy Cog’s New York studio, two famous stone lions sculpted by Edward Clark Potter guard the entrance to The New York Public Library at 42nd Street. The lions were originally named for the library’s private backers, the Astor and Lenox families. But in the 1930s, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia renamed the two lions “Patience” and “Fortitude,” because those were the qualities New Yorkers would need to survive the Great Depression. This was back in the days when elected officials gave a damn about the people, and when they could use a three-syllable word without fear that citizens would brand them as over-educated or French. But I digress.

  1. But What I Really Want to Do is Direct

    Posted on 5/26/11

    In my apprentice days, I worked for Marvin Honig, a Hall of Fame copywriter who created indelible commercials for Alka-Seltzer, Cracker Jack, and Volkswagen during the 1960s and 1970s, and who assumed creative leadership of Doyle Dane Bernbach upon legendary founder Bill Bernbach’s death. It was not one of those bloody successions that stain the pages of history and advertising. Bill chose Marvin to carry on in his place.

  1. One Man’s Ceiling

    Posted on 1/6/11

    Any mint can mask lunch breath, but only Certs has a golden drop of Retsyn. That drop and its golden hue, which no one but a copywriter has ever seen (the actual visual end-product is a trail of green flecks), may have made a powerful differentiator back when Tang was a breakfast drink, but it’s not enough to sway a modern consumer.

  1. Is This Thing On?

    Posted on 10/7/10

    They laughed when I sat down at the HTML editor. But they cried when I began to make web pages. That was 1995. This is 2010, and we’re still doing it. Web design is no longer an occult activity for a small circle of initiates, and we’ve gotten a bit better at it over the years. The technology has changed (you’re welcome!) but the basics are still good design, great content, and an interface that makes reading or shopping or sharing a pleasure.

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