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Design

Using type, color, space and symbols to communicate.

We’ve written 71 blog posts about Design. View all topics »

  1. Sketching a Story Arc

    Every project at Happy Cog starts with a kickoff meeting where our project team gets together with our client partners to meet, discuss, and collaborate on ideas for their project. We moderate a variety of exercises, surveys, workshops, and discussions. One of our favorites is the “Design Studio”—where we ask the team to sketch solutions to design problems for its redesigned site.

  2. All Systems Are Go!(ing to Come Apart)

    Bless her soul, Bessie stunk at jigsaw puzzles. She seemed less interested in recreating the dissected bucolic scene she’d purchased at Rose’s pharmacy decades ago than she was in hurriedly rearranging and redefining the jumbled mess splashed onto the modest kitchen table in front of her. There was no right way, just her way—and the multiple arrangements that lay ahead were every bit as valid to her as the ordered state its designer printed on the box. She just can’t see well, I figured. I never asked.

  3. One Hand Washes the Other

    I once believed that great design was created inside of a secret creativity chamber. Armed with a knapsack full of snacks, I’d lock myself inside, and work long, hard, tedious hours until I emerged with a “masterpiece.”

  4. Total Design

    In the 1960s and 70s Ajax, a Dutch soccer team, captivated people with long stringy hair, scruffy sideburns, and a legendary tactical system known as ‘Total Football.’ Don’t worry, non-sports-loving nerds, I’ll get to my point soon. What was remarkable about Total Football was the ability of everyone on the team to change position and tactics with fluidity and speed. Anyone, it was thought, could play anywhere on the pitch. Attackers converted to defenders. Defenders converted to attackers. Back and forth in the blink of an eye.

  5. The Four Stages of Giving Up Photoshop

    On one of my first projects at Happy Cog, my coworker, Kevin, suggested that we experiment with how we create responsive layouts of a site redesign. Seemed reasonable enough, until I heard him say, “and we’re going to use Keynote.” Say whaaat?!

  6. Thank you, Hillman Curtis.

    When I learned of Hillman Curtis’ passing last week I tried to impart to someone unfamiliar with his work why, having never met him, he meant so much to my development as a designer and (former) animator. He taught me how to respect the audience, I told her. He taught me how to justify, how to edit.

  7. Rut-Roh! I’m in a Design Rut

    Last week, while plugging away in Photoshop—tunes blazing through my headphones, pixels flying from my fingertips—it hit me. I was in a design rut. I’d grown complacent with my pagination arrows. Countless times, for vastly different sites, I’d relied on the DIN Bold arrow character. It’s a sturdy, hard-angled, utilitarian arrow, perfectly suitable if I quit web design to design highway signs in Germany, but not the quick-fix solution for all my arrow needs.

  8. Attack of the Horrible Presentation

    When I was an undergrad student, I studied film. One valuable lesson I picked up in school was how to prepare for a presentation. My instructors taught us to run a projector correctly; or, they let us know in no uncertain terms, you were wasting everyone’s time. Here’s what was expected of you: arrive early, clean your film, clean the projector, check the bulb, set the focus, set the sound levels, and cue up your reel. Do anything wrong and you would be on the receiving end of glower, ridicule, and not a word of critique about the film you were presenting.

  9. Redesign Week

    What do they say about the cobbler’s son? The dude is always barefoot? Or the carpenter’s house has no roof? Stupid carpenter.

    Yeah. That’s kind of us right now with happycog.com. Granted, we have shoes, and we have a roof. But the shoes have some holes in the soles and the roof leaks just enough to make your hair wet.

  10. Stepping Out of Line

    Years ago, I was presenting comps on a scheduled call to a key stakeholder of my then-agency’s flagship account. It was my first call with him in months. He was unfortunately on vacation and without his laptop. That should have been the end of it.

    Instead, he asked me to paint him a picture.

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