Design Round up – 1st week of May ’16

Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps.

This one is technically written in April, however since I just started doing this round up, I’m squeezing this one in.

Every once in a while, there comes a hot bandwagon that is so shiny, palpably exciting and trendy that every cool kid on the block is compelled to jump on it at once. Currently, this is ‘conversational AI’.

Dan Grover gave a really comprehensive history of how the poster child of conversational AI, Wechat, evolved to the state today by solving problems specific to the Chinese market.

And perhaps more importantly, he made a compelling point that it is unlikely to replace all the apps we have today, the way that technologist pundits are calling it.

Sorry to disappoint, but conversational AI doesn’t solve all your problems.


Our Designer’s Thoughts on Sketch 3.7

Switching to Sketch has been one of the most life-changing things for me as a designer, and it’s been a continuous journey of learning thanks to the new features and plugins that regularly comes out from the development team and the wonderful community.

Version 3.7 provides designers with the ability to create nested symbols and better manage text style, which makes it even easier to do modular and component based design ( aka atomic design )


It’s a Design at 1x—It’s a Fact

Let me start off by saying this is something that I’m not entirely convinced about, but thought I should include as it is making the round in the designer circle.

(On a side note, this title is also my pet peeve with a lot of design articles these days, namely: I use this workflow, it has worked well for me personally for my purposes, it is hence an established fact that it is a superior workflow and everyone else should adopt it.)

A little background: I started off doing design at 1x, but switched to 2x when the mock doesn’t scale up nicely to run user testings. I’m currently designing for both iOS and Android at 2x, and here’re some reasons why I’m hesitant to switch back again:

2. One-to-one between iOS and Android Oh my god. What a time saver this has become. Everything translates perfectly between iOS and Android, allowing you to reuse text sizes, icons, and spacing.

This is not an argument for 1x, you can also get this nice size parity by designing for both iOS and Android at 2x or 3x.

Shouldn’t your designs be speaking the same language as the code that’s implementing them? Yes, yes they should. And engineers use points, not pixels.

Yes that would be rather nice, although I suspect many companies will not pay to provide each engineer with their own copy of $99 Sketch. Maybe this is different for companies that have a lot of budget to burn.

7. Future proof Designing at 1x defends you against Apple or Google introducing a new screen density in which you’d have to do yet another conversion.

Not a solid reason. For any new screen size/dimension introduced, you will still have to do conversion even for 1x mocks.

Designing for 2x can also cause designers to experience a placebo effect: designing at 2x is quite appealing, visually, and can mask. However, a baseline of 1x is still the optimal “starting point” in and I actually think our designs benefit from this constraint (a design that “works” at 1x will also “work” 2x; we avoid fooling ourselves into thinking that 2x provides more space to “cram” elements). The temptation to design for higher resolutions can cause tap targets to shrink, type sizes to decrease, legibility to suffer, etc.. Designing at 1x can help protect from that.

Reason 8, which was not included in the original article, is actually a pretty good one and the only one that is convincing enough for me to give this any serious thoughts.

The biggest hurdle I see in switching back to 1x, a point I also raised in the response to the medium post, is that a lot of the UI kits out there today, including this really nice iOS9 UI kit from Facebook, are in 2x.

Designing at 1x means forgoing the ability to use all these amazing resources out there that are there to make your life, as a designer, easier and more enjoyable.

And as it stands, the benefit of designing to 1x is not so overwhelming great to worth going through all the trouble to convert.

On another unrelated note, I love doing mental arithmetics. It is literally my favorite (read: only tolerable) part of tipping.

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