I have installed a frosted glass effect on my living room sliding doors. I was going to make cool shapes with vintage bird outlines, but I wanted to get this done before the sun went down last night and before I had to be somewhere at 7:30, so 3 strips is all the living room gets for now. At least they’re not all identical widths and sort of exercise the Golden Mean. Luckily contact paper comes off easily and I have more of it. The air bubbles bother me, but I have trained my brain not to look at them for the moment.

By the way, that sedge plant was given to me by my best friend and I absolutely adore it to death. My condo/life wouldn’t be the same without it.

So because Team Detroit is basically a collaborative of the top agencies in the known galaxy, I am going to kick off my identity critique tradition with a logo they have done. Who knows what poor, overworked, unknown underling slaved away under countless frustrating, soul-spiting revisions, but my objective is this: to bring about discussion amongst Michigan (and possibly intergalactic) designers and forward thinkers. (God, I hate that phrase “forward thinker,” but I can’t think of  a better word right now–“backward thinker” just sounds kind of dirty.) My other objective is to have a humble laugh or two about design and not take everything so goddamn seriously.

Study #1:

I am going to assume Team Detroit was the creative force behind this branding. It is on their website. (Can anyone verify?) It doesn’t matter, though, because I’m going to make fun of it and then ultimately like something about it either way.

Impressions: Guitar pick shapes fanning out like an Oriental party favor. Hmm! Then the word “rock” in the tagline. Dude, that’s totally awesome and hip! I think I felt younger and more “in tune” (haha) with some kind of omnipresent technology corporation for a second! Far effing out! For someone who isn’t familiar with Compuware, it might look like music production software. Some people may very well think this is underwear for computers. I mean–come on– what is “IT” referring to anyway?! For heaven’s sake.

The blue is sharp–in a pastel Easter type of way. Perhaps they didn’t want to seem too strong and bold. Afterall, their website welcomes you to “the future of your mainframe.” That isn’t a bold seeming phrase at all. And I always, always love grey/gray (however you prefer to spell that colour is up to your geographic location and cultural context, so I’ve included both to avoid confrontation). The colors are harmonious; that grey is just rad. (For the people who know me, I can feel you inwardly cringe a little at “rad”–apologies!) The tagline so elegantly deliberate underneath the “u.”

Constructive criticism: This logo is nice. I do like it. It is austere yet modern. It’s almost a perfect balance of typography and imagery–something that is challenging to execute! But the soft colours plus gray don’t really communicate the function or emotion of the type of company they are. There is definitely a disconnect between this identity and their website. The first flash montage reminds me of Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego-meets-Oceans 11-meets-James Bond. What gives? I wanted to see something like an Intel commercial with lots of ethnically diverse people holding hands!  Ugh!

Conclusion: Easter computer underwear does not equal worldwide technology monstrosities.

It’s taken me a month now to write about the Voices That Matter web design conference which took place in the surprisingly chilly but majestically cultured city of San Francisco, CA.
The kick-off speaker, Jesse James Garrett (what a cool name–seriously), did a great job getting us all excited about what was to come. For a few moments I felt like I was tapped into the greater meaning of life and not just feeling like a frustrated Photoshop slave staring at bits of code for days on end. This guy is really cool, and when you Google his name there is a great cartoon of him on the first page of image results.
Tantek Çelik is also a very cool guy. I’m not even being sarcastic. His dress code is quite dapper. He somehow transcends the tech geek stereotype with his dark blazer and matter-of-fact yet enthusiastic mannerisms. Fact is: he doesn’t need to act or dress cool. He just is. I’m fairly certain I developed a small crush on the dark-rimmed-glasses know-it-all over the course of 2 days. Back in the day, my coding instructor spoke of his work in class, so I was aware of his reputation. My colleague and I were interested to hear what Tantek had to say about HTML5. There has been lots of talk about this lately, so it was comforting to hear what The Dude had to say about it.

Denise Jacobs is a sparkling CSS chica — and tall (well, compared to me being 5′ 3″). I think she is in the running (alongside Paul Adams with all his MSN messenger-people diagrams and hideously cute accent) for being the most comedic presenter. She defended a photo of herself amidst a group of people: “We weren’t drunk!” Am I remembering that correctly? I think I am. Anyway, as a female web dork, I find myself surrounded by serious web dudes all too often (post about “web dudes” yet to come). So I enjoy my moments to respect women colleagues and learn about the latest in CSS3.

Another female presenter with nice glasses and decals on her laptop, Emily Lewis got me all excited (again) about microformats. I really, really love the idea of microformats because they give human meaning to otherwise-droidlike lines of code. Meaning and organization are both good things in my book. I haven’t written a book yet like the two ladies I just mentioned, but perhaps I will someday.

A third woman presenter (woo hoo!), Colleen Jones, gave us the all-too-painful reminder that as designers we have to think more about the content of the sites we build and not just plop text from the Word document we’ve been waiting 3 months for into the pages we mapped out in the 30-second wireframe “meeting” we supposedly had at some point in the past. Or thought we did. At least, I thought I did…

I don’t know about you
but fonts are, like, one of my favorite things of all time. Lyndsay’s Top 5 Things: eating, breathing, blinking, riding horses, FONTS (aka typefaces). Ok maybe blinking would be bumped out by something else, but you get my point. Jason Teague did a very satisfying job of bringing to light some of the sexiest web fonts and how we can incorporate MORE of them into our web universe and not be tied with our hands behind our backs to the same boring/familiar/safe ones. “Comic Sans. . .’nough said,” says Jason. There are options out there, folks! Like TypeKit (if you didn’t already know/use it) and Fonts.com’s new service.

I first noticed Robert Hoekman on the shuttle from the hotel to the conference center. It was early in the morning and he had a coffee and I didn’t. Later I realized coffee wasn’t the only thing this man had up his sleeve. I would later hear his presentation on user experiences and marketing strategy. I even took some really enthusiastic notes:

(The sad bug character represented my mostly non-existent disappointment that there were no snacks at the time.)

Todd Parker and Scott Jehl were both extremely friendly. My colleague and I encountered them at breakfast on the first day. I didn’t notice their “speaker” name badges at first but realized they had to be important when they opened their mouths! Smart dudes.
Khoi Vinh just has a really rad NYC UX/UI design job and is an accomplished artist. New York is also still the coolest and most difficult place to be a designer of any kind.

Maybe this is kind of silly, but Steve Krug was so adorably hilarious and insightful at the same time that I just wanted to hug him. He seemed so comfortable standing up there making us all laugh. His presentation was the most “interactive” I’d say because he live critiqued websites submitted by the attendees, which was really neat. I am deathly afraid of both asking and answering questions at conferences or networking events, but I always enjoy listening to Q&A sessions. One reason I like the web is because I can put on a face with it and hide behind it at the same time.

I missed parts of presentations here and there (like, some of the morning ones), but all-in-all I was utterly impressed with both the information and inspiration I took away from this conference. It was only 2 days, but I felt like I had a chance (if I dared) to ask these top professionals questions and/or drink wine with some of them at the Hotel Palomar during the free-wine hour. Everything from the food, coffee and topics discussed were right on target.

Hopefully I will be able to go next year!