Can fonts stop car crashes?

February 19, 2013

Image of warning sign

The words “safest” and “font” are usually only combined when discussing digital platforms, standards or devices. So the article “Can fonts stop car crashes?” in the Independent a while ago caught my eye.

Of course, in the best traditions of tabloid media the title is provocatively rhetorical. However, as a Designer who’s worked extensively on making road signs easier to read and understand, I can personally attest to the research and expertise that goes into ensuring UK road signs are among the easiest to practicably observe and assimilate.

Moreover, if local authorities and sign manufacturers took greater care to follow the (admittedly complex) design rules more precisely, we’d have more consistency on our roads. But in attempting to address the question, as with anything that’s designed and engineered, it’s only as safe as its weakest component.


A new direction (somewhat belated)

February 19, 2013

Generating original content requires time and effort. I don’t mind the effort, but finding the time is…difficult. So I’m going to put more ‘syndicated’ news content up here. Links to stories that catch my eye, with just a frisson of comment. There’ll still be original essays on Design and the odd review of sites, apps, interactive design, digital narrative, books and exhibitions. Just less of this, but overall far more.

Stay tuned for a busy year!


Information is beautiful

October 3, 2012
The secret of a good story - Plotlines by Delayed Gratification

The secret of a good story – Plotlines by Delayed Gratification

There was a time when when the illustrative representation of data was confined to simplistic visual metaphors such as the bar graph and pie chart.

Though relatively simplistic, the power of these visual devices lay in their intrinsic clarity; and thus the inherent truth they conveyed and our ability to believe in it. Then came their corruption. By using visual tricks such as foreshortening, perspective and three dimensional manipulation, it was possible to subtly change the message, with a little emphasis here or a reduction there.

Today, information graphics or info-graphics as it’s more commonly known, is a burgeoning craft. Taken to its zenith, some would call it art form, as this year’s Information is Beautiful awards suggests.

Is it art? Is it truth? Is it useful? It was Mark Twain who popularised the phrase “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics” and that was long before they’d been any where a design process! Notwithstanding, many of these pieces represent a new way of ingesting  and perceiving data. By incorporating multiple principles of design, and not just plain ‘graphics’, into statistical data, it is possible to create something that transcends its original intent.

Naturally there will always be misrepresentation. One of the most universally applied and recognised pieces of info-graphics is Harry Beck’s underground map. Diagrammatic in the extreme, it’s not very useful for pedestrians. However, it’s core function is to assist with the interpretation of complex and often abstract data, quickly and succinctly. As long as you keep this overriding principle in mind, information can indeed be beautiful.


How design helps business

June 2, 2010

Understanding the vital role of design isn’t easy
Business and organisations of all size, operation and disciplines often find it difficult to choose the right design company for a given project. It’s easy to understand why, as our perception of professional design is relative, subjective and elusive;  the professional application of design even more so.

As consumers and business users we are surrounded by professional design, yet in many ways graphic design is a ‘closed shop’. Design isn’t validated, certified or regulated in any meaningful way, with awards ceremonies celebrating great design and creative excellence typically being low profile, industry-only events. Read the rest of this entry »


Google AdSense occasionally nonsense

June 1, 2010

There can be no doubt that the web has enabled and enriched our lives tremendously. Access to data and information that just a few years ago would have taken hours to acquire is now often just several clicks away. Rarely has access to such a wealth of data, services and information been so simple, or free. Sometimes it merely appears to be free, with the cost demanded subtly in the form of targeted advertising. Read the rest of this entry »


iPad; cool heads & sore foot prevail

May 27, 2010

It’s Thursday the 27th of May, the day before the iPad is finally released in the UK…the buzz is palpable and I’m sitting here with a stress fracture to the fourth metatarsal of my left foot. Read the rest of this entry »


My first brand awareness (age 32 months)

May 27, 2010

As a professional Designer I’ve worked in advertising, marketing and brand development for nearly my entire career, so it’s fair to say in my personal life I’m considered ‘brand-savvy’. However, as a father I’m fairly brand-adverse. The BBC’s dedicated pre-school children’s channel Cbeebies is a godsend in this respect. It’s not perfect, but it does offer children some protection from premature indoctrination into the world of consumerism– well, at least until they arrive at the toyshop at least. Read the rest of this entry »