Archive for June, 2016

Caring Deeply About Aesthetic

During my time at Wake Forest, I naturally asked my friends why they decided to attend Wake Forest, often the answer was the following: “When I first visited campus, it felt and looked exactly what I imagined a college should be.” Wake Forest’s campus design is traditional in every sense of the word, with every detail down to the color of the bricks being deliberately designed. The result of Wake Forest’s deliberate effort is a strong sense of place and warm feelings elicited in prospective and current students. But there’s more: Wake’s deliberate design choices run deep beyond the surface. For example, their communications aesthetic is equally strong and aligned exactly with the school’s mission.

Wake’s primary san serif typeface is “Avenir”, which was a humanist font developed by the late Adrian Frutiger. While Frutiger developed Avenir in the late 1980’s he later recalled, “Working on it, I always had human nature in mind.” — The Wake Forest mission “Pro Humanitate” (for humanity) aligns exactly with the intellectual ideas behind the font.

Aesthetic doesn’t mean shiny, new, and without substance. Instead aesthetic embodies beauty; both in an object’s form and function. As I think about building products and organizations in the startup world in SF, I can’t help but admire the companies and people who care deeply about aesthetics. It matters.

One open source project with a mission of beautifying the world, Bootstrap, is an interesting one because it causes an externality. On the one hand, using bootstrap to develop software interfaces is fast, flexible, and usually more beautiful that what you can easily make on your own. On the flip side, Bootstrap is a signal of weakness, a signal to users that the product owners do not care very much about its design; they are willing to outsource aesthetic to a run-of-the-mill open source project. I am curious what other developers and designers think about Bootstrap given its popularity.

As I have been developing Concorde, I have invested considerable thought into its aesthetic. The logo is inspired from a t-shirt I bought in Mykonos. And the font family used on the site is again a work of Adrian Frutiger: “Neue Frutiger”. Since the Frutiger font family is often used on airport signs around the world, I thought that visitors to the site may see design similarities between an airport departures board and Concorde.

I firmly believe that the more intentionality and thoughtfulness a product designer places on aesthetic, the more positive feelings and better user experience the product provides.


06 2016