Can a Website Be Art for Art’s Sake?

Our senior designer, Caroline, tackles a question sparked by a debate among our design team.

The design team at FortyFour takes inspiration seriously. We spend significant time crawling Awwwards, Dribbble, Behance, Httpster, CollectUi, and Bestfolios, to name a few. We discuss inspirational art, type, and UI projects in our creative team weekly meetings. We share drool-worthy interactions and color palettes via slack. All of this preparation makes it easier to kick off new projects and bring fresh ideas to new pitches.

Recently, this practice sparked a heated debate across the team.

I found a particularly interesting site that I showed to my deskmate, Liz. The website in question had truly strange interactions, an initially imperceptible purpose, and an impossible layout on mobile. After several minutes of digging, we discovered it was site for designer shoes. Liz suggested we pull up another site, this time for a restaurant. The throwback styling of the site immediately conjured up memories of customizing my first MySpace layout. It had letters tracing the cursor, overlapping tickers, and a color palette that made your eyes vibrate.

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Written by on October 31st, 2018 in Design

Sketch, Principle, and Several Dozen Sleepless Nights: A New Father Reflects on Design Tools and the World of Parenting

Just a little less than two months after the birth of his son, our senior art director, Hadi Seyfi, has some thoughts on the world of baby product design and the tools we've been using here at FortyFour to make processes run smoother, and more creatively.

At the time of writing this, my son is less than two months old. As first time parents, my wife and I have fully embraced the ever increasing world of everything baby. Tips for first time parents from your great-great-grandma? Let’s hear them! Do you have a great first-time dad’s blog I should subscribe to? Consider it done. Did we see the 2018 Red Dot Award finalists for all things infant care related? We already bought them all!

Of course, sifting through all of that data is its own labor of love. We’re always keeping up with the world of baby science and worshipping at the altar of trendy design, but the most important opinion in the room is, in fact, the baby’s! He hates the award-winning bottles we grabbed and prefers the same classic ones I had as a kid. As far as pacifiers go, he loves these crazy modern ones that barely look like pacifiers at all. When it comes to the world of baby product design, he is our client, user group, QA team, and a rather vocal fan base all rolled into one.

So how, in my sleep-deprived brain, do I see all of this relating back in some meaningful way to what I do as a designer on a daily basis at FortyFour? Simple: be open to new ideas, new methods and the wisdom of others.

In the past twelve months, we have made a very concerted effort to embrace new layout and prototyping software in our day-to-day workflow.

Adobe and its suite of tools still have a place near and dear to my heart, so embracing this still relatively new ecosystem of apps was no small undertaking. Why use the weird, new pacifier when you know that the one everyone has used for decades works just fine?

It’s not until you get your hands dirty a couple times that the real benefits start to manifest. We went from UX files directly into designing… with the same file! We started exploring the nuances of symbols in Sketch, and how layer nomenclature had a huge impact in Principle. It quickly went from, “Okay, fine. It’s new software,” to, “Oh man, did you play with this feature yet?” Speaking about type and layout in the exact same terms of a developer was another beneficial side effect. Why hasn’t this always been the case?

In the past, I’ve learned over and over again to not trust plugins from third party companies. They either stopped working the night before that huge deadline, or the second after you finally updated the main software it was attached to. Now, seeing the almost weekly updates coming from not only the main developer but also the plugin is refreshing and reassuring! The trustworthiness of the software finally caught up with the inventiveness of plugin developers.

Experiencing the benefits of these new tools firsthand while my wife and I do our best to embrace parental wisdom of the ages, mixed with the newest techniques, has felt like a whirlwind of learning experiences. Finding that perfect combination of cutting edge technologies while still understanding the foundations of tried and true solutions is a daily challenge, both with parenting and agency life and all its intricacies.

A child is a joy to be around, but they certainly come with some very unique challenges. The diaper bag filled with the right tools can make or break an otherwise fun-filled day. A well-designed project, using the right tools that allow everyone (strategy, UX, design, and dev) to contribute and collaborate, will only benefit from new techniques and exciting tools like Sketch and Principle.

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Written by on July 30th, 2018 in Design, Uncategorized

What Can Live Music Teach Us About Designing Engaging UX?

User experience principal, Paul Landon, reflects on finding inspiration as a designer in a recent trip to the symphony.

Photo by Gavin Whitner

While it might seem UX design and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra don’t have much in common, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the aspects they share. I recently had the pleasure of attending a symphony performance in Atlanta and found myself with two questions on my mind.

  • What does music have to do with digital experience design?
  • How can my experience at the symphony affect my approach to crafting engaging UX?

As your night at the symphony begins, you’re immediately engulfed in a hail of emotions. Directly beneath the theatre stage, an orchestra warms up in the pit. The drone of musicians tuning their instruments resonates through the packed room. Cushioned velvet seats hush the anticipatory murmuring from the balcony seats above. Rising to the podium, the conductor flourishes a baton to silence orchestra and audience alike. With a furious upwards swing, the performance begins.

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Written by on July 17th, 2018 in Design, Insight

Design We Love: June Edition

Design, illustration, typography and more that our creative team saw and loved in June.

Every week, our talented and energetic design team gathers round the conference table in the room we’ve lovingly named “Inman Park” to talk about stuff that’s inspired them that week. Over the course of the month, they tend to amass a lot of great stuff so we’ve started cataloging it here on the blog! Here’s what our design team was loving in June.

Spectral
Spectral is the first customizable and interactive parametric Google font by Prototypo.

Spectral Design
Spectral

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Written by on July 5th, 2018 in Design

Design We Love: May Edition

This month, our design team was all about good vibes, clean lines, and using colors and shapes in new ways.

A little over a year ago, the design team at FortyFour incorporated “Stumps and Dumps” into our weekly design sync. What are “Stumps and Dumps,” you ask?

“Stumps” are the problems we’re facing with current projects. More importantly, it’s an open invitation for critical feedback and creative insights from our teammates.

“Dumps” are the show-and-tell portion. It’s an opportunity for us to talk all things inspiring, unusual, and thought-provoking within the design world.

We’ve amassed a considerable list of design portfolios, websites, Instagram accounts, films, artists, animations, and design tools over the last year. We come back to this list time and time again for inspiration, so we thought we should share it with the world. Here’s the space where each month we’ll share with you the things we’ve loved lately. Without further ado, here’s a few things we loved in May!

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Written by on May 30th, 2018 in Culture, Design