Tag Archives: GUI

Mobile App Game Graphics Getting Good

I’ve been researching spaceship graphics for a mobile app game we’re wanting to concept out, and I’ve been really impressed with how some designers have approached a more flat-ish skew-morphism style which really comes across contemporary and professional. It also helped me to see all the various states and pieces these designers are putting in this sprite-type view of their graphics.

game spaceship colors entry

The other important element is the overall brand of the game, and before I even thought of a logotype or identity, I was worried about the color palette. Some designers were really pushing the boundaries of normal color convention and going with a wide range of colors and chromas. I expected to see some monochromatic ranges mixed with various grays and black, but most of the ones I saw were using at least 3 or 4 different colors and some neutrals or browns in the mix also. I love doing this type of research before I start just to help me step up my game and not re-invent the wheel, or don’t start way behind the industry when these examples can boost my starting point.

Netflix is Trying to Go More Social, and its a Good First Attempt

I just noticed that Netflix is pushing harder for social recommendations from its users. Now don’t get me wrong, this should be a huge (if not their top) initiative in my opinion.  Other than showing me an activity feed of all my friends and what they are watching and rating, this type of recommendations to friends is probably the next best social means of bringing friends together to increase usage and activation.


I think the “Recommend” button has been there for a while, but now they are prompting recommendations as the first thing when you log back in, promoting you to recommend the last thing you watched. It doesn’t look like the most elegant design, but its stupid simple and is a good start to test if this feature is working with its users or not. And now that they have my Facebook info, I’m curious to see if I’m more tempted to use this as it should be an easier work flow to complete. I was surprised they didn’t have a default message in the message text box based on the show, because even though I’m going to type over some of it, I don’t want to type the show name or any other details I might not exactly remember. I’m also very curious if they will do more now with my friends activity since they have access to that info, and can cross reference it with their users. This type of content (tv shows and movies) has to be one of the more social elements in peoples’ lives, so I can’t imagine people would be scared to leverage this social element on Netflix.

Icon Hunting Between Sets and Styles is Taking over My Life

Every project can use them. Every client wants them. Every one is completely unique in its own way, even if its an extremely slight difference. I’m talking about graphical icons here people. I have folders on folders on folders of downloaded icon sets to choose from, and it only builds onto the icon madness.

Each project, or client style almost calls for a unique icon style or content set (if its technology, devices, weather, etc). There are round corners, pixel-styled, bulky, sketch-y, iPhone-y, and any other artistic take on creating your own icon set and putting it on the internet for all these creative download sites to give away as a “freebee”.

Every time I have to start my ‘icon hunt’ through my folders gives me a sharp shock of anxiety. I have my go-to folders but then have to preview the set to see if it has the type of icon I want. I will say that http://www.flaticon.com/ started an initiative to build a library of various icons and expose a widget that allows you to search by tags. I would vote this as one of the more helpful design initiatives over the last decade, and they let you download eps versions of any of the icons … booyah. But that brings up licensing, and we all know each set has its own and I’m dreading that day when someone really takes legal action on some random icon I used this one time. That will be a different and very fun blog posting.

Blade Runner’s Futuristic Computer Screen for 2019

So I’m watching Blade Runner for probably the umpteenth time (you know, the classic 1982 movie w/ Harrison Ford) and something struck me for the first time. For all the futuristic elements they portray in this 2019 setting, the computer screens just have a DOS-like black screen with green text. Is that crazy? I mean they have flying cars, holograms, digital screens on the streets all over, but they didn’t see computer screens taking a futuristic leap?

Now maybe this is the first time I’m noticing this because I’m currently watching Halt and Catch Fire which features the evolution of the first personal computers and they were just blown away by someone creating a graphical user interface. But it seems like such an important piece of technology to show off a new vision for in the movie. We all know Minority Report took it to the limit and has become the buzz word for innovative user interface and functionality. Huge miss hollywood, but I guess nobody noticed since every nerd loves this movie.


New ESPN Style and Interface for TV Channel

I had to do a double take at a bar when I glanced up at the TV and saw ESPN’s SportsCenter which had a new look to it. I’ve always wondered when ESPN would do a rebrand, but I fully understood how much work it would be to re-configure all those graphics (static and motion) which are dynamically set per all those various templates and transitional pieces. But for one of the most influential media networks in the world, I think they could have done a better job. It just seems like some elements of it are amateur in executing a semi-flat style that relies heavily on type treatment and simple colors.

I admit, this is one of the more challenging design styles to really do well, but tons of designers and teams are mastering it, and ESPN appears to have some junior designers having trouble with spacial connections and data driven components fitting in seamlessly with the animated interface. There’s just a couple elements, like the current topic on the bottom left with this white outline on the red shape, that just makes me cringe everyone time I see it. I will at least say that their new sets and media walls are great, so at least they have that going for them during this transitional period.

Tablet Apps going with more Side Menu Navigation Bars

While doing some research before starting a new tablet application user experience, I was checking out the local favorites (Behance, Dribble, etc) and was surprised to see the most eye-catching examples were mostly leveraging a side menu bar. They are almost taking the old tab menu of the first Apple app developer guidelines and just flipping it on the side, which automatically gives it an innovative look. But don’t be so shocked as many native apps on the iPad leverage a left-hand navigation of options.

My first pondering … was this anything to do with Facebook’s left-hand menu options that they released a few years back? I was skeptical of it at first when it came out (how would it interact with the back button paradigm of page flows, etc), but then it caught on like wild fire, and rightfully so, when Facebook does something you only have a taught user base of over a billion users.

For my tablet interface design, I chose to proceed with it but then really had to decide if the side nav was ever-present or expanding/collapsing. It sounds like an easy decision, but it actually has pretty big impacts when you start designing the page layout or a grid system and need to figure out if your content can be covered up or not.

But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I first emailed some initial mockups to my iPad and viewed them. My left thumb naturally was in place to easily switch between my menu items, which made me extremely glad I made them pretty large with an icon and small label, as it was the perfect size for my thumb to hit with little worry about fat-fingering it.

So I guess this new tablet interface style is now in my repertoire, and we’ll see out it irons out with this app product in design reviews and later in live user testing.