Editing, Design, and the Details

If you ask people that love the original Star Wars movies, they’ll tell you it’s because they were fun escapism, full of amazing special effects and spaceships.

But the professionals in the movie industry know better. The secret, dear friends, of the original Star Wars movies, is in the EDITING.

Marcia Lucas, George Lucas’ wife during the 70s and 80s, led the editing team for the original trilogy. While the SFX team was winning Oscars for their work, her team was quietly garnering awards for their editing skills.

Why is editing so important? Because it determines whether a scene is boring or exciting, whether a joke stays fresh or overstays its welcome, if the focus lingers too long on the Death Star so that the audience sees the flaws in the model.

A split second of bad editing is all it takes to ruin a scene. A moment that the average person never notices, except subconsciously. If done right, the audience is amazed. If done wrong, the audience is disappointed.

In visual design, that split second is equivalent to a single pixel width. It’s hardly noticeable, EXCEPT when it’s done poorly. The human eye can detect uniformity, or lack of it, and the brain gets subliminally annoyed when things simply “don’t look right”.

A Constant Gardener

This is a picture of our lawn after not being mowed and edged for a little over a week, because the gardener couldn’t come over on Wednesday because it rained. I saw the lawn when I bent over to pick up the community newspaper, and noticed how quickly the grass had grown and become unruly.

If I hadn’t seen it at that moment and instead looked at it next Thursday, I would have assumed that the lawn had never changed, simply because I wasn’t paying attention.

It’s the same for a business. Things that we take for granted as being automatic still need attention, especially during rare moments, like rain in Los Angeles. Tasks that we begin, we don’t continue, in lieu of other, “more important” tasks.

We tend to start blogs and after a few weeks or months, simply stop writing them anymore. We forget to update our portfolio after a project finishes. We develop momentum with Facebook and LinkedIn, but forget that we also have to continue to create content for Instagram, Twitter, Behance and Alignable.

Having said all that, I’m going to offer some quick tips and shortcuts on how you can keep your content fresh, sort of like taking 10 minutes to run the weed wacker on your lawn or pruning some stray branches.

  1. Create a 1080 x 1080 pixel square in Photoshop and fill that square with an image from your latest project, then save it as a jpg file. If you don’t have Photoshop, take a picture of your latest project, then square it up on your phone. Then post that picture to your accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Behance, LinkedIn, and so on.
  2. When you finish a project and if your client is on LinkedIn, ask them to write a quick recommendation for you. If you have a Yelp page, same thing. It’s amazing how many people (including me) should have a lot more testimonials on their website and social accounts if we only remembered to do this.
  3. If your client doesn’t have time to write but can say nice things about you on the phone, write it down and then ask your client permission for you to post it as a quick testimonial on your website, either as a pull quote or added to your testimonials page.
  4. Do a Facebook live session talking about your newly-completed project, then save that as a video file, upload it to YouTube, and embed the YouTube video on your own website, as well as all your social network accounts.
  5. If you have a WordPress site, install social feed plugins on your site. Whenever you update one of your social media accounts, your website gets updated also. https://wordpress.org/plugins/tags/social-media-feed/
  6. Instead of rewriting your bio on different social media accounts, create a MASTER BIOGRAPHY FILE of yourself, and write everything you can think of to describe yourself. From that master file, you can now copy and paste snippets to fill your bio descriptions on your different social accounts, deleting copy to fit within the character limitations of each account.
  7. While you’re at it, compile different photos of yourself, your company’s logo and banner, and keep all of them in one, quickly accessible folder in your computer.

Since I got serious about tending to my social media accounts, I’ve actually created a SOCIAL NETWORK folder, and within it folders for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., and a folder for miscellaneous memes that I may want to sprinkle in just for fun.

Most of these tasks don’t take that much time, and you’ll be able to repurpose the content multiple times. The trick is to have some kind of plan, have a little bit of time for seeding, a little bit of time for pruning, and a proper tool belt for your gardening gear.

Reductive Design is Butter!

I spent a couple hours tonight helping a colleague stress test the user interface for a web hosting control panel, using cPanel. Amazing how my product design/methodology schooling came on like Spidey-sense. Some quick notes:

1. User interface is often about REMOVING elements and simplifying steps. Less mouse clicks, less keyboard entries, less words to explain anything.

2. It’s better to give the customer LESS OPTIONS and have him accomplish 1 thing very quickly than give him dozens of options and have him NOT be able to accomplish anything at all. Apple has made a fortune with this philosophy.

3. The biggest favor you can do for a developer is try to BREAK his system at the beginning as much as possible. Pretend you know nothing about computers and just click away. It’s much better than being surprised later when the pain comes from disgruntled customers, and by that time it’s too late.

4. Patience is a virtue but not when you’re pretending to be a customer. To emulate the customer, you need to be IMPATIENT, SKIM through the instructions, and NOT PAY ATTENTION to what you’re doing. This is what REAL PEOPLE do when they interact with technology.

#ui #ux #userinterface #stresstesting #experiencedesign #design #frontend

Learning, Absorption, Implementation, Perfection (LAIP)

brain gear

I’ve been thinking about why, at a certain point of learning a new app or software, it actually becomes FUN, and I realize that I’ve learned enough to want to freestyle, just like learning a musical instrument to the point to where you can write your own songs. Same with the piano and drawing and Photoshop, and now I’m starting to feel it with WordPress.

There are other theories on phases of learning, but nothing I’ve seen that deals with this, the span of time during which a person is first introduced to the knowledge, to the time when they are comfortable enough to HONE their skill using that information.

1) The first step is LEARNING–somebody or something shows you how it’s done.

2) The second step is ABSORPTION–where you need time to process the information, and where you SHOULD NOT have any more input or else what you have just learned will just get confusing. It’s also important that you DO NOT jump to step 3 before this step 2 has figuratively “sunk in” your brain.

3) Third step is IMPLEMENTATION–where you create something to show that you’ve actually learned something.

4) Last step is PERFECTION–where you’ve spent x number of hours, and now it’s like second nature to you and you want to either change up the rules or hone it so you become guru level at it.

* Now, in my opinion, this is the IDEAL way to learn–to take the time do go through each of the phases.

But nowadays, I really think very few people have or take the time go even go through the Step 2 ABSORPTION phase. There’s such an immediate need to PRODUCE CONTENT that the modern learner has no time to let all this stuff sink in before they’re pressured into regurgitating the information that they just learned.