I'll try to write a comment that is more than trashing the article down.
The never-quite-clearly-stated point of this series seems to be that designers are making up complicated justifications and processes for changes that actually come down to "giving in" to the flat aesthetic for no other reason than fashion.
From a user-centered perspective, for this change to be perceived as bad, there needs to be an implied argument that these changes make apps worse for users, that skeuo was better. The usual argument is that the skeuo aesthetic was richer in meaning, more expressive, more understandable.
This argument depends on users not being aware of trends in the visual style of apps, or at least not valuing it. That the value of UI style for users is only how much "affordance" of the app functionality it can communicate.
However, if we consider that users are aware of design trends, value it, and expect their apps to adhere to those as a sign of being "up to date", "cool", "modern" or other valuable attributes, and that they will appreciate the app less if it seems outdated to them, then not keeping up with the trends would be a disservice to users and a business risk.
Great comment Gabriel, your interpretation seem to be on the money.
I'd add that Eli also seems to be making a statement about not just the UI but importantly the branding. He's saying that Instagram missed or willfully ignored an opportunity to leverage their historical brand and aesthetics just for the sake of making a decision in line with the current trends.
To dig deeper into that, he's bringing IG's design team to task for their design-by-committee approach, in addition to this capitulation to trends. This is a statement about the role of designers and what role we play. Part of our job is certainly interpreting trends and working in relation to them, but it doesn't mean complete submission. If branding and visual design is intended to communicate, the IG team (according to Eli) has totally missed the boat by selecting these obtuse gradients that signify nothing.
For what it's worth, I completely agree that Eli's writing never quite clearly states its thesis, which would go a long way toward it being read for its critique and value and not just seen as bashing.
Just anecdotally, I've really come to believe he lands on the side of bashing more often that honest critique. I really enjoyed some of the earlier writings, and followed him on Twitter for a few months until I just had to unfollow as result of what I saw as mostly pessimistic snark and mean-spirited cheap shots.
Maybe it's just a medium is the message sort of thing, but I've just had to bail out of this particular form of criticism. Call me a sensitive snowflake, but I don't think critique is valuable when it only encompass the negative aspects of things.
I agree entirely with this sentiment.
There is a distinct difference between meaningful critique and what Eli does, which to me is just being negative because that is how he's built up his persona through his dismissive writing style.
I'd be interested to know how much of what he writes he actually believes or is it all just a method to gain pageviews.
I like how this is a place to talk about design and as soon as somebody actually takes the time to think about something design related and writes it down, everybody makes fun of that person. Good job, folks.
Sorry, but he doesn't take the time to talk about design. He took the time to bash a logo just because he seems to love the ol' skeu world. If you want to write trash about a brand from your own perspective and standpoint and without any real data supporting your claim, you must understand that you might get the same quality comments / feedback in response.
"Be nice, or else - Except it's an article by Eli Schiff, then make sure you have an opinion and proclaim it at every occasion, no matter if it's nice or not. That'll show him!"
You're a super passive aggressive dude who's doing a good job of not responding to what Nicolas is replying with.
Be nice, or else - Except it's an article by Eli Schiff
great point. his writing is largely just trolling and includes many personal attacks (in this case he chastises Spalter, Ellison, and Spool) simply to generate notoriety. why is it allowed here?
If you want to write trash about a brand from your own perspective and standpoint and without any real data supporting your claim.
Glad you basically defined the premise of an opinion. And you're ready to dig into someone based on their opinion.
The best part of all - as someone who works in an industry almost rooted in subjectivity you can't seem to manage any of your own ;)
“In the spirit of honoring this heritage, the team first struck off any possibility of retaining anything even remotely resembling the previous icon. Then they set about preventing the use of the recognizable Instagram glyph by Tim van Damme. Their solution: make an icon that requires a lengthy artist’s statement to be understood.”
Really? He’s trying hard to trash the icon. Contrary to what he says, the icon is soooo easy to understand. Also you must understand Instagram it’s not a photo-only app anymore, being videos as common as photos. So the Insta Polaroid Camera icon was a bit outdated. Not trying to think about that and being ironical / shitty about someone else’s design isn’t what I would consider “talking about design”.
Cool. Then you both have different opinions, who would have thought that this would ever happen on the internet. Please make sure to not actually talk about the things he writes but only about the fact that the article is not good enough for your standards. That surely will create a discussion about design. sleepyemoji.png
Sorry, but without any real data those are all opinions. If he thinks the Instagram logo is bad and he doesn’t have anything to support his claim except their taste for Skeu design, you can’t expect comments deeper than that. So he’s getting the same feedback about his comments and his design skills. Without any possible context and without any intention to dive into the real problem the Instagram team is trying to solve, we’re not talking about design but cosmetics.
Then, if everyone is talking about cosmetic opinions, then why would you get mad about the comments? They/we are doing the same he’s doing. Making light opinions without any real context or data to back up our claims.
Maybe I expect people to be better than the people they criticise, but that makes too much sense, I guess.
He's provoking people, that's the problem. So I totally agree with what you say but he's getting people react this way as well. Going to keep working, nice to talk to you Marcel. Have a great day.
Ok that was a good one :)
im jealous of how much free time eli must have
His blog supports him financially, it's not written in his free time. It helps put food on his table. Does your opinion of him become more negative or positive if you considered him a professional design writer/critic and not a designer writing a blog in his free time?
Thanks for the comment, Mike. You're right that it is a strange thing to call paid work, "free time." Yes, I'm engaged as a professional critic by definition of my criticism providing some income. At the same time, I wouldn't say my writing is entirely valid or invalid for doing this professionally–simply that it is one sign of external validation. Each argument made can be judged on its own merits. Nevertheless, the writing did start as something I did without compensation–for its own sake, and continues to be done in that spirit.
People are free to criticize or disagree with my writing, but the argument that it's somehow invalidating that I'm being paid for it is a strange proposition. So what actually is going on here?
On the one hand, it's said that I am not nearly professional enough–I have too much leisure and free time, and I use it frivolously by engaging in criticism.
On the other hand, I'm all too professional–and therefore influenced by the lucrative rewards just waiting at the end of an article.
This is a paradoxical argument, and more accurately, a trap. And it's not one that any counter-critic is eager to disentangle.
To preface this, I don't necessarily agree with the argument I'm going to attempt to clarify with regards to your writing. Still, I do think that you can view the profit motive as unprofessional (perhaps unethical would be a more suited word?).
Deliberately drawn out and divisive pieces for the sake of sponsor revenue make one a professional while doing a disservice to professional design criticism. When it comes to criticism, people do generally expect the writer to be motivated by content of the article, rather than payment.
Also, to call the entire thing a paradoxical argument requires that the same person be requiring both of you, which I haven't seen (that said, I'm sure you're far more familiar with your critics than I am).
"Profession" is defined as a pursuit that one is paid for. One can have more than one motive and remain genuine in their output. Also, when one has more than enough articles pre-written, they don't go out of their way to add length to new articles unless they feel it is appropriate.
Thanks for the definition of profession. Your hallmark snark doesn't go unappreciated. I was talking about professionalism, y'know, the qualities expected of a professional in a certain field. When it comes to media, I under the impression that this covers ethics, which is what I was getting at in my post. It is possible to be a professional (paid to do something), while acting unprofessional.
To clarify again, I wasn't accusing you of being disingenuine. I was merely pointing out that you misrepresented the concerns surrounding financial reward w/r/t your work.
Finally, drawn out has nothing to do with length and everything to do with pacing. One might argue that if everything is prewritten that it would make more sense to just post it all at once. Of course, one can counter that there is the totally reasonable explanation that you want to allow the readers to digest the story in different sections.
Thanks for the definition of profession. Your hallmark snark doesn't go unappreciated.
Looked it up so I could be more precise.
It is possible to be a professional (paid to do something), while acting unprofessional.
Yes. Unfortunately, there are quite few people in the design industry who have studied the theory of criticism. Even among those that have, there are many misconceptions.
One might argue that if everything is prewritten that it would make more sense to just post it all at once. Of course, one can counter that there is the totally reasonable explanation that you want to allow the readers to digest the story in different sections.
Your latter assumption is accurate.
Don't we all at times do work for the sake of money over pride? I'm sure we all want to be moral, but that Starbucks won't buy itself.
High minded philosophies of media care not for your economic realities.
Its about ethics in design journalism :P
Hey Eli, how was your weekend?
It was pretty good-very sunny.
Part 17 will be scrawled on the side of the instagram offices in blood and faeces.
genuinely impressed that he squeezed out a three-part essay's worth of writing on this.
It's funny how there is a group of people that talks about design, but cannot design themselves. I've just found one of its members.
He can/does design?
you mean, like critics of most mediums?
Tu Quoque much?
Completely disagree. Eli's an excellent designer and has a solid portfolio.
He should publish it then.
Everybody can design.
Reading the comments makes me wonder who is voting.
Am I the only one who come here to read the comments rather the article!
Nope, me too. I just skim his articles and come back here to see the bloodbath.
Anxiously waiting for part IV.
This is why DN needs downvote functionality.
I love this.
To me the extracted colour palettes back up their argument that they did use many of the original colours. I can imagine the green could have been in an earlier iteration of the icon but was taken out because it clashed or was just too much. I also imagine these variations weren’t shown in the launch video as to not compete with the final design.
Also the sampled swatches are of the extremes lights/darks, but because it’s gradiated the mid blended colour is probably best to also sample — for example the blue and the yellow (or something close) looks like it is actually in the icon.
The quote was that “the rainbow is a bridge into the colorful gradient”, so they are not saying it was a literal transfer, they are saying it “lives on”. Whether that was successful or not is another argument, but I think Eli’s argument looks at it more literally.
I don't understand why people are making a big fuss about it. You'll never design anything that everyone agrees with. I feel like I've been watching tin-foil hat people go back and forth since the new icon was announced. If you like it, cool. If you don't, cool.
You'll never design anything that everyone agrees with
tbh I think the real challenge for the design community is designing something Eli actually likes.
I can't imaging anything more important right now other than a logo change by a company.