This month's post is a compilation of what our product designer at Marvel, Oleg, found inspiring this month in design.
When you think ride-sharing and ordering a taxi from your mobile phone, you probably think Uber. Over the last 10 years it’s seen an explosion of growth, amassing over 16,000 employees, 3 million drivers, and 75 million riders – completing over 15 million trips each day. It’s no surprise that their upcoming IPO is worth upwards of $120 billion. The Uber Brand Team recently worked with Wolf Ollins to timely revamp their brand identity to work around the world. As Uber expands into areas outside of the US like India and Latin America, they need to make sure that their brand is accessible, simple and understandable on a global level. Have a read of the case study on their website for some insight into how a ride-sharing titan achieves clarity through composition, iconography and type.
Uber’s #2 in the market, Lyft, is also doing some pretty cool stuff – they’ve just hit 1 billion rides. And just like Uber, they’re focusing on accessibility: they released ColorBox, a tool for creating accessible colour systems. ColorBox makes it easy for anyone to produce colour sets with accessible contrast ratios, sticking to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
“We made accessibility a cornerstone of our new color system” – Kevyn Arnott, Lyft Design
Like many product and engineering teams, Lyft experienced some growing pains as they grew and noticed that their colour naming and selection wasn’t consistent across all of their products – read more in depth in Kevyn’s blog post. As we all move into the age of the design system, it’s important we make sure that the work we’re doing stays accessible at the very base level starting with colours themselves.
Looking back, we’re been on a pretty wild ride as technology, design and the internet mature into what it is today. It wasn’t always like that – most of our first websites were created on Geocities (RIP), featuring many small GIFs and half-broken table layouts – Adidas gives us a little flashback with their Yung Series, bringing web design back to it’s roots – stretched aspect ratios, Times New Roman, Word Art and a fair amount of under construction GIFs.
The whole product team at Marvel has been mesmerised by the work of Stefan Kanchev – someone bought the Logo Book, which details his life’s work in socialist Bulgaria between 1925 and 2001 – over 2,000 logos documented with sketches, logo designs, postage stamps and background material in a book that’s irresistible to flick through.
A lot of the things we see today have been inspired by work in the 80s and 90s – see if you can spot the Airbnb, Flipboard, and Beats logos in this 1989 book called Trademarks and Symbols – all of these, including Kanchev’s work were done before the digital age, which is both inspiring and awe-inducing. And if you’re into graphic design, have a read about how Soviet graphic designers set the pace for all the bold typography and minimal colour we see on the web and in print today.
As the web matures, it’s important we not only think about the content, but also the tools with which we communicate with the content. We’ve got AI-powered machine learning generative code tools which build your product for you:
— teleportHQ (@TeleportHQio) September 21, 2018
And we’re also using Apple’s TrueDepth Face ID technology to navigate and interact with digital content just by moving your eyes and blinking – a landmark improvement in digital accessibility tools from Hawkeye:
Hawkeye Access lets you control your iOS device using your eyes. Browse any website, hands-free, all through eye movements. Available now on the App Store! https://t.co/GGq4Xs9BMR pic.twitter.com/o9tc20mqrQ
— Matt Moss (@thefuturematt) October 24, 2018
As the new browser, Refresh, notes: the web has undergone big changes in the last 20 years but browsers have remained unchanged. We can only expect more innovation in the wearable and technology market (seen the new iPad?), and also in the experiences that they enable us to create.
Keep an eye out for anything that makes your life easier when interacting or building digital content – accessibility is a big part of making the web a safer, better place to spend your time, and it’s great to see many design and tech leaders making it the focus of their work.
Hit me up on Twitter if you want to talk about accessibility, brand, product design and anything in between.