eden vidal

good design: the universal language

design speaks to us all. it's in our chairs, apps, and tapestries.

what makes design great?

  • it works
  • it's simple
  • it lasts
  • it's eco-friendly

nordic and japanese design show how universal design is:

  • both value simplicity and nature
  • nordic: warm spaces in harsh climates
  • japanese: beauty in imperfection

different cultures, similar design ideas:

  • germany: bauhaus mixed art and function
  • italy: make everything beautiful
  • africa: textiles tell stories

good design is how we connect across borders and time. it's a language we all get.

hate js frameworks? me too

let's talk real for a sec.

remember when js frameworks were all the rage? well, times are changing. developers are getting tired of the whole party. the state of js survey spilled the beans: react, next.js, webpack – they're losing their charm. why? they've become complicated beasts that you can't avoid. it's like being forced to run with clunky boots.

but here's the interesting part: when devs get to choose their tools, they're way happier. take astro, for example. it's growing without the negative vibes. funny how that works, right?

now, here's a thought: #nobuild + html, js, css + ai? that's shaping up to be my new framework. it's like going back to basics, but with a smart ai helper. simple, powerful, and straightforward. i'm really into this, and let me tell you, it feels great.

so, what if i told you there's a tool out there that gets all this? say hello to rnbw.

here's why rnbw might just be your new favorite thing:

  1. super simple no advanced degree needed. just dive in and start designing and coding. it's like finger painting, but for making awesome digital stuff.
  2. design = code, code = design forget the whole "design to dev" hassle. you're working on the real thing, all the time. change the design? the code updates. tweak the code? the design reflects it. it's pretty amazing. no more handoff nightmares - say goodbye to "but it looked different in the design!" what you see is truly what you get.
  3. grows with you rnbw adapts as you learn. start small, dream big. it's like building blocks for web design – start simple, end up creating entire worlds.
  4. open for everyone all about that open-source. customize, contribute, explore. it's your playground.
  5. web standards are the thing not trying to reinvent the wheel. just make it roll smoother, faster, and with more style.

it’s only for you if you're ready to enjoy creating for the web again (not to immediately replace your company stack). great ideas don't need complicated tools – they need the right ones. and sometimes, the right tool is the one that lets you focus on your creativity.

2023 wtf

we're more than halfway into 2024, and i only now get to summarize 2023 - financial crisis, the war, and a last-minute escape to thailand. but it became my most focused year yet. here's how:

breathe freely.

early in the year, i made a promise: breathe freely. ditched tobacco, kept the weed.

simplify.

magic in simplicity. focused on three major projects instead of being everywhere. went deep, really immersed myself.

delegate.

surrounded myself with skilled devs, designers, and animators. they were the wind beneath my wings. i got higher, focusing on what i love - design and quality.

cut the noise.

goodbye, meetings. hello, kanban boards, slack chats, and quick video notes. we were more in sync than ever. swift, efficient communication.

embrace ai.

january brought a new ally: ai. started as a tool, became a sidekick. writing transformed from a task to a journey. every word, a step forward. learned that to write is to truly focus.

morning rituals.

mornings became sacred. new coffee spot daily, close to nature. sipped brew, knocked out the day's critical task. early win = fuel for the day.

oct 7.

everything changed.

family rhythms.

through it all, family life played in the background. three young daughters, their schedules and adventures. reminders to step back, breathe, savor life's simple moments.

🙏

"see it, change it, own it"

alright, let's dive into this fascinating lecture by bret victor. we're about to get our minds blown:

"inventing on principle" - sounds fancy, right? well, it's this talk bret victor (tech wizard extraordinaire) dropped back in 2012. and lemme tell you, i watched it a few years ago, and it changed my views on creativity forever.

so what's the big deal? bret's got this wild idea: "creators need an immediate connection to what they're creating." in other words, f*ck waiting around to see what your code does. you should be able to tweak stuff and watch the magic happen right before your eyes.

bret didn't just talk the talk. he walked the walk, showing off some mind-bending tools he cooked up. imagine changing your code on the fly and seeing the results instantly. no more compile-and-pray, my friends. (that’s rnbw.company 🫳🎤)

but here's where it gets really interesting: this isn't just about coding. bret's principle is like a swiss army knife for creativity.

bret mentions giants like richard feynman and bob dylan were onto something similar in their own fields.

back then, bret's ideas have lit a fire under the software dev world. i feel like we’re now waking up to the power of instant feedback. and here's the kicker: this sh*t applies everywhere. it's about rethinking how we create, no matter what we're making.

mind = blown, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUv66718DII

creator > creation

living life as a creative, awareness is a practice.

we tend to think about creative as the output, no, creative is a way of being in the world.

creator > creation.

be in the conscious moment of creation. where and when it happens.

it is all about being happy while making others happy.

nature is human. god. teacher.

humans > products.

Sagmeiser said "good design is design that helps somebody. design that delights."

at under, we’re helping creators create, we make creators happy. 😊

meaning > compensation.

passion > routine.

we believe that creativity should flow naturally, not forced. it's about letting ideas grow and evolve, not just pushing out products.

collaboration > competition.

at under, we foster a community where creators support each other. we grow together, learn together, and celebrate each other's successes.

authenticity > perfection.

it's not about flawless work. it's about self (and collective) expression. your unique voice matters more than fitting into a mold.

exploration > comfort.

step out of your comfort zone. try new things. it's in the unknown that we often find our greatest inspirations.

growth > praise.

focus on personal and creative growth. the awards and recognition are secondary to the journey and the progress you make.

well-being > hustle.

take care of yourself. creativity thrives when you are balanced and healthy. it's not about burning out. it's about shining brightly.

at under, we're more than just a company. we're a band. we are here to inspire, support, and uplift each other.

in every creation, put your heart and soul. let your work be a reflection of your true self.

remember, you are not alone. we are in this together, making the world a more beautiful place, one thing at a time.

let's create with love, joy, and purpose.

note to self - why do i like it when i do not like doing things

success in business comes from focusing on what you love, ditching what you don’t, and making sure everyone’s on the same page.

spend time improving and innovating in areas that make you jump out of bed in the morning. this passion drives growth. pass tasks you dislike to those who geek out over them.

have fun sharing your philosophy with everyone—from your team to your customers. make sure they share your vision and get it so they can make decisions that go with your goals.

when nordic meets japanese design

in a world where design affects daily life, the nordic and japanese cultures have come together in an interesting way. this blend is not a coincidence but the result of both cultures valuing forward-thinking design. they both deeply explore the roots of design, and while they have unique contexts, they often share the same values. this blending can be seen in various industries, from interiors to electronics and sound, showing an exciting and enlightening global design evolution.

shared pillars of design:

  • simplicity - uncluttered spaces, clean lines, and a muted palette are celebrated, stripping design down to its essentials.
  • functionality - every element, be it in a room or on a device, serves a purpose, marrying form and function.
  • nature connection - a deep reverence for nature is evident, whether it's through the use of natural materials or designs inspired by the environment.

across the spectrum - where nordic meets japanese

interiors and homeware

  • ikea and kurashi - while ikea is inherently nordic, its collaboration with japanese design company kurashi birthed a collection merging scandinavian functionality with japanese minimalism.
  • muji - japan's "no-brand" philosophy in muji’s products intertwines seamlessly with the straightforwardness of nordic design.
  • norm architects - this copenhagen-based studio beautifully integrates the japanese concept of "wabi-sabi" — finding beauty in imperfection.
  • andtradition & isamu noguchi - the "iwa" furniture series by this danish brand and japanese designer exemplifies the blend of nordic craftsmanship with japanese sculptural beauty.

electronics and tech

  • sony - while quintessentially japanese, products like sony's headphones showcase minimalist designs that echo nordic aesthetics.
  • beoplay by bang & olufsen - this danish electronics marvel embraces minimalism, mirrored in japanese design, especially in materials and functionality.
  • panasonic's 'balance of being' - rooted in japanese tech, this collection takes on a nordic sensibility with natural materials and user-centric designs.
  • nokia - the finnish telecommunications behemoth has designs that reflect a blend of nordic functionality and japanese minimalism, especially in their earlier phones.

sound and audio

  • teenage engineering - the swedish audio genius, with creations like the op-1 synthesizer, embodies a blend of nordic simplicity and japanese innovation.
  • yamaha - known globally, yamaha's minimalist aesthetic in speakers and soundbars aligns well with nordic designs.
  • luxman - renowned for high-end audio gear, this japanese brand's design could comfortably nestle within nordic living spaces.
  • vifa - from denmark, vifa’s portable speakers prioritize both sound and design, resonating with japanese material appreciation.
  • stax - specializing in electrostatic headphones, stax's design merges japanese tech expertise with nordic aesthetics.

fashion and wearables

  • acne studios x mizuno - this collaboration between swedish acne studios and japanese mizuno led to sneakers that perfectly epitomize the union of the two design philosophies.

1+1=3

"1+1=3" isn't real math. it's a saying that means when two things or people join up, they make something bigger than just their own parts. it's like when people work together really well.

"1+1" is about things or people teaming up.

"=3" means together they make something extra.

uncompete

i never concern myself with competition.

while it's great to compare yourself to others to strategize what sets you apart, focusing on it too much can be a trap.

if you define yourself through the lens of others, you risk losing your individuality. instead, strive hard to establish a unique identity that can't be compared easily to others.

this means that identifying and understanding your competition (mapping your competition) is just a strategy used to make your business stand out or be unique. the main goal is to be distinctive.

what i'm suggesting is to be so distinct, so individual, that you become a point of reference. some brands (and people!) are so unique that they are products of their environment and culture. the zeitgeist.

how to do that?

innovate relentlessly - push boundaries and explore uncharted territories.

strive to be the benchmark in your field, not just another player, not a slightly better version of what already exists. aim to be so uniquely identified that others will need to mention you when explaining themselves. become the standard to which others aspire.

finally, communicate your unique identity effectively, making sure it resonates with the right audience.

local-first software - why it's a game-changer for developers and designers?

let's talk about something pretty cool that's going on in tech. local-first software.

why is it happening?

there's a move towards "decentralized systems." in simpler terms, this means breaking away from giant, single cloud systems that hold all the power and control. instead, we're looking at smaller, independent units that can work together but also operate on their own.

it's a golden chance to build apps that are not only super modern but also ethical and centered around the user.

if you're a developer or a designer, you really need to pay attention. why? well, it's all about giving us more control and better privacy. making our apps work even when we're offline. sounds great, right?

it's built on something called crdts (conflict-free replicated data types). in simple terms, it lets us collaborate in real-time without needing a central server. so, you and your team can work together, even when you're not online.

i know what you’re thinking… “this is what figma and google docs have” but in fact, it doesn’t. you know how annoying it is when there's a lag in figma? this happens because your design files are running on figma’s cloud. local-first software fixes that.

i was one of the early advocates for live collaboration, and my team at ‘under’ took figma to the next level. nowadays, i feel live collaboration has become somewhat overrated, as if it's the only mode we should work at.

we should be able to work both online and offline and collaborate as needed. local-first software is like getting the best of both online and offline worlds.

i appreciate how collaboration works for developers using git. and i believe designers should be able to work in such a way. imagine designing solo, without ever worrying about version conflicts.

with a local-first approach, it's a core feature. local-first keeps your apps running smoothly. once you're back online, all your changes sync up automatically. this is a real game-changer!

if you're creating tools, going local-first makes your software way more attractive. it offers a truly collaborative space, free from any conflicts.

now, let's talk privacy.

with all the debates going on about who owns our data, local-first apps have a killer advantage. your data is stored on your own device and can be encrypted from end to end. that means you’re the boss of your information.

if you’re building tools, local-first is a trust booster for your users.

big names like apple are already on board, using crdts in their notes app. and startups are also getting in on the action.

this isn't just some trend—it’s foundational tech that’s going to change the game.

zeitgeist-driven business strategy

here's a tip if you're starting a new business, product, or any investment of your time and/or money.

tune into the "zeitgeist" - the spirit of the times. it's the secret sauce that spices up the business world and paves the way to success. think of the zeitgeist as the mood of the moment, a flavor of the era that gives you the context to create something truly 'now.’

but here's the catch – it's a bit wild.

you’ll need years of watching, analyzing, and thinking about the world's changes and shifts. the reward? you’ll become a societal researcher, anticipating trends before they're even a blip on the radar.

while riding this zeitgeist wave, don't forget your own authentic flavor. consider it the surfboard uniquely designed to your taste. without it, you may ride the wave but lose yourself in it. the wave is everyone's, but how you ride it – that's purely yours.

remember the importance of your audience. connecting with them is like finding the perfect beach where the waves meet the shore. understand their needs, their dreams, their fears. they're your fellow surfers in this ocean of opportunity, guiding you to uncharted waters.

don't leap too far ahead! being ahead of the game is like showing up to a party before the host. it's a delicate dance between riding the wave of the era and your own path.

let me tell you about my first startup, relate, to illustrate this point.

i wanted to create something big—a new way of bringing together web design and development. i thought i was perfectly in sync with the zeitgeist, but the world wasn't ready for the big change i was proposing. both culturally and technologically.

ai was around the corner, a missing puzzle piece i didn't even know was needed.

it's like electric cars - they needed both technology and a culture shift to really take off.

nikola tesla, spinoza, and maybe even vincent van goh, were pioneers who couldn't catch the wave of their time despite tuning into the "zeitgeist". maybe they were too tuned?

this brings me to my next point.

sometimes entrepreneurs focus too much on either the tech or the culture. if you're all about one and ignore the other, you could miss the whole picture.

it's a balance - know your tech, but also know the people who will use it.

but let's dive deeper into that balance.

being zeitgeist-driven is mostly about seeing the big picture. but it's about knowing when to zoom in and out. entrepreneurs often get caught up in their own vision, missing the evolving landscape around them.

never assume you've got the full picture. things are often more connected than they seem.

think of a mosaic. each tile is critical, but the collective pattern makes it beautiful. if you're only looking at individual tiles, whether it's tech or culture, you miss the art.

don't just analyze data - interpret it. numbers can only get you so far. your gut feeling, intuition, and understanding of human nature come into play here.

adapt. it's one thing to catch the zeitgeist wave. it's another to stay on it. trends change. people change. the world changes. what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

it's tough, but once you're on top of that wave, you'll predict the future and shape it.

sometimes, you'll need to reinvent your surfboard while riding the wave. sounds impossible, but that's the thrill of the game. you might stumble, but it's the quick recovery that counts.

the trick is in the timing. like a surfer waiting for the perfect wave, you wait, you observe, and then you strike.

catching the zeitgeist is more than just a strategy. it's an art, a philosophy, a way of life. so grab your board, find your wave, and surf those societal currents.

the ocean's wide open.

when design meets passion

there's a point where skill is mixed with emotion, and that's where magic happens.

this is the sacred space where design meets passion.

design, at its core, is a process of solving problems, communicating messages, and making the world more functional and beautiful. but when a designer brings passion to their work, the results are... magical.

i'm eden, and i've dived deep into the world of design through my ideas, under and rainbow - both of these companies have a design-forward approach, but what makes them truly unique is the heartbeat behind them – passion.

here’s what design-passioned means to me:

  1. authenticity over trends - when passion drives design, the results are timeless. passionate designers don't chase after trends. instead, they bring their unique voice and vision to the table, creating works that resonate on a deeper level.
  2. every goddam’ detail matters - passionate designers obsess over the little things. they understand that everything has a purpose. this attention to detail ensures that the design looks good and feels right.
  3. design with empathy - a passionate designer strives to understand the end user. they design with empathy, ensuring that their creations are functional and user-friendly.
  4. continuous evolution - the world is ever-changing, and so are our designs. and those passionate about it are always learning and growing. they seek inspiration everywhere, from nature to art to daily life, ensuring their designs are always fresh and innovative.
  5. resilience in the face of challenges - passion gives designers the drive to push through obstacles. where others might give up, passionate designers see challenges as opportunities to fix broken things and by that, learn and grow.

in my journey, i've learned that design is a mindset, a way of life. it's about keeping things simple, respecting the process, and pouring your heart into your work. when design truly meets passion, it becomes more than just a profession. it becomes a calling.

and to those who are starting to walk this path, i say, embrace your passion. let it guide your designs. because when the heart and mind work in harmony, the results are high-end.

designing for ai - understanding context and its potential

hey, let's talk for a moment about designing for ai, because it's a whole different thing.

we’ve designed rnbw as an ai-driven product from the ground up. for me, it was an eye-opener.

i found that it wasn't just about adding ai. it was about rethinking everything. the way we approach design, the way we interact with users - it all changes.

it's not about tools or technology. i saw how i could make rnbw smarter, earlier, just by tapping into the power of context.

in some way, ai is pushing us to do what we should have been focusing on all along - integrating context into our software.

the crazy thing is that we baked in many context-driven capabilities, even before plugging in the ai!

i could have done it all along, for so many products! but i didn't because i was stuck in old ways.

breaking free from that showed me a new world of possibilities.

this isn't just about telling a computer what to do. it's about understanding context and using that to make something amazing.

wait, what is context anyway?

the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. “the decision was taken within the context of planned cuts in spending”.

context is everything around us. it's about time, space, meaning, and behavior. it's the stuff that helps ai "get" what's happening. traditional computers just follow rules. and well, ai doesn't. it takes all these contexts, mixes them together, and comes up with something that makes sense, just like us humans.

here's the thing: computers are dumb. they do what we tell them, and that's it.

but with ai, it's like they suddenly understand.

we’ve been contextualizing things in software, for instance, when we select a country from a dropdown menu and see its flag, that's a use of context. or when we incorporate a pre-designed style, element, function, or anything else, we are correlating data and context.

but there were always humans needing to manually fill up this data in a specific way. now, we don’t have to do it ourselves.

when you don't fit

i'm eden. i talk, and sometimes, i don't sound smart. i write, and the words aren't always shiny. but when i talk about what lights me up, i'm all in.

i've noticed something. my vibe's different. regular people not getting what i'm about. but there are those few who stop, listen, and nod. they're kind of crazy too. they "get it".

i started under and rainbow. they're for the creatives, the thinkers, and those who see design as more than just looks. those who, like me, value the weird.

i think there's a strength in being real, in being passionate. i don't need everyone to follow. just those who feel what i feel, those who connect with the heart of what i do.

so, for others like me, don't stress about fitting in. it's okay to stand out. it's not about winning everyone. it's about finding those who truly get you. and trust me, that's enough.

A love letter to my design heroes

Sometimes, you stumble upon creators who leave an incredible mark on your creative psyche. They seep into your consciousness, swirling their colors, forms, and ideas into your thoughts until they become part of your creative DNA.

For me, those creators are Hey Studio, AndWalsh, Teenage Engineering, and the incomparable Neri Oxman. Of course, there are many others, but they are the ones who keep making their mark on me. Their work – in all its varied and vibrant glory – serves as a reminder that design, at its best, is a love affair with creativity.

Oh, Hey Studio. It's like walking into a kaleidoscope of creativity. Each design is a vibrant, playful energy that wakes the soul. While appearing almost childishly simple, their designs are sophisticated. The charming primitivism they express is anything but elementary - the essence of joy distilled into design, a pure and powerful expression that's universally inspiring. They are not merely designers - they are masters of visual euphoria.

AndWalsh, on the other hand, is like an eccentric scientist passionately dissecting the bizarre quirks that make each brand unique. Jessica Walsh is always up for the weird, the strange, and the unexplored, embracing and amplifying these aspects until they become the heart of the narrative. Their daring spirit is electrifying. they aren't just designing - they're voyaging into the deep sea of the unknown and emerging with treasures that redefine the possibilities of branding and graphic design. This ability to transform the odd into the extraordinary is why I'm so obsessed with AndWalsh.

From the eclectic world of branding, I turn to the art of sound, personified by Teenage Engineering. Their approach to design is like a symphony, each product a note that adds to their melodic narrative of simplicity and versatility. The OP-1, their near-mythological synthesizer, is like an orchestral piece. It's a testament to their ability to craft intuitive yet profoundly capable designs. Each knob and key show us that design can be a doorway to a universe of possibilities if only we dare to step through it.

Lastly, the phenomenal Neri Oxman is like a sorceress, weaving threads from different fields into a magical tapestry that defies categorization. At Under, we call her “The Bionic Woman” because she is perfect in many ways. She embodies the harmonious marriage of pragmatism and idealism. Each project is a mosaic of design, biology, computing, and materials engineering, displaying a level of ingenuity that's simultaneously humbling and exhilarating. Her journey isn't just about the final product, it's also about the alchemical process of transformation. And it's this ability to see and create connections where none seem to exist that makes her a visionary in the truest sense.

The design world is a beautifully infinite cosmos - these designers are some of the brightest stars in my constellation of inspiration. ❤️

designing directly in the medium, led by ai?

tl;dr. Figma, you've served us well. But we're moving on. We're heading back home - designing directly in our medium, led by AI.

When it comes to digital design, we've been playing a long and sometimes awkward game of telephone. We sketch our dreams in Figma or some other vector tool, then translate them into code. It's a process as clunky as using Morse code in the age of WhatsApp.

Why the detour? It's time we brought design back home - to code. App design is already there. It's a no-brainer. We've got libraries, frameworks, and toolkits that make code feel like a playground. Why take a pit-stop in Figma when you can just take a direct flight?

And what about websites? Sure, they're heavier on graphics and visual elements. Figma does a decent job of sketching them out. But remember, it's still a sketch. It's not the real deal.

Figma recently introduced variables, and a VSCode plugin for hand-off. It's a step closer to coding, but let's not kid ourselves. It's all fancy moves within a design file that don't translate to usable code.

Enter the main event - AI. The star of the show. Imagine if you could tell AI what you want, and it just... makes it happen. In code. No detours, no translations, just straight-up creation.

That's right, AI's got the potential to bring us back to our roots. To let us design directly in our medium. To make tools like Figma look like, well, the typewriters of design.

So long, Figma. and thanks for all the sketches!

Thoughts on AI, XR, UI, UX, etc. Part 3 - Ethics and opportunities in Branding and Product Design

AI and XR are reshaping branding and product design, enabling brands to give immersive, heart-touching experiences!

But, with the potential of AI and XR comes a new responsibility for designers and developers. (like we don’t have enough already). We must now balance innovation, personalization, and privacy more than ever.

These fresh, personal experiences are changing how brands and users connect.

They're new paths to trust and love!

The opportunities to make thrilling, user-focused experiences are now limitless.

Think of a car brand offering a virtual test drive. Or a healthcare app guiding real-time physical therapy with XR. A shopping app with virtual fitting rooms and AI-chosen styles. Or a travel app giving virtual tours of your next holiday spot.

The personalized experiences created through AI and XR require substantial data. While this enables highly tailored interfaces and experiences, it also raises significant concerns about privacy and security.

How do we ensure the collected data is stored and used responsibly? This question challenges us to develop new ways of thinking.

Another critical aspect to consider is biases in AI algorithms. This is already a thing today - harmful stereotypes affect user experiences. Striving for fairness in the AI-driven design world will require continuous reflection, assessment, and adjustments.

Another thing is accessibility, we must be at the forefront of design thinking. We must create experiences that are not only novel and engaging but also accessible to all users, regardless of physical abilities, cognitive differences, or other unique characteristics.

“What users expect” was always the critical mental model - Clever designers can now use this principle on a deeper level and mix AI and XR to make things that work, feel right, and are exciting.

Thoughts on AI, XR, UI, UX, etc. Part 2 - Redefining principles in ui/ux design

ai and xr have started a new chapter in ui/ux design where the traditional principles of discoverability, learnability, and feedback are being reshaped.

discoverability is evolving with ai’s ability to predict user needs and streamline access to features. a perfect illustration of this evolution is our growing understanding of scrolling. the “above the fold” was a thing just a few years ago. yet over time, we’ve all realized that there’s more content “below the fold,” making the “scroll” a very natural gesture, changing our interaction habits. ai is accelerating this learning process.

with the growing intuitiveness, contextualization, and personalization of ai systems, the conventional rules of learnability are becoming less relevant.

with ai providing real-time assistance and feedback, there’s less need for users to rely on explicit feedback too. the ai-driven interfaces can now self-evolve based on user feedback, responding to user needs and preferences in real time.

we’ll expect things in specific circumstances, and things will happen. imagine walking into your smart home at the end of a long day. the lights soften, your favorite relaxing music starts playing, and the thermostat adjusts to your preferred evening temperature — all without you having to lift a finger. while this is already possible today, imagine this level of experience in every vertical of our life.

we are taking all that we have learned into this new era, and unlearning certain things. as there will be a less traditional user interface, and there will be more interfaces integrated into the physical world. we will discover new ways of designing interfaces, such as the principle of ‘less is more,’ where the best user interface is almost invisible, maximizing user experience (ux) with minimal, natural ui.

Thoughts on AI, XR, UI, UX, etc. Part 1 - The Fusion

i’ve been a keen observer for the past two decades, closely studying the evolution of user interface (ui) design. today, we are in an exciting new era, thanks to the rising tide of artificial intelligence (ai) and extended reality (xr) technologies.

ai is a high-form extension of our mind.

ai is reshaping our world, revolutionizing how we interact with machines. combined with xr technologies, we’re moving towards a future of diverse, personalized interactions that transforms devices into virtual spaces. these advancements will revolutionize our digital interactions in ways we could only imagine.

xr is a high-form extension of our space.

the emergence of xr technology, which places our bodies in a virtual space, will enable the creation of new gestures that can interact with technology in incredible ways — paving the way for dynamic interfaces that adapt and learn from the user in real time.

the combination of ai and xr is a novel thing that defies simple description. it’s a bit like adding one and one together and getting three — a mysterious and exciting outcome that we’re still trying to fully understand. it’s similar to blending two distinct genres of music. the resulting sound can only be truly felt, not easily explained in words.

ai and xr are opening up new opportunities for designers to experiment with innovative approaches.

a wise man once said, “we shape our tools. thereafter, they shape us”. i think this couldn’t be more true today. as ai increasingly integrates into our lives, our devices become more attuned to our needs. gone are the days of manually commanding every operation.

now, our machines learn from us, adapt to us, and anticipate our needs.

think how voice assistants like alexa or siri work: we no longer need to navigate complex menus or learn specific commands. instead, technology understands and responds to natural language, adapting to our needs and teaching itself how to best serve us.

we expect, and they do. the script has flipped.

and in exchange, ai will train us humans to ask the right questions, leading us to be more specific and intentional in our queries. it will be less about “what this piece of hardware and software can do for me?” and more about “what do i want? how can i best describe it?”.

for example, instead of searching for ‘restaurants nearby,’ we might ask ‘what is the highest-rated thai restaurant within a 10-minute walk?’”

this is great since successful people are the ones who train themselves not to give the best answers but to ask the right questions. imagine more people knowing how to ask better questions — raising humankind’s consciousness.

part 2

The Middle-East languages inclusion manifesto

computers have always struggled with right-to-left writing.

in a right-to-left, top-to-bottom script (commonly shortened to right to left or abbreviated rtl), writing starts from the right of the page and continues to the left, proceeding from top to bottom for new lines. this can be contrasted against left-to-right writing systems, where writing starts from the left of the page and continues to the right. (source: wikipedia).

in the west, the first computers were created with latin letters, going from left to right. it was not their concern how their technologies were adopted in the east back then, and we cannot blame them since they had their own thing to worry about, which was ensuring all of the technology was working, and we respect them.

although, after years of struggle, since the default writing direction is left to right, middle-easterners have had to adopt weird methods and hack the text somehow, so the writing direction will look just right (or as close as possible) for the end-users.

middle-easterners are coming up with solutions that reverse a paragraph’s direction. imagine having to do that for every paragraph to write with your native language.

exactly. that would be a nightmare.

there’s a social responsibility once a company reach a specific size — they should acknowledge that the users in the west read differently than those in the east or the far east. product companies should acknowledge that “globalization” puts the responsibility on them. the support for diversity, inclusion, and politically correctness starts with the most fundamental thing — language.

here are some tools that supports bidirectional reading and writing — sketch, framer.

and here are some tools that do not support bidirectional reading and writing — figma, adobe xd, notion, slack, evernote

if a company uses such a product, then the company suppresses communication and creative thinking.

support bidirectional-text in your product today.

The “Design-to-code” VS “Design-as-code” narrative

the “design-to-code” narrative represents converting design made in ideation tools into a coded format. why is it a narrative? because there is another narrative. the “design-as-code” narrative — our narrative.

relate is a “design-as-code” environment that lets you ideate in the actual medium, the web. in other words, your design lives as code, which has many benefits! in our case, we help design teams create presentational ui components and handle deploying, versioning, and operations to maintain a software product. developers can continuously consume the components and easily plug whatever they need into them while focusing on logic.

our goal is not to design a bridge (or a system of bridges) but to provide designers with a gateway to the web medium. as soon as they enter, there is no need for bridges. they communicate in the same language as the original islanders, the developers, who keep the code as the source of truth.

the issue i have with “design-to-code” is going through the following question (and i may not have a definitive answer) — is it even possible to expect developers to consume code generated by traditional design tools? in what ways will it be integrated with developers’ components? since these components go beyond the presentational aspects, wouldn’t they interfere with the developers’ work?

imagine someone took it very seriously and built the ideal “design-to-code.” the design is beautifully translated into a production-ready piece of code. so if i’m making a commercial website, i’m fine! but what if i’m building a complex software product with complect design, with another ten designers and 30 developers. now what? how do developers add functionality on top of the exported code? what if they have modified the code, tweaked it, and written their functionality on top of it? how do i maintain a system?

where do designers and developers find the best ground for mutual success?

while the “design-to-code” narrative is engaging, we see it as a “honey-trap.” the problem is that these tools speak a particular and non-standardized language, so translating it into code requires a lot of underlay algorithmic work. many players on the market are now fighting this war, and our hearts are with them.