Archives for posts with tag: design

Purely in a visual sense of course. We have all read with great interest the new design shift that has taken place at Apple with its new iOS. There is an interesting dynamic to this shift in design philosophy as Apple moves from “skeuomorphic” design to a ‘new modern swiss’ design style favoured by its competitors such as Microsoft’s Windows 8.
Skeuomorphic design mimics real world objects. The phone icon on an iphone has an image of a phone that none of us have in our houses today. It reflects the ear and mouth piece of a dial phone.

Steve Jobs believed that computers should be so simple that anyone could use them. He felt that this would be achieved by an interface design where digital elements resemble real world objects. When you analyse familiar digital objects, you see that this philosophy is embedded at many levels in how we access our digital content. The envelope is the first choice for email and SMS messages. Opened and unopened envelopes create a neat distinction between opened and unopened envelopes. On an Android Samsung phone the email icons is even more archaic. It uses an envelope with a red wax seal, an 18th Century prop but with a modern @ pressed into it. It’s not just the appearance of apps and icons, some of them also behave like their old-world equivalents, the note app having a page curl…

This design philosophy is familiar and quickly accessible to everyone. Steve Jobs would approve.

The design style that Apple is now following has another interesting angle, it is the result of a seismic shift within the company, which saw the previous head of iOS, Scott Forstall, outed in favour of British born-designer Sir Jonathan Ive, who oversaw the new software.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said it ‘represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.’ However, he said the changes could be too much, by stating: ‘The new version is almost unrecognisable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.’

Apple has an amazing history of making objects that look and feel like nothing else. They didn’t invent the mp3 player, but what they did with it was amazing. Every product, from its packaging to other digital touch-points look like the pinnacle of design. I’m an Apple fan and I think that it’s taken them too long to realise the UI world has changed… and it wasn’t them that did it. The new Windows UI did that. Its minimal layout, flat colouring, strict typography and no unnecessary ornamentation was a complete paradigm shift for the market and makes Windows clearly distinguishable from its competitors.

Apple is now playing catch-up with its rivals. What looks like Helvetica Ultralight is an obvious choice rather than an innovative one that Microsoft achieved with Segoe. Helvetica Ultralight is generic modernist design; not Apple’s Myriad Pro, not built on Apple’s iOS past, and obviously not the herald of a new way at looking at user experiences.

It doesn’t create that distinction and have that incredible Apple touch that we all appreciate. It feels like everything else. Rather than being Apple. Has Apple lost its shine? Well, in a design sense it has. Any shines have been replaced by flat colours and opaque layers and as a trail blazer in design and innovation – I think it’s lost a little shine also. I wanted to see something different, something that made me think differently and from the screen grabs I’ve seen, I’m a little disappointed.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

This week is world book week. I know because my son came home clutching his Lego Ninjago book and my daughter her make your own fairy princesses and unicorns book.

But, leaving child gender stereotypes behind… what defines a great book cover? And how much to we judge a book by it’s cover?

A great cover, can easily be just defined by it’s author. From George Orwell’s 1984 to Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange are easily recognisable and deservedly have their places on the pantheon of greatest book covers ever.

However I do like the re-imagined covers  that are produced.

Penguins updated cover for 1984, delights with it’s bravery and raises a wry smile to anyone who has knowledge of the book. It would also intrigue new readers. I’m very guilty of judging books by their cover, as  a designer, I would look at the book first and then turn to the back to find out if would be on a subject that I would read and I have  been persuaded to purchase a book, purely because I found the cover interesting.

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My favourite book cover is a Brazilian edition of Jules Vernes’ “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” by the artist Carlo Giovani.


I love the context of this book.  How the layers have dual meaning by delving deeper into the book or the earth, you will discover more.  Have I read this?  Well my Brazilian is a little poor… but I have watched the film if that counts.  The original one with James Mason!!

If you have any favourite book covers you would like to share, let us know and we’ll feature them.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

We all make new year resolutions at this time of year. Some we keep, some we….. ermm, don’t. But in the spirit of 2013, the new year is an opportunity to change, to reinvent your brand.

From a happy designer perspective, here’s five resolutions that should improve your brand presence.

1) I’ll have a salad…

Look at how your company’s brand is seen on and offline. Is it looking a little bloated? Struggling to communicate its intended messages? Then perform a design and messaging health check and devise measures to make it leaner, fitter and able to communicate your message more effectively. Fonts, colours, layouts, themes, make sure that they are consistent. Look through all your touch points and ask yourself if they are doing an effective service or just making up the numbers. Making your brand a little healthier has many health benefits and customers may remark that you’ve changed, that you look good.

2) I’m going to run 500 miles…

We all want to be fitter. Are your brand messages easy to find? Do users have the strength to find them? Spend some time reducing the amount of information that people have to read. ‘Keep it simple’ is a design principle that will never change and is very important in these days of mixed media to keep up to date with. Look at your brand with fresh eyes and identify the areas it needs to improve. Keep your USP’s precise and utilise positioning and space to make them impactful and relevant.

3) Keep in touch more….

In a market of likes, tweets and everything is delicious, the people that we keep in touch with regularly extends beyond your business, family and friends to potentially everyone with access to the internet. Put in place a social media strategy for the year, so that regular posts and tweets are appreciated by current contacts and new potentially interesting people. Social media channels provide unique ways to communicate with customers in an individual way and create brand ambassadors who can provide positive messaging to new markets. Using these channels in new, different ways disrupts how people receive information and gains their attention.

4) I accept your challenge…

Safe options have their place, but challenge the way that you think, the way your brand operates. Can it change? Or is it just accepted that the brand has always looked, acted this way and will always be that way? The market place as we all know is very different and challenges are made from many different sources. Try not to always accept the safe idea or the tried and trusted path. Pushing through creative ideas that are ‘a bit out there’ may be daunting, however it’s these types of ideas that may position your  brand in a more favourable light with potential customers over ‘safer’ competitors.

5) I love it when a plan comes together… 

You need to know where you are going before you can plan where you’re going. The design equivalent of forgetting your shorts on a summer holiday is designing something and forgetting to add any calls to action. Both make you feel a little sheepish. Plans, provide momentum, actioning this plan means that you have achievable milestones to reach your destination. Look at your objectives and plan what you need and who you need to achieve your goal. Plans made early and with your suppliers ensure that everyone knows what happens and no one gets left behind.

So there you have it… 5 great new year’s resolutions for your business for this brand new year. I wish you the very best of luck and don’t forget that if you get stuck at any stage, Happy is always here to help.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

It’s the argument that has always been the center of debate amongst designers.

Has the arrival and constant updating of design software made the average designer more creative or more lazy.

Having started my design course during Adobe’s CS2 reign I must agree with the former opinion. I believe in embracing the hard work some software put into making an otherwise difficult job more simple. It’s this shortcut method however that irks traditional designers. The fact that the younger generation don’t appreciate the hard work their predecessors put into making typography work. Or how in their time transparency meant sticking a sheet of tracing paper over their drawings (which they drew BY HAND!) Some go as far as calling the process an easy way out. This is obviously far from the truth since being accomplished in any given application takes years of practice and hard work just like any other medium. There is also the strong correlation between those who produce great designs on computer and those who have a good understanding of design principles.

However I’m of the belief that the computer is simply a tool that when used correctly could work wonders. Giving someone a top-of-the-range iMac pre-installed with Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t necessarily make them the best designer in the world. To me ideas are what matter the most in design. It doesn’t matter what techniques you know on a mac if you have no understanding of colour theory, composition or typography.

Over the years there have been very few who have managed to excel in both worlds. The most notable being the late Steve Jobs of Apple computers. Having recently finished reading Steve Jobs’ Biography by Walter Isaacson I came to wonder whether we’d ever see another pioneer like him again. Here was a man who embraced both technology and the important role that product design played alongside it. Anyone can make products, but for Apple it was all about making the best products that would benefit the user’s experience. He was by no means perfect when it came to his attitude or his lack of empathy toward his employees but it was this strict no nonsense attitude that contributed to some of Apple’s best years.  This was because Apple constantly chose to evolve with the times and embrace (sometimes create) change.

I like to believe that design based technology has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings. Ideas that could only be imagined before can now easily be put to action within hours or days.  In a business where time and quality means everything we should welcome the improvements the world of design development brings.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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