Monthly Archives: March 2012

The antidote to over-stimulation

Whilst reading, the quote antidote to overwhelm and over-stimulation struck a cord with me. Quite a lot of home pages try to do everything, but by doing this they overwhelm the visitor. The absolute antithesis of that has to be the new WorkFu site, and to say I was impressed with their new homepage was an understatement:

I was blown away. I’d just never seen anything like it on a homepage recently.

Again, I think this comes back to confidence in design. Knowing that you’ll be able to convey the desired message in such a simple way without additional clutter Continue reading

You can’t force people to use your product

As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.

I think this ex-Googler has it spot on: You can’t force people to use your stuff. How many of us have a Google account? And how many times did we use Google Wave, or Google+?

Continue reading

Using SVG Icons

With high-PPI devices such as the iPhone 4 and the new iPad, great resolution is changing how we think of the pixel. Increased resolution means that traditional pixel-based icons won’t be able to take advantage of this, so people are looking for vector-based solutions.

Because of this, more people are talking about SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics. These XML-based images can store vector data, and so can be upscaled. Other options include creating special icon fonts, such as Pictos. I prefer the idea of using SVG over font solutions because the font method is just like using Wingdings; plus it adds non semantic letters to your code, even if you can hide them.

I was aware of SVG back in around 2006 during my college course. I naively thought at the time that was little point in learning about them, as I couldn’t see the advantages. If you want to see my first creation 6 years ago – this was it (if you view the image separately the text should zoom in):

So this weekend I decided to go back to my college work and create some SVG by hand. Luckily, for more complex designs, you can use something like Inkscape but I thought it would be interesting to hand code the icons I wanted to create.

First I started by drawing some very simple shapes on an 8×8 grid:

I then created a very simple XML file, and started adding the paths:

Note: The M stands for move, the L stands for line and the Z closed the point. That is as far as I got, but suffice to say that more complex icons won’t be created in this way. You can see the final version here:

For the next part, I used this post as a tutorial: and the traditional process of displaying a background image. I ended up using an empty span because I found it easier to play around with, but as you can see from David’s tutorial this doesn’t have to be the case.


Seeing the browser support for SVGs, support is varied, but for progressive designs it is worth considering in your next designs. Do have a play, experiment and look into the new ways of constructing sites, because it is an interesting time to create websites.

See the finished article: (and make sure you upscale/downsize it to see the full effect)