18: A Stark Difference in Design

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. Last week’s Edition No. 17 had a 46% open rate. The most popular link was for the bookworms with It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. That makes us happy, because it’s true :) 💌


+ The Truth About Algorithms

It can be easy to simply accept algorithms as indisputable mathematic truths. After all, who wants to spend their spare time deconstructing complex equations? But make no mistake: algorithms are limited tools for understanding the world, frequently as flawed and biased as the humans who create and interpret them.

Whoa. So good, we watched it 3x. The illustrations, Cathy O’Neil’s narration, and the example used as an explanation of algorithms to help the viewer understand, makes this one of the most beautiful videos and on the internet—to date. It’s a 3 minute journey on how important it is that we, the people in the world of technology, understand that algorithms are frequently as flawed and biased as the humans who create them. They are opinions and therefore demand an ethical code to their use.

+ This is a really good login experience

Tobias Reich@electeriousBest. Login. Ever. 🐻 https://t.co/v4rlKoCMQz

We love this login experience from Remembear! Harmony between clear and clever. Anything you'd add or takeaway? Where does this break, if at all?

Kudos to Chris Goldsby for recreating the implementation and sharing it on Github.

+ Who decides what words mean?

…language is a system. Sounds, words and grammar do not exist in isolation: each of these three levels of language constitutes a system in itself. And, extraordinarily, these systems change as systems. If one change threatens disruption, another change compensates, so that the new system, though different from the old, is still an efficient, expressive and useful whole.

Designers, product managers, copywriters and more all have impact on the words and overall language used for the products we make—be it digital or material. But let’s zoom out for a second on language. Who decides what words make it into society? How are they even introduced? How do we make them go away? Language itself may be the ultimate self-regulating system—with nobody in charge—and that’s both impressive and scary.

For bookworms

+ Oglivy on Advertising

While we haven’t read this yet (patiently waits for the Amazon truck to show up), we came across this thread on Twitter with the biggest takeaways from their experience reading it. It convinced us enough to buy. Worthy read for anyone on any product team — from CFO to designer.

The Charlieton@TheCharlietonI just finished reading ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’. After personally overseeing many frustrating marketing campaigns in 2018, this book hit me like a bolt of lightning and was easily a top five read in the last 12 months. Here’s a thread of my favorite takeaways:

From the Stark team

+ We’re cooking up lots in the kitchen

We ended the year announcing Stark coming to Invision. But we’ve been heads down working on so much more that we haven’t been able to share with you yet. Good thing is, the time is almost here! Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll start rolling out a series of updates, new features, announcements, and more.

+ We have nifty stickers. Want some?

Want some? Send an email or tweet our way!

Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark

17: A Stark Difference in Design

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. Last week’s Edition No. 16 had a 44% open rate. The most popular link was the Free Sketch Plugins from DesignModo (that included Stark).

Before we dive in, we want to give a humungous thank you to everyone who has shown us so much love this year. It was a wild, successful and often surreal one—filled with tons of education, productivity, and excitement. Thank you, a million times over. We’re pumped for 2019. 💌


+ The letters opticians use on eye charts is now an elegant typeface

The project began as a rebranding for the Norwegian family optometrist business Optician-K. As the team dug into the history of optometry for inspiration, they discovered that in the 1800s, optometrists each designed their own eye charts for testing patients. There was no standard, though, so the clinical test was far from universal. That changed in 1862 when ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen introduced the Snellen chart. It was made from blocky, seriffed letters that are probably the most closely associated with what we think of as an eye chart.

Arguably one of the most fascinating articles on the marrying of eye charts and typography. Fast Company breaks down the history of standardizing vision tests, and how the design firm ANTI Hamar has finally finished the set of letters (Yeah, there’s only 16 on that test you take), creating a complete functional eye chart font.

And they released it as a free font called Optician Sans! Clever. 🖤

+ Gretchen Nash on promoting accessibility at Amazon

I see so many software experiences that slap on accessibility features (such as closed captioning, screen readers, settings, etc) at the very end of a design cycle. I would love for accessibility design to be included in the early stages of any design product, so that it actually does become a foundational standard in design.

Aside from Gretchen’s gorgeous posters, designed for and currently hanging side-by-side at Amazon, this interview with her was such a good read.

+ We need the singular ‘they’—and it won’t seem wrong for long

The rule against using singular they is enforced neither because it preserves some consistent, objective grammatical standard, nor because it serves our communication needs. It is enforced because enforcing language norms is a way of enforcing power structures.

For bookworms

+ It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

From the Stark team

+ What are some great examples of a11y friendly public places?

We kickstarted a thread on some examples in our Spectrum community. Let’s shed some light on and give these places the attention they deserve. List the example and where you found it. Bonus points for pics!

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw majority of the stairs throughout the city of Stockholm had a portion of each staircase designed for individuals that use wheelchairs as (one of) their form(s) of mobility.

+ We have nifty stickers. Want some?

Want some? Send an email or tweet our way!

Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark

16: A Stark Difference in Design

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. Last week’s Edition No. 15 had a 46% open rate. The most popular link was the Funkify chrome extension. 💌


+ Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”

+ I love this can opener

A great twitter thread on using the can opener and the importance of its design for someone with Fibromyalgia and other motor disabilities.

Tami Love@ChronicTamiI love this can opener. It has a locking mechanism so that you don't have to use your muscles to push down. Without this accessible tool, I can't open sealed metal cans.

+ Designing for Interaction Modes

The best experiences result from designers matching the way the computer behaves with the way our users are thinking, feeling, and interacting. This is what user experience design is all about. And yet, because of pressures, competing priorities, and industry trends, interaction modes are often an afterthought.

When stakeholders don’t put the user first, and designer’s are forced to implement dark patterns, humans become forced to accept shortcomings. We make do with what is there. We figure out alternative methods. But understanding interaction modes can help you make more ethical design decisions.

For bookworms

+ Measure of a Man—From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents’ Tailor

Wow. Wow! This will go down as one of the most phenomenal memoirs. The greatest takeaways:

  1. Trauma and empathy heavily shape how we treat others (be it good or bad).

  2. Craftsmanship provides a high return of investment both personal and professional.

  3. In a 100m race, run 110m. It’s easy to be mediocre.

  4. There is no job beneath you.

  5. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the opportunity to be teachable.

Martin Greenfield’s book is an incredible, often stomach turning story of heartbreak, survival, and triumph.

Updates on Stark

+ See you soon, Invision Studio. 😍

Stark@getstarkcoStark + #InvisionStudio = 💕 See you soon, @invisionapp. �hL

+ Stark’s getting a clean up across design tools

Cat has been updating the design for Stark in Adobe XD and will shift into carrying that over for Sketch. We’re making it more compact and simple, and cleaning everything up across design tools before rolling out some awesome additions in the new year; one of those being a more contextually informative checker regarding your typography. And now, as you’ve seen, preparation for a launch on Invision Studio!

+ Best free sketch plugins for designers

Thanks designmodo for including Stark in the list of best free sketch plugins for designers!

Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark

15: A Stark Difference in Design

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. We’re testing the subject line, and we made the headers of each bullet point more prominent since last post. 💌

Tidbits from the web

+ How to Design Better for Your Community

Guidelines can be great when you have a system in place, where research has been done extensively and there’s institutional knowledge to pull from that informs your problem-solving. But what happens when you don’t have that?

Amélie Lamont’s post is rich in beautiful imagery, colors and great examples on how to use your skills as a designer to figure out and kickstart your next community project.

+ Inclusivity is a Recipe for Good Design

…so it doesn’t really make sense to think of disabled people as a niche group. It makes a lot more sense to design as if anyone could be disabled.

Have you ever wondered what the difference between designing for accessibility vs. designing inclusively is? Khoi from Adobe discusses this plus more on his latest podcast episode of Wireframe.

+ Funkify — the Chrome extension

If you’re a designer or developer that uses Chrome, Funkify is a necessary extension that helps you experience the web through the eyes of people with different abilities. You can simulate blurry vision, dyslexia, losing control of your mouse, tunnel vision, colorblindness, etc.

For bookworms

+ 101 Things I Learned In Architecture School

Matthew Fredrick simplifies and makes clear, a complex topic that teachers often muddy. What a simple, fun, and true bit of education with beautiful illustrations throughout.

These 101 concise lessons in design, drawing, the creative process, and presentation--from the basics of how to draw a line to the complexities of color theory--provide a much-needed primer in architectural literacy and make concrete what too often is left nebulous and open-ended in the architecture curriculum. 

Updates on Stark

+ Why do you think we're still arguing about the business value of design?

One thing we’ve come to realize in having discussions (and sometimes debates) about accessible and inclusive design, is the general value that design brings to the business / company as a whole. We’ve been pondering the question above, have our own theory, and would love your thoughts.

+ Some Stark love

Super exciting to see Stark as one of the most loved by folks at the #SketchLondon meetup.

Alex Manthei@xoalexoFor #SketchLondon, I polled the @TrainlineTeam on what @sketchapp plugins we use. Here are the results! Turns out we ❤️ @zeplin @marvelapp & @getstarkco the most ✊

Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark

14: Hawkeye, Why We Sleep & hearing loss

Hey! Welcome to this week’s Stark Difference in Design. We’re trying out a new service (Substack) for our newsletter and we’ll be exploring with formatting. Let us know what you like and dislike. 💌

Tidbits from the web

+ Research from WHO on those living with hearing loss

360 million people live with disabling hearing loss. That’s ~5% of the population. 32 million of those people are children.

+ Spotlight on Hawkeye

Hawkeye is a fantastic app for individuals with motor impairment. It allows you to control your iOS device with your eyes and face movements. It’s completely hands-free—whether you use your everyday apps to browsing the web to read.

+ From Paula Scher

The goal of design is to raise the expectations, not pander to mediocrity created by crowd sourcing.

For bookworms

+ Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

A fascinating read on not just what happens during sleep but the history behind it, and vital importance of why we need it. The book is a page turner filled with fun facts and shocking content that guarantees you change your routines and prioritize sleep more than you do meals.

Cetacean ( 🐳 + 🐬 ) sleep is uni-hemispheric in order to protect from predators. The two spheres couple and uncouple as needed — half awake and the other enters a beautiful NREM phase (they never enter REM because the temporary paralysis would result in them drowning).

Updates on Stark

+ Thanks Pablo Stanley for giving us all sorts of love by including Stark in your talk at Dribbble’s Hangtime LA!

+ Invision created a Twitter Moment all about a11y & inclusion

Cat Noone and Stark are included in it, which is pretty awesome; but what’s important is how phenomenal this entire Moment is for shedding light on some of the greatest tools and articles written on color, culture, accessible design and inclusive design.

+ Get your Stark shirt here

Looking for a holiday gift for a designer? If you buy your Stark Contrast shirt on Cotton Bureau now, there's an excellent chance it still arrives before Christmas 🎄

P.S. Order(ed) a shirt? Tweet it, mention us, and we’ll send Stark stickers your way! 🖤

+ What are your thoughts on design school?

Often, institutions struggle to keep up with the advancements in technology and design, negatively impacting the curriculum. If you went, what did you learn that positively impacts your career now? (nothing is off limits). If you didn't go, what was your reasoning? Did that help, hurt or both?

Liked this newsletter? Let us know. And we’re always talking shop on Twitter @getstarkco or in our community chat.

–Team Stark

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