Introducing Spectrum: How Adobe Is Building a Design System at Scale | Adobe Blog

If anyone can reap the benefits of a large scale design system, then it's Adobe. But I wonder at what cost to product brand differentiation and diversity. Time will tell.

Letters from Sweden

Lovely looking design for the type foundry.

Rebranding Snag – Part 1, Brand Strategy

Excellent four-part write-up of the recent Snag rebranding process that Peter led. It's a thorough story of the work behind a rebranding – starting with picking the right partner, to working on the nuts and bolts of a logo with an illustrator.

There are many points Peter makes that are quotable, but this stuck with me:

The biggest reason I left design consulting to move in-house was that instead of handing off a design and hoping for the best, I wanted to be “in the room” where the umpteen big and little decisions happen that ultimately affect the quality of the final product.

This mirrors my reasoning exactly; agency work can only take you so far.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 are worth your time, too.

JAMstack Comments

Nifty approach of building an inherently dynamic system (comments) into a JAMstack website (Javascript, APIs, Markup). Uses some very fancy Lambda scripting and Netlify to create some auto-approve buttons within a Slack message.

CopyChar – Copy special characters to your clipboard

Copy special characters to your clipboard. Arrows. Emoji. Other random things. What a good idea.

Every Notes App Should Work Like Agenda + Subtraction.com

A compelling write-up from Khoi on the new note taking app on the scene, Agenda. Like email clients, I'm a bit restless when it comes to note-taking apps. I flit between Evernote, Notes, and iA Writer. All of which have their positives, and negatives. For a while, Evernote really worked for me; I bookmarked, made notes, dumped travel stuff in it. But, then the cracks started to appear in the service. The app wasn't upgraded for a while. Task lists didn't behave quite like I wanted.

Notes app from Apple isn't much better. Whilst it's great for the odd shopping list, I find it too 'slim' on Mac OS. I want something a bit more robust that doesn't heavily favour the Apple cod system. But, as Khoi points out, the big attraction to Agenda is the close relationship between notes and dates. Couple that with integrations coming down the line, and an iOS app, this could be something special. Until it gets bought by Microsoft and disappears into obscurity, that is. But for now, I shall continue with my flirtation of different apps to meet my needs and Agenda is next on the list.

Observable

I'm doing a lot of thinking about long form editorial at the moment. Specifically of how it fits with our work at EMBL, and how rich graphics might play a part in that overall storytelling. The challenge with imagery created by a lot of smart scientists, however, is they require a lot of interpretation. You have to understand the graph to understand what it tells.

Observable's interface is perhaps the most interesting to me. It combines a Medium-like experience with rich working interactive data elements and/or code. Just imagine the possibilities of content if you can combine real working, interactive, rich visualisations alongside words. A powerful combination, indeed.

Flourish – Data Visualisation & Storytelling

This looks like an interesting platform. Although the positioning is a bit weird. I got to this link from Design Week, where it was described as 'data visualisation for designers who don't code'. That negative isn't it? Or rather ambiguous. Do these designers choose not to code? Or is it too hard? Is this platform smarter than designers?

Anyway. I think that's probably more Design Week that than Flourish, to be fair. Regardless, I see some amazing possibilities here in terms of visualising data for editorial teams. Newsrooms are always so stretched, under crazy deadlines, and lack any multi-disciplinary roles to quickly produce this stuff. Let's face it, from real data, it's hard to produce quickly.

Top marks, Flourish. I hope you... erm... flourish.

Why you should stop using product roadmaps and try GIST Planning

I've had my fair share of strategies and roadmaps going out of sync with reality. It's refreshing to see things like OKRs (which I've had mixed results with, to be honest) packaged up with other ideas and presented as a planning methodology. As with all of these things, though, the challenge seems to always revolve around selling this upwards into a management structure so fixed in their ideas. Had my fair share of those, too.

Pace Layering: How Complex Systems Learn and Keep Learning

More on Pace Layering from Stewart Brand. Since reading the book, and watching the talk I posted a while ago, I can't stop thinking about this and how it affects my work at the moment. Big institutions have layers. The pain I regularly feel in trying to affect change is because I'm doing something wrong and/or too quickly in the wrong the layer.

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