Car design trends, part 2

form-v-functionThis “center stack” of dashboard controls looks pretty cool. It’s from a Volvo. (I can tell by the typeface.)

Design mistake? When you’re driving down the road at 75 miles an hour (120 kph), the last thing you want to do is take your eyes off the road long enough to figure out which button you need to push to make the hot air go to your feet rather than at your face.

Takeaway? When you’re designing that thing – or planning that speech – go for what will serve the user best rather than what causes the biggest wow. (But be sure to leave enough wow in to make it exciting!)


I’m too practical


Some people are artistic. Some people are practical. Some people are both. Even though I am an artist (graphic designer) by training and partly by profession, I tend toward the practical side.

So when we visited this home I was struck by the beauty of the familial display on the master bedroom’s dresser.

My dresser is cluttered with little things that have nothing to do with beauty – and everything to do with life – keys, wallet, sunglasses and camera.

What’s on your dresser?


Strange delivery


I went to our nearby new library recently. I checked out a book in a new form – the “Playaway“. Basically, I am a sucker for new things – and free new things are even better.

These are not for the average consumer – they are about $35-40 each. (You can buy the Kindle edition of this book for about $10.)

The title? (“Living Well in a Down Economy” – one of the “Dummies” series.) I didn’t listen to the whole thing. There were some interesting bits about breathing right and preparing a resume. (My wife is looking for a job). It’s rare that I would have time to listen to a whole book like that, so this format isn’t for me.

I think this is a bad idea. You get a cheap MP3 player with a pre-loaded title. The sound is very poor compared to a real MP3 player. Navigation is sub-standard. (The interface “screen” is a tiny LCD readout.)

My recommendation? Libraries should “lend” MP3 titles of audio books via iTunes that would be playable for a 3-week time period. Then you use your trusted MP3 player and the interface you know and (hopefully) love. For people without an MP3 player? Perhaps Apple could produce a super-durable iPod that libraries could lend out for 3-week increments.