|Original articles from Fast Company.|
|The Secret Vault Inside Lego’s New Building|
Somewhere in Billund–a tiny town with a gigantic international airport in the middle of Denmark–there’s a magical place that you can’t visit.
|Mastering Branding in Today's World|
Cultural and technological changes have expanded the parameters of identity design. Here are four key principles for branding in the age of ambiguity.
|Snap Launches Context Cards; Partnering with OpenTable |
Eighty percent. It’s a high metric for just about any type of user behavior. It’s also the percentage of Snap’s 166 million daily users who have taken snaps at restaurants.
|Top 5 Ads of the Week|
Tile’s Lost Panda, Pedigree’s Doggie Masks, a more modern Covergirl, online bullying IRL, and the wonders of exascale computing.
|Is Apple Now Truly in the TV Business?|
A report says Apple has signed a deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin studio to reprise his ’80s show “Amazing Stories.”
|Ikea Will Sell Products Through 3rd Party Online Retailers|
The move comes as other brick-and-mortar retailers scramble to compete against retail giants like Amazon.
|Mattel Is Cancelling Its “Alexa For Kids” After Privacy Uproar|
Aristotle was supposed to be an Alexa for kids crossed with a smart baby monitor, designed to do things like soothe a child’s cries, answer questions about the world, and more.
|How IBM’s ThinkPad Became A Design Icon|
Little about the PC industry of the early 1990s survives. But 25 years after it was first introduced, a ThinkPad remains a ThinkPad.
|The Cult Of Crocs: Can The Brand Make A Comeback?|
It’s the shoe that people love to hate. But in a brand reboot, Crocs is calling out its haters in a politically charged message about tolerance.
|Duane Johnson Opens His Own Ad Agency|
While Johnson is no stranger to brand work, he’s now getting directly involved by launching his own creative ad agency called Seven Bucks Creative.
|Ecobranding: Logos, Redesigned To Use Less Ink|
You can still recognize the apple and the swoosh, but they’re far more ecologically friendly.
|12 Ways To Use Instagram Stories Like A Pro|
A photojournalist offers his Instagram Stories playbook, honed from years of covering global conflicts.
|Care Bears Are Making a 2017 Return|
In these trying times of upheavals, sometimes it feels like you just need a hug. Luckily, Care Bears are back.
|Under Armour: "Sports Will Change The World"|
Under Armour’s chief marketing officer Andy Donkin explains how the individual and community impact of sports became a pivotal part of a new campaign.
|An Ode to the VHS Tape|
For decades, video came encased in the plastic rectangles called VHS tapes, which were played on one of the first classic consumer gadgets: the VCR.
|Cisco Lets Peter Dinklage Do the Talking|
The man who brings Tyrion Lannister to life on Game of Thrones has such a compelling screen presence that he forces you to pay attention.
|Domino's Instagram is Gross. By Design.|
Most food photography is about impossible beauty. Domino’s is getting ahead by being something else: honest.
|JetBlue Made Office Souvenirs for Workaholics|
JetBlue created a collection of office souvenirs to cheekily remind us all to take more time off.
|What The Eclipse Looked Like From Delta’s Flight Of A Lifetime|
Lucky passengers on one transcontinental flight got to experience totality from miles above the ground. Here, they describe the experience.
|Why the Echo Show Only Displays Good News|
In a time of ugly realities, Amazon’s smart screen device is keeping its curated news decidedly light.
|Apple to Spend $1B to Produce Original TV Content|
The iPhone maker has set aside a billion dollars to either create or acquire original content so it can go head-to-head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, reports the Wall Street Journal.
|ASMR, The Internet Subculture Of “Sounds That Feel Good,” Is Going Mainstream|
On July 27, a 30-year-old Russian expat, known only to her followers as Maria, hit 1 million subscribers on her YouTube channel GentleWhispering–which features her doing just that.
Maria is one of the more famous personalities within a booming online subculture called ASMR.
|How The Dumpling Democratized Emoji|
On August 8, 2015, my friend Yiying Lu was using the Messages app on her iPhone to chat with another friend of hers, Jennifer 8. Lee, about their plans to get together in San Francisco for a meal of Chinese dumplings. Lu wanted to express her excitement by sending Lee a message incorporating the dumpling emoji...
|Why Casper Is The $750 Million Startup That Just Can’t Rest|
In early May, the online mattress startup Casper celebrated its third birthday in whimsical style with an event, held in its New York headquarters, modeled after a 3-year-old’s birthday party. There was face-painting, piñatas, and—in a necessary concession to adulthood—a free-flowing open bar. They even hired a balloon guy. “He really put the artist in balloon artist,” says cofounder...
|Airbnb Debuts A Toolkit For Inclusive Design|
Earlier this summer, Airbnb paired up with the media startup News Deeply on an installation called Shadow to Light for San Francisco Design Week. Guided by the festival’s theme, “Question Everything,” the two companies wanted to create a piece that would challenge visitors’ viewpoints and ask them to recognize implicit biases.
|Tomorrow’s Brands Might Be Impossible to Trademark|
Anyone who owns an Amazon Echo is familiar with the blue ring. It’s the glowing, abstract face of the Alexa assistant that signifies when it is listening, thinking, and speaking. It’s about as ephemeral as user interface can get.
Perhaps it doesn’t seem odd that Amazon attempted to register the ring as a trademark in 2016. After all, trademarks give companies more protections over their brands.
|Adobe Just Built The Prettiest UI Ever|
There is nothing quite like an artist’s palette. With this humble piece of paper or wood, the artist can mix infinite pigments, each of which can be dipped into again and again without a second thought.
FiftyThree’s Paper did an incredible job at streamlining the palette for iPad screens.
|Why MailChimp Doesn’t Let New Hires Work For Their First Week On The Job|
When new folks join a company, most are itching to get to work. They’ve probably been through a bunch of interviews and feel excited to dig into something new. It’s the same with hiring managers: After a long hiring process, making an offer, and setting a start date, they’re chomping at the bit to finally bring someone up to speed.
|The Perfect Food Delivery Startup? David Chang Thinks He’s Got The Secret Sauce|
Behind two opaque white glass doors on a storefront on Manhattan’s 14th Street, a team of sous chefs is chopping, marinating, and frying food for the Flatiron lunch crowd. A young intern wearing a loose T-shirt and a red baseball cap sits among a collection of stainless steel appliances, a warming cabinet...
|Design Didn’t Make Uber Good, But It Made Uber Great|
I’ll never forget my first Uber. As cheesy as that sounds, I’m sure the feeling is shared by many of us of a certain age. Finding myself stuck on the sleepy streets of San Francisco’s Nob Hill after midnight, not a cab in sight, I hit a button on my phone, a car drove up a few minutes later, and I realized city life as I knew it would never be the same.
|Apple’s HomeKit Was A Band With No Frontman. Then HomePod Took The Mic|
Consumers and accessories makers have been somewhat slow to adopt the platform known as HomeKit since its debut three years ago. There are several reasons for that, and one of them is that HomeKit just isn’t a very sexy product. It’s no Apple Music. It’s hard to visualize. When you think of “HomeKit” what do you see?
|Will VR Ever Be Mass Entertainment?|
There’s a lot of talk about virtual reality as the future of entertainment. And with big companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple pouring money into the technology’s development, VR might seem like an inevitable medium to transform the way we spend our free time.
|Pinterest Just Launched Its First Major Ad Campaign|
Back in March Pinterest president Tim Kendall told me that because Pinterest is a place where people plan things, it makes us more receptive to brand messages than perhaps on other social platforms. “Because it’s a platform based around discovery, people are in an open mindset,” he said.
|What Consumers Want Isn't What You Think|
We asked more than 5,000 people to tell us about the brands they sought out, then we analyzed what those brands did. The results were surprisingly consistent.
|Why We’re (Still) So Dependent on Email, Even Though We Hate It|
Depending on the day (or the hour) email is either a blessing or a curse.
We’re always trying to find smarter ways to deal with it, debunking myths about the “right” way to email, and debating if it’s possible to ever reach the mythical inbox zero.
But could you do your job without it?
|Even Ikea is Studying AI Now|
Ikea makes furniture and household goods, not technology. And yet, the Swedish company’s external innovation lab, Space10, is launching a global survey meant to gauge people’s thoughts about artificial intelligence. Central to the survey’s mission is helping Space10 and Ikea understand what form consumers want AI to take.
|Google’s Cheesy Short Film is Also Quietly Brilliant|
For a century of filmmaking, the audience has looked at whatever the director has chosen to frame. But virtual reality breaks this old pattern, in that it allows the viewer to turn her head–leaving filmmakers to wonder, how do you tell a story when the viewer can look anywhere?
|How Peer-to-Peer Payment Pioneer Venmo Grew Up and Got Serious|
It started with a simple dare: All Mike Linshi had to do was buy a certain shirt from a store nearby and wear it.
The bet was offered up in the easy evening hours after a music and innovation festival in Brooklyn two years ago. There was just something so funny about the thought of Linshi in that particular shirt that Iqram Magdon-Ismail and Andrew Kortina, cofounders of the New York–based peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, bet their colleague $50,000 he wouldn’t wear it. The sum was set high...
|Mark Zuckerberg on Fake News, Free Speech, and What Drives Facebook|
When Fast Company first wrote about Mark Zuckerberg, in the spring of 2007, he was just 22 years old and his young company, Facebook, had just 19 million users. Our magazine cover line, “The Kid Who Turned Down $1 Billion,” seems almost quaint in hindsight, given Facebook’s $400 billion market cap today and its 2 billion global users. But it was Zuckerberg’s first cover...
|Why Are America’s Tax Forms Still So Horribly Designed?|
If there’s one issue that this divided nation can agree upon, it’s a common hatred of the federal government’s dizzying, overly complicated tax forms. Show me one person who enjoys digging up last year’s return and embarking on a byzantine quest through tax credits, deductions, exemptions, and withholdings, all for a measly return, and I’ll show you a masochist.
|Fitbit Is Entering New, Dangerous Waters As Consumers Turn To Smartwatches|
Not too long ago, most consumers were satisfied that simple fitness trackers, not smartwatches, were a good way to enter the age of the “quantified self.” Sales of Fitbit’s trackers flourished, and the company held a successful IPO.
But times have changed, the numbers show. More fitness-minded people are moving to smartwatches, mainly the Apple Watch.
|How Charity: Water Uses Data To Connect Donors And The People They’re Helping|
Most philanthropic galas are designed to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and generate a new round of donations. But for Charity: Water’s annual Charity: Ball last December, CEO Scott Harrison had something unique planned. “There is a big binary risk,” he said as he watched attendees who had paid $2,500 per ticket stream into New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I’m either going to look very stupid in front of 400 people…”
|The Story Behind the Most Successful Crowdfunded Font in History|
Up until this week, the most successful crowdfunded font was an almost predictable winner: Black Tie, a flexible, sans-serif typeface that scales from web CSS to apps with all the seamless utility of Helvetica. It was just the sort of inoffensive script that a designer or developer cruising Kickstarter could deploy without a second guess, which led it to raise $71,686 in 2014.
|Airbnb, Instagram, and the Rise of the Optimized Cabin|
A two-hour drive north of New York City, Hudson Woods is one of those idyllic vacation destinations that city slickers salivate over—its open skies and rolling hills are a far cry from the city's claustrophobic chaos.
There, architect-turned-developer Drew Lang has built 26 luxury cabins, each with generous picture windows, slick appliances...
|The Weird and Fascinating Story Behind Design's Iridescence Craze|
The design world is having an iridescent moment. You may recognize it in Sebastian Scherer's lovely pendant lights, designed to look like "a permanent iridescent soap bubble". Or in Patricia Urquiola's cool gradient Shimmer collection for Glas Italia from 2015. Last year, Tom Dixon released a collection...
|Why Amazon Echo And Google Home Can’t Tell Who’s Talking–Yet|
Conversations with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are supposed to be personal. In a promo video for the Google Home connected speaker, for instance, a husband and wife ask the omnipresent AI about their respective agendas for the day, and get individualized answers in return.
|Nixon, NASA, and How the Federal Government Got Design|
The federal government doesn't stray too far from a few familiar topics when it comes to its agenda: the economy, health care, national defense, immigration, reproductive rights. But for roughly a decade not long ago, good graphic design was a national priority—and the story of how it became one is a forgotten chapter...
|The Art Of Manipulating Algorithms|
This winter, the events that led to President Trump's election reverberated through the technology and design world.
The phrase "fake news," which rose so quickly to prominence in November and co-opted so seamlessly by Trump in the new year, was hotly debated by journalists, designers, and Mark Zuckerberg alike.
|Pentagram And The Case Of The Forgotten Typeface|
Some branding projects are a blank slate—a system you can build from the ground up with a cohesive image. Upon commission, the project for rebranding Syracuse University, tasked to Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, did not appear to be one of them.
|Relax, Your Smartphone Probably Isn't Destroying Your Relationships|
In a 2011 study at Stanford University, researchers asked a group of girls ages 8 to 12 by to surf the internet for up to five hours, then share how happy and socially comfortable they felt. The results weren’t encouraging. The more time the girls spent online, the less content and at ease in social settings they became...
|How Snapchat Could Bring Back TV’s Golden Age|
A few weeks ago, I was on Snapchat tapping and swiping from a food program to a Vice news report to a Cosmo quiz, when I realized: Snap—the $25 billion company behind the app—has built the remote control of the internet age.
In this sense, Snapchat isn’t just a great way to shoot and share selfies, as it's usually described.
|Why Amazon Is The World's Most Innovative Company Of 2017|
Picture your ideal neighborhood. What does it look like? Is it manicured, with buildings set in a pattern so that everything flows together, designed for perfection? Or is it gritty and spontaneous, the kind of place where a restaurant might move into the space that used to house a dry cleaner?
|How One Female Fintech Founder Beat The Odds|
When former Silicon Valley exec Sheri Atwood landed $4 million in crucial Series A venture capital funding for SupportPay, an app designed to streamline child care payments, a lot of attention was focused on her personal story. She was a divorced mom and child of a painful broken marriage—so the show-me-the-money skirmishes were familiar territory.
|The Unexpected Design Challenge Behind Slack's New Threaded Conversations|
At first blush, threaded conversations sound like one of the most thoroughly mundane features a messaging app could introduce.
After all, the idea of neatly bundling up a specific message and its replies in one place—rather than weaving them willy-nilly with unrelated items—has been around since the days of dial-up bulletin boards. In one form or another, it's present in Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and innumerable other places where people communicate with each other.
But when Slack's users started asking...
|The Eye in the Sky Gets a Brain That Knows What It's Seeing|
A hurricane hits a shore town. What is the estimated property damage? A city is doing an inventory of trees. How many are there? An aid group is trying to get food to an impoverished rural population. What's the best location to make a drop?
Answering those and myriad other questions about our planet usually takes painstaking boots-on-the ground work.
|How The Gig Economy Will Change In 2017|
The gig economy has been on the rise for several years, and many reports point to a continued trend in American workers taking on both side gigs and cobbling together a living from a hodgepodge of short-term work or longer-term contracted jobs.
Findings from Adobe revealed that as many as one-third of the 1,000 U.S....
|The Most Important Tech Trend of 2017|
Organizations across every sector are harnessing digital technologies to become more consumer-centric. But this laser focus on serving and pleasing customers can have unintended consequences. Consider recent debates about Airbnb's alleged impact on local rental markets, fake news's influence...
|How Companies Will Use Social Media In 2017|
Let’s travel back to a simpler time, shall we? It’s November 6, 2007, and Facebook has just launched something called Pages. Now, companies can have an official presence on the network, just like real people! The first day, 100,000 Pages launch, with brands from Coca-Cola to Verizon and Blockbuster getting onboard. In the years afterward, millions of companies raced to build up audiences...
|Lessons from Silicon Valley's Biggest Mistakes of 2016|
Sometimes it's good to take stock, not only of your own errors, but also those of your peers. This year Silicon Valley startups, unicorns, and public companies made blunders they'd probably like to forget about. But in the spirit of self-education, we're highlighting three such miscalculations so you don't fall into the cavernous...
|What Smart Homes Will—And Won't—Do In 2017|
Of all the tech industry's current obsessions, smart homes might have the biggest gap between fantasy and reality. We've been dreaming of a home that runs itself—restocking supplies, maximizing energy efficiency, and even performing some chores—but for the most part we got glorified remote controls...
|The Best and Worst User Interfaces of 2016|
Remember 2016? It was the year that our smartphones became boring, and smartwatches proved to be less a revolution than an alternative to any other watch. But things also got weird this year: VR finally had its moment in the limelight—Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both hit after years of hype—while Pokemon Go and Snapchat normalized augmented reality, seemingly overnight.
Here are our favorite—and least favorite—UI projects from the year.
"We screwed up, and I want to be really clear about that," Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill...
|IBM Wants To Build AI That Isn't Socially Awkward|
Though artificial intelligence experts may cringe at the portrayals of humanlike AI in science fiction, some researchers are nudging us closer to those visions. "I think it's useful that your user interface not only understand your emotions, your personality, your tone, your motivations, but that it also have a set of emotions..."
|Native Advertising Is Broken. Here's How To Fix It|
In 2016, just 32% of Americans trust the mainstream media—down 8% since last year. By comparison, 78% trust the technology industry. Heck, even 51% of people trust the financial industry.
These existing trust issues contributed to the media industry’s latest crisis: the spread of fake news across Facebook, which likely influenced the election.
|Internet Comments Are Awful. Could They Be Awesome?|
For years, it’s been a standard piece of advice to anyone reading the news online: "Don't read the comments."
It’s no secret that user-submitted comments on news websites are often angry, racist, misogynistic, or simply ill-informed. That’s contributed to media organizations from NPR and Reuters to Popular Science...
|How This MailChimp Employee Limits His Email Time To 90 Minutes A Day|
A lot of people see email as a chore, but for me and many of my colleagues at MailChimp, it’s the center of our work universe. But that doesn't mean I spend all day rummaging through my inbox. In fact, I cap the time I devote to managing emails to 90 minutes every day.
It took me a while to get to that point. I tried a few...
|How Stories Solved Instagram's Biggest Threat: Self-Conscious Users|
Robby Stein remembers when Kevin Systrom was just another startup guy, who’d created a photo sharing app called Instagram. They knew each other working at Google. Systrom’s idea for the thing was all around instant sharing—to capture fleeting moments, like a dog you met or going to the park.
|Pantone's New Color Of The Year Is Weird And Perfect|
Bucking the national mood, Pantone has selected a decidedly optimistic new color of the year: 2017 will be the year of Greenery (15-0343 TCX), "a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore...
|The Only Three Networking Emails You Need To Know How To Write|
I’m all about being up front when you network. It’s helpful to be honest about why you’re reaching out (for example, you’re going through a job search or moving to a new city). It can combat nerves and help the process feel more genuine. In other words, it instantly solves two core issues many people stress about when...
|How the Music World Flocked to Instagram in 2016|
Many social media networks have tried and failed to become the go-to platform for musicians to engage with their fans. Remember Twitter #Music or Facebook Mentions? Are any musicians using Snapchat other than DJ Khaled?
But while others have fallen short in capturing the music world, Instagram has taken a series of small steps to turn its once photo-driven service into a creative haven where artists tease new music, reveal album artwork, announce tour dates, and offer intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses.
|Use The Simplest Tools|
Over the past two weeks, as Americans grappled with the reality of a new president whose platform would rescind the rights of many Americans, maybe you saw one of these widely circulated Google Docs. One listed legal advice and links for groups threatened by the incoming administration. Another collected scripts for calling your representatives and senators. Yet another billed itself as a guide...
|Why Lowe's Is Revealing Its Black Friday Lineup On Facebook Live|
Lowe's has a different approach to Black Friday than most brands. That's not just owing to a certain strain of iconoclasm at the brand. It's also because, practically speaking, the winter months aren't necessarily the busy season for people seeking home-improvement projects.
"Our business is not like other retail. Our Super Bowl, if you will, is really more the spring season," explains Marci Grebstein, chief marketing officer at Lowe's. "If you think about it from the consumer standpoint, you have people who’ve been..."
|Google's Pixel Phone Was Designed To Steal Apple Users. It Almost Works|
Every iPhone owner I know has at least considered it: making the jump to Android. After all, Google gets design now. Its Android operating system is actually the most popular mobile platform in the world. And with the company’s most aggressive attempt to build a Google phone yet, the $650 Google Pixel, we finally have...
|The Ultimate Wearable: A Second Skin That Feels What You Can't|
We’re surrounded by intangible information. Every second of the day, radio waves resonate encrypted messages through our walls, furniture, and skulls. And to translate this omnipresent flood, we pick up our phones or open our laptops, pressing endless buttons while staring into screens. It’s one of the great problems...
|Where Does the Apple TV Go From Here?|
It’s fair to say that the Apple TV is the device that’s had the hardest time finding a place as a "must-have" in Apple’s ecosystem. It’s always seemed to be more of an accessory to Apple’s more popular Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods than a standalone gadget that was designed—as the others were, for computers, phones, tablets, and music players, respectively—with a clear vision to show...
|5 Essential Tips For Brands Battling Social Media Trolls|
Despite social media maturing as a platform, online services—mostly Twitter—are plagued more than ever by trolls looking to cause emotional distress in individuals. Yet while we think of trolling as a problem for individuals, brands are increasingly being targeted by trolls, too.
Some forms of brand trolling can be harmless and humorous, but there are also more malicious attacks...
|The Big Business Of Red Carpet Bling|
Actress Cate Blanchett is celebrated for her unconventional, avant-garde awards-show fashion. But at the 2015 Oscars, it was her jewelry that stole the red carpet show: She paired a long, simple black Maison Margiela gown with a Tiffany & Co. turquoise and diamond necklace. It dominated fashion headlines and soon thereafter, inspired knock-offs and Etsy reimaginings. Us Weekly promoted a $75 Blanchett-inspired jewelry giveaway.
"We didn’t plan on it," says Blanchett’s stylist, Elizabeth Stewart. "But it worked."
When it comes to Hollywood baubles, the motto is generally, "Go big or go home." To compete with couture gowns and Cinderella moments, top jewelers such as Bulgari, Chopard, and Forevermark go all out to secure their celebrity endorsements.
|Why Won't Apple Fix The iPhone's One Huge Design Flaw?|
Next week, Apple will unveil the iPhone 7. And of all the new hardware upgrades it will likely receive, rumor has it that the design fix the iPhone has needed the most for nearly a decade won’t be referenced on stage at all.
The iPhone will still have a glass screen that will shatter if you drop it wrong. And sooner or later, millions of us will drop it wrong.
|Frank Ocean, Apple Music, and theHeadache Of Streaming Exclusives|
This weekend, I had a brief, uniquely modern conversation with somebody as we both stared into our phones together.
"The new Frank Ocean is out."
"Oh damn, really? Let me pull it up."
"It’s only on Apple Music."
"No, look, here it is on YouTube."
*Pitch-shifted audio of Frank Ocean singing like a chipmunk*
"Oh. Weird. I guess I should sign up for Apple Music."
"Yeah, there's a free trial. Or you could just torrent it."
For those of us who follow technology news and the constantly evolving music industry, the exclusive arrival...
|What I Learned Working With Jony Ive's Team on the Apple Watch|
I was an architect. I was functioning in the role of developing candidate technologies that could go into such a product. My group and I were the people who saw basically first light of an idea. We would say "we think this is possible." And then it would get deployed into teams of many, many more engineers...
|This Security Company Based Its Tech On The Human Immune System|
The program coordinator at the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County in California never suspected that an email she received earlier this year contained anything more than the corporate invoice it claimed. But as soon as she opened the attachment, malware began to encrypt data on her computer.
|Playing The Long Game Inside Tim Cook's Apple|
Eddy Cue doesn’t look like a man in the midst of his toughest year in decades. Sporting an untucked apricot camp shirt and blue jeans over camouflage socks and a pair of blue leather racing shoes from Germany, Apple’s SVP of Internet software and services pulls up a chair at one of the marble-topped tables outside Caffé Macs...
|Virgin America's New App Puts A Travel Agent In Your Pocket|
Travel agents were among the first casualties of the Internet age, rendered obsolete by websites that let travelers select and book their own flights. But considering how time-consuming and complex it can be to hunt down the right seat at the right time and for the best price (be honest—how many airline tabs did you have open the last time you tried to fly?), some of us may be nostalgic...
|Etsy's New Headquarters Will Fill You With Envy|
Etsy started out in 2005 as a small online marketplace for makers and DIYers, but the company has turned into an e-commerce behemoth that's enabled housewives to knit their way to millions. Along the way, the $3.5 billion company has aggressively tried to do business the right way by hiring a diverse workforce, building community, and offering generous employee perks...
|Former Googler Aims to Create a New Hate-Free Social Media Site|
Former Google engineer Bindu Reddy has spent years thinking about how people engage on the web. From 2005 to 2008, she worked on the early versions of Google+ as well as the web publishing network Blogger. In the years since, she’s launched a management system for helping social influencers monetize their big followings called Mylikes.
|How Panera Bread Baked Digital Innovation into its Growth Strategy|
Not so long ago, Panera Bread was anything but a digital trailblazer. Founded as St. Louis Bread in the 1980s, the company was managing 2,000 bakery-cafes throughout North America without a significant investment in digital growth. That all changed in 2014 with the launch of Panera 2.0.
The program, which incorporates a series of integrated technologies...
|Inside IBM's New App-Building Training Ground|
The space was a large, vacant, concrete-filled floor in a lower Manhattan office building. Plastic tarps covered many of the walls; wide columns held the building up; construction workers toiled away at various tasks. My guide pointed in the direction of a wall and said that a "public-facing" cafe would be there. The rest of the 50,000-plus square feet space would be generally open...
|The Secret Power Of Amazon's Dash Buttons: Not Sales, But Data|
One year after launch, Amazon’s Dash Buttons continue to bewilder.
The palm-sized, battery-powered buttons, announced last year just before April Fool’s Day, allow users to order goods from Amazon with one press. Each button bears the label of a specific brand like Huggies or Tide, and Amazon’s mobile app lets users choose the type and quantity of product that a button press brings.
|Are Branding Agencies Still Relevant?|
A couple years ago, I was interviewing for a job as digital design director at a (well-known) branding agency. After the usual pleasantries, we landed on the details of what the role would entail. To my dismay, the agency's interpretation of "digital" was simply putting a new logo onto website mockups at the tail end...
|How Apple Made the Watch Work for Wheelchair Users|
In America alone, there are more than 2.2 million people who depend upon wheelchairs to get around every day. But most wheelchair users aren't active. They're more sedentary, on average, than those who have full use of their legs—and are consequently at much greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Amazon is currently selling more than 1,000 different models...
|The Future of Branding is Debranding|
As digital media blunts the impact of advertising, brands are looking for new ways to lure consumers. The latest, buzziest effort has been to publish stories that look and feel journalistic. The key strategy of branded content or "native advertising" is to hide the commercial imperative, and even the brand altogether, so that readers think they're consuming a familiar newspaper...
|From Ikea, 7 Key Insights On The Future Of Home|
This month, Ikea released the annual Life at Home report. Now in its third year, the report helps Ikea develop new products, offering a tantalizing glimpse at designs that could shape the look and feel of our homes in the future.
To create the reports, Ikea conducts intensive research as it has done for years during the product development process.
|Apple UX Goes Full Dadcore|
I want to tell you about a magical place. A place where U2 albums download to every phone, and with a button press, you can turn any text message into a laser-filled Kiss concert. A place where there’s no pain and no suffering, because there is an "emoji button" that will translate a message into kid-speak for you.
|Brilliantly Mundane: 9 Ways Boring Brands Turned Ugh, Meh, and Bleh into Big Business|
Health insurance. Bras. Tax prep tools. Investment products. Chinos. These aren’t products that people are typically excited to talk about, let alone shop for. Yet these product categories have enjoyed a surge of youthful relevance, and a handful of "boring brands" are attracting loyal—and in some cases outright fanatical—consumers by designing shopping experiences that can actually border on pleasant.
|And The Brand Played On: How Yesterday's Tech Icons Live On Through Licensing Deals|
The owner of a new rainbow-emblazoned camera peers through its tiny viewfinder and pushes a shutter button. A few moments later, a photo emerges. As baby boomers might surmise, the camera carries the brand of Polaroid, the company at which this camera’s instant photo technology was developed. But this isn't 1974.
|Airbnb's Secret Tool for Designing for Every Person on the Planet|
Designing an app like Airbnb's might not seem very complex. A dozen screens, maybe more, maybe less. But that's just in English. Airbnb's app also has to support 20 languages, some of which are compact (such as Korean), and some of which are extremely wordy (such as German).
|The Internet's 10 'Ugliest' Websites|
Craigslist is one of the ugliest websites on the Internet. The home page is an indistinct wall of links and text, the site is tough to navigate, the postings are cluttered, and the design has barely changed in the past 15 years. At a time when websites are competing to offer the best digital experiences, Craigslist is the pinnacle of user unfriendliness. And that's exactly...
|Why the Sound of a Brand Name Matters|
The sound of a word like "knife" or "truck" seems totally arbitrary—it’s just a random sound we’ve assigned to a thing, right? But for several decades, scientists have found good evidence that the sound of words have meaning in a very real way. Sound can convey subtle information about traits such as size...
|IBM Looks to Watson to Fight Online Criminals and Filter the Flood of Security Data|
Worldwide spending on cybersecurity likely topped $75 billion last year, researchers at Gartner estimated, with companies more wary than ever of the risks posed by data breaches and other digital attacks.
And along with rising costs, the sheer volume of digital security data has also increased dramatically: IBM estimated in a recent study that the average organization sees more than 200,000 pieces of security event data...
|Silicon Valley's Star Design Firm Goes Analog and Builds a Lifestyle Brand|
The state of Alaska conjures up all kinds of associations. For some, it speaks to endless expanses of untrammeled wilderness; to others it's Sarah Palin territory. For the Huna Totem tribe—which is located in Juneau, the state's capital—it represents something deeper.
"From a spiritual perspective, Alaska means all of these direct, uninterrupted, personal sensory experiences," says Matt Rolandson, a partner at the design firm Ammunition. "The things you feel, the things you see, the things you smell..."
|How Netflix Exec Cindy Holland Spots A Hit Show|
As vice president for original content at Netflix, Cindy Holland oversees the streaming company's buzz-generating original shows and documentaries, a job she's had since 2011, when House of Cards went into production. (She's been at Netflix, however, since 2002.) Since then, the volume of Netflix's original programming has skyrocketed to more than one new show a week.
|Design in the Age of the App Icon|
Last night, I swiped my iPhone awake during a commercial. I had no particular destination in mind; it was an absent-minded liminal shift between two of the many screens that constantly, quietly invite me to interact. Without being even cognizant of what I was doing, I tapped the beach-y neon hue of the new Instagram icon.
This kind of user behavior is the goal. For Instagram’s design team...
|Facebook Search VP Totally Denies News Bias in “Trending” Story Selection|
The social media giant's VP of Search, Tom Stocky, posted this evening to more fully respond to a Gizmodo story charging that Facebook news curators routinely keep right-leaning political stories out of the news Trending Topics box. Here are the important bits:
"We . . . have found no evidence that the anonymous..."
|How Fisher-Price Sees the Future|
How does an old company imagine a new future? That was the question Fisher-Price wanted to answer when it approached our design consultancy Continuum recently. The 85-year-old children's product company noticed enormous shifts in the market, from ubiquitous data to inexpensive sensors, and wanted to write...
|Are Chatbots Really The Future Of Web Design?|
Adrian Zumbrunnen was terrified of what conversational interfaces meant for him as a UX designer. "The conversational interface is scary," he says. "Will I still have a place in this industry when pushing pixels around is no longer the thing that designers do?"
So Zumbrunnen decided to confront his fear head on. He redesigned his personal website so that it ran off a Quartz-style chatbot.
|How Do You Redesign The Simpsons?|
Why are the Simpsons yellow? According to Matt Groening, that unmistakable hue was chosen because it was unmistakable. "An animator came up with the Simpsons' yellow and as soon as she showed it to me, I said: 'This is the answer!’" the show’s creator once told the BBC."Because when you're flicking through..."
|Frog Creates The Most Charming Anti-iPad Game Ever|
A polar bear is sweating on a floating ice cap. The bear needs help, but tapping the screen—like a child might for any other iPad game—does nothing. So instead, she looks to her series of wooden toys. One senses temperature, another light. The child immediately begins to concoct a plan. She'll stick the temperature toy into the fridge. She'll stick the light toy under a pillow.
|Coca-Cola Unifies Its Brand Worldwide With New Design Language|
Last night in Mexico City, Coca-Cola revealed the final act in a year long "One Brand" unification strategy. It’s Coke’s new packaging. Now Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Life will share a single branded aesthetic around the world, unified by a red disc, and advertised together in a new wave of shared commercials. "When people see this new brand identity, they’ll know..."
|Google Built An App That Critiques Other Apps|
If you haven’t heard the term "inclusive design" yet, you will soon. It’s a simple idea: By designing to accommodate people with disabilities, we can make products that are better for everyone. Just look at the typewriter, originally invented to help a blind person write letters. The idea is old, but the movement is picking up speed as companies such as Microsoft are using it at the core of their design philosophy.
Now, in its own nod to the trend, Google has released an Android app called the Accessibility Scanner.
|This Moleskine Notebook Backs Up To Your iPad Instantly|
Creatives love sketching on paper, but ideas sketched on paper are stuck on paper. That is why Moleskine has spent the past few years attempting to builddigital backups into its iconic paper notebooks. With the new Smart Writing Set ($199), the company has finally created a seamless paper-to-digital user experience.
|The Evolution Of Apple's Advertising from Apple II to the Apple Watch|
If asked to describe Apple's advertising in four words, you could do much worse than fun, knowing, optimistic, and familiar. Looking back over its long history of commercials on the occasion of the company's 40th anniversary, these characteristics remain almost always intact.
|This Women's Clothing Brand Is Made For Professional Women Who Hate To Shop|
"I'm so sick of the stereotype that all women are shopping-obsessed," Sarah LaFleur, the 32-year-old cofounder of the workwear brand MM.LaFleur, tells Fast Company.
After college, LaFleur spent several years working in management consulting and private equity, where she needed a rotation of crisp, smart work clothes. But she had neither the time nor the inclination...
|Why A New Generation Of On-Demand Businesses Rejected The Uber Model|
When Miguel Zabludovsky opened his first laundry delivery service, Slate, in 2005, he pitched customers convenience: He would pick up their unsorted laundry (literally: he was both CEO and courier), and his subcontracted eco-friendly dry cleaners would clean it however they saw fit. Two years later, he opened his own laundry facility, which for several years cleaned dresses...
|Learning Larry Page's Alphabet|
"It’s kind of counterintuitive," Google cofounder Larry Page remarked a couple of years ago. "Normally in a business, you think about, ‘What’s the adjacent thing that I can do?’ But maybe you can actually do more projects that are less related to each other."
Back then, Page was explaining why his company—whose mission...
|Twitter Turns 10 Today: Here's How It's Celebrating|
It’s hard to believe, but the microblogging service Twitter turns 10 years old today. On March 21, 2006, the service officially went live with Jack Dorsey sending the first tweet ever, which read: "just setting up my twttr."
"On March 21, ten years ago, it began with a single Tweet. Since then, every moment of every day..."
|Nike's Self-Lacing Shoes Are Here, But They're Not What You Expect|
At its "Innovation for Everyone" event today in New York, Nike unveiled high-performance footwear and apparel for athletes, a fleet of items for consumers, and more features on its Nike+ app. But the one thing that had everyone—okay, mostly sneakerheads—salivating was the rumored public launch of the self-lacing high tops inspired by what Marty McFly wore in Back to the Future II.
|The Secret UX Issues That Will Make (Or Break) Self-Driving Cars|
We were rolling eastward across the San Mateo Bridge in an Audi A7 at a dutiful 55 miles per hour, and I was riding shotgun accompanied by two of the car's engineers. With a sticker price topping $70,000, the A7 is a fancy car, but not an uncommon one along the stock-option-paved highways of Silicon Valley. I looked around at the drivers around us, knowing they hadn't a clue...
|What Renaming A Failed Brand Taught This Design Organization|
Some of the most well-known brands in the world once had wildly different names: Google, for example, was once called BackRub. Nike was once known as Blue Ribbon Sports. But more often than not, a name change is the last-ditch Hail Mary...
|Apple Will Now Field Your Questions At Its Customer Service Twitter Account|
Apple has long shied away from Twitter. While the company has opened accounts for specific products like Apple Music and iTunes, Apple has opted not to have a main account (which explains the many confused queries directed at@Apple, an account that has never tweeted but boasts 37,400 followers). But on Thursday, Apple started the account @AppleSupport, which will field customer service inquiries and offer tips, tutorials, and other information.
|How A Designer's 3-Year-Old Daughter Is Humanizing Google|
Whether you use OK Google, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, you reach a point, sooner or later, when your voice assistant doesn't know what to do.
Sometimes, that's because you've phrased your command in an unexpected way: "Alexa, I could really go for some Van Halen right around now," instead of "Alexa, play Van Halen," for example. Other times, it's because you've asked the computer to do something it just doesn't have the capability to do. Either way, the user ends up going away thwarted, and the computer doesn't learn anything. For both user and computer, it's just a fail state, not a learning experience.
As design lead for all of Google's search...
|Hyatt Introduces A New Brand Of Anti-Hotel For The Airbnb Era|
Last January, I stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in the West Village. It had even been featured in a design magazine. But the posh chaise lounge and Philips Hue lighting was of little solace when I was shivering in my bed all night wearing three layers of clothing. Only later did I learn that to create the picturesque interior, the owner had ripped out the apartment’s only radiator.
Airbnb sells us on adventure, but there’s little promise of consistency. And that leaves an opportunity for a dependable travel brand like Hyatt...
|Apple Pay Leads Mobile Payments With 12 Million Monthly Users|
It’s been almost a year and a half since Apple debuted its Apple Pay mobile payments platform. The service was launched in October 2014 shortly after the release of the iPhone 6. It allows anyone with the device and a compatible debit or credit card account to make contactless payments simply by hovering...
|Facebook's Dislike Button Is Here, In The Form Of An 'Angry' Emoji|
On Wednesday, Facebook introduced the new avatar for its Like button, as Bloomberg reported last month. Reactions, as Facebook has dubbed the feature, will allow users to respond to posts with a set of six emojis representing "like," "love," "haha," "wow," "sad," and "angry."