Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Where Are We At With Recycling?


By: Dr. Andrew H. Dent

A quiet revolution is now occurring in the world of recycling that has been presaged for some time now but became significant at the start of this year. If we are lucky, it might produce a sea-change in the way we think about how we package our products.

Normally, both in the US and EU, various types of lower quality packaging and other waste was sold to China as a resource for different secondary uses, like the production of recycled products. In recent years, China has been taking about half the world’s paper and plastic recyclables, but as of January of this year, National Sword has banned 24 different types of solid waste. At current rates, the shipment of these types of resources to China are down a whopping 97%.

So, what does this mean? Well, it meddles with many of the recycling statistics which assumed that shipping waste to China, but it also affects many recycling businesses, with container ships of waste material essentially stranded without a place to unload, and most likely, vastly reduced revenues. Europe has not been spared either, as approximately 12% of its waste had also been making the same trip to Chinese ports.


But what initially seemed like a disaster for the recycling industry might just prove to be a real turning point. With the ongoing concerns throughout the world regarding the amount of waste being deposited into our oceans, it may be the push we need to get everyone moving in the right direction when it comes packaging.

On April 11, 2018, the Plastic Industry Association and 11 other partner associations delivered a request for the House to advance an infrastructure investment package to address the US need for better recycling efforts and innovation. High on the list is a request for improvements to be made in facilities so that they can sort waste more efficiently and selectively. Additionally, money is getting spent by many of the big players to improve materials, infrastructure, and education with companies such as Amazon, International Paper, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and others spending big to create a more circular economy when it comes to packaging.

European Union regulators declared a new policy agenda in late January of this year starting with the goal that all plastic packaging on the market will be recyclable or reusable by 2030. They’ve also declared war on single-use plastics such as straws, bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway containers as Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste annually, but less than 30% of it is recycled.


Interestingly enough, Chinese companies are starting recycling facilities in America, seeing the potential for a greater amount of specialized recycling within the continental US. Ecomelida Inc., the United States subsidiary of China-based Zhangzhou Sanlida Environmental Technology Corp., intends to locate its first facility handling marketable paper and plastic scrap separated from beverage cartons, aseptic packaging and paper mill pulp byproducts in South Carolina. The recycled plastics extracted, largely polyethylene (PE), will be used in foam, cast plastic parts, and other products.

The actual recycling itself is getting more efficient too with chemical recycling of plastics creating virgin sources by companies such as Perpetual in the US and the DEMETO consortium in the EU. Additionally, improved sorting of paper-based products such as gable tops (the Tropicana type poly-coated paper cartons) is progressing as well. Waste Management, Tropicana Products, Dean Foods and select carton manufacturers have launched a program in which residents can discard these containers in regular recycling bins at no additional charge. Started in Florida, this program has been expanded to communities across the US.


This combined effort that springs from concerns about our oceans as well as the bottom line for recyclers will precipitate a new approach to the treatment of our packaging and waste in general, forcing governments, brands, designers and even consumers to bring about a real change in the way we value these materials.


Dr. Andrew H. Dent

Dr. Andrew Dent is Executive Vice President of Research at Material ConneXion, and Chief Material Scientist at SANDOW. He plays a key role in the expansion of Material ConneXion’s technical knowledge base. His research directs the implementation of consulting projects and the selection of innovative, sustainable and advanced materials to Material ConneXion’s library, which currently houses over 8,000 material samples.

Dr. Dent received his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Cambridge in England. Prior to joining Material ConneXion, Dr. Dent held a number of research positions both in industry and academia. At Rolls Royce PLC, Dr. Dent specialized in turbine blades for the present generation of jet engines. He has completed postdoctoral research at Cambridge University and at the Center for Thermal Spray Research, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY. Other research projects, during this period, included work for the US Navy, DARPA, NASA, and the British Ministry of Defense.

Since joining Material Connexion, Dr. Dent has helped hundreds of clients—from Whirlpool and Adidas to BMW and Procter & Gamble—develop or improve their products through the use of innovative materials. A leading expert on sustainable materials, his insight has played an important part in creating a new generation of more sustainable products.

He is a frequent speaker on sustainable and innovative material strategies, having given two TED talks at TEDx Grand Rapids and TEDNYC, and is the co-author of the Material Innovation book series. Dr. Dent has also contributed to numerous publications on the subject of material science, including Business Week, Fast Company and the Financial Times.

This article originally appeared in Dieline.

National Geographic Redesigns Print Edition


National Geographic‘s May issue marks the unveiling of its most significant redesign in nearly two decades, increasing the quality of its paper stock, introducing a new front-of-book section, and creating additional room for the photography and visual storytelling that are at the core of the brand. The iconic yellow border is retained and referenced. “The new National Geographic delivers the same sense of wonder readers expect but with a bolder, more provocative, more captivating eye,” said editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg.



To develop the new design and the strategy around it, Goldberg, along with Emmet Smith, creative director for the magazine, teamed with Godfrey Dadich Partners who helped conceive the look  and feel of the new features, as well as a pair of new typefaces that debut with the redesign. “This next evolution of National Geographic brings to bear the full set of tools available to the contemporary magazine,” adds Smith. “It allows us to more fully showcase the spectacular work of our photographers, reporters, and artists — and, in turn, provide an even better magazine for our readers.”


The design firm grew out of a project to redesign WIRED magazine when Scott Dadich was editor and asked Patrick Godfrey headed his own studio. “It was an honor for us to collaborate on such an iconic brand – to dive into a 130-year history of cartography, photography, typefaces, and journalism, then design a new kind of magazine for today,” comments Dadich. “Redesigning the magazine enhances its ability to deepen people’s understanding of the world and their role in it.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Pentagram rebrands Battersea dogs and cats home to visualize “personality over sentiment”


Pentagram has rebranded London’s dogs and cats charity Battersea, introducing a “family” of watercolour illustrated characters as its icons. Led by partners Marina Willer and Naresh Ramchandani, the rebrand of the renowned charity includes it dropping the “dogs and cats home” from its name, and introducing a tagline “Here for every dog and cat”. The identity intends to visualise the charity’s commitment to unconditionally care for all the animals that come through its doors.

The rebrand retains Battersea’s signature blue colour, used across abstract illustrations to represent a variety of dogs and cats, and subtly communicate the charity’s story. The illustrations are pared back and devoid of facial features, while remaining expressive and showing individuality. “They appeal to people’s compassion and humanity, without victimising or stigmatising the animals,” Pentagram explains. The sharp wordmark aims to balance the aesthetic of these hand-drawn images, employing the typeface Franklin Gothic, which Pentagram says “injects an element of authority” to the identity.

The thinking behind removing “dogs and cats home” from the name stems from the word “home” implying a permanent dwelling for the animals, when in fact the intention of the charity is to re-home them with families. Pentagram also says it wrongly implies the charity operates in just one location, as opposed to its three sites.

Pentagram worked with Battersea to develop the brand strategy, tone of voice and visual identity to present the charity “as both a compassionate caregiver and a leading authority in animal welfare, creating a brand that strikes a balance between warmth and expertise,” the design studio states. Its approach was to “strike out against” negative connotations used by the charity sector such as “shock tactics, well-worn tropes, and euphemistic and overly-sentimental language,” preferring a honest and straightforward image. This includes a suite of portrait photography that “puts personality over sentiment”, showing the eclectic creatures that can be found in its homes.

The branding was also designed to be flexible, to adapt to various campaigns and fundraising initiatives, for example Muddy Dog. For this campaign, the identity is given a “playful spin” using a hand-drawn typeface “Battersea Paws” and tongue-in-cheek headlines.

Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand

Coca-Cola Packaging To Sing a Different Tune


This summer, Coca-Cola will again try to teach the world to sing — this time with a little help from its bottles and cans. In a new phase of its “Share a Coke” campaign, the cola giant will put song lyrics pulled from more than 70 popular songs on packaging. Lyrics cover a range of music, from rock ‘n’ roll classics like Queen’s “We are the Champions” to patriotic songs such as “Proud to Be An American” by Lee Greenwood. Coke will also include lyrics from some of its iconic campaigns, such as I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke.


The campaign, called “Share a Coke and a Song,” will be supported by music-themed spots, social media and a summer-long experiential tour. The campaign will encompass Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life, advancing a new one-brand strategy that unites multiple varieties together in the same marketing.


Agencies on the campaign include Wieden+Kennedy, Portland for creative; Universal McCann for media;Arc Worldwide for shopper marketing; Cornerstone for music; Fast Horse for PR and FortyFour and Irban Group for e-commerce. Coke plans to extend its campaign to mobile by encouraging consumers to use the Shazam app to scan specially marked 20-ounce bottles and in-store signage. That will allow users to record a 15-second digital lip-sync video that can be shared on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke, according to the brand.


This post was originally viewed on gdusa.

Creative Thinking Skills

Creative thinking skills use very different approaches to critical thinking skills. They involve a much more relaxed, open, playful approach. This can require some risk-taking. Creative thinking skills involve such approaches as:

  • Looking for many possible answers rather than one.
  • Allowing yourself to make wild and crazy suggestions as well as those that seem sensible.
  • Not judging ideas early in the process – treat all ideas as if they may contain the seeds of something potentially useful.
  • Allowing yourself to doodle, daydream or play with a theory or suggestion.
  • Being aware that these approaches necessarily involve making lots of suggestions that are unworkable and may sound silly.
  • Making mistakes.
  • Learning from what has not worked as well as what did.

In this section, you can learn more about the processes and what creative thinking really involves:

A state of mind

Creative thinking skills are as much about attitude and self-confidence as about talent. Creativity is often less ordered, structured and predictable. As you are not looking for ‘one’ answer, you are likely to come up with lots of suggestions that are not ‘right’. This can be difficult if you are more used to analytical and logical approaches. It can also be experienced as ‘risky’ as the prospect of making a mistake or not coming up with an answer is more likely.

Creativity and emotions

Strong emotional self-management is often needed in order to allow creative thinking states to emerge. It is important to be able to cope with risk, confusion, disorder and feeling that you are not progressing quickly.

Creative thinking techniques

There is no limit to ways there are of thinking creatively. Some techniques you can begin with are:

  • Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper: don’t edit these. Just write them down.
  • Allowing yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walk.
  • Draw or paint a theory on paper.
  • Ask the same question at least twenty times and give a different answer each time.
  • Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more.
  • Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college.
  • Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to.
  • Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits.
  • Ask questions such as ‘what if….?’ Or ‘supposing….?’.

Combine analytical and creative thinking skills

Many important breakthroughs in science and innovation have resulted from:

  • Focusing on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions.
  • Daydreaming or distracting the mind, but holding the same problem lightly ‘at the back of the mind’.
  • The answer has often emerged on dreams or daydreams when the innovator was not trying so hard to find the answer. However, the daydream on its own did not achieve anything.

Keep an ideas book

Inspiration can strike at any time. Ideas can also slip away very easily. Keep a small notebook to hand so you can jot down your ideas straight away.

This content has been written by Stella Cottrell, author of Critical Thinking Skills and The Study Skills Handbook.

Ten Things You Should Do Now To Get More Clients

I get tired of fielding questions around how to get more clients, so I’ve decided to write an article on things you need to do right now before going online and asking, “Help. How do I get more clients?”

Before you go hire a business coach or sales person, enroll in an online course, follow a get rich quick scheme, do this first. Warning, this is a long list of things to do. No easy answers, no quick fixes, but the bare minimum of what you need to do before looking for more help. Remember, people hire who they know, who they like and who they trust. So time to get known.

1. Build a website. State what you do clearly, then back it up with great examples. Show me. Don’t tell me. Make sure the site is responsive, avoid anything that will slow down or impair the ability for someone to navigate your site. This includes: Cinemagraphs, parallax effects, tricky animation or unconventional interfaces. A simple hamburger menu with the following will work: work, about, contact. Use a legible and neutral typeface. Limit the number of colors you use. Have a simple logo. If you don’t have one, just typeset your name in Helvetica Bold using upper/lower case. Make your site SEO friendly. Name the images on your site with descriptive names. “Untitled” or “Final_final_03” doesn’t count as being descriptive. Instead, try “Los-Angles-Design-Branding-Anime-Expo”. Basically, help Google classify the images so that if someone is searching for you, they can find you.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile. Start with having a professionally shot photo. Keep it simple (white, grey or black backdrop). It’s worth the investment since you’ll be able to use this elsewhere. Ask yourself, would I hire me based on this photo? Would I dive deeper into this persons’ profile? Do they appear professional, credible and friendly? Is this someone I can trust with my money? Is this someone I can see myself being around for a long period of time?

Write a captivating headline instead of a job title. Focus on a user/customer benefit vs describing what you do. What do you do for them? An example could be “I help small brands look like big brands.”

Update your education, work history, awards and accolades. Get a few, well written, but sincere testimonials.

3. Get on Behance. Have 3-5 in-depth case studies of outstanding work. Make sure they’re labeled and tagged appropriately to make sure others can find you. Keep the photography or mock-ups simple to make your work shine. Where appropriate, document the creative process. Put the time and energy into designing every component so that it looks as attractive (and expensive) as possible. Look at your work through the lens of a prospective client. Would this excite them? Could they envision working with you through the work that you presented? Is the thinking clear? Are you focused on craftsmanship and detail? Is your typography excellent?

Not sure about the impact of Behance on your sales leads? Watch this video with Farm Design Founder Aaron Atchison.

4. Ask for referrals. Reach out to current and past clients and ask them for a referral. Tell them that you’re growing your business and have additional capacity to take on more work, that you’d appreciate any referrals or recommendations to anyone that could use your services. If they know someone, offer to contact them directly vs. leaving it in their hands to follow through. People are busy after all and you don’t want to add any additional work on their plate.

Why would you say this? One, it’s fun to share exciting news. Two, they won’t worry about sharing you since you are growing your team. Some clients actually do worry that you won’t be available any more, or that you’ll become more expensive as a result. You can address by saying that, “Yes, our rates are going up, but I appreciate your business and loyalty. I will do my best to work within your budget moving forward and will give you preferential pricing.” Lastly, people don’t always think to refer you. It’s just not top of mind. So if you want something, you have to be willing to ask for it.

5. It’s old fashioned, but have a business card and use as a tool to engage with others. Keep it simple and tasteful. Make sure you say what you do and that your contact info is legible. Other than that, avoid using additional photography, illustration of artwork on your card. It’s a name card and not a billboard. Use 1-2 typefaces (max). When you are at social functions and have an opportunity to meet a prospective client, don’t give them your card. Instead, ask for theirs. Say, “I’d love to follow up with you after this event. Do you have a card?” When they give your their card, hand them yours.

It’s more important to get their contact info than to give them yours. This way, you can follow up vs. waiting by the phone or inbox for them to reach out. The next business day, follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Add a short note reminding them of who you are. Keep it short and simple. Close the note by inviting further dialogue if there’s interest. You could close with something like, “If you would like to continue our dialogue about rebranding your company, I would love to help. Please let me know.”

6. Join communities and organizations. Be active in both social groups (Facebook and LinkedIn) and trade organizations. Chances are, there’s a professional organization within a few miles of where you are located (AIGARGD (In Canada), Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Meet up groups, etc…). Build relationship with people without trying to sell. Find out more about who they are, goals and challenges. The people that you form a genuine relationship will become your best resource for leads, people and resources. This is a long term activity that will not appear to be helpful or productive in the short term. If it’s online, post relevant articles. If it’s in person, volunteer to help. You can do simple things like set-up or clean up an event. You can help find speakers or be one yourself. Whatever you do, make an investment in the community to which you belong.

Here are some others you can join: Futur NetworkFutur Feedback/CritFutur Pro Members($75/mo.).

7. Invest in a good interchangeable lens camera (ILC or DSLR) and start taking pictures. Take photos of everything you do, places you go and things you see. Why buy a camera? One, your eye will become much more aware of composition, color and lighting. Two, you’ll learn a new skill. Three, you’ll be motivated to visit new places and do exciting things. Four, you’ll start to learn the value of having beautiful photography and how powerful a single image can be. Five, your social media posts will look much more interesting. I’ve had good results with the Panasonic Lumix cameras Gh4, Canon 5d Mk III (or even their entry level Rebel line), Sony A7s and Sony A 6500.

8. Read these 10 books:

9. Subscribe/listen to these 10 podcasts:

10. Watch these 10 videos:

Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far. If you’re thinking to yourself, yeah, I’m doing all of this and I have a ton of leads but am having trouble closing prospects. Or, if you struggle with overcoming objections or pricing work, you might want to consider the new Business Bootcamp we just launched. Click here for the details.

Finally, find a mentor and offer to work for free (for a period of time). Apply your skillset to help someone you admire. Reach out to them and offer to help them with something specific that taps into your strengths. Getting access to someone that you really look up to can change the way you think, but it can also open doors for future opportunities. You never know where this will lead.

This article originally appeared on Futur’s Website. You can hear more from Furtur’s Chris Do at the VMA Design Conference on June 15th in San Francisco. Join us.

Apple proposes new emojis to represent people with disabilities

Apple has requested the addition of 13 inclusive emojis, including prosthetic limbs, guide dogs and a hearing aid, to better represent people with disabilities.
The company submitted the series of emojis on 23 March to the Unicode Consortium, the organisation that reviews requests for new emoji characters.If approved by the Unicode Consortium the new characters will be included in the Emoji 12.0 update in 2019, according to Emojipedia.

Apple proposes new emojis to represent people with disabilities
This emoji represents the “deaf sign” in sign language

Designed to create an “inclusive experience” for its users, Apple has designed symbols depicting wheelchair-users, and visually impaired people using support canes.

Other planned icons include two different types of guide dog, a prosthetic arm and leg, and an ear with a hearing aid.

A prosthetic arm and leg are included in the proposal from Apple

The company worked with international organisations such as the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf to develop the designs.

“One in seven people around the world has some form of disability,” said Apple in the submission.

“The current selection of emoji provides a wide array of representations of people, activities, and objects meaningful to the general public, but very few speak to the life experiences of those with disabilities.”

“At Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs. Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability,” it added.

A guide dog with a harness is one of the 13 new emojis proposed by Apple

The firm believes that these new icons will provide more options to represent people with disabilities, but states that the emojis are not meant as a comprehensive list.

“Every individual’s experience with their disability is unique and, therefore, the representations have unlimited possibilities. It would be impossible to cover every possible use case with a limited set of characters,” Apple explained.

Apple proposes new emojis to represent people with disabilities
Apple proposes adding two types of emoji wheelchair

Unicode, whose other members include the likes of FacebookMicrosoft and Netflix, decides what emojis should be used and what they should represent, with members deciding what the design looks like on each of their operating systems.

Apple’s last update, in July 2017, saw the company release 52 new icons, including a zombie, sandwich, elf and a woman wearing a headscarf.

Images courtesy of Apple and Unicode Consortium.This article originally appeared in Dezeen.

Seems like there is lots of discussion about emojis these days. Come to the VMA Design Conference on June 15 in San Francisco for even more!

How I transitioned from a graphic designer to front-end developer in 5 months

👉 中文版連結 (Chinese Version)

2017 was a bumpy yet exciting year for me. I left my graphic designer job in March, and entered the maze of the coding world. Five months later, I finally got a job as a front-end developer at Tenten.co.

Having been a full-time front-end developer for six months, I’d like to share my story of why and how I pivoted my life path. This is for those who might be as helpless but ambitious as I am.

To be clear, this post is not written from the perspective of a seasoned developer or designer who’s able to illustrate a clear road map to follow. Neither is it a crash course for learning front-end development. There are lots of great tutorials on this topic, and I will list some later in the article.

Remember, the perfect (universal) path for all individuals does not exist.

My Background

My Behance page

I was a 24 year old graphic designer with no experience related to coding at all. In my school days, my exam scores of math, physics, chemistry and science were horribly low. These subjects scared me with dull and complex formulas, numbers, and errors. Things that interested me back then were always the beauty created by paint, music, or words. Naturally, I chose English as my major, and got fascinated by literature, culture, photography and design in college.

How I learned how to design in college by myself and finally became a graphic designer after graduation is story for another day. The point is, throughout my entire life until last year, I’d dreamed of being a writer, photographer, film critic, singer and designer, but I never thought of being a developer under any circumstances.

Why I Wanted to Code

For me, graphic design serves the purpose of solving a problem with attractive visual forms supported by invisible systems or structures.

As the world is facing so many critical issues, I believe that problem-solving design thinking can and should help deal with some of these issues. Of course I was only trying to layout something beautiful the first time I opened Photoshop. Yet, the more I learned about design, the more I craved to engage in critical issues with graphic design.

But, after many endeavors to achieve my ambition, I was deeply disappointed at the impact that graphic design could make in Taiwan (or maybe the whole world?).

Design & Thinking Official Trailer by Muris Media. The documentary tells the power of design thinking.

There’s no doubt that I’m still aware of the power and importance of great design. But most of the time, designers are only allowed to deal with the “client’s problem,” instead of tackling “real problems client have.” Designers spend most of the time guessing their client’s wishes with no profound data and analysis, but only intuition, experience, or common sense.

I got tired of this game two years into my graphic design career.

That’s when I decided to take a serious look at the always trending front-end development topic on Medium.


Design in Tech Report in 2017 by John Maeda. This report taught me the potential impact a computational designer could make could be way more than a classic one.

I found that being a developer with design skills allowed you to have way more control and authority over each case and client. Besides, working on web development or applications allows you to efficiently propagate information.

I left my graphic design job at the end of February. With no elaborate plan and limited saving in the bank, I started my journey of transforming into a front-end developer.

What to Do

Taking the first step is always hard. But if you recognize what the reason propelling you is, things get simpler. For example, if your purpose of becoming a developer is getting paid better ASAP, then you should learn the hot stuff in the market.

In my case, because I realized that my current goal was to earn the power to combine design with development skills, I focused on showcasing both abilities.

So, I set a goal, and made a list of required tasks with my shallow understanding of front-end development:

List of skills I wanted to learn and the rough plan I sketched on paper

1. Goal

Get a front-end developer job

2. How to achieve the goal

Build my portfolio site for showcasing my ability

3. Tasks to do

  • Learn HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript
  • Design portfolio site
  • Portfolio works preparation

I assigned only these tasks for myself at first. But as I read more articles, tutorials, or job requirements, I put these skills on the list along the way:

  • Sass
  • Gulp
  • CS50
  • Basic Unix
  • Basic WordPress
  • Jekyll
  • Basic AWS knowledge
  • Basic networking knowledge

Note: To be sure, the exploding information on web bombed me with more things to learn. In the five months, I had once put Node.js, React.js, PHP and more on the list. The tasks above were the ones that I actually completed in the end.

My Toggl report from March to July in 2017

To follow the plan, I set a 48hr/week working goal for myself. It meant I had to work eight hours a day with only one day off in a week. Toggl helped me keep track of my performance.

Asana for schedule

Also, I took a long-term goal -> monthly goal -> weekly agenda -> daily agendamethod to make my learning schedule, and Asana was my best assistant on managing these tasks.

Where to Learn

I tried to learn from many platforms, tutorials, or articles along the way. Here’s the list of the resources and my thoughts to each of them:

Learning Platforms

Back then, I hated the tutorials that showed me lines of codes I didn’t have any idea what to do with. Some assumed that I knew every bit of it, or they told me to ignore it for now. Please, I genuinely didn’t understand even a line of the code on the screen, because I was a TOTAL BEGINNER.

Those kinds of lectures pained me, and made me looked down on myself. Generally, there’s no perfect platform to learn everything. I tried to be as flexible as I could, jumping between each of them.

  • Codecademy — Lots of people recommended it, but I was pretty frustrated by its tutorials back then. I always stuck in practice without any clues.
  • Code School — I spent lots of time here, because the teachers explain the whys clearly. Recommended.
  • Treehouse — The one with the most ads on Youtube! Treehouse has done a great job on marketing, which works (at least for me as a lost beginner back then). It covers so many topics, some of which were really useful for me. For example, it’s hard to find a decent tutorial of WordPress for front-end developer students out there, but Treehouse has one.
  • freeCodeCamp — Huge love for freeCodeCamp! This community has a clear path for beginners to follow, and it knows when to take the training wheels away from student. I was once anxious about what to do next after learning basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but freeCodeCamp put small projects on the right spots in the learning track. The community also shares great posts on Medium and by emails. Highly recommended!
My bookmarks of learning platforms in Safari

Youtube Channel

This is the best place to learn for free or for fun. Youtube videos are not only great for learning certain topics thoroughly from playlists, but are also handy for having a taste of some interesting knowledge.

  • The Coding Train — Hosted by NYU’s ITP professor Daniel Shiffman, who is the most vigorous teacher I’ve ever seen, the channel provides easy-to-follow videos.
  • thenewboston— Covers almost any topics I can think of. The host, Bucky, has the power of making intimidating things sounds easy.
  • Academind — Also provides all kinds of tutorials. Easy to follow. Recommended.
  • Fun Fun Function — The host Mattias Petter Johansson is a developer who had previously worked at Spotify and Blackberry. His channel is a nice place to learn JavaScript in an easy way.
  • Linux Academy — I learned some basic knowledge of AWS here. Liked it!
  • Computerphile — The videos here are all about computer stuff. Interesting to know, but I’ll probably never truly understand what they’re talking about.
  • Eli the Computer Guy — I learned knowledge about networking or servers here.
  • mycodeschool — My best friend while I took CS50. It explains computer science stuff clearly. Loved it.
Coding Train Channel

Articles to read

Readings are a perfect medium for topics of life paths or inspiration for me. I was pumped by great articles when frustrated so many times in the five months. Here’re some of my best life guides:

These articles gave me strength whenever I felt stuck

Other Useful Resources

  • JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Parts — Great Udemy course that clarify so many confusing parts of JavaScript for me. Highly recommended.
  • CS50 at Harvard — I knew Computer Science knowledge was not a must-have knowledge for applying to junior front-end developer job, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to take this course because it looked so interesting! It was worth my precious time in retrospect.
  • NYMY — Episode 1 — Pieter Levels — NYMY is a podcast show hosted by talented designer Tobias van Schneider. He interviewed the maker of NomadList Pieter Levels in this episode. I listened to Pieter’s story several times when I was down. This one hour show introduced me to the infinite possibilities of being a coder/designer.


NTMY Show — One of my favorite podcast episodes ever!

How to Get a Job

After about 4 months of non-stop coding and designing, I finally knew a little about the front end. I had also completed almost 80% of my portfolio site. At the same time, my remaining savings were only enough for me to live on for another couple of months.

It was time to look for a new job.

Unfortunately, I had barely any choices at all. Not many companies wanted a man with no relative development experience/background, and even fewer appreciated the value of my graphic design abilities. It was also sad to have fewer than five job opportunities that were possibly a fit for me. On the bright side, the situation forced me to focus on these precious chances.

🔥Tenten.co 🔥

I had been watching the design agency Tenten for at least three years. It is the one and only agency that’s able to harness design, digital development, and innovation at the same time in Taiwan. I’ve had them on my “please hire me” list for a long time, and I believed Tenten was the only company here that would be sold on my multi-disciplinary skills as well.

In the last two months of my journey, I learned as much as I could about Tenten’s junior front-end developer position. Meanwhile, I completed my personal site. When the time was ripe, I applied for the position. As backup plans, I sent my resume and portfolio to other five companies as well. And I waited.

And finally…

In Retrospect

Looking back, I still wouldn’t say that transforming myself from a designer to a developer was easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, either. The hardest part of the process was never understanding or writing the code, but having the powerful motivation that drives you forward.

Congratulations if you’ve found this motivation. If you haven’t, give it more try before you quit. If you never try, you’ll never know.

The most important lesson I learned along the way was to start doing something ASAP. I know it’s terrifying to take the first step of actually building something, but it’s the only way to truly learn something. Remember, you have nothing to lose anyway.

The days and hardships after formally becoming a developer are another story.

I’m so glad to have been a front-end developer at Tenten for 6 months now. The journey of learning never ends!

This article appeared previously on Medium.

Claudio Guglieri, Microsoft: « Our job is to design the products we wanted to have as kids »

A few months ago, Claudio Guglieri, Design Director at Microsoft, started an experiment. For a couple of weeks, he measured his daily screen consumption through the Moment app, tracking his continuous interaction with his phone and computer. The results left him amazed, and quite scared. He was using digital screens way more than the average american, and in fact, those devices were so entrenched in his daily life that they started to feel like “digital homes”. As a long-time and accomplished designer, he quickly realized the implications of this new way of life for his work and that of his peers, building and constantly improving such products. With this in mind, he developed a critical thinking on what it means to be a designer today, or as he calls it, a “home-builder”.

KMF met him at the KIKK Festival where he was closing the event with his talk, “Home”. He then explained to us his views on the future of interfaces and interactions.

KMF : Hello Claudio. Can you introduce me to your “Home” talk?


Claudio : Home is a talk about our relationship with digital interfaces. These days, many of dimensions of our lives are dominated by a screen. And we don’t realize it. You work with a screen, you talk to your friends using a messaging app, you watch movies or play videos games, again, using a screen. It gets us to a point where we work, communicate, relax, learn about the world and learn new skills with screens. Today, if I want to cook something, I don’t go to my friends anymore saying “what was that thing you cooked last time?” No, I just go online. It’s easier. But many of those things, not that long ago, we wouldn’t need a screen for it. We expanded ourselves in different ways, now everything is screen-dominated. The point of my talk is to dig deeper in that relationship and understand the factors that, as product designers, we can do in our apps to make sure users “feel at home”.


Why is it so important?


I can clearly see how the products and games that I used back when I was a kid have shaped who I am today. I learned team spirit playing at Starcraft, creativity with Photoshop. Now that the barrier of creation is so low, it is our job as designers to create the products we wanted to have as kids, and to inspire the next generation of creators. What product designers are doing right now is building spaces where users are spending most of their time, their “digital homes”. This is different from designing for marketing sites that serve one purpose (ie. promoting a product, spreading a message) which I have been doing for a long time. Drawing on the “Home” analogy, those sites are like hotels, where all that matters is the unforgettable experience customers are having. Take the chocolate on the pillow, this is brilliant but we wouldn’t want that in our homes everyday. Talking about design, it means creating an user-experience that is not filled with striking animations and effects, but rather based on the 3 UX pivots : repetition, evolution and ownership.


Could you tell me more about those 3 key factors?


When I used the app Moment, I realized I was looking at my phone more than 50 times a day. That’s less than my coworker, who was using it 72 times! So we have to think about repetition when we make design decisions. This applies also to the evolution of the products. Christina Wodkte said: “users hate change that doesn’t make their life better, but makes them have to relearn everything they knew.” Take two examples: one is the Dvorak keyboard – an alternative keyboard layout that was never adopted because the constraints were higher than the benefits – and the other is Google search – it hasn’t changed for ten years, yet there the system is constantly improving. Finally ownership is how to balance the users needs and the business objectives and to create a perception of control for users, to satisfy them.


Talking about that, there has been a lot of discussion on our addiction to screens and the part designers play in that situation. What is your take on that?


I address this question in my talk. There is this book from Adam Alter, Irresistible. It tells us that addiction isn’t always tightened to substance abuse, but can also come from our growing consumption of devices. That’s not a new idea. I had friends when I was young who were addicted to video games. It always existed. Now that it’s so present in our lives, we’ll just be more aware of the consequences.

But let me be honest, it is our job. Every single product that you see out there has what is called a habit loop. When you’re using Facebook, you keep scrolling, commenting, sharing, then someone is seeing it, liking it, and so on… They are building a loop that keeps you hooked (see book « Hooked: How to build habit forming products » by Nir Eyal). Same thing for Instagram, every single app. Are we concerned about these habit loops being healthy? What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? I look at my phone. Is that really healthy? What are the consequences of that?

I could argue that attention deficit disorder we have right now is due to the large amount of information available and forced to us everyday. But we don’t digest information anymore, we scan it! Who reads an article online? You need to be really willing to read an article to finish it. It’s not healthy to look at your watch or your phone so many times a day. As designer, we should ask ourselves: “how can we give you what you might need yet keep you healthy?” It goes by keeping you engaged with people around you. Making sure we put our users upfront. We design for their own good, not for our metrics and engagement return.


Especially if, as you said, we are becoming more and more intimate with our digital products. What potential risks do you see in this ever close relationship?


The risk is not be able to have conversation with people face-to-face. Not only to relate with them, but to empathize with them. Now, we are so used to digest violence that I think being exposed to it so much is making us less empathetic,, less able to relate to other people’s pain. We’re growing used to getting a little bit insensitive in that sense. The risk is that.


The lack of empathy, isn’t it what is trying to tackle Virtual and Augmented Reality? How do you feel about those new technologies?


You’re touching a really interesting point. Right now Augmented Reality is still a concept, it’s beautiful but it hasn’t reached a critical mass or users. iOS just released its ARkit, it’s becoming a thing and an easy first step towards the augmented reality world. I’m excited about that. In my new work (note: as part of the Fluent Design team at Microsoft), we are taking care of the next visual language of Windows 10. Fluent Design means we have to make sure there’s a consistent language you can translate across devices, from your phone to your augmented reality headset. How can we actually have a solid foundation for developers to develop their own app in our ecosystem?

From a design perspective, AR is opening another dimension, we won’t be limited by a screen. But we still need to understand the human behaviour. We already have a base in industrial design, now it’s how we can apply what we know from how things are used to what we know of those technologies. It’s super interesting.


What do you think would be the most effective applications for those technologies?


It’s hard to say. IKEA released this AR feature to see your own furniture at home. It’s not going to change the world but it’s an obvious use of it. The question is: “what apps that we use would make more sense on a AR mindset?” The first thing that came out when AR came out was lots of ruler apps. Now with your phone you can measure everything and it feels so natural. I have seen experiments of being able to tag locations – something that Yelp did a while ago – but suddenly on my phone I will see a tiny overlay that says “this restaurant is pretty good, you might like it”. Or even being able to identify people. If I want to get your contact, you have to tell me your phone number, name and personal info. With AR, you might just capture someone’s face and suddenly have all the information. It’s a frictionless access to reality.


Most of the current applications are commercial ones. In a Medium post, you said that Augmented Reality “will soon affect the design of private and public spaces as we know them” and take us to a “clutter free world.” Do you think it could help us in some way regain some control over our environment?


We can only guess. In a perfect world, yes. For example, think about Times Square in New York. It has become a landmark for advertising. That wasn’t originally intended but it is now part of the culture of the city. But cities are a place where we are meant to coexist and to relate to each other instead of being free-roaming places to see advertising. So AR can also lead us to a Blade Runner-like world. Look at this Hyper Realityvideo. There is this fear that all the knowledge that Facebook or Google have about us is going to become exposed. It could be really freaky.


This leads us to the debate on privacy. How do you see this notion evolving today?


I think we are already giving up on privacy. It feels like today people are not that concerned about privacy, they would rather choose convenience. We post things on Instagram, we share our locations everywhere, and I don’t think people are concerned about privacy that much, which feels wrong and it might have a backlash at some point.


What do you think about privacy by design?


Is it our duty as designers to make sure people don’t forget about the value of privacy? Yeah, I think so. Let’s say, Terms and Conditions. Who reads that? It’s meant not to be read. Ideally, we would be able to sell innovation and being honest with people. Right now, it does feel sometimes that we’re doing things for the sake of things, fascinated by the aspects of it. I think it’s part of the human nature, we just think about the right-now, not the future.


Talking about the future, what are your next projects coming up?


I joined Microsoft two years ago and I am very excited by my work on Fluent Design. There is a change of mindset brought by Satya Nadella, to empower people to do more, whatever it is and whatever devices they are using. I think that Microsoft is shifting towards creativity as the new productivity. The Gen-Z are super creative, they want to express themselves. And our job is to help them.

From a personal perspective, I am continuing the research I have been doing with Home, probably evolving that into something more tangible like a book.