Hello, I'm Harlan Lewis.

I'm a web & mobile product designer in San Francisco.

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On designers as technologists, milkshake marketing, design craftsmanship as salesmanship, grief, NY Times redesigns, serif readability, distraction, and the rest of the world.

Making the Transition from Development to Design — My Experience and Advice

Software design is going to be changing a lot in the next 5 years, and those changes are going to greatly benefit people with development and design skills. I think the future designer is going to look and act a lot more like a design technologist.

… When you are creating wireframes, you are implying code that needs to be written. When you are coding, you are actualizing user experiences. To mentally separate each process is the first step towards viewing the creation of software as an assembly-line process. We have a lot of horrendous software due to that line of thinking.

P.J. Onori

Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing

The problem is that consumers usually don’t go about their shopping by conforming to particular segments. Rather, they take life as it comes. And when faced with a job that needs doing, they essentially hire a product to do that job.

… The milkshake was hired in lieu of a bagel or doughnut because it was relatively tidy and appetite-quenching, and because trying to suck a thick liquid through a thin straw gave customers something to do with their boring commute. Understanding the job to be done, the company could then respond by creating a morning milkshake that was even thicker (to last through a long commute) and more interesting (with chunks of fruit) than its predecessor.

Carmen Nobel

Hope To Better The Person

In the second segment, Eames becomes marvelous. He shows the viewer that those who make this product are craftsmen. That their process is beautiful too, full of skill and care. Then Eames brings the viewer into the system, implicitly encouraging you to be a craftsman as well, hoping that you will complete the chain. … Through honest and beautiful prose, it’s as if he has shown you a better version of yourself and then hands you the device to do it.

Brandon Leedy

The Colors of Grief

Alex Charchar’s essay cannot be adequately quoted. Beautiful and powerful. It was originally written for Issue #2 of The Manual, itself a work of art.


For The New York Times, redesigns happen in print, too

It’s part of a larger, subtle print redesign for the Times’ features pages, with newly designed sections being rolled out each day from now until Sunday. The sections were created in the 1970s under Abe Rosenthal and haven’t undergone a full redesign since then.

Adrienne LaFrance

The Serif Readability Myth

Lund undertakes an exceptionally detailed and critical review of 28 typeface legibility studies conducted between 1896 and 1997. He finds seriouos methodological problems in nearly all of them. Legibility itself is still poorly defined, even today, and is not well distinguished from readability. … Reading speed is now known to be mainly a function of cognition speed, which varies considerably from individual to individual and is not related in any straightforward way (and possibly in no way) to typeface design. Reading comprehension is even further removed from type design.

Kas Thomas

The Redemption of Distraction

[Distraction] becomes a negative word for us when we realize the object or activity to which we are being pulled away is less valuable than the important traction that warrants our attention. However, let us not blame distraction for our woes, as if it were an evil spirit dangling shiny objects in our peripheral vision.

… Distraction itself is value-neutral. For centuries it has even been used as a tool to enhance concentration. … Perhaps we would benefit from instituting better distractions — not necessarily less of them. Perhaps the spreadsheet, artwork, or document before us needs its own interval or chime.

James Shelley

The Weekly Dispatch: January 7 - 21

Mali, Algeria, Venezuela, and the US Debt Ceiling.