This Week in Design: Jan. 16, 2014

Welcome to the new age of design. This week in design we are thinking ahead with technology that may impact our lives from the recent Consumer Electronics Show to posters that make you want to travel to the moon.

Every week, we plan to a look at major product releases and upgrades, tools and tricks and even some of the most popular things you are talking about on social media. And we’d love to hear what’s going on in your world as well. Have we missed anything? Drop me a line at [email protected].

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Tech Trends Designers Should Start Thinking About Now

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Every year the Consumer Electronics Show is packed with gadgets and tools and gizmos that will eventually make their way into millions of homes. And increasingly these gadgets are full of digital and graphic design, making this show something designers need to keep an eye on.

So what’s ahead for 2015 from the show floor? The wide-reaching answer is that everything will be “smart.” It won’t be enough to just have a smartphone, but appliances and everything in your home will include smart features and digital interfaces. (So get ready, you have a lot of designing to do!)

Here are some of the big movers that will have the most impact on the work lives of designers in the near future. This list of trends is based on cnet’s top 20 observations from the show, which just wrapped up in Las Vegas.

  • Giant screens, from TVs to computers, and quantum dots: From curved screens to the way images are rendered, this is a year where designers might have to rethink how to design for this medium.
  • Self-driving cars: Get ready to design the newest screens inside cars. Considerations such as lighting, mapping and reliability will be key.
  • Smart watches: Many designers are already thinking about Apple’s iWatch and how to design for it, but these small screens will be everywhere in 2015 (just when you were starting to feel good about mobile-sized screen design).
  • Fitness and health trackers: What sells a fitness tracker? A good user interface.
  • Virtual reality: This could open a world of design potential, as designers will be asked to make anything and everything seem real.
  • 3D printing: Are you ready to design something and then make it right there? While the technology is expensive, it is becoming more of a reality. (Just wait for your boss to ask about it.)

You Design Reputation Matters

”You can be the best designer in the world producing stunning user interfaces, but it doesn’t matter; you can be the most accomplished coder who develops ground breaking techniques, but it is irrelevant; your work will not speak for itself, you need to promote it.”

Even the best designers rely on a good reputation to get them jobs and clients and business. We’ve all heard “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and that who can link to your reputation.

“You can be the best designer in the world producing stunning user interfaces, but it doesn’t matter; you can be the most accomplished coder who develops ground breaking techniques, but it is irrelevant; your work will not speak for itself, you need to promote it,” writes Paul Boag in a wonderful piece for Webdesigner Depot, “How to Build a Reputation in the Design Community, and Why You Should.”

And it’s not just any reputation. You need a positive reputation for the greatest impact on your career. “Not only will a good reputation ensure clients have heard of you, it will also increase the chances of you winning work,” Boag writes.

But it takes time and focus. You have to do good work to build that reputation; you have to do business in the “right” way. You need to focus on what you want to do and what you are good it.

Boag’s advice is wonderfully relevant in the digital and social sharing age. Take 5 minutes to read all of his advice. It’s totally worth it.

Business Cards for Dummies

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Adobe is really stepping up in the design tutorial game with some great lessons and ideas for completing design projects for a beginner. “How to Create and Print Business Cards” is a 15 minute lesson designed for beginners.

And while many of you have probably created a business card or two, it is something that many people never think about. (Your company likely provides them.)

The lesson is broken into six parts and you will get a good handle on Adobe’s Illustrator and InDesign software along the way. (Sometimes the best part of the tutorials are seeing some new software features or how to use tools that you are unfamiliar with.)

The videos are easy to follow and take you through a process that sounds more complicated than it is.

  • Start designing a logo
  • Make modifications and create effects
  • Outline shapes for emphasis
  • Layout the actual card
  • Add your logo
  • Add color and text

Just for Fun

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Think back to all the times you planned to travel to space as a child. NASA is playing off those emotions with a new set of beautifully designed space travel posters to help you imagine a dream vacation.

The Exoplanet Travel Series includes three old-school style posters that feature out of this world vacations. Here are brief descriptions:

  • Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn.
  • Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between “Super-Earth” and “mini-Neptune” and scientists aren’t sure if it has a rocky surface or one that’s buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. One thing is certain though: at eight time the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.
  • Kepler-186f is the first Earth-size planet discovered in the potentially ‘habitable zone’ around another star, where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. Its star is much cooler and redder than our Sun. If plant life does exist on a planet like Kepler-186f, its photosynthesis could have been influenced by the star’s red-wavelength photons, making for a color palette that’s very different than the greens on Earth.

You can download all three posters in high-resolution from NASA to start planning your extraterrestrial holiday.