Archive: June, 2015

Microsoft E3 analysis: victory comes from within

Microsoft delivered their strongest E3 showing in years. This went beyond expected first party exclusives. Almost every element – pacing, lineup, presenters – came together to underscore the Xbox One’s strengths. Yet Microsoft wasn’t aiming new features and games at the general public. Nor those necessarily torn between the PS4 and Xbox One. It’s aimed at the 60 million Xbox 360 owners who haven’t jumped to this generation yet.

To cater to the Xbox core, Microsoft leans on sequels that call back to Xbox 360’s boom years. There’s Gears, Forza, Halo and Fable, all out in 2015. Xbox One backwards compatibility is another big feature, the most consumer-friendly announcement of E3. The initial slate of compatible Xbox 360 titles is small, about 100 by year’s end. But that’s will grow over time, and the message is less practical than psychological. You want to play your old 360 games on the Xbox One? Go for it, and do so for free. During the main presser, Xbox head Phil Spencer underlined this message: “If you’ve been waiting to move from your Xbox 360, now is the time.”

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Four quick CSS tips from CSSConf 2015

Lea Verou at CSSConf
Lea Verou presenting at CSSConf 2015

I recently attended the third annual CSSConf here in NYC. The conference scheduled sixteen speakers over two days with varied content and subject matter. Some speakers talked about the gap between design and development. Others touched on coworker relationships and styling for the web’s future, “post CSS”. Most focused on CSS-based web development. Here are a few takeaways that are easy for almost anyone to integrate into their workflow.

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Build responsive teams with tweaks, not remakes

Andy Hunt, one of Agile Manifesto’s original authors, wrote a controversial post recently. He makes several arguments about Agile’s failings, and this one especially resonated with me:

Since agile methods conveniently provide some concrete practices to start with, new teams latch on to those, or part of those, and get stuck there.

I’ve seen this phenomenon firsthand. A team settles on a system as the solution to their productivity problems. They get bogged down in rules and convention, and integrate too quickly. The process stalls and dies. As Hunt argues, without flexibility, the company loses sight of their productivity goals.

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The tiny designer

Very solid design (with an unusual color palette) to a free 5-week email course. As author Jarrod Drysdale writes:

The Tiny Designer is a course about the big (monumental, even) design that we can make together. Non-designers will learn the important parts of design, so that you can understand what designers do, achieve your goals, and better communicate your ideas. Designers: learn to teach and guide others through your design process so they’ll better appreciate what you do.

I’ve written previously (and given a webinar) about team relationships and how important collaboration is. This course looks like it could share some helpful, related advice.

E3 2015: open questions and predictions

I expect stability and predictability from the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) E3 pressers this year. First, we’re a year and half into this generation. It’s past the bumpy launch window, but not far enough for new hardware iterations. PS4 and Xbox One sales are already strong, which reinforces a conservative playbook. And many games for the show have been formally revealed early or leaked. Yet there are unknowns that the pressers next week could help answer.

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The heroic Mad Max masculinity

Slashfilm’s Angie Han on yet another aspect of Mad Max: Fury Road that’s great (seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie yet on the biggest screen possible, get on that stat):

But the film has just as much to say about men — specifically what masculinity is, and what place it has in our society. At the center of the film are two types of masculinity: the toxic, destructive kind represented by Immortan Joe, and the healthy, productive kind represented by Max. The conflict between them drives the movie, and points a way forward for our world.

Building responsive teams

I’m giving a free webinar over at InVision a week from today (6/9) at 3pm EST. It’s all about building responsive teams, teams well equipped for responsive web design and native design on multiple, changing devices. No prerequisites – if you’re a designer, developer, project manager, or practically anyone working in or around a tech team, hopefully you’ll find something of interest. Just register in advance and you’ll be able to stream the video and audio live. (I expect an archive of the talk will be up later as well for those who can’t make it.)

The billionaire’s typewritter

Practical Typography’s Matthew Butterick on Medium and other similar writing platforms:

We can’t say that Medium et al. are offering minimalist design. Only the veneer is minimalist. What they’re re ally offering is a shift from design as a choice to de sign as a constant. Instead of minimalist design, a better term might be homogeneous design.

Matthew is clearly anti-Medium with his stance here, and he goes onto attack many fronts; lack of typographic customization is just the beginning. Pro or con Medium as a publishing platform for the future, it’s nevertheless an excellent read.