Beautiful Minimal Websites

I’m enjoying the 6 part collection of minimalist designs posted by Vandelay Design. Some sites are more minimalist than others. I tend to use that term loosely at times as well. But the predominant theme seems to be type as interface, minimal use of graphics (aside from a logo and the body content), few if any graphic treatments of navigation, and little to no use of texture and graphic effects, and liberal use of white space.

Writing Microcopy

Joshua Porter writes about the use of microcopy to create confidence and alleviate concerns in customers about the actions they take on your site.

Ironically, the smallest bits of copy, microcopy, can have the biggest impact. … Microcopy is small yet powerful copy. It’s fast, light, and deadly. It’s a short sentence, a phrase, a few words. A single word. It’s the small copy that has the biggest impact. Don’t judge it on its size…judge it on its effectiveness.

Porter provides a few detailed examples showing how microcopy helped users entering ecommerce funnels, in one case reducing errors by qualifying an address form, and in another case adding information to assure customers that they don’t need a PayPal account to purchase with PayPal. He provides a few more before/after bits of copy for typical registration and ecommerce scenarios as well.

Ryan Singer Interview on Think Vitamin

Think Vitamin interviews 37 Signals’ Ryan Singer to talk about ui design, frontend development, project management and inspiration. I like that Singer suggests that designers read more about writing copy, but even more so, I like how he suggests that designers should also consider learning more about front end development and programming frameworks. At the very least, it allows designers to be conversant with developers, and ideally it gives a designer a new range of skills they can use for such things as prototyping or doing proof of concept work on their own. Excellent advice for growing the T-Shaped designer.

Read the "Search User Interfaces" book for free online

Marti Hearst and Cambridge University Press have made the Search User Interfaces book available for free online. About the book:

This book focuses on the human users of search engines and the tool they use to interact with them: the search user interface. The truly worldwide reach of the Web has brought with it a new realization among computer scientists and laypeople of the enormous importance of usability and user interface design. In the last ten years, much has become understood about what works in search interfaces from a usability perspective, and what does not. Researchers and practitioners have developed a wide range of innovative interface ideas, but only the most broadly acceptable make their way into major web search engines. This book summarizes these developments, presenting the state of the art of search interface design, both in academic research and in deployment in commercial systems. Many books describe the algorithms behind search engines and information retrieval systems, but the unique focus of this book is specifically on the user interface. It will be welcomed by industry professionals who design systems that use search interfaces as well as graduate students and academic researchers who investigate information systems.

You can read the book online now or pre-order it from Amazon (Available Sept. 09).

MTV's brand new look

Awesome motion graphics by Universal Everything for MTV. Creative Review reviews the new work on MTV’s new look, which is a forward-looking transformation that reminds me feel that reminds me of Cartoon Network’s recent rebranding in the Tristan Eaton designed character videos.