Newton Highlands web agency
Hello and welcome to this web agency Web Designer Newton Highlands video tutorial.
I’m Owen Corso from Google.
And today, we’re going to build a rich media expandable creative with video.
Let’s start by selecting file, New File.
This opens a dialog box where we will set up our ad.
First, let’s make out high of project.
We have four options– The default is Display & Video 360so we will leave that as is.
Latest Dental Implants To Be Used
This reading list is for anyone who wants to learn or deepen their knowledge in the disciplines of User Research, Usability, Information Architecture, User-Interface Design, Interaction Design, Content Strategy or Experience Strategy.
The list is broad and includes books that exemplify design thinking, processes, methods, principles and best practices. Some of the books on this list are over 20 years old, yet still relevant more than ever.
There’s not a day where I don’t find myself applying the ideas from these books. Each has helped shaped the designer I am today, helped me advance my craft. I hope that you too, can extract the same value.
Last updated 09/10/2017
My Top Ten
- The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Alan Cooper
- The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond, Jesse James Garrett
- The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide, Leah Buley
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, Jocelyn K. Glei, 99u
- A Practical Guide to Information Architecture, Donna Spencer
- Designing Together: The collaboration and conflict management handbook for creative professionals, Dan M. Brown
- Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences, Stephen Anderson
- 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, Susan Weinschenk
- Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
More Must-Reads On Thinking, Methods, Principles and Best Practices
I find it helpful to choose what to read based on what’s relevant at the time. Applying what you’re reading, as you’re thinking and making is a great way to solidify concepts, reflect and learn.
Some old, some new. All important reading, in no particular order.
Last updated 09/10/2017
- The Shape of Design, Frank Chimero
- Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior, Indi Young
- Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work, Indi Young
- Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights, Steve Portigal
- Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions, Bill Scott, Theresa Neil
- The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life), John Maeda
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing for the Web and Beyond, Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfeld, Jorge Arango
- Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook, Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale , Nicolai Marquardt, Bill Buxton
- Well Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love, Jon Kolko
- Thoughts on Interaction Design, Jon Kolko
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin
- Don’t Make Me Think AND Rocket Surgery Made Easy, Steve Krug
- Designing Interfaces, Jennifer Tidwell
- Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, Jeffrey Rubin, Dana Chisnell
- Designing Interactions, Bill Moggridge
- The Visual Display of Quantitative Information AND Envisioning Information, Edward R. Tufte
- A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making, Russ Unger & Carolyn Chandler
- Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo
- The Mobile Frontier: A Guide for Designing Mobile Experiences, Rachel Hinman
- Design Is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable, Nathan Shedroff
- Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide, Todd Zaki Warfel
- Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences, Steve Diller, Nathan Shedroff, Darrel Rhea
- Content Strategy for the Web, by Kristina Halvorson, Melissa Rach
- Just Enough Research, Erika Hall
- Design Is A Job, Mike Monteiro
- Designing for Emotion, Aaron Walter
- Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, David Sherwin
- Letting Go of The Words: Writing Web Content that Works, Janice (Ginny) Redish
- Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, Robert Hoekman Jr
- Designing the Moment: Web Interface Design Concepts in Action, Robert Hoekman Jr
- Designing for the Social Web, Joshua Porter
- Undercover User Experience Design, Cennydd Bowles, James Box
- Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Web Products, Randy Hunt
- Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction, by Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, Maxine Cohen, Steven Jacobs
- This is Service Design Thinking: Basics, Tools, Cases, Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider
- Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Nancy Duarte
- Metaskills: 5 Talents for the Robotic Age, Marty Neumeier
- The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, Marty Neumeier
- Getting Real AND Rework, 37 Signals, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
- The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems, Jef Raskin
- Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design, Giles Colborne
- Search Patterns: Design for Discovery, Peter Morville, Jeffery Callender
- Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, Don Norman
- Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? Susan Weinschenk
- Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services, Kim Goodwin
- A Web For Everyone, Sarah Horton, Whitney Quesenbery
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess, Abby Covert
- Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results, Christina Wodtke
- Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams, Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner
- Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning, Dan M. Brown
- Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World, Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, David Verba
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal
- The 46 Rules of Genius: An Innovator’s Guide to Creativity, Marty Neumeier
- Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, and John Zeratsky
- Designing with Data: Improving the User Experience with A/B Testing, Rochelle King, Elizabeth F Churchill, Caitlin Tan
- Banish Your Inner Critic: Silence the Voice of Self-Doubt to Unleash Your Creativity and Do Your Best Work, Denise Jacobs
- Design for Real Life, Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher
- Designing Interface Animation: Meaningful Motion for User Experience, Val Head
- Practical Design Discovery, Dan Brown
- On Web Typography, By Jason Santa Maria
- Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences, Cathy Pearl
- Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Donella H. Meadows
- Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Tom Kelley, David Kelley
More Useful Reading
Reading books is only a partial source of my inspiration and learning. I also frequently read blogs and articles. I highly recommend staying connected to these sources of great thought leadership:
- Eleganthack, Christina Wodtke
- Peter Merholz
- The Year of the Looking Glass, Julie Zhuo
- Bokardo, Joshua Porter
- Information Architects, Oliver Reichenstein
- Felt Presence, Ryan Singer
- Whitney Hess
- Disambiguity, Leisa Reichelt
- Form and Function, Luke Wroblewski
- Frank Chimero
- Aral Balkan
- David Cole
- Seth Godin
- Scott Berkun
- Google Ventures Design Library
- Adaptive Path
- Boxes and Arrows
- UIE Brainsparks
- UX Magazine
- UX Booth
- A List Apart
- Smashing Magazine
- Signal vs. Noise, Basecamp
- 52 Weeks of UX
If you’ve found this article helpful, I would love to hear about it. Comment, tweet me or reach out to share your story: email@example.com
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Subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll keep you updated with my latest writing. I’m trying to publish something every 2 months on design thinking and other enriching ideas to help you live a more productive and enjoyable work life.
Newton Highlands web agency
Next, we can select the type of ad.
We want to make an expandable, so we select Expandable on the left.
Next, we can set again ad’s dimensions.
We are building a 320 by 50that expands to 480 by 250.
So I will make those changes.
We then assign the Newton Highlands creative a name.
I will leave my Save ToLocation as the default, and leave the talk about set to Quick.
Once I’m happy with my settings, I click OK.
Google Web Designer creates the initial pages of the ad for me with the dimensions I defined.
The collapsed page already contains a Tap Area event to expand the ad and an expanded pageNewton Highlands with a close tap area to collapse back down.
Designing for Mobile Apps: Overall Principles, Common Patterns, and Interface Guidelines
I am a product designer at Google, and I joined the company through Sparrow, a French startup that got acquired on July 20, 2012. Since then, I worked with the Gmail team to build from scratch a flagship product that became Inbox by Gmail. It shipped on October 22, 2014.
I designed productive applications for a few years, and I felt like I reached a tipping point. I wanted to expand my skill set, learn new things every day and get better at something I’ve never touched. I needed new challenges to reboot myself by leaving my comfort zone.
I got interested in virtual reality around the Oculus Kickstarter period because of the immersiveness and endless possibilities that came with it. There is nothing more exciting than building for a new medium and exploring an uncharted territory.
I joined the Google Cardboard and Virtual Reality team on April 17, 2015. Thanks to Clay Bavor and Jon Wiley for this great opportunity.
My first weeks in the team were as scary as it can get. People used words I had no idea of and asked me questions I didn’t know how to answer.
I am not going to lie, ramping up on the jargon was not easy but I was expecting that. Virtual reality is a deep field (pun intended) grouping together a variety of job titles each requiring a very specialized skill set. The first weeks were intense and day after day I had a better vision of the big picture. Slowly, the pieces came together. I found out which roles would be the best fit, what I wanted to do and what was required to get there. Regardless of the mission, I knew I would have to learn a lot, but I was prepared for this challenge. My feelings varied from one day to another. From super excited to create and learn something new, to super scared because of the colossal knowledge I still had to learn. Working with smart and knowledgeable people around me reinforced these mixed feelings.
Everything is going to be alright
I told myself and firmly believed that the dots would connect eventually. I am a passionate person, and I knew that I didn’t mind spending hours learning and experimenting.
During my product designer career, I got better at understanding, identifying and resolving user problems. Making things easy to use and delight users is not that different, no matter the medium.
The core of the mission is the same, but to get you from point A to B there are some interesting things to know.
- Sketching, is, again, at the core of everything. During any brain dump or design phase, sketching is as fast as it can get. I’ve sketched more in the time I’ve joined this team than I have in my entire career.
- Any design skills as diverse as they are will be a huge benefit.
- Photography knowledge will help you because you will interact with concepts such as field of view, depth of field, caustics, exposure and so on. Being able to use light to your advantage has been much valuable to me already.
- The more you know 3D and tools, the less you will have to learn. It’s pretty obvious but be aware that at some point, you might do architecture, character, props modeling, rigging, UV mapping, texturing, dynamics, particles and so on.
- Motion design is important. As designers, we know how to work with devices with physical boundaries. VR has none, so it’s a different way of thinking. “How does this element appear and disappear?” will be a redundant question.
- Python, C#, C++ or any previous coding skills will help you ramp up faster. Prototyping has a big place because of the fundamental need of iterating. This area is so new that you might be one of the first to design a unique kind of interaction. Any recent game engine such as Unity or Unreal engine largely integrates code. There is a large active community in game and VR development with a huge amount of training and resources already.
- Be prepared to be scared and get ready to embrace the unknown. It’s a new world that evolves every day. Even the biggest industry-leading companies are still trying to figure things out. That’s how it is.
Design teams will evolve because this new medium opens a lot of possibilities for creation. Think about the video game or the film industry for instance.
I think there will be two big design buckets.
The first one will be about the core user experience, interface, and interaction design. This is very close to how product design team are structured today (Visual, UI, UX, motion designers, researchers, and prototypers).
Each role will have to adapt to the rules of this new medium and keep a tight relationship with engineers. The goal will always remain the same; create a fast iteration cycle to explore a wide range of interactive designs.
On the other hand, content teams will replicate indie and game design studio structure to create everything from unique experiences to AAA games. The entertainment industry as we know it in other mediums will likely be very similar in VR.
Ultimately, both will have a close relationship to create a premium end to end experience. Both industries have a great opportunity to learn from each other.
To wrap up on my personal experience, I think being a product designer in VR is not that different but requires a lot of dedication to understand and learn a vast field of knowledge.
First step and fundamentals of VR design
In this second part of the article, I will try to cover the basics you need to know regarding this medium. It’s meant to be designer oriented and simplified as much as possible.
Let’s get (a little bit) technical
The new dimension and immersiveness is a game changer. There is a set of intrinsic rules you need to know to be able to respect physiologically and treat your users carefully. We regrouped some of these principles in an app so you can learn through this great immersive experience.
Download Cardboard Design Lab
You can watch Alex’s presentation at I/O this year which goes more in-depth. The following is a small summary.
If you have to remember just two rules:
- Do not drop frames.
- Maintain head tracking.
People instinctively react to external events you might not be aware of, and you should be designing accordingly.
Physiological comfort. It regroups notions like motion sickness. Be careful when using acceleration and deceleration. Maintain a stable horizon line to avoid the “sea sickness” effect.
Environment comfort. People can experience various discomforts in certain situation like heights, small spaces (claustrophobia), big spaces (agoraphobia) and so on. Be careful with the scale and colliding objects. For example, if someone throws an object at you, you will instinctively try to grab it, dodge or protect yourself. Use it to your advantage and not to user’s disadvantage.
You can also use user senses to help you create more immersive products and cues. You can find inspiration in the game industry. They use all sorts of tricks to guide users during their journey. Here’s a couple:
- Audio for spatial positioning.
- Light to show a path and help the player.
Do not hurt or over-fatigue your users. It’s a classic mistake when you start to design for this medium. As cool as it looks, Hollywood sci-fi movies fed us with interactions that goes against simple ergonomic rules and can create major discomfort over time. Minority Report gestures are not suitable for a long period of activity.
I made a very simplified illustration of XY head movement safe zones. Green is good, yellow is ok and avoid red. There are a some user studies made public (links at the bottom of the page) that will give you more in-depth information about that topic.A simplified illustration of XY head movement safe zones.
Bad design can lead to more serious conditions.
As an example, have you heard about Text Neck? A study, published in Neuro and Spine Surgery measured varying pressures in our neck as our head moves to different positions. Moving from a neutral head position looking straight ahead to looking down increase the pressure by 440%. The muscles and ligaments get tired and sore; the nerves are stretched, and discs get compressed. All of this misbehavior can lead to serious long-term issues such as permanent nerves damages.
TLDR; Avoid extended look down interactions.
Degrees of freedom
The body has six different ways of moving in space. It can rotate and translate in XYZ.
3 Degrees of freedom (Orientation tracking)
Phone based head mounted device such as Cardboard, Gear VR are tracking the orientation via an embedded gyroscope (3DOF). Rotations on all three axes are tracked.
6 Degrees of freedom (Orientation + Position tracking)
To achieve six degrees of freedom, the sensor(s) will track positions in space (+X, -X, +Y, -Y, +Z, -Z). High-end devices like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift are 6DOF.
Making 6DOF possible frequently involves optical tracking of infrared emitters by one or more sensors. In Oculus’s case, the tracking sensor is on a stationary camera, while in Vive’s case the tracking sensors are on the actual HMD.
Depending on the system you are designing for, the input method will vary and affect your decisions. For example Google Cardboard has a single button, that’s why the interaction model is a simple gaze and tap. HTC Vive uses two, six degrees of freedom controllers and Oculus will ship with an Xbox One controller but will eventually use a 6DOF dual controller “Oculus Touch”. All of them allow you to use more advanced and immersive interaction patterns.The good old Xbox OneOculus Touch
There are also other kinds of inputs such as hand tracking. The most famous being Leap Motion. You can mount it to your Head Mounted Display (HMD).Leap Motion on top of a DK2
This area constantly evolves as technology catches up but as of today, hand tracking is not reliable enough to be used as the main input. The principal issues are related to hands and fingers, collisions, and subtle movements tracking.
Even though it’s very familiar, using a game controller is a disappointing experience. It physically removes some of the freedom VR is creating. In FPS, strafing and moving might usually cause some discomfort because of the accelerations.
On the other hand, the HTC Vive controllers reinforce the VR experience thanks to the 6 degrees of freedom, and Tilt Brush is a really good example. As I am writing theses lines, I haven't tried the Oculus touch but every demo I have seen looks very promising. Check out Oculus Toybox demo.
While designing user interfaces and interactions, inputs are the keystone that will drive some decisions differently depending on which method you are using. You should be familiar with all of them and aware of their limitations.
This is a big piece and might require a more in-depth article. I will focus on the most popular tools used in this industry.
Pen and paper
You just can’t beat them. It’s the first tool we use because it’s always around and does not require too many skills. It’s a proven way to express your ideas and iterate at a fast and cheap pace. Theses factors are important because, in VR, the cost of moving from wireframes to hi-fi is higher than 2D.
I still use it every day. Because of its ease of use, it’s the perfect tool that allows me to create a lot of explorations before moving to a VR prototype. It’s also handy for its export tools and plugins that are a huge time saver. If you are not familiar with that program, I wrote articles here and there.
I don’t see C4D as a competitor of Maya. Both are great tools, and each excels in its own way. When you don’t have a 3D background, the learning curve can be very steep. I like C4D because the interface, the parametric and non-destructive approach make sense for me. It helps me create more iterations quickly. I love the MoGraph modules, and a lot of great plugins are available. The community is very active, and you can find a lot of high-quality learning materials.Cinema 4D motion explorations
Maya is colossal in a good and a bad way. It does anything and everything a 3D artist needs. Most of the games and movies are designed with it. It’s a robust piece of software which can handle massive simulations and very heavy scenes with ease. From rendering, modeling, animation, rigging, it’s simply the best tool out there. Maya is highly customizable, and that is one reason why it’s the industry standard. Studios need to create their own set of tools, and Maya is the perfect candidate to integrate any pipeline.
On the other hand, learning all the tools will require your full and unconditional dedication for quite some time. I mean weeks of explorations, months of learning and years of practice on a daily basis.
It’s most certainly THE prototyping tool where everything will happen. You can easily create and move things around with a direct VR preview of your project. It’s a powerful game engine with a great community and a ton of resources available in their store (the asset author determines the pricing). In the assets library, you can find simple 3D models, complete projects, audio, analytics tools, shaders, scripts, materials, textures and so on.
Their documentation and learning platform are stellar. They have a wide range of high-quality tutorials.
It support all major HMD and is the best to build for cross-platform: Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux, Web Player, WebGL, VR(including Hololens), SteamOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, Android TV and Samsung SMART TV, as well as Xbox One & 360, PS4, Playstation Vita, and Wii U
It supports all major 3D formats and has the best in 2D game creation. The in-app 3D editor is weak, but people have built great plugins to correct that. The software is licensed based, but you can also use the free version to a certain extent. You can check the details on their pricing page. It’s the most popular game engine out there with ~47% of market share.
The direct competitor of Unity3D. Unreal also has great documentation and videos tutorials. Their store is smaller because it’s much newer.
One of the big advantages over the competition are the graphic capabilities; Unreal is one step ahead in nearly every area: terrain, particles, post processing effects, shadows & lighting, and shaders. Everything looks amazing.
Unreal Engine 4 uses C++ and comes with Blueprint, a visual script editor.
I haven’t worked with it too much yet, so I can’t elaborate more.
Less cross-platform compatibility: Windows PC, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, VR, Linux, SteamOS, HTML5, Xbox One, and PS4.
Virtual reality is a very young medium. As pioneers, we still have a lot to learn and discover. That’s why I am very excited about it and why I joined this team. We have the opportunity to explore and we should, as much as we can. Understand, identify, build and iterate. Over and over.
And over again…
- Immersive design Facebook group
- Google I/O 2015 — Designing for Virtual Reality
- Oculus Connect keynotes
- VR Design: Transitioning from a 2D to 3D Design Paradigm
- VR Interface Design Pre-Visualisation Methods
- 2014 Oculus Connect — Introduction to Audio in VR
- Cinema 4D tutorials
- Unity 3D tutorials
- Maya and 3D tools tutorials
- LeapMotion — VR Best Practices Guidelines
- The fundamentals of user experience in virtual reality
- Ready for UX in 3D?
Thanks everyone who helped me with the rereading and improvements 💖
Dynamic Exits in Studio - Google Web Designer
KENT: My name is Kent.
I'm the creativespecialist on the Google Web Designer team and I'd like to review dynamic exits in Studio A dynamic exit refers to the URL loaded when a dynamic ad is clicked on It's usually related to the product being shown and that URL comes from yourdata feed This video describes the workflow for setting up dynamic exits in Studio Now the simplest case is an ad which doesn't use a gallery or carouselcomponent Here's an example from another one of my videos titled Dynamic inStudio - Google Web Designer You'll see my creative contains only placeholder content But when I preview it in Studio you'll see it loading data from my feed Refresh it Now we're seeing product number 0 Look at my feed for product 0 we're seeing this name, this image and here is the URLfor my exit for this product Now when I set up this ad, I used the simple static exit So when I click anywhere on the ad it'll load a static URL like a landingpage What we want to have happen is this to exit to the URL associated for that product Let me show you how to do that in Google Web Designer First thing we'll do is select the current event and delete it Then we're going to look over inour components panel and open up Interaction and grab a taparea Then with the Transform control selected I'm going to stretch this out to cover the ad And in my Dynamic panel I'm going to click the plus icon to make a new binding We'll select that tap area We're going to look for Exit override URL And we'regoing to drill into our feed the first item, exit URL, and get the URL Click OK and we'llpublish this Now when that's done we'll switch over toStudio We'll reload our creative I'm going to click on the ad Now I'll see we'regetting product one Just to make sure this is really working let's reload itand get another image Here's number five Let's click on that Here's product fiveso that's good Now next thing you might want to do is combine static and dynamicexits in a single ad so you might want to have a logo up here which goes to a home page and maybe some disclaimer text down here which goes to a legal page So let's see how we can do that Back in Google Web Designer I'm going to double click this newtaparea and give it a new name exit-default then I'll copy and paste it I'm going to call that one exit-product and this layer is on top So I'm going tomake this just cover the product area and I'm going to select exit-default andchange the exit on that Now one trick over here in the Dynamic panel I can choose Selection and now I would just see the binding on that selection I'm going to select it and delete it With it still selected I'm going to move to the Events panel click the plus icon and add a new event Google ad, exit ad, gwd-ad I'm going to put an arbitrary ID in here and I'm going to put a full URL to mylanding page OK and we're going to publish again Now when that's done, we'll switch back to Studio and reload the page Now when I click in the corners I'm getting my static URL And when I click on the product I'm getting the correct product That concludes this demo, dynamic exits in Studio Thanks for watching.
I’m no color expert. Far from, actually. Throughout my career, I’ve depended on visual designers better than myself to produce an engaging palette and apply it harmoniously across a UI.
Yet, as a systems designer, I’m often in the position to provoke and validate color decisions as a system takes shape. Here’s a 16 lessons I’ve learned while stabilizing a primary palette, tint and shade choices, secondary palettes, and solving for accessible contrast.
By primary, we’re talking colors used everywhere including your brand colors, neutrals, and a typically interactive digital blue.
#1. Stabilize Brand Colors Quickly
︎Every organization has one, two, or no more than a few core brand colors. THE red. THE blue. THE orange. Settle on them. Even if reasonably set up with a color variable or two, nothing signals a design system team that can’t get their act together than constantly changing primary colors.
Takeaway: Decide your essential brand colors early, because they spread widely, quickly.
#2. Involve Brand (If You Alter a Brand Color)
Is brand blue a bit dull? Can’t resist the urge to liven it up? Nothing poisons early collaboration more than a casual “We saturated the brand orange for web” followed by brand reacting with “You did what?” Oh the sacrilege!
Takeaway: Brand colors are the brand team’s territory. So discuss adjustments with them and defer to their judgment as needed.
#3. Drop the Neutral Neutrals
From dark-as-night charcoal to fluffy light gray, neutrals provide essential UI scaffolding. Loading a system with neutrals, even a few, risks giving teams access to muddy colors. They can also lead to “wireframey” designs. And, neither dark nor light type has sufficiently accessible contrast on a medium gray background.
Takeaway: Provide a few light grays and a few dark grays to achieve useful contrast, but don’t get wishy washy wireframey. Consider avoiding medium grays in between.
#4. Go “Digital Blue.” Everybody Else Does.
My past five design systems settled on a saturated blue as a default button and link color. Links have always been blue, perhaps since the dawn of the first browser. This “Digital” blue, a utility color for links and clickable items, is essential in any core palette.
Takeaway: When (not if 😉 ) you go with your “Digital Blue,” choose an accessible one and make sure it doesn’t clash with the brand’s own blue, or red, orange, purple, or green.
Tints & Shades Per Color
You can’t have just a few colors and call it a day, right? System users often need to tune a color choice across a range, reuse with ease, and know their boundaries.
#5. Stack the Tint & Shade Range, Per Color
Color palette display patterns long predate the web. Yet I still love me a compactly arranged tint stack. They can be just…gorgeous. The best stacks visualize more than just a color, combining its name with HEX codes, code variables, and other indicators (such as prohibiting overlaid type). A quick scan is all you need.
Takeaway: Stack available colors in each hue, and treat the stack as a visualization to include important details compactly.Material Design’s Indigo and Deep Orange
#6. Name Tints & Shades by Brightness
We’ve all been there. A month into the system, the neutrals $color-gray-1, $color-gray-2, … , $color-gray-7 — are stable. And then, in a stroke, you’ve got another tint to add stuck between -1 and -2. That numbering system stinks.
Takeaway: Scale color names between 0 and 100 based on brightness, such as $color-gray-05 and $color-gray-92. The scale reflects a familiar range from dark to light, allows for injecting new options between, and heck if I won’t remember $color-gray- 93 until we retire it later.
#7. Limit Tint & Shade Quantity
At the core of a good system is choice without endless options, a stable aesthetic to serve as a starting point. Odds are, you aren’t Material Design, intended to serve countless products. In most cases, a design system need not offer boundless choices. The more choices you provide, the tougher it’ll be to control harmonic combinations and a consistent feel across applications.
Takeaway: Offer a handful of options and avoid tedious variety. Empower system users with just enough choice: more than a single option, but only up to a few intentional choices.
#8. Tell Me How To Transform: Hand-Pick or Functionally
Modern tools like SASS and Stylus offer transformation functions like darken and lighten to shift a color by a brightness percentage. These handy tools enable a you to alter a color for subtle contrasts like a hovered button or tiered navigation.
But transforms can be troublesome: carefully crafted base colors can become inaccessible alternatives (see below), a page’s overall palette can muddy, or a “5% system” that works on moderately bright colors yields insufficient contrast for a very light or dark case.
Takeaway: Deliberately allow — or avoid — color transformations in your system. If you endorse the practice, then offer examples of when and how to do it effectively in your system, such as 5–10% for moderately bright cases and 10–20% in more extreme cases. If transformations should be avoided , document that succinctly.
Beyond the brand colors and their variants, well-considered color systems array the broader variety of colors reserved for varied purposes.
#9. Define Meaningful Sets Like Feedback Colors
Most systems reserve a certain red for errors, green for success, yellow for warning, and (possibly a lighter sky) blue for informational messages. Feedback color is critical, because it’s positioned at the top of the page interacting with other key components and/or encountered as a result of an unwelcome circumstance. Without system guidance, such messages become embedded in product code, the result of product teams solving a challenge quickly and moving on.
Takeaway: Explore and define the standard feedback colors and other relevant sets to ensure that colors fit harmoniously rather wedging them in later or having teammates recall “I just grabbed it from Google.”Typical feedback colors: success, warning, error and informational
#10. Illustrate Theme Variety
In some systems, color use is customized per product, section, or brand. Often, this may be a result of relating a master brand (think, Marriott International) to its sub-brands (think Courtyard Hotels, Ritz Carlton, and Moxy Hotels). Or it’s a prefab themes like Ambient Warmth and Frozen Blue. Maybe the user is complete control, and you need to illustrate the breadth of (all the havoc of) what they can do.
Takeaway: Reveal the range of themes available compactly, and set boundaries around allowable theme colors in certain contexts.Theme colors for multiple Marriott.com hotels, derived from product pages
#11. Define How Theming Works
It’s not enough to simply say “Go ahead and theme it!” A theme color may apply to predictable accents throughout a UI such as button background-color, active tab background-color, or a primary navigation’s thick border-top. Just as important, theme colors may be forbidden from altering other bits, such as long form type or — yikes! — a link color that ends up invisible.
Takeaway: Identify how theming works, particularly via reference to specific UI element properties in play. Just as important, articulate which — if not most — elements are off limits.
#12. Avoid Guiding on Color-Mixing Until (At Least) Dust Settles
One of my favorite all time design system tools is Google’s MDL Color Customizer, which enables users to combine primary and secondary UI colors effectively. It’s so easy, and the outcome so helpful. Yet, the system teams I work with either don’t want to provide this kind of flexibility or lack the time and care necessary to solve such a combinatoric challenge.
Takeaway: Avoid the rabbit hole of solving for a vast array of color combinations unless it’s a core system value. In most cases, system users will pair up their own combinations or benefit from a tool more dedicated to doing just that. Help them propagate their choice rather than solving for every combination they may consider. That experimentation is their job.Serve users of your system by making it efficient to propagate their choice through a product, rather than making the choice for them.
Contrast & Accessibility
Solving for accessible color contrast should a core practice of setting up any digital color system from the get go. However, design can be tumultuous place, and teams can lose sometimes. Or some members don’t know about accessibility. Or they simply don’t prioritize it.
A systems team can engrain accessible practices into a workflow to provoke and spread values in accessibility broadly across an enterprise.
#13. Check Contrast Early & Ritually
It happens often: a few weeks or days before a product — or design system — launch, finally somebody notices. The design team hasn’t taken necessary care to ensure the primary and secondary color palette is being applied in a way to meet WCAG 2.0 color contrast of 3.0 (for large, heavier type) or 4.5 (for standard type). So designers — and then, their developers — scramble to determine fixes and inject it into the code.
Takeaway: Any system designer responsible for color must be familiar with WCAG 2.0 rules, have a tool (like Tanaguru) to test color pairs, and incorporate the practice into color selection.Tanaguru, one of many accessibility calculators online
#14. Explore Accessible Color Choices Across Ranges
A drawback of WCAG guidelines is its stark threshold: a color pair passes or fails. This leaves designers yearning for more, but worse leaves stakeholders flummoxed at how bad the color pair fails and how much it needs to change.
Conversation quickens when we reveal a spectrum of choices, with the pass/fail line fairly evident. This transforms the process from trial and error to tuning a dial. Before, it was “That pair failed. Let’s try again.” Now, it’s an enlightening “Oh, so that’s how dark the blue needs to be” followed by a rational discussion to balance visual tone, brand identity, and accessibility sensitivities.
Takeaway: When exploring accessible color contrast, show a range of choices to help a team select a color that passes the test.Exploring neutral and interactive colors by showing multiple choices across a range
#15. Solve the Reverse Light on Dark and Dark on Light
When creating a system, it’s up to the systems designer to be mindful of and solve for the entire range of choices on offer. It’s not enough to just test for accessibility problems as they arise. Instead, a color palette should be thoroughly reviewed prior to publishing a system for reuse.
This is especially true for reverse color treatments. It’s very common for a system to default to dark text on a light background. However, most find themselves reversing color treatments, whether a black and white on light and dark neutrals or tints of another primary or secondary color.
Takeaway:Solve for and recommend reversed pairings to adopt or avoid.A table of calculated contrast (using a SASS function) between neutral backgrounds and interactive blue alternatives
#16. Use Color to Provoke Broader Accessibility Awareness
Color is fundamental to a system, and accessible color contrast is fundamental to color. This injects accessibility smack dab into the middle of a system’s formation. People that matter are paying attention: brand managers, design leads, developers, and execs. What a wonderful opportunity to use color to open a door to the broader array of accessibility considerations.
Takeaway: Seize the opportunity to advocate for accessibility. Always be probing a collaborator’s knowledge of accessibility (or lack thereof) and educate and advocate all you can.