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“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

— Confucius 


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Whole Selves & Whole Stories over signs & designs.

Designers like signs. Icons. Fonts. But normal people—sorry, we designers are not normal!—prefer to see things they can relate to, things like themselves. The Design Masterclass says you should tell Whole Stories about Whole Selves. And we show you how. Intrigued? Good. Because that's all we're gonna say about it here! 



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Faces are built for recognition

"Look! There's Darren! I'd know that ARM anywhere."

You're thinking, "Naah." Arms are really not that unique. But faces are. Faces have a much richer palette of variability than any other part of the body, because they're meant to be distinctive. Look at someone's face and you can not only recognize who they are, but you might also learn exactly how they're feeling at the moment.

The Design Masterclass teaches the art of NAMING the people, places and things in your app. We also show you how to FACE them—that is, to build for them a FACE that is well beyond a thumbnail headshot. A well-made FACE for an entity is made of entity attributes that allow your patrons to distinguish that purchase order, that invoice, that inventory item from all the others of its kind. Building a good FACE isn't easy. But you'll get the idea quick enough!


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Little Things Roll Up

A tiny snowball will roll up into a big one, but only if it's warm enough for the snow to pack. It's the same in app design. For all the little elements in your app to roll up into a meaningful whole, there has to be a certain warmth and cohesion among the elements of your design.

One way to help things roll up is to have elements scaled at each order of magnitude, so that small things are part of medium-sized things, which then in turn roll up into big things.

This is really easy to say. But it can be quite a subtle thing to do. It's part—and not a small part—of what you will learn in The Design Masterclass.



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A note from Albert Harum-Alvarez, creator of The Design Master Class:

The work of The Design Masterclass is built on a shared vocabulary, a way of talking about what we do when we design software. This vocabulary is not the set of terms we use when we talk about HTML5 or stylesheets or frameworks or database transactions or RESTful APIs—though these things do come up in class. Instead, we focus on a lingo borrowed from practices that are more mature and whole than the practice of software development:

Newspaper & Book Design,

Carpentry, Architecture & Urban Design,

Restaurant Service, Food Prep & Hospitality,

Storytelling, Theater & Music,

Public Speaking & Preaching, and finally,

Ecology, Biology & The Natural World

A few examples:

From the craft of newspaper layout, we borrow the term Above the Fold, for stories important enough to appear in the visible top half of the front page. Apps do the same kind of prioritizing.

In the theater and in restaurants, folks refer to Front of House & Back of House. Software needs to have a Front and a Back as well.

Architecture offers French Doors, Dutch Doors & other variations on the Half-Open Door. Each of these doors can let a person see beyond the door, BEFORE the person actually makes the choice to walk through the door. The design pattern of the Half-Open Door is very useful in app design, and just as with French Doors and Dutch Doors there are many ingenious ways to implement the pattern.

Are you still with me? Let me share one last example. After that, you'll just have to come to the masterclass!

Great African-American preachers often start their sermon speaking from scriptural authority, Ex Libris. That's common for many priests, ministers, rabbis & imams. But what often follows in the African-American Church is more unique. As the momentum of the sermon builds, the preacher who started so strong might ask for help, professing his weakness, saying he can't go on without their help. Their answers to him start a chain of Call & Response, which build as the sermon drives toward its conclusion. The best social media and gaming apps also use Call & Response, as a way to engage their customers, and as a way to keep them engaged.

Are you getting the idea? I hope I am writing this clearly enough...

This is much more than just interaction design, because these patterns occur fractally, from the level of code and scripting to the level of app revisions, which great app design houses orchestrate as a years-long Call & Response between app designers and their engaged market.

Come to The Design Masterclass, where we live and breathe these patterns! I look forward to seeing you at the masterclass!