Books and Essays
I enjoy writing, it helps sharpen the mind and it reflects my teaching ethos, that, “A good writer is a good thinker.”
In addition to writing books for Five Simple Steps and friends of ED, I’ve also been fortunate to be invited to write for numerous journals, both printed and electronic. I’ve written for 8 Faces, Offscreen, The Manual, 24 Ways and numerous others; in addition to publishing the world’s most compact typography journal, Glyph. I’ve provided a comprehensive list of books and essays below.
I’m always interested in widening my audience, if you’d like me to write something for you, please do drop me a line and say, “Hello.” I’d love to make your acquaintance.
I’m fortunate to have written for publishers both small (Five Simple Steps) and large (friends of ED). I have a few new titles in the pipeline, but – while I work on those – the following might interest you.
The Craft of Words, Part 1 - Macrocopy
Five Simple Steps, 2013
Look carefully and you’ll notice that many of the most successful designs are built around words. Apple tantalises us with the ability to hold “1,000 songs in your pocket.” MailChimp has created a wonderfully engaging brand, heavily focused around language. In this, the first of a two part volume for Five Simple Steps, I explore the role that words can play in establishing a clear brand identity.
“Words are an important, but often overlooked, aspect of the design process. The Craft of Words, Part 1 – Macrocopy underlines the importance of putting as much thought into crafting words as you do giving them form. Required reading.” —Haruki Kurosawa, Plankton
The Craft of Words, Part 2 - Microcopy
Five Simple Steps, 2013
Almost every interaction you make, through a website or application, involves words. Words can help, words can hinder. They can ease a user on their journey or they can get in the way, causing frustration. Given their power, it’s no surprise to discover that companies like 37signals and MailChimp, to name but two, position words at the heart of their design process.
“The Craft of Words, Part 2 – Microcopy is my favourite and most useful pocket guide from Five Simple Steps yet.” —Robert Mills, Author, Designing the Invisible
HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions
friends of ED, 2009
Even if you’re an absolute beginner in web design, this book will teach you how to build future-proof web pages the right way, using easy to master tools, which are all available for free. Step-by-step the book covers how to construct well-structured HTML pages and how to apply layout and style to these pages using CSS.
Receiving widespread praise, the book – which is fully supported by an extensive series of standalone files to aid learning – has been adopted by university courses the world over to introduce students to HTML and CSS in a carefully structured manner. Described as, “Invaluable.” by Tim Van Damme (Instagram, Dropbox); Jon Tan (Fictive Kin) stated: “Every design school on the planet should make this a required textbook.”
This is more than just another book: it’s a textbook. This should come as no surprise as the authors are lecturers at the Belfast School of Art.
“More than just another book: it’s a textbook. Each chapter builds appropriately on the previous and each chapter ends with an exercise for the reader. The exercise enforces what has been learned up to that point and sets the stage for the chapter to come.” —Jonathan Snook, Author, SMACSS
As an academic, anthologies – “published collections of literary works,” as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it – naturally interest me. I’m delighted to have written for a number of well-respected anthologies, including the following.
Managing a Mind
24 Ways, 2013
Drawing from personal experience – which I reflected upon in A Non-Graceful Shutdown – I was delighted to be invited to contribute to 24 Ways a second time in 2013. Writing on a topic close to my heart, that of Managing a Mind, and ensuring a healthy work-life balance in the face of the often overwhelming pressure we face in our industry.
On Creative Spirit
Smashing Book #4, 2013
I recently contributed the closing chapter of Smashing Book #4, ‘On Creative Spirit’, which explores the creation of ‘idea factories’. Identifying a number of common characteristics that bind together creative pioneers – from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs – I define a series of strategies one can use to unlock an endless flow of ideas.
Designing the Mind
The Manual, 2011
I was honoured to be invited to write for the inaugural edition of The Manual, a publication focused on exploring the whys and wherefores of design as it pertains to the web. ‘Designing the Mind’ poses the question: “How does the designer who is functionally competent grow professionally?” The chapter explores the importance of developing analytical and critical thinking through a three stage process that involves the intertwining of input, synthesis, and output.
Good Ideas Grow on Paper
24 Ways, 2011
This short treatise for 24 Ways, titled Good Ideas Grow on Paper, encouraged designers to eschew the computer for a change and instead embrace paper. As I put it: “Great designers have one thing in common: their design process is centred on ideas; ideas that are more often than not developed on paper.” It’s advice that still stands and as anyone who’s attended one of my workshops will affirm, delivers great results, every time.
In the wonderful world of academia the humble ‘magazine’ is often referred to as a ‘journal’, a term that lends a certain gravitas towards the written word. I'm delighted to have written for numerous publications, both offline and online. I’ve gathered a selection of these below.
A Non-Graceful Shutdown
Offscreen Magazine, 2014
I’ve always appreciated Offscreen Magazine so when I met Kai Brach, Offscreen’s publisher, at Brooklyn Beta #4 and he invited me to contribute an article to Offscreen, I embraced the opportunity. The piece, titled A Non-Graceful Shutdown, highlights the often undiscussed issue of mental health in our industry, a topic very close to my heart.
A Typographic Laboratory
8 Faces, 2014
Fully immersed in the limitless digital playgrounds we inhabit today, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the computer at the service of typography was a novelty. Rewinding almost a quarter of a century, FUSE, a typographic product of digital culture, leaves a polarising legacy: celebrated by some, cursed by others. This essay, part of a series highlighting our typographic history for 8 Faces, explored FUSE’s legacy.
Net Magazine, 2013
We’re living in a world where designers and developers‚ who were previously focused on client and services are increasingly turning to digital product design to develop potential new business streams, but how do you generate those ideas? In this piece on Idea Factories for Net Magazine’s Voices column, I outline a process to open the ideas floodgates.
A Shared Future
The New Adventures Newspaper, 2013
The landscape of interactive design is one characterised by constant flux; it’s changing and evolving at a rate we have never experienced before. Few, if any, industries reinvent themselves yearly, monthly, weekly… In this piece for The New Adventures Newspaper, I argue that we need to rally together to collectively shape our future, working together to shape a shared future.
Additional Essays and Articles
Ed Fella – Exit Level Designer
8 Faces #6, 2013
At Yahoo! Anyone's A Designer
Creative Bloq, 2013
Ovtavo - A Retrospective
8 Faces #5, 2012
Branding in the Digital Age
Computer Arts #205, 2012
8 Faces #4, 2012
The Tools of Our Craft
.net Magazine #218, 2011
8 Faces #3, 2011
Establishing a Visual Grammar
The New Adventures Newspaper #1, 2011
The League of Movable Type
8 Faces #1, 2010
Crafting Web Design Education
.net Magazine #208, 2010
I’m always interested in widening my audience, if you’d like me to write something for you, please do drop me a line and say, “Hello.” I’d love to make your acquaintance. If you're a publisher and you'd like samples of past commissions, I’d be happy to provide you with a PDF to showcase my writing.