Overheard: Peter Vidani, Tumblr's Lead Designer
Tumblr is quickly becoming not just a blogging platform, but a place where people build home pages. Is the future of "home pages" a chronological update of what you're doing? Or, more precisely, are you the sum of everything you share?
That seems to be what it is right now — identifying yourself by the things you share. It's hard to say if that's the future of home pages, because who knows how long pages will be around. But are we the things we share? That's a big question. In real life, that could hold up. These are the clothes I'm wearing, these are the things I want to talk about, here's what I've done lately. It might be more chaotic than a chronological timeline on a page, but it's not far from what we're trying to do here. I don't think anyone can create a new de facto way to represent identity, but we can get closer and closer to how we're getting along in real life.
What past technologies have inspired your work the most?
Sci-fi movies, cars, magazines, fashion. Things that exist today that we take for granted, that were only budding in hobbyist circles before. Working on web interfaces and apps feels like a weird thing and sometimes it's hard to say who's doing it right because it's so new. But so was storytelling with film, and designing the gas pedal.
When you start a product from scratch, how do you organize your thoughts and prioritize your goals?
The very first thing is talking to someone about it, and to immediately start drawing it on paper. It's important for me to get it on paper first. One, it's a fast way to get all the bad ideas out; two, I'm away from the distraction of a computer; and three, by the time I'm doing the labor in Photoshop, I'm not as worried about what the end product will look like. I also rely a lot on showing the work to other people. We're all in chat rooms, so it's easy to show a few people at once. Then, I try my best to iterate.
“Your turn Tumblr and Facebook” says Twitter with their new flying #Twitterbird.
Twitter has officially said this and never will. Facebook has matured with a 900 million user count so the word “facebook” or just letter “f” is a good enough symbol. Tumblr could come up with something but now that the infamous Twitter has forgone their “t” for branding they can ensure that will be their “t”.
Keep in mind though, despite Twitter being strict on what not to use anymore there will still be people out of the loop and two lowercase “t”s will be around.
Symbols without any typography are powerful, but that’s not to say you can make a specific letter or font spelling out your name with the specific colors be just as powerful. It’s a matter of choice. I like where Twitter is going.
We’re not only inspired by the work of Pixel Union but this is our first encounter of #storyboard.
We’re certainly looking at Tumblr as a platform to power…
Liam Sarsfield of MetaLab on Building Tumblr Themes
The idyllic seaside city of Victoria, British Columbia, is home to MetaLab, an interface design agency that’s discovered a profitable business in custom-built and à la carte Tumblr themes. So profitable, in fact, that themes are the main work product of a spinoff company called Pixel Union. Creative director Liam Sarsfield has strong opinions on what makes design beautiful — and how best to make it.
When was MetaLab formed, and by whom?
MetaLab was founded in 2006 by our commander-in-chief, Andrew Wilkinson. He had gone off to journalism school thinking that he wanted to change the world; he quickly realized that that wasn’t the way that he wanted to do it. He took up residence in his parent’s basement, and that’s how it started.
The main icons inside the Tumblr dashboard got a facelift and truly are more obvious and simplified.
Do CMS tools stone creativity in terms of web design?
“Tumblr is a truly unique hybrid. It sits squarely in the center of the Media Cloverleaf. It’s highly social, with an incredibly engaged community and connective tissue to the aforementioned hubs. It offers most of the benefits of the large blog platforms (eg Owned media). And, last but not least, it is being used by dozens of traditional and ‘tradigital’ media brands like The Next Web and Sports Blog Nation. It became clear to me in recent months that there is no other platform has the full Media Cloverleaf in its wraps the way Tumblr does. So moving to Tumblr seemed like the perfect way for me to walk my talk and engage across all four clovers with a maximum return on my time.”