UK Design Documentaries, Series & Talks

There are some great documentary films, and more recently series (, about Design. But 2 things I have noticed about these are that;

  1. The same Design related films tend to be promoted across different ( resources (
  2. These films tend to have a US focus, both in subject matter and creation.

As such, I’ve been looking at films that focus at the great Design history here in the UK, both at a general level and on ones that focus on specific, British Designers.

📽 UK Design Documentary Films

Abram Games - Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means

“A film of the life and work of Abram Games features rare archive conversations with Games, interviews with his family and assessments today’s leading designers. All aspects of Games’s is explored from posters to product design.”

📺 UK Design Documentary Series

The Brits Who Designed the Modern World

BBC Arts profiles ten great living British designers … to find out what inspires them to make such phenomenal objects. She reveals how designers have responded to society’s evolving tastes, from the brash 60s modernism of Margaret Calvert’s road signs through to the colourful technology of Rick Dickinson’s ZX Spectrum.

The Genius of Design

This five-part series, made by the team behind the award-winning series The Genius of Photography, tells the story of design from the Industrial Revolution through 20s modernism, the swinging 60s, the designer 80s and up to the present day.

🗣 UK Design Talks

Matthew Carter - My Life in Typefaces

In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books – remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

I’m hoping this resource will expand out over time so if you have any suggestions, let me know, I’m always happy to hear about new Design films ツ

Rely on Your Users as well as Your Analytics

So you have a product.

Product A Product A

And your product has features.

Product A - Features Product A - Features

And you have analytics on your product, to see who is using your features.

Product A - Analytics Product A - Analytics

Your analytics show you that, out of the 50 people who use your product 30 use feature A and only 1 uses feature B

Product A - Analytics Detail Product A - Analytics Detail

Great you think, let’s focus on Feature A, Feature B is a distraction (our analytics show us). Remove that, and we can be a Feature A focused team.

So you remove Feature B.

Product A - Feature Product A - Feature

But what you missed, what your analytics didn’t show you, is the 1 person who used Feature B was the person who chose the product. And, while using Feature A benefited each individual who interacted with it, this 1 key person using Feature B benefitted the whole team.

And you removed Feature B - because your analytics told you to - and you didn’t actually speak to your users to find out what the key people, the influencers actually used.

So this 1 person, who used feature B and has now lost it, finds another product, one that still includes an equivalent Feature B. And the whole team move over to that.

Product B Product B

What do your analytics show now.

Lost Users, Lost Revenue Lost Users, Lost Revenue

Colour Theory & Design Resources

A recent UXDiscuss event looking at the use of colour to enhance the users experience had me digging back through various resources I’ve gathered over time in relation to colour theory and UI design.

A Design Critique Colour Swatches

This post is designed as a future reference and a way to collect these resources together.

An International Guide to the Use of Colour in Marketing & Advertising

Can text in different colors help you tackle the most difficult books?

Canva ‘Colors Design Wiki’—information about colors and their meanings

Color Theory Course

Everything About Color Contrast And Why You Should Rethink It

Handprint—Light and the eye

Handprint—Color harmony & color design

In regard to these ^ two—Basically everything listed here - - is fairly useful ツ

How to Use Color in Design to Guide Your User

How To Use Color To Prove Your Point, From A Data Viz Expert

Practical Rules for Using Color in Charts

The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaos

The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

The Semantics Of Color, Visualized

This 1939 Chart Explains How Color Affects Legibility

Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design

Web UI Design for the Human Eye

We’re Only Just Beginning To Understand How Color Impacts Users

What your users really think about your choice of colors

Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language

Hopefully these resource will prove useful when looking to learn about colour theory and the use of colour to enhance UX.

On Receiving Design Critique

Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.

A Design Critique Critique ≠ A Personal Criticism

Receiving feedback, receiving it well and being able to act upon this feedback is a difficult skill to master.

No-one likes to be told “That’s wrong” or “I don’t think this works” and getting this type of response to a piece of design work you have done, at any stage of your career, can be a knock to a persons confidence.

The key point I keep in mind myself, and advise people I’ve worked with, is to not take this design critique personally. You are not your designs. Hold your ideas lightly, take on this feedback, both good and bad, and use it as a way to move your design forward.

That single comment on one of your ‘failed’ designs might be the spark, the inspiration, that leads you to the right solution.

Writing Useful Error Messages - Resources and Ideas

Writing a useful error message is tricky. Striking the right balance of presenting useful information to people while explaining what the error was and, more importantly, what they can do about it is not an easy thing to do, especially when looking to automate/template these type of interactions.

Windows 10 Error Message Windows 10 Error Message - Please don’t do this ツ

Try to Avoid Using Error Messages

The ideal goal is to not need to use error messages at all. Look instead to design what Don Norman calls a ‘collaborative’ system, tell the user the requirements before they do the work. If there are special ways you want user to enter content/data into a system tell the user before they enter it, not afterwards.

If You Do need to Display Error Messages

Where Error Messages are used try to ensure they sound like they’ve been written for real people to understand and not using incomprehensible, ‘machine code’ style message.

Think of the error message as a conversation with the person using the system. Make it polite, understandable, friendly & jargon-free. The goal is to write an actionable error message that anyone could understand.

Ensure the error message is visible in regard to message size, colour & location. If the person can’t see the error message they will have trouble acting upon it. It needs to be specific as to what the problem is and help the user recover. Explain what they need to do next and how can they get back to what they were doing.

An Example Error Message

A useful error message template, based off the above guidelines looks like this;

[What has happened in plain, jargon-free language]

[What the user can do to continue with their task]

[Who the user can contact (including named person, email address, phone number, etc. where applicable) for assistance]

Error Message Writing Resources

The Guidelines above are based on a few useful resources I’ve found when researching writing useful error messages.

Don Norman writes about using ‘collaborative’, rather then ‘error’, messages here

Ben Rowe gives 4 useful tips in this UXMas article on error messages

Some great error message writing tips in this article by Thomas Fuchs

Some older, but still relevant, info in this article on error messages from Michael Bolton (not that one, I think ツ)

Steven Hoober talks here on how error messages are an anti-pattern

Again on UX Matters - Caroline Jarrett explains how not to be embarrassed by your error messages

and finally;

NN/Groups Jakob Neilson offers some useful error message writing guidelines