Category Archives: Design

BLEK Reviews Blek

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If only one iOS game ever gets a review on it might as well be the one game with the same name: Blek (by brothers Denis and Davor Mikan of Austria).

The $2.99 app, available on both iPhone and iPad, currently sits at #10 on Apple’s paid top charts across all categories, and #5 in the ‘All Games’ category. You can visit the developer’s website at for more details and you can download the app via iTunes here.

And now, for the review:

First Impression: This game is addicting. Unfortunately, after level 29 I started to get frustrated, and the sound effects started to become obnoxious. Still, it’s hard to knock on Blek – its beautifully simple graphics and game mechanics make it hard not to love.

Ease of Use: Blek is very simple to understand, and doesn’t require any more directions than the initial hand gesture suggestion that is presented to you on the very first level. After that, it’s just trial and error. There are no loading screens or pauses between each attempt so the game can move as fast or as slow as you wish. It’s really simple.

Graphics: As I mentioned in my first impression, the graphics are great. They’re minimalist and ultra-simple, but when you start to play the game and transform the visuals with just a finger it’s pretty neat.

Recommendation: If puzzle-type games are your thing, go for it. If you aren’t a fan of puzzles or creative thinking or visual problem solving, you should probably skip it and use the $2.99 for some extra power-ups or lives in Disney’s Frozen Free Fall. That’s my current time waster.

Star Rating: Out of 5 starts, Blek earns a solid 4. Simple, beautiful, and addicting. As far as improvements are concerned, I think there’s room to engage the player a bit more, and the variety of sounds could certainly be expanded upon. If the developers continue to push out additional levels in future updates that could keep this game in the spotlight for quite a while. A 2-player duel mode would also be an interesting addition – there are lots of possibilities with this one.


Ten Principles of Good Design

I won’t try and convince you that I came up with these ten principles of good design, but I absolutely agree with all of them. Jony Ive’s team at Apple is purportedly only one of a few companies that lives and breathes by these ten principles, and the principles are evident in all of the design elements that make up Apple’s products, services, and branding.

Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer known for Braun consumer products, is credited with the development of the following ten principles of good design:

Good design is…

  1. Innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long-lasting
  8. Thorough down to the last detail
  9. Environmentally friendly
  10. As little design as possible

Rams’ principles align well with my belief of what good design is. Perhaps that’s why I love what Apple has achieved when it comes to design, or perhaps because I love Apple’s design work I’ve come to appreciate the same design principles.

Whatever the case, tell me how Apple falls short on just one of those principles when it comes to design and you’ll have my full attention.

Framing Your Story

“I’m writing this as I sit in the Dragonfly coffeehouse in Pleasantville, New York. The vernacular is perfect for the story they intend to tell. Elvis (the early Elvis) is on the stereo. The stone statues of Buddha are in the window and the ceramic mugs make just the right sound as they touch the surface of the stone tables. The blackboards are handwritten and a guide dog in training is sitting under the table, softly whining.

The coffee and tea (the “products” ostensibly sold here) are identical to that for sale at half the price across the street at the diner. But that’s okay, because no one is here for the product. We’re here for the story and the way believing it makes us feel” – Seth Godin, in All Marketers Are Liars

I love this comment from Seth. It explains why people pay more for the same thing – why name brand works, why Fiji water works, why so many high-priced items that have identical lower-priced counterparts work. It’s all about telling a story and framing your story to reach those individuals who connect with it.

In terms of web-based marketing, Seth’s comment explains why UI/UX, colors, copywriting, site responsiveness and fluidness and everything else about a website is so important. When there’s so much noise, you have to stand out and frame your story to get noticed (or you get ignored).

The Importance of a Great UI/UX for Payment Processing

Here’s the deal: If you have a website and sell products online (or want to start), you MUST HAVE A GREAT PAYMENT PROCESSING UI/UX.

What do I mean? For starters, UI is short for user interface and UX is short for user experience. A user interface is the means by which a human and a computer interact. A user experience is the overall experience a user has with your website, product or whatever. A payment processor is whatever you use to accept payments – for many, it’s Paypal, Stripe, or a huge variety of others. The problem is, all of these payment processors have their drawbacks. The biggest drawback is their poor UI/UX.

I’ll share two big takeaways to find success with accepting payments online, and leave the many other details for another post. Continue reading

Design is Key

I’m not sure where I picked up my love for design. I think part of it has to do with organization. I’m a very organized person (not on an OCD level, mind you), and I love for things to be in their place. I’m a lot happier when I’m in an environment that is organized and clean. But hey, who isn’t?

Those two words, ‘organized’ and ‘clean’, make up my two main beliefs about what constitutes great design, especially for the web and technology in general. Everything needs to be organized and clean. Continue reading

WordPress Blogs on Mobile Devices Get a Facelift

WordPress recently updated their standard look for mobile viewing, and it looks and functions noticeably better than it did before. The menu was moved to the very top, the fonts adjusted, and even the reply button is different. Everything got a little more stylish, functional, and easier to read. Of course, if you are still not a fan, you can turn off the mobile version of your site under Appearance -> Mobile. Continue reading