The podcast transcript of Episode #16: Design roundtable (Part 1 of 3) is now available. Here’s an excerpt:

Jamie: It was interesting coming to 37signals because they have a distinct style, right? Everybody knows that’s like a 37signals look. But then when you actually get down to it, it’s really hard to distill that look into words. I was a designer at Crate and Barrel for about seven years. And it was easy there because, Crate and Barrel, it’s all about the product, it’s all about white space, it’s all about Helvetica. So the product is hero.

When you come to 37signals, it’s sort of like, what’s the hero? Well over the time of working with Jason and Ryan, I’ve realized that the hero is making it clear. Clear about what we’re trying to sell, clear about what does this app do. So it’s almost like the language is far more important than visual design. Where visual design is really supporting the idea, which is the words or the UI…

Ryan: When we start to get into the heat of discussing something that was just marked up and we’re really going through feedback, it’s like we’re very rarely talking about, “That border should be four pixels instead of three pixels.” It’s much more, we’re pasting different phrases and quotations saying, “How could we say that differently? How could we say that more clearly?” And how does that piece of copy scan differently if you put a certain keyword at the front of the sentence or at the back of the sentence, if you make it two sentences, or if you make it half as long or twice as long. Not only what is the meaning of the sentence, but, also, when you look at the screen, does the sentence catch your eye, so that you notice that it’s talking about the thing that you’re interested in.

Jason: Yeah. A big part of that is recognizing that people probably aren’t going to finish a whole paragraph, so what can you front load? So if they finish 10 or 20 percent of the paragraph, can you actually explain the whole thing in the first 10 or 20 percent? Obviously, it probably shouldn’t be that long if we can explain it in the first 10 or 20 percent. But sometimes there are other details that are nice to know, but you don’t have to know them. So figuring out how can we get the information out there right up front, as soon as we can.

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