Design porridge, or why white space is important.

What is design porridge? In Russian, when someone mixes up too much food on a plate, we say you made “kasha” out of it. Translated, “kasha” means “porridge”. Yes, it’s just a type of a meal which was (and possibly still is) very popular back home.

However, this word can be associated not with just food, but with anything that seems too mixed or cluttered together. And of course in design, when too many elements are close to each other and there is no or very little white space, Russian speakers would usually look at it and say something like — what is this “kasha”?

So here we are, talking about design porridge. You may want to put all of your main messages, images, services and Call to Action buttons in the front of your website page and make sure it’s all “above the fold”. In other words, user sees it all before scrolling down. Our suggestion may be to only have the very important bits at the top, create some room for everything else and have the rest a little lower. Your argument, of course, is that you don’t want your clients to miss any of the important information.

The question is, however, who is the website for? You of course have a say in what needs to be there and what doesn’t, but ultimately, it’s your clients who are the target market. They are the ones who will be looking at the website and trying to get the main message, or see what services you provide. When your client visits your website and sees this “porridge”, what do you think they will do? Do you think they will read each banner, icon, button and message as you would, or do you think they will get stuck in all the mess and simply move on?

Our suggestion — avoid “porridge” in your design. It is a lot more important to prioritise information, than to show it all at once.


Cities embracing design

Melbourne has always been considered a more cultural, arty place (by most anyway). A designer-friendly city, with it’s relaxed café-like environment. As opposed to Sydney, a fast-paced labyrinth, more geared towards the commercial, business oriented persona.

Melbourne has the agIdeas and just recently the state of Victoria launched Design Matters. What do we have in NSW? I recently received an email from the Sydney based design event, Sydney Indesign. The only issue with that email was that the organisers (PowerHouse museum as it seems) decided to launch the event by doing something that designers (their main target market) despise and look down upon the most — crowdsourcing design contest.


An instant backlash through social media, blogs and forums, wasn’t that expected? The best would be the actual entries that they have received, which were mainly posters of protest against this whole idea of exploitation. I won’t be going into details why designers shouldn’t get themselves into design contests, there is enough on that written already. $1,000 prize, even that number itself is a joke.

The good news, and I would say this is mainly due to the negative publicity they have received — the contest was pulled off the website within about 1-2 days. Good job guys, let’s just all imagine that this never happened 🙂

A couple of examples of the entries, too bad I didn’t save them all.


Design in Russia, apparently it exists

This is an official trailer to a video (film?) about design in Russia. Graphic design, or design in general does exist in Russia, but very often it is overlooked.

While watching the design develop in Russia over the past few years, I’ve noticed the two extremes. Where at one end you see things designed by so-called designers or design companies that make you want to rip their fucking hands out. On the other, you come across some of the best designed pieces around, both in web and graphic design.

Design schools? From speaking to people that live in different parts of Russia (and even teach design there) — those are hard to come by. But, watch the video, there is a glimpse of hope in it.


official trailer THE MODERN RUSSIAN DESIGN from Sergey Shanovich on Vimeo.

Sydney trains

I hardly ever catch trains (or any public transport), I have a car. Apart from that, trains tend to rarely stick to timetables, stop and stand inside a tunnel for 10+ minutes, get overfilled and the prices for them seem to grow faster then the petrol prices.

I remember once (of many) catching a train to Quakers Hill, this was about 8 years ago. There was a drunk in my carriage and all he wanted was to quietly puke somewhere. We still had the old trains then, the ones where you could actually open a window and get some fresh air. This guy didn’t care much about fresh air, he opened the window a little and started to slowly vomit through it. The people around him began to move into the next carriage, maybe they were worried that he’ll finish throwing up and get rowdy. I sat and watched. The train suddenly hits the breaks. The drunk, obviously not holding on to anything, falls to the floor and in the process pukes all over the window, the wall and himself. The man looked like a local drunk, so without a sign of embarrassment, he wipes his mouth with the shirt sleeve, grabs his no-less drunk wife by the hand and gets out at the next station.

Before the smell took over, I also decided to go into a different carriage.

So, I’ve noticed that now the trains got themselves these new handles. Well, they are new to me, but maybe they have been there for over a year. I like them. They look strong, stronger then the old ones that hung off a rope. The train came on time, got to my destination pretty quick, cost me $3.40 and took about 5-6 minutes.

Later today I’m catching a bus. Can’t wait to see what’s new there.