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Interview task (left) • My fitness tech startup Tona (right)

Over a year ago I was lucky enough to bag an interview at Google for the role of Visual Designer. After getting through several tough rounds I was faced with the notorious Google interview task. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get the job. Fortunately for me, all was not lost as I fell in love with the task so much I co-founded a fitness tech startup on the back of that idea.

Here’s the story of how we built Tona, launched today on Product Hunt.

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Interview task on the left on the right

The dreaded interview task

The bane of all product designer’s lives is the dreaded interview task. We all know the drill: You have ‘4–6 hours’ to design a slick product, with a memorable brand and cohesive working method. No one acknowledges the fact that in reality, you’re about to dedicate up to 5 working days on this task, with the potential for them to ghost you straight afterwards. …

Has flat design destroyed the role of the web designer? I think not.

I’ve been reading with interest the brilliantly written opinion pieces ‘Fall of the Designer’ by Eli Schiff recently. If you haven’t read them and are interested in the history of trends in the digital design world, they are certainly worth a read.

The problem is I disagree with him completely.

His arguments mainly centre around how the rise of flat design or the ‘modern minimalist’ movement ushered in by iOS7 and Material design have desensitised and devalued the work of visual designers in the digital world.

As a previous architecture student I see a lot of similarities in the sweeping rise of the modern minimalist (flat) design to the tabla rasa created by the European modernist architects in the beginning of the 20th century. In the case of the architects, they rejected the superfluous and elaborate ornamentation that were prevalent in the beaux arts, art nouveaux and art deco styles that preceded them. They believed (and still do) that the pastiched character added to the building through these preceding styles was misappropriated and disingenuous in modern times. Instead their principles were based on form following function and utilising the new building techniques of concrete, steel, glass and mass reproduction. …

The background noise text editor: Review

At first glance, Noisli seems to be strange bipod of apps, it offers both therapeutic background noises and distraction free text editing. So you can write your nonsensical blog (as I am doing right now) whilst the calming sound of a thunderstorm or train tracks sooth your everyday aches. Perfect for insomniacs with writers block. Not so perfect for those with bladder problems.

I am writing this now within the distraction free text editor and my first impressions are mainly tainted by the over integration of share buttons for every social site going. …

Putting the traditional method to the test

We’ve all experienced it, an endless, daunting online form asking every question from your mothers favourite colour to your shoe size. The reason? So some digital troubadours can provide you a service or sell you something. All you need to do is provide them with a few details….

Inherited from the pre digital age on good old-fashioned paper forms, from your driving license renewal to your mortgage application, the style and experience of filling in forms has changed little. …

Probably the best mobile prototyping tool around

This past week I’ve been exploring transition and animation prototyping with a new app on the market, Pixate. It seems there’s a new one of these every week so it was with some skeptiscm that I decided to give Pixate a go. …

Simply put, don’t remove functionality

Ok I know its not “new’ anymore its been almost a year, but still my annoyances with the redesign haven’t been ironed out by revisions to the design, leading me to believe Google aren’t intending to make any significant changes. As I also still haven’t ‘got used to it’ even with daily use probably shows that my rejecting stance probably isn’t about my dislike for change, more that there’s some fundamental problems with the design which I will narrow down to ten for the purpose of this post.

1. All that zooming about

I have no idea why it zooms in and out so voraciously but its extremely frustrating never mind slow. If want to see all McDonalds in the local area for example, the new maps will ignore my request and inexplicably zoom ridiculously close to a random store of their choice. …

And why you should too

Last Monday, after much procrastination, I finally arrived (terribly late and flustered) to the Sketch party. To get started with a bang I tried to hash out designs for an iOS app, from wireframes to exportable slices, within a week. All within this new software without any previous training. I’m not sure why I tried to complicate my week deadline given by my boss by learning a new software, but I’m extremely glad I did as the week went by without a glitch. So, without further ado, which features of Sketch 3 did I enjoy most?

Intuitive and simple interface

It is no exaggeration to tell you that it only took a morning of exploring the controls and a few quick tutorial reads online before I was away. Compared to the litany of unknown controls within the adobe suite, the spartan toolbar of Sketch 3 was a breath of fresh air. For example, Sketch only uses the six style effects that you could realistically replicate with CSS styling. After one week I can say there was hardly a feature or tool I don’t know how to use, or where it was. Compare this to photoshop which after 8 years of use I probably know only 40% of the features available (or where they are). This says a lot for the difference in approach in the two programs. Sketch was purposefully designed for designing apps and sites while photoshop is an amalgamated and sprawling tool that was never intended for this purpose. It instead has had web design tools crowbarred into it over time, which often get lost within its clunky and inaccessible interface. …

Four simple rules to follow to ensure your type online is always legible, accessible…. and beautiful

It is often easy for inexperienced designers to get carried away with the plethora of colours available to them. …

A case study of how to get it right

Ever completed a long payment form online just to be rewarded with 76 error messages once you’ve pressed submit, annoying isn’t it, especially when it isn’t clear what errors you’ve committed, and where!

We recently had a chance to re-look at this problem at …


Andrew Burton

Designer and creative director at

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