Mike Swartz

Mike Swartz

Partner at Upstatement Joined almost 9 years ago

  • 2 stories
  • Posted to MIT website redesign, in reply to Mattan Ingram , Jul 26, 2018

    Good question, a name for this would be great. It's kind of like natural vs synthetic pigments, like they use in dyes. This palette is like the one you could make from organic materials, like when people would crush up bugs and stuff to create pigments.

    2 points
  • Posted to MIT website redesign, in reply to Andrew C , Jul 26, 2018

    Good points, and great feedback! You've honed in on two of the aspects that we expect to change most over time. The internal/external nature of the links are a very tricky problem. There are so many MIT sites and so many places to link off to. We try to mitigate this with the tooltip messages, but the nature of the network is that you're more likely than not to link to a completely diff site. The UX of browsing past spotlights is one that definitely needs some more thinking. Our feeling was to start by generating the content and trying on the approach, and then tuning the system as we can get more data and feedback from users in the wild (aka: who aren't just testing the site for free food).

    1 point
  • Posted to MIT website redesign, in reply to Andrew Richardson , Jul 26, 2018

    Good question. MIT had actually been doing a version of this content strategy on their site since the early 2000s, so the Spotlight is something people in the community know and expect. We wanted to keep + build on that aspect of the site and make it even more content focused, but also respect the utility-oriented visitor trying to find a person, department or building quickly with minimal fuss.

    1 point
  • Posted to MIT website redesign, in reply to Nic Trent , Jul 26, 2018

    Thanks Nic! The split was a solution to really large sizes, but there can be an awkward in-between. The stacked layout at 1099px wide is actually my favorite view of it.

    1 point
  • Posted to MIT website redesign, Jul 25, 2018

    Hey designerds, figured I'd weigh in on some of the thought process here, you might find it interesting:

    • Colors: Totally agree, today's theme is super Dropboxy. There are 32 color themes at MIT's disposal day-to-day plus custom colorways keyed off the daily art. These were all made to be accessible (AA or better), so had to follow pretty strict contrast/value rules to get there. Some are better than others, but they're made to be diverse and impermanent as the site cycles through them each day. Tomorrow it'll be different.
    • Search this is where a lot of effort went. MIT is a really diffuse place, and the main problem we saw in our research with users was digital wayfinding. We decided to make search the centerpiece and focused on getting it to be fast and useful (and even fun). One use case we worked on a lot was the mobile interface, as the site is really optimized for mobile sizes and handheld use. It has a custom elasticsearch installation that was heavily tested to make sure it was ACTUALLY useful in the real world. There are a few easter-eggs too ;) Full-page takeover on desktop is a side-effect of some of our mobile choices, which bubbled up to desktop. Try it on your phone!
    • Content strategy: the coolest part of the old MIT.edu was that it changed everysingleday. We saw this as a feature, not a bug, and designed around this. Each day the site highlights one small aspect of MIT, or one big discovery, or an interesting person. It tells the story of MIT in the aggregate, but over time instead of across (page)space. Many universities resort to "box-filling" to get all the aspects of their culture and academics on the homepage -- and you get a big huge homepage with each group fighting over page real estate. With MIT this was just impossible. So they made a really bold choice and are telling their story one piece at a time. It's also well suited to a daily email, which is rolling out at the same time.

    It's a quirky site, but MIT is a quirky place. We realized from the jump that in order to be "very MIT" it had to be smart, fast and weird. Judging by the comments I'd say we succeeded in the at least a few of those places. It's got a ways to go, but we think it's a great start for their writers, designers and engineers to build a platform for their community.

    36 points
  • Posted to Upstatement studio website, in reply to Alex Carpenter , Jan 25, 2017

    Ah, we know! The next release makes it much, much smaller (next week). This version has lots of pngs and gifs and is generally molasses. Next version will be much snappier, we just wanted to get it up ASAP.

    0 points
  • Posted to Site Design: The New Privacy Association Website, Aug 05, 2014

    And here's some before/after action: https://web.archive.org/web/20140713005703/https://www.privacyassociation.org/

    0 points
  • Posted to Site Design: Behind the scenes on Upstatement's redesign of Harvard Law Review, in reply to Spencer Bomberman , Jun 20, 2014

    Good eyes. There's a lot of archived/legacy stuff that doesn't support the new format, so there's a fallback for that. As they update the site and publish more new content you should see the interactive footnotes roll out.

    0 points
  • Posted to Site Design: Behind the scenes on Upstatement's redesign of Harvard Law Review, Jun 20, 2014


    Figured you all might enjoy a peek at the interactive style guide: http://harvardlawreview.org/style-guide/

    7 points
  • Posted to Ask DN: do you miss the Macromedia era?, Jun 20, 2014

    I never really understood freehand, I guess because I got started in Illustrator first. But I did enjoy the Macromedia design aesthetic and the juxtaposition to Adobe.

    Bonus, here's a blast from the past when "Future Splash" was just becoming Flash: https://cdn.tutsplus.com/active/uploads/legacy/articles/017_flashStory/img/befor-flash1.png

    1 point
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