Category Archives: Design

5 things that will make you a better designer


No more witty production level tips. The web is already full of them.

Instead, here I will sum up a few viewpoints which I find important to remember when designing creative concepts and solutions.

I personally believe that every great designer has to really believe in good design as a concept. It’s not just polishing things to look nice but making the whole experience of using the product as smooth and transparent as possible. All this while also considering the business factors and other given goals for the design.

So here they are, five things that improve the quality of the design work:

1. Get a creative brief from the client


This should be a standard when starting a project, but unfortunately it’s still too rare, even though a well-written creative brief is the single most important contributor of precise guidelines for the creative work. Used accordingly, a creative brief is a great tool to generate brilliant creative solutions.

A good creative brief gives outlines for the design work, articulates the big problem that needs to be solved and defines the work’s goals. Even better, there are plenty of good templates available on the web.

If you haven’t received a creative brief or, for some reason, it’s not possible to get one (e.g. in some pitch situations), then create your own imaginary brief and proceed accordingly. This way the design work has a structure and the outcome is tied to something.

Nevertheless, the most important point here is that the creative brief is not just about filling a Word document, it’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas it produces.

A good read:

2. Have a creative process


Behind every great execution is a great concept that is based on a good idea. To get a good idea, it’s essential to have a big amount of ideas – both good and bad. At first, only quantity is important. It’s helpful to have a structure that helps thinking and creating. That is, the creative process.

There are four parts in a general creative process:

  1. Preparation:The problem to be solved is carefully considered and resources are gathered in order to confront the task. The conscious mind is focused on the problem. (To be honest, this is one of the boring parts of the process and basically benchmarking.)
  2. Incubation: Drawing upon these resources, consideration of the problem is internalized and becomes a largely subconscious activity. The mind makes connections more freely and abundantly. This is probably the most mysterious part.
  3. Illumination: Possible solutions to the problem emerge from the subconscious. This is a moment of insight and optimism.
  4. Verification: Solutions are tested and may be applied if proven viable. If not, then it’s time for iteration.

Often the first two phases are underestimated or left out even though they are fundamental parts of the process. Everyone has a unique process for creating ideas, but it’s good to apply some generally accepted structures to your own thinking to be more organized and identify each stage of the process as you go.  When researching rowing machines while working with our client Body Gear Guide magazine, our creativity worked best when we actually understood
how rowers worked and actually tried the workouts ourselves. We were then able to build a
a creative looking page effortlessly.

A good read:

3. Understand what concept design is


When launching a new campaign, the first thing that a potential customer sees is an advertisement that is still just an execution and the last step of a bigger design process.

Before it makes sense to design an advertisement, the following things should be considered:

  • business plan/idea
  • client/brand
  • product/service
  • competition
  • target market
  • advertising objective
  • proposition/benefit
  • tone of voice
  • advertising budget
  • media
  • campaign/advertising idea
  • and finally: the advertisement execution.

This could be illustrated in a form of an iceberg, where the only thing the possible client gets to see is the execution (if the previous list is turned upside-down). The bigger thinking lies under the surface and before actually designing the visual outlook of the advertisement. I think our friends at RapidSeedbox do a great job of understanding how their audience responds to design cues.

Don’t just design, it’s usually simply polishing the turd. Instead, create a concept. Know what you want to say, who are you talking to and how you want to say it.

A good read:

4. Understand the behavior of a human being


The truly great experiences are deeply rooted in motivations, desires, emotions, cultural & social patterns, beliefs and other deeper considerations and structures. The more you know about these topics, the more you’re able to affect people’s behavior.

Products in the market today are evolving so fast that it makes simply no sense to teach precisely how everything around us works. Honestly now, do you really know how your mobile device connects the call to the right person or what happens under the bonnet when you turn your car on? We’re increasingly surrounded by highly complex mechanisms we don’t understand – even when it’s explained to us. The amount that we just have to believe, without understanding it, is increasing day by day. As a result, we are tending to assign more importance to those who can explain something than to their actual explanation.

Soon it will be the norm to convince people with images and emotions rather than with arguments, feature listings and cold facts. And when images and emotions are combined into storytelling, we’re on the right track.

Good reads:

5. Have a passion and drive your work


I think this is clear. In order to become a great designer it’s not enough to just go to the office in the morning and leave in the afternoon.

Education, intelligence, talent and skill are important, but passion and drive are critical. Remarkable designers are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.

To achieve a right kind of drive, three main ingredients exist:

  • Autonomy – The desire to direct our own lives. This is about having the ability to choose how you work, when you work, where you work and even with whom you work.
  • Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters. This is about structuring your work so that you’re learning and growing and improving your skills and your art everyday, always pushing at the edge of your ability.
  • Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. This is about connecting your work to a bigger picture that’s personally important to you.

A good read:

To sum it up

I’ll end this article to a quote from David Ogilvy:
“Creating successful advertising is a craft, part inspiration but mostly know-how and hard work. If you have a modicum of talent, and know which techniques work at the cash register, you will go a long way.”

Hopefully you have a reason for working the way you do and hopefully this reason helps you do your work better. Perhaps not easier or faster, but better.

About the author

Mika Matikainen is an Interactive Art Director at Activeark and Entrepreneur from Helsinki, Finland. For more information, please visit Mika’s LinkedIn profile.


98% of Car Designs Are Crap.

98% of current car designs are crap.

1% of current cars are beautifully designed, but too expensive for 99% of the population.

0,5% of current cars are concept cars that never make it into manufacturing stage, as they are too beautifully designed and probably couldn’t get the ‘must get’ grades from the wind tunnel test.

0,5% of current cars have some hints of mojo in them.

And then there is the new Beetle.

The new Volkswagen Beetle is what the Mini used to be. It is what Mini was back in the days when it was still cool. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Mini, but it is in a desperate need of something new (and the Mini Convertable just wasn’t what was needed for it to feel fresh again).

I love the new Beetle. We love the new Beetle.

It is just so cool. And yes, cool is good. Cool is in fashion. Cool is the new black.

Beetle is the new Cool.

Amid the extremely unexciting bunch of cars that all look almost the same, the new Volkswagen Beetle manages to  stand out. For now. Lets hope they don’t minify themselves.

What About The VW Beetle Advertising?

Oh, and the new Beetle minisite won the FWA award. Can they do anything wrong?

Lets leave with this. The very cool VW Black Beetle TV commercial with only tid-bit over 5.000.000 hits on Youtube alone.

We also warmly recommend a visit to Youtube for the full Black Beetle experience.

2012. Our Most Amazing Year Yet.

cannon-contentn-for-2012-our-most-amazing-year-yet-theoutsideviewblog-com-original-image-by-enframed-at-deviantartWe went live the 7th of December 2011. That is just 25 days ago.

The support and ensuing results have been amazing and that is, of course, thanks to you who are just reading this article. We have more followers and we have received more requests for being a contributor or a guest writer than we ever thought would be possible in such a short time.

That means, that we made the right decision to start this site. And are doing the right decision by pushing the pedal even more for 2012 to make sure we bring you the quality content you deserve, we want to make, and everybody else expects.

This is still just the beginning and for the 2012 we are rolling out the big guns.

We’ve been alive for 25 days straight. Huh, what an achievement.

During those 25 days we’ve already gathered 103 subscribers, more than we ever though would be possible in a such a short time. With no link building activities or giveaways what so ever, that is truly a miracle.

fireworks-what-is-in-store-in-2012-our-most-amazing-year-yet-the-outsideviewblog-image-by-wdwparksgal_stockSo thank you for the first 25 days and of the first year! And have a happy New Year!

Whether you’re celebrating it at the Time Square, next to that busy coffee parlor in Kioto, in your hut at Chamonix, at the Streets of Delhi or in your friends cozy place somewhere on the rough border territory of Espoo and Vantaa, be sure to take a look at the good things happened during the past year, and then quickly set your gaze towards the future.

Don’t do anything we would do. Have fun and Enjoy!

More Coming in 2012.

For 2012 we have a blast in store for everybody! With clowns, flying elves and maybe, just maybe, the next big thing in show biz.

Or if all that fails, we’ll expand the article warehouse with more witty writings and how-to articles in marketing and design, interesting perspectives on some socio-economic footprints and in-depth looks into modern technological achievements from new gadgets to cloud computing secrets and more. We have just started and the cream of the crop is just to follow.

We also have already listed the help of three new senior level contributors, who will be posting selected articles throughout the year.

It is gonna be an interesting year that 2012. For you and for us.

As Apple would put it: 2012 Is Our Most Amazing Year Yet.

I Invented the Apple Newsstand App!

features_newsstand_folderThere’s a thing I have to say aloud related to the Apple Newsstand app: I invented it first!

Unfortunately, it is not about what you invent, but when (and how you proceed to implement it).

I discussed about a concept not unlike that of the Apple’s Newsstand paired with iPad already during my first years in college sometime before or after the turn of the millennia, i.e. circa 1998/2001. I was adamant that the way magazines, newspapers and books are read is going to change dramatically with digitalization. My concept consisted of a thin, portable terminal, to where you can ‘order in’ you newspaper and magazine subscriptions, as well, as books. With an automatic update and delivery of these items every time a new issue is published. Sound familiar?


courtesy of

My vision of the terminal was much more like to that of Amazon’s kindle though – not Apple’s iPad. And apart from reading books, magazines and newspapers with browsing the internet, I didn’t envision other purposes or uses for the terminal. I saw clearly that the storage and charging area for the terminal would be the entry hall or corridor of the house (in a nice looking wall fixture). From there you could still easily pick up the terminal like you used to pick up the morning paper and easily read it during your breakfast – again as you were used to doing before, with no change in the morning routines. Simple and easy.

Of course, as the case many times is with new inventions, the universities and business entities didn’t see the concept and the related business model viable in any form and the business was left to the start-up ditch.

But finally, here is the time to say to all those in doubt: HAA HAA. I was only app. 10 year ahead the time.

Now after the successful launch of Apple’s Newsstand  we can also take in one of the most important factors in business – timing. On business, timing is everything. It is the be all and end all of any go-to-market strategy. It is the key to whether a new revolutionary invention will truly be a revolution or just a forgotten pile of papers inside the forever-closed cupboard. And it is crucial to the success of a launch – together with how you do it.

Timing – it is everything.

*top picture courtesy of

Sustainable Philosophy for Design Leaders.

technology-sustainability-simplicity-quote-theoutsideviewblog-comOne quote taken out of context could be termed as the design philosophy behind the most successful products and solutions today.

“Somehow we’ve come to associate progress with more sophistication and complexity in our technology, and yet simplicity is often the more elegant solution…

…and the more sustainable”

– Sally Lever

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.


Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
That’s What We Do.

It is the launch that defines the product. It is the launch that has the most potential to set you to a clear path towards your objectives. It is the launch that makes or breaks you. It is the launch that defines you.

This is the launch, and we go at it with cannons blazing.

For this gun toting, volcano erupting, lip sealing, titty bouncing launch of The Blog – Our Blog, The Outside View Blog – we delved deep into the archives of the mind, body, soul and the world wide web, and produced for you the epitome of internet content: Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll.

As a homage to Benetton returning to its roots and to the controversy their new campaign – Unhate – is generating, we have for you The Kiss. In this case: Men Kissing Each Other.

But we didn’t stop there with the Sex. We also put in the same Men Spanking Each Other and a Nude Woman and Boobs. A 100%-proof way to get classified as X-Rated or NSFW; and to draw more interested parties in.

We also put in the Drugs. As we weren’t sure whether the current trend is more towards Pills or Needles, we put in both. You can only imagine, whether what you see is heroin, smack, skag, or junk; cocaine, snow, flake, coke, or blow; barbiturates, yellow jackets, reds, blues, amy’s, or rainbows; street methadone; alcohol; ketamine or special K; benzodiazepines; amphetamines or greenies; tobacco; buprenorphine, bupe or subbies; cannabis, hashish or marijuana; 4-MTA; ecstasy; LSD; methylphenidate or ritalin; anabolic steroids; GHB; alkyl nitrates or poppers; or khat. Imagine, as we really can’t tell you.

We put in Famous Stars: Darth Vader from the Star Wars Movies is there too. How cool is that!

We put in a beautiful image from a new Twilight. And not just a scene from any Twilight Movie, but a real image from the moment of Breaking Dawn at the most serene moment during the Twilight. Beautiful isn’t it.

Following on the trails of ad agency Kitten Factories and to pursue the huge trend of Catvertising, we have Absolutely Adorable Kittens Staring. We have not one, but two Cute Puppies Playing. But to really stand out, we also have Sweet Pretty Hearts.

Furthermore, if you look closely, you can see a surefire sign of Rock ‘N’ Roll. And yes, we think this post is Rock ‘N’ Roll too.

Isn’t this the perfect first post, the best launch post ever?

We also thought that you might want to see the men kissing each other, men spanking, nude woman, boob, titties, fun bags and other NSFW and x-rated images, as well as, drugs (both pills and needles), rock ‘n’ roll, Darth Vader from Star Wars and the amazingly beautiful image from twilight – the breaking dawn, the two cute puppies, absolutely adorable kittens staring and the sweet pretty hearts as a larger version. Just not to miss any single detail. (it’s below, you know)


Really, what more can you ask?

Ok, you could say that we’re missing Stolen Pre-Release Footage of the Apple iPhone 5, The First Look at the New Apple iTV, The Beyonce Knowles and Jessica Alba Sex Tape and Paparazzi Shot of Ashton Kutcher Cheating Demi Moore. Not anymore. Too bad we didn’t fabricate videos on those too.

But here’s the original catvertising video by the catvertising video producing company Kittywood Studios, as videos are a must in todays fast changing global economy (really.), and so no self-respecting blogpage can be without them. The video is filled with kittens, you know. So we know everybody will like it, and us, better because of it. Well, except puppy loving kitten haters, but we trust they are in minority.

You could also say, that we didn’t tell you what we do and why should you read and follow us? That is true.

So far we’ve missed the most important point a real launch should give you: the reason. We might have gotten your Attention, which is a plus, but we strongly believe we missed many readers with the above rant and didn’t capture your Interest – the text is way too long for most. Also, raising false hopes or misleading your perceptions too far might mean that we can’t get you to Act – to come back, to follow us or to tell your friends about us – or at least that doing so will be more difficult. Yes, we believe in the AIDA model. Yes, we hope you come back.

Most launches fail to deliver on the business objectives set for them. Is it the fault of the launch actions? Is it the fault of the products launched? Or is it the fault of the too optimistic goal setting? Our experience tells us, that it is a combination of all, but with the objective being the absolute key to success. Set it too low, you undermine yourself. Set it too high, you will only get disappointed. You cannot ever truly succeed, unless the expectations set are realistic. If objectives aren’t clear, a launch will fail.

We write about marketing, design, technology and society. We have clear objectives. We will improve our product continuously, and you are more than welcome to help us to improve.

On occasion we might be controversial, sometimes we will be stupid and boring, hopefully we are able to be insightful and professional, originality would be great, banality not so much, and if we are funny, we are glad.

For further information

As this post will get lost as the site content gets richer. We have set up a permanent section where you can quickly soak in what we are all about. So please see the About section for more details on us, on our viewpoints to the topics, on the content we create and on how you can contribute.

Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll till next time. You can always try to prove us wrong.