I am tired of identikit distressed boho-chic cookbooks. They’re all the same: full-colour shots, top down, naturally lit, and faux-rustic in style. Rewind to the 1970s and 80s and there were no rules. With limited budgets and costly printing technology, cookery books were groundbreaking in their photography, design and layout, if not necessarily their ingredients. Food styling was in its infancy, and consisted of creating a mise en scène for many dishes rather than just one, often with hilarious results.
Something seemed strange. Staring out of a hotel window in São Paulo, my eye was caught by an oversized digital display crowning the top of an undersized skyscraper. Steadily flashing the time, then the temperature, the display was incongruous in a way that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was only later, when a colleague mentioned that São Paulo had banned billboard advertising, that I realised what had felt so odd about my view. Those flashing numbers were the only visible signage actively making a play for my attention. Having come from New York, I was used to looking out at a landscape of logos and gargantuan product shots; a vista of advertisements all jostling for “eyeballs”, as the industry so charmingly puts it.
A good primer on user experience design here by Ali Rushdan Tariq:
Think about the last time you ate at a restaurant. What cuisine did it serve?
What made you to choose that particular restaurant? What was your first impression as you walked in? Were you asked to wait till you were ushered to an available seat? How was the menu arranged? Did food come quickly enough? How did it taste? How was the customer service? Did your squaring up go smoothly? Would you go back again?
Your answers to these questions, including all the emotional highs and lows, encompass the restaurant’s user experience (UX).
Today, UX has grown into an important design discipline that continues to grow and evolve. And while it’s fairly new, its multidisciplinary history can be traced all the way back to the Renaissance—if not earlier.