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Loworks Japan

Posted by Alex

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Loworks is a design company based in Japan. I’ve been on a wacky illustration kick recently, and it’s always fun to see what Loworks is up to. Their old site is one of my all time favorite website designs. It may not be the best design from an accessibility standpoint, but you can’t beat the creativity and absolute craziness at work. I wish it was still active, always made me happy. Computer Arts did a small feature on Loworks if you are interested.

New Site Alert: Warp Records

Posted by Jakub

New Warp Site
I’m not a web designer or am I Scott or many of you talented graphic designers but i’m really impressed with the new Warp website. I like how they finally used that Pantone patented purple they’ve owned for the first time in a proper way. Not to ever diss the old design which was done by Designer Republic which had a great interactive flash feature and gave each newly signed musician a color. I also like that this new site doesn’t feel like lego pieces stacked and that I can easily recognize what’s the important new news right from the start. Nice work guys

ISO50 Playlist 1

Posted by Scott

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Track Listing:
School Of Seven Bells – Half Asleep
Gang Gang Dance – Egowar
Mahogany – One Plus One Equals Three Or M
Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
The Whitest Boy Alive vs Mylo vs Cut Copy – Otto’s Golden Journey (Andy Webb’s Dreamy Blend)
Phoenix – 1901
Air France – No Excuses
College – The Energy Story
Christ. – Cordate
Flying Lotus – Auntie’s lock/Infinitum (featuring Laura Darlington)
Flying Lotus – Roberta Flack (Mike Slott’s Other Mix)
The Avalanches – Since I Left You (Cornelius Remix)
Super Furry Animals – Some Things Come from Nothing
Engineers – Let’s Just See
Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook
French Kicks – Abandon
Blind Man’s Colour – Brother Sport (Animal Collective Cover)
Beirut – The Concubine
The Kooks – Kids (MGMT Cover)
Benoit Pioulard – Ash in the Sky
Bibio – Bewley In Grey

Daedelus – Experience

Unless you’re an RSS subscriber (if you are, click here to view player), you’ve probably noticed the new audio player at the top of the page. I’ve been wanting to add a flash based player for a long time because while the small single track player we have been using (and will continue to use) for music posts is good, it’s not something you can just turn on and let it play while you work. This new player is based on the JW Player framework and supports XML playlists and all the good stuff. It was a total pain to develop though, the documentation was a little thin in the skinning department so it’s been a very protracted process to say the least. I ironed out the last kinks over the past week so here it is…finally: the ISO50 Playlist. We’ll be refreshing the playlist often, usually with 16 or so song mixes probably every couple weeks or so.

The initial mix I put in tonight is just a collection of some of my favorites from the blog over the past year or so, nothing too specific or themed. Every song in the player (now and in the future) will be songs that we’ve previously posted on, so if you’re looking for more information on the song or artist just type it in the search box below (also new…well the design at least) and the relevant post(s) should come up. This is definitely a beta so give me the heads up in the comments if you run into any issues with the player as only a few people have tested it so far. On a related note, I’ve added a “featured posts” column in the hopes that it will make older posts a little more discoverable. I’ll also be adding a “featured categories” section next week as well in which I’ll try to compile some nice groupings of related articles on various subjects. As the blog gets on in years and the posts pile up, most of these additions are aimed squarely at highlighting older content, music and otherwise.

All of these changes and additions may get you thinking about the redesign I had discussed a while back. I haven’t given up on that plan, but it’s definitely taken a back seat as the process of finishing up my next album has sort of consumed me. I decided to make some incremental upgrades (like those mentioned above) using the current theme and then treat the redesign as it’s own phase a little later. Still contemplating that light background…

At any rate, the Playlist is here and I hope you enjoy! As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Jeff Doe Design

Posted by Scott

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Back in my days in Sacramento I spent a couple years at BKWLD, a small web shop in Roseville, CA where I got to work closely with fellow designer Jeff Toll (aka Jeff Doe). Jeff has recently launched his personal portfolio showcasing a lot of the excellent web work he’s done as creative director for BKWLD. I’d urge any web designers looking for inspiration to have a look, there are some great examples in there (including the FWA site of the day he did for The Wreckers).

Jeff Doe Interactive Portfolio & Print Portfolio
Jeff’s also got an interesting blog going on here

Grid Designer 2

Posted by Scott

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Came across this very cool CSS/HTML grid designer today. Aptly named “Grid Designer 2″, this tool allows you to mock up grid-based page layouts and set typography styles. A very handy page to have in your bookmarks, now they just need to make a widget out of this. Grid Designer 2

Related Reading: Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems, Aisle One

WordPress 2.7 = Success

Posted by Scott

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I just successfully upgraded the WordPress install for ISO50 to the new 2.7 version. I must say, this new version is incredible. I was running 2.1 for the longest time as a result of some early edits I made to the core files when I first installed WP (not recommended, but I didn’t really know what I was doing back then). There is a detailed guide on how to upgrade at the WP codex, but I decided to use a plugin that does everything automatically. It literally took 1 minute and I didn’t have to really do anything. The plugin, Instant Upgrade, is available here. If you’re running an older version of WordPress, you really should upgrade simply for security reasons alone, but the new admin interface and features are definitely worth it on their own.

Anyways, let me know if you notice anything weird on the site, I will be trying to flush out the bugs this afternoon.

You probably won’t notice any big differences now, but this is the first step on the path to the new redesign which I posted on a couple days ago. I want to say thanks to everyone who commented, it was a huge help to get such great feedback from all of you. I will be working through all the suggestions and deciding which will benefit the blog the most. As many of you pointed out though, most read the blog via the RSS feed so they rarely even visit the page. With this in mind, I try to make the page sort of the anti-RSS reader version, not stripped down, and not super clean. This isn’t Engaget or something, people come here for more than just the content I think, that is why I’ve never focused too much on things like the inverted contrast, Sifr titles, etc. I still want the blog to maintain a unique visual aesthetic, especially considering 99.9% of all blogs out there essentially look exactly the same. That’s not to say that I won’t be taking steps to make it faster and cleaner in the redesign, I definitely will, I’m just going to try to find a happy medium between form and function. Because those looking for pure function will always opt for an RSS reader.

As for the multiple authors issue a lot of you brought up, this is something I will really focus on clarifying. But to make one initial clarification, a few of you mentioned that you felt I was simply “letting my friends post” on the blog. This really isn’t the case. First of all, Jakub is an A&R, a label owner, and a DJ. I count him as a friend now, but this is from working together (he handles a lot of the day to day stuff for my Tycho music project and ISO50). Besides, he is who I look to when I want to find new music, we have similar tastes, and he is well qualified. This isn’t simply a case of me putting on my childhood friend or something. If I had the time to find new music and put as much effort into it as he does, I would most likely be posting the exact same stuff as him, so I’ve sort handed off a lot of the music posting duties to him and I think he does a superb job (my iPhone is pretty much just a big playlist of everything he has posted on the blog). Beamer is a friend of mine, but he also happens to be the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to early electronic music and he has a very large collection of rare electronic / ital-disco vinyl. Alex Cornell is a student and my intern here at the studio, his posts are meant to bring a student perspective to the mix. I have been in design for way too long to really see it from that early, super-objective point of view. The point is that I put these guys on the blog because I truly respect and value their opinions and tastes. I am very lucky that they are willing to participate in the blog and I think they are a big part of what makes it what it is. If it was just me posting here you’d all be inundated by a never ending stream of me ranting about what the best version of Windows is for swap disk latencies and MP3s of late nineties IDM. At any rate, I will definitely be making author pages for each of them to make things clearer.

Finally, here’s a tentative list of fixes/upgrades based on your suggestions, there are some other, larger features that will be added but that list is still secret!

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New Year / New Blog

Posted by Scott

The ISO50 blog is now approaching it’s second birthday and with the new year I thought now would be a good time to rethink the layout and functionality of the interface. The blog runs on the superb WordPress platform (highly recommended) so it’s extremely flexible and I want to take better advantage of that flexibility. When I first designed and built the blog I admittedly had no clue what I was doing. At the time I wasn’t really an avid blog reader so I didn’t really understand the finer points of a well thought out blog design. Thankfully, WordPress supports themes so I snagged the classic Kubrick theme (now K2) and hacked it into the form you see here. I learned a lot during the process and during the following year or so of working with the blog so I feel better equipped now to give it another shot. But as anyone in web design knows, it’s very difficult to be objective about your own interfaces and to understand the difficulties end users may have with your design.

So I wanted to ask you, the readers, what you would do to improve the blog. Is there anything about the interface or the layout that’s confusing, cumbersome, or just plain broken? Are there any features that you feel are missing or would be a good addition? I am in the early stages of the redesign, I have some mock-ups and wireframes going and a development install running here locally, so now would be a great time for suggestions. I look forward to reading any ideas or suggestions you might have in the comments

Update: Based on Michael J.’s comments I have added to this post in the comments.