History and Survey

The blog posts that sparked Humanist Interface.

The blog posts that sparked Humanist Interface.

Humanist Interface began humbly in the winter of 2012 as a few Dribbble comments and Twitter critiques of flat interfaces. I never intended to do more than grapple with what I saw as dark patterns emerging across the industry. Patterns that ran contrary to much of what I had learned about what makes interfaces usable.

In the spring of 2013 this culminated in a critique of the flat design movement, entitled Aesthetics and the Question of Dimension. Then, in June 2013, iOS 7 launched. Apple, the very company that had for so long promoted principled design now followed the industry’s lead. In response, I published a critique of their decision: Aesthetics = Usability. This might have been the end of it.

Those tiny specs of text on the mindmap are how Humanist Interface began.

Those tiny specs of text on the mindmap are how Humanist Interface began.

With a will of its own, the project continued. Within a few short months I found myself compiling massive mind-maps of analysis and notes. I was reading dozens of books and research papers on interface design aesthetics. I sensed a hunger for thought-provoking design criticism among disaffected designers in the face of overwhelming consensus in industry.

The Humanist Interface book site.

The Humanist Interface book site.

In April of 2014, I launched the Humanist Interface website, with the intent of turning my assorted writings into a book. The warm reception to the site led me to host a successful book talk during Design Week Portland in October 2014. In the months since, the book has grown; it now stands at well over 100 pages.

The Humanist Interface: Book Talk poster for Design Week Portland 2014.

The Humanist Interface: Book Talk poster for Design Week Portland 2014.

All this is to say that Humanist Interface is now at a crossroads. There is still much to write about the topic of modern minimalism in interface design. I haven’t begun to cover what this profound shift means for the industry and for users. The trouble is that I now realize I was looking at the project wrong the entire time. This is not a matter of the tides turning and things moving towards a dimensional aesthetic. Nothing is guaranteed. A humanist analysis needs to be ongoing, exploring design aesthetics as they evolve. Ultimately, Humanist Interface needs to get off my hard drive in order to reverberate.

Moving forward

I want to build a platform around Humanist Interface in order to allow me to sustainably write critical analysis and insights that benefit readers. I will still be doing design and consulting, but I am dedicated to getting Humanist Interface moving.

Some topics I will be exploring

  • What’s the deal with Skeuomorphism
  • Abstraction in user interface
  • The place of Modernist thought in today’s operating systems
  • The future of the design profession in the face of automation
  • The crucial role visual design plays in differentiating companies
  • The impact of Xerox PARC on user interface design

I plan to offer premium content for subscribers who become members (this is still in the planning stages.) I'm interested in seeing what sorts of things readers want to see more of.

Ad-Supported Option


  • Access to only one article per month
  • Sponsored with ads

Monthly Subscription

$10/month, that’s just $2.50 a week or $100/year, ($20 off.)

  • No ads
  • Two articles (second article is member-exclusive)
  • Interview with an icon or UI designer (or another member-exclusive benefit)
  • This Month in Pixels (or another member-exclusive benefit)

Reader Survey

Please take this short poll about what sorts of content and products, other than writing, you would like to have more of. I will be reading every response. Thanks for being an early supporter of Humanist Interface.

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