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Shrinking Today Calendar with vector assets: (re)designing for purpose

Liam Spradlin

Recently, Today Calendar gained a new batch of event illustrations and dropped 4MB from its APK size.

For those not familiar, Today Calendar has "daily decor," a growing set of custom illustrations that are triggered based on what kind of events a user has scheduled. If, for example, you schedule a "team meeting," Today will bring up an image relevant to meetings or business. This is a feature the redesign launched with in September 2014, with a collection of around 200 keywords so far.

To achieve the drastic size drop, Jack and I transitioned all existing illustrations to vector assets, which are now supported in Android. Thankfully, this isn't a Lollipop-only feature. It's possible to back-port support for vector assets (SVG files converted to XML).

The effect was great, but the process came with its own challenges. Specifically, working with SVG files in mind (and file size as a primary goal as we continue to add images) required a different design approach. 

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The March palette: Falena

Liam Spradlin

It's very easy to fall into a palette rut - a place where you find yourself using the same color palette over and over again on various pieces of work. I'm certainly guilty of doing this. But palette ruts don't have to be a reality. There are tons of tools online for compiling automatic palettes, but I think those feel a bit mechanical, and I'm never quite satisfied with the result.

For that reason, I'm starting a new feature on Dadapixel: the monthly palette. Every month, I'll create a new palette with a new name, and some illustrations to show that palette in use. You can download the palette yourself for your favorite design software, and get to work!

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Deal with practical ugliness early in the design process

Liam Spradlin

One of the most creatively liberating stages of the design process is the sketching and mockup phase. This, to me, is an exciting time for exploration, discussion, and thought (three ingredients that should be present at every iteration, but especially so here).

During this phase of the process, it's also fun to make super-beautiful, idyllic interface mockups that look just dazzling on paper/your computer screen. But when you're working on something people will actually use, I've learned it's important to keep "practical ugliness" in mind.

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