2017 is looking Fressshhh!

Pantone just announced their Color of the Year for 2017, and it would be fair to say that the new year is looking fresh; 2017 is all about greenery. As a plant lover, I’m pretty pumped about this. Check out the promo footage below:


“A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.”

A marketing spiel it may be, but I honestly feel inspired by it, especially after the year I’ve had in 2016.

“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

I feel that Pantone’s announcement is perfectly in tune with how most people are probably feeling at this time of the year; I certainly feel ready to reinvigorate.

“Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world. A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.”

Wordy it may be, but I’m certain other creatives feel slightly wooed by this… C’mon creative people, admit it!

Pantone’s suggested colour pairings also look great. I particularly like the look of the colour combos ‘Calm it down’, ‘Transitions’ and ‘Fathomless’ below. Find out more at Pantone.com.

Making a list, checking it twice

Not quite Christmas morning, but close

It’s that time of year again: making lists, checking them twice, naughty or nice and all that stuff. It’s also a time when WordPress nerds get excited, which I was when I woke and checked my phone yesterday morning.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of WordPress 4.7 and the new default theme Twenty Seventeen. Both of which are powering this little site you’re looking at right now.

In a smart move from the WordPress team, Twenty Seventeen is perfectly pitched at micro/small businesses and start-ups. Given that such a massive portion of the web is powered by WordPress, moving away from developing a blog-centric default theme for the year ahead seems like a no-brainer, but its something WordPress geeks have been waiting a while for.

Last night I set to work, making changes and updates to this site, and its a dreamboat theme! Not only does it do most of the stuff I want it to do, it looks fresh and contemporary, is responsive and it doesn’t cost a dime! Bonus!

Obviously its probably going to look a little bit cookie-cutter over the next few months as new WordPress sites pop up with Twenty Seventeen pre-installed, and exisiting users (like me) adopt the new theme, however this isn’t a major concern I have. In the past, the fear of having my web presence look like everyone else’s has stalled me in terms of updating my site. As a result, my exisiting website had some serious cobwebs going on… But I’ve been busy setting some goals…

Making a list, setting goals & Ticking things off

So, in terms of making lists and checking them twice, my gift-giving list is almost complete for the coming festive season. More importantly, I’ve been setting some goals for the immediate future. Some might call it ‘strategising’ or ‘prioritising’, but basically its just me getting my shit together.

In terms of the site you’re reading right now, it’ll be my online hub with links to my other websites and obviously my socials. I’m looking forward to sharing some new corporate design projects I’m working on at the moment. I’ll be featuring them right here on this site in the new year. In terms of my online store, personal side projects and illustration work, I’ll be posting those over at www.malwebster.com

I’ve also been working toward updating and consolidating my portfolio into a single location at www.malwebsterdesign.com

Also, the blog on this site now reads ‘Thoughts’. I’ll be posting regular bite-sized articles, videos and perhaps even some podcasts with a specific corporate design focus. I’m also going to maintain my Journal over at malwebster.com, with the less-serious nonsense and silly stuff I work on/contemplate in my downtime.

Until then, good luck preparing for the festive season ahead and planning for the new year. Stay cool and be sure to check in here again soon.


The perfect design project?

We creatives are a fussy lot. There’s no denying it, and it would be fair to say that most designers are… Especially when it comes to branding ourselves and presenting our own brand identity/presence in print and particularly online.

I remember back in 2005 as a student in a web design 101 class at uni, after creating our first plain text ‘hello world’ html page, we were presented with a real web assignment; to create a portfolio site for ourselves so that we could leave uni and land our dream job. After working through dozens of prescribed briefs over a few years, the opportunity to simply work on showcasing our hard work, free from the constraints of a brief initially sounded like the perfect project. However, the endless possibilities of this project quickly turned into a burden… I thought it was perhaps just me, but as I browsed the interwebs (via a dial-up connection), I found that so many other designers websites existed entirely as coming soon/under construction holding pages. It quickly became apparent that even professional designers were:
a) too busy working on client work to complete their own website
b) feared the whole html/css thing
c) were crippled by trying to decide how best to present their work and identity online
d) all of the above

But as a bunch of students about to graduate, we all muddled through, slicing and dicing our websites with Fireworks and going hyperlink-mad trying to work out Dreamweaver… There was always a quiet sense of achievement when those links magically transported you to another page, via a clunky rollover. Remember those!?

Flash forward to 2016 though, and I have to admit that I feel a tinge of jealousy toward new graduates at the moment when it comes to building an online presence. There are just so many stress-free options for building a website.

One recent addition to the growing online web-builder market is the relatively new Adobe Portfolio. And if you have a current Adobe CC subscription, you’ll already have access to it. While you can’t blog with it like major players, WordPress and Squarespace, its the perfect location to build out your portfolio and simultaneously build a following on Behance. One of the greatest things about Adobe Portfolio is that its built purely for creative people to share their work. The handful of templates available are also beautiful, and they focus viewers/visitors on the work, not the interface around it – which was often the case in the old days of a Fireworks/Dreamweaver workflow.

If you haven’t done so already, check out Adobe Portfolio, its well-worth a look. Its time to ditch that ugly ‘under construction’ page from 2005!



Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a term that has gained popularity over the last few years. From classrooms to corporate boardrooms, Design Thinking is being used as a strategy to solve problems through methodical processes, predefined by thinking formulas. When the term was introduced into the curriculum for a course I teach a few years ago, I was sceptical at first; simply due to the fact that it was a new buzzword that seemed to be flying around the interwebs and my Kindle’s suggested reading list. If you’re like me, and are thinking, Design Thinking… WTF? Here’s a short 4 minute intro… And if you’re into Fitbit or Apple watch, these guys are were way ahead of them! Check it out:

After watching that, like me you’re probably thinking, ‘So, that all sounds and looks awesome, but how can I use it in my classroom, around the boardroom etc. How can I actually facilitate Design Thinking?’

I’m going to be exploring this topic over the next few months, developing resources and iterating on design thinking strategies that are out there at the moment, and I’ll be uploading them to this very blog you’re reading right now!

To get started, if you’d like a freebie for your workspace or classroom, you can download my SCAMPER bunting below. Simply download the PDF, print them out, laminate them if you like, trim them and display. At first SCAMPER can be tricky, but with practice its a great tool to  think differently about creative design options.

Download SCAMPER poster

One of the interesting things I’ve found about design thinking so far is that a tool such as SCAMPER can allow people who mightn’t consider themselves to be implicitly ‘creative’, to think about solving design problems in a creative way or look at potential solutions from different perspective.
Not everyone can be a creative genius like Da Vinci, but Design Thinking tools have the potential to give everyone a framework to be a creative problem solver… And that’s pretty cool!

A new look for Insta

Today Instagram announced a new logo. Moving away from the skeuomorphic logo we’re all familiar with, Intagram has flattened their icon and given it an ombré makeover. As with any rebrand, it has generated a range of opinions, voiced strongly via twitter. Regardless of opinion over the new icon, people seem to be embracing the new app design; putting user generated content at the forefront of the app interface.


Whether you love it or loathe it, check out the rebrand video below, one has to agree that it’s pure design genius; illustrating a snapshot of the design process and reasoning behind the refresh in under a minute. A pitch without words, and possibly the most powerful and convincing one I’ve seen for a long while.

The following video link focuses on user interaction and features a killer track from Basement Jaxx… I was initially skeptical about the new icon, but the accompanying audio tied it all together for me. Or perhaps it just reminded me of early uni days (circa 2003) slaving away at the mac, late at night, accompanied by likeminded designer friends. Anyway, check it out and consider it for yourself.

Minimalism – The Film

In my journal entry at the beginning of the year I mentioned a personal goal I wanted to work towards in 2016, ‘to live with less’. Four simple words, but no easy feat!

However, during January I started that process, and quickly realised that making a shift toward living a more minimal lifestyle isn’t a change that would magically happen overnight. Instead, it would take time, just as forming regular exercise habits take time to become part of a daily routine.

A source of inspiration over the past three months has been Essential: Essays by The Minimalists. I’ve been reading it on my Kindle and it’s well worth purchasing. In small, bite sized articles, both Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus take you on a short journey through minimalist lifestyle philosophy and where it all sits within the context of our multi-faceted daily lives.

Here’s hoping their new documentary will be available online for worldwide viewing soon. The trailer for their new film looks really interesting, it immediately struck a chord with me. Particularly in terms of our seemingly normal compulsion to consume. Seeing this may even pique your interest to consider shedding some of the ‘stuff’ holding you back.

To read more, go to The Minimalists.com


To Live With Less


Earlier this week I started writing down a few resolutions for the New Year. When I read back over the five or so different points I had down on paper, I realised that they were all connected and can be summarised in four simple words: To Live With Less.

Simple words, but no easy task!

I mean, as humans, we’re like born hunter gatherers. We seem to like gathering stuff, lots of stuff. And you know what, I LOVE stuff. But sometimes all of that stuff can just complicate or clog our lives. So over the coming year I’m going to do my best to acquire less of what I don’t really need and shed some of the stuff that I don’t really need.

Aside from material things, I also plan to schedule regular tech-free times to avoid digital burnout. Screen time is so important to me, in the work I do, but so is balance. During tech-free time I’ll be filling that space with analogue nourishment. Some notes I included in my journal earlier this week were: read, draw, write, listen to music, walk, run, breathe, see, listen.

Thinking on the fly right now, its interesting that some of my best ideas, thoughts about how to resolve a design/tech problem probably come about when I allow my mind to wander or decompress; on the way to get coffee, aimlessly doodling, going for a walk or run.

Here’s to living with less, balance and a positive year ahead.