Avoid being Auto-Tuned
Plan Your Next #73
👋 Good morning from Ojai! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #73 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
Welcome to the 11 new freshies here!
Alie and I are in Ojai celebrating my birthday and our 4th anniversary in one of our fav spots.
What’s new this week?
🎨 Today is the last day to sign up for this weekend’s Approachable Design workshop. I’d love to have you, and we already have an intimate cohort including creators, writers, and a founder of a YC backed company. Hit me up if you have any questions about creating your own personalized design system!
💻 I’m documenting a live case study for a website redesign. I’m using my own inside-out design method I teach—eating my own dog food if you will—and it’s gorgeous so far. We’ll be moving her from Squarespace to Webflow since you’re able to truly start from scratch without much effort. Flexibility is key with no-code tools.
⌨️ Apple released a Magic keyboard with Touch ID (the same one they use for the new iMacs) that I immediately had to have. I use an external monitor with my laptop and find myself needing to type in my 1Password login a dozen times a day.
👨💻 I’m taking on a large freelance project starting this week. It’s about 4 mo earlier than I imagined I would, but lining up my own criteria against Derek Sivers’ framework, “Hell yeah! Or no,” I thought it would be a lot of fun.
When something feels off, it usually is.
In the first episode of HBO’s new series, Watch the Sound," DJ/songwriter Mark Ronson is attempting to Auto-Tune Lady Gaga’s voice while she sings the single, Shallow.
He loads up her track on the monitor that he helped write, and twists the knob to crank up the Auto-Tune feature. He listens intently for a few seconds before the program abruptly lets out a loud, “brummmmmmp," before canceling itself.
Her pitch was so perfect there was nothing to correct, and the algorithm got bored.
But we all know the extreme examples when you hear Auto-Tune applied. Cher or T-Pain come to mind.
When I sit down to design a piece of software or a website, it would be easy for me to just go through the motions of building it on Auto-Tune.
I could pick a solid typeface, a few colors most people generally don't hate, add some padding, and set it off with some contrast that no ones is offended by. This is my version of designing with Auto-Tune applied. Pushing pixels, safely.
It's not going to inspire or connect you to it, but give me 15 minutes to design something simple, and I could get you to agree that it, "doesn't suck."
Like many artistic fields, there are guidelines a novice could follow to create things that are acceptable to most people. Much of the time it means starting sourcing the right ingredients.
Making a stew with a few key organic vegetables is generally not going to suck.
Using a beautiful piece of walnut and some linseed oil to create a desktop is going to look halfway decent.
This is why I don't love templates or kits when I design something. Because we're using someone else's ingredients. It feels like cheating.
When Twitter refreshed its visual style this week, claiming they designed an entirely new font called Chirp, something felt off. The typeface didn’t feel all that unique to Twitter.
And it turns out they used a white-labeled typeface called GT America which they made a couple of modifications to and added tittles. Yes, those small dots used for punctuation or above a lower case “j” are called tittles. You’re welcome.
Whether you like it or not, they took a shortcut and used a typeface many others have also used for their branding and called it a custom font.
But if we take the time to go pick our own ingredients, we have the potential to build something incredible. Something with a beating heart. Not something algorithmically programmed to fix our off-notes.
Be so good that Auto-Tune doesn’t know what to do.
⚡️ Two hits for next week
👨💻 The Life-Changing Magic of High-Speed Career Sampling by Nat Eliason struck a chord with me. You never need to go all-in on one path. It’s worth being curious about multiple interests and seeing where they take you.
“You have to commit to the right things. You should probably spend at least 10-20% of the time you’ll eventually spend on something deciding if you want to spend that time on it.”—Nat Eliason
🎤 Ramit Sethi is the author of the bestseller, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” His new podcast is riveting. He talks with people about the details of their financial problems, using real numbers. The topics center around money, but money is rarely the problem.
Some of the episodes are: “My wife didn’t know I had $450,000 of debt” and “My husband is going broke, but he won’t let me help.”
👋 See you next Sunday
Have a great week,