Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 20th, 2014



EU sanctions Israel?  What kinds and how far can these sanctions be applied?

Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently reported on an internal European Union draft document proposing sanctions against Israel if its government continues to act in ways that render a two-state solution impossible.

The revelations were quickly and widely disseminated on social media, and touted as a sign that the EU had had enough of Israel’s intransigence.

Where are the EU sanctions on Israel?

The BDS movement will grow if the EU does not sanction Israel.

Last updated: 24 Nov 2014 10:39
Sharif Nashashibi
 is an award-winning journalist and analyst on Arab affairs. He is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya News, The National, The Middle East magazine and the Middle East Eye.

However, those hopes were swiftly dashed by the bloc’s new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who last week denied that there were plans to sanction Israel.

A discussion among EU foreign ministers was more about “how to start a positive process with the Israelis and Palestinians to relaunch a peace process“, she said. “It was not at all a question of isolating or sanctioning anybody.”

(When it comes to Islamic States such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen… or Cuba, Russia… The positive process is never in the mind of western States. These people can go to hell until victory and the children denied milk or basic medicines)

It is an intriguing affair, given that Haaretz is a respected newspaper whose articles on the issue seem to be well researched, sourced and verified. Indeed, Mogherini’s denial came on the same day that Haaretz published the EU document.

It is deeply disappointing that sanctions may not even be considered. Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which forms the legal basis of their relations, states that those relations “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles”. When it comes to the Palestinians, Israel is in blatant violation of this article.

EU foreign ministers have condemned Israel’s plans for building new settlements, writes Nashashibi [AFP]

Obstructive and destructive

Worse still is Mogherini’s public denial that sanctions are an option. The message this sends to Israel’s government is that it has carte blanche to continue its obstructive and destructive policies unimpeded. In the current climate of a radicalised Israeli polity and society, as well as tensions and unrest not seen since the last Palestinian uprising, this is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.


Israel’s actions in the week since Mogherini’s denial already display a total disregard for EU concerns. Two days after the bloc’s foreign ministers condemned plans for new settlement-building, Israel announced more illegal colonisation of occupied territory (in addition to the thousands of settlement homes recently announced).

Israel also rejected an appeal by the EU’s 5 biggest members – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Spain – not to demolish more Palestinian homes, a practise that Human Rights Watch said on Friday “amounts to collective punishment, a war crime“.

Why would Israel listen to the EU or its member states when it knows there will be no punitive measures?

The EU is choosing to squander the decisive leverage it could have over Israel as the latter’s largest trading partner. This only adds to Israel’s sense of impunity, which is also nurtured by vast and unquestioning US support, including US veto power that renders the UN Security Council paralysed and irrelevant regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Mogherini’s statement will undermine the significance of ongoing legislatives votes in various EU member states to recognise Palestine. It will also vindicate those who think such steps are purely symbolic, and will lessen pressure on governments to reflect the will of their own parliaments.

EU inaction would also go against public sentiment in Europe, where opinion polls have consistently shown that those who sympathise with the Palestinians far outnumber those who support Israel, even in countries whose governments have close ties with the latter.

BBC World Service polls of international views on Israel over the last three years show that among EU member states, the highest percentage of positive sentiment was only 21 percent (in France), and was as low as 4 percent (in Spain in 2013).

Positive sentiment was also in single digits in Germany last year (8 percent). As such, EU inaction over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is woefully out of step with public opinion and that of elected MPs.

EU inaction would also go against public sentiment in Europe, where opinion polls have consistently shown that those who sympathise with the Palestinians far outnumber those who support Israel, even in countries whose governments have close ties with the latter.

More bark than bite

Even without Mogherini’s denial, a number of the sanctions reportedly floated are not particularly strong. According to Haaretz, they includecoordinated condemnations of the settlements; joint protests to the foreign ministry and prime minister’s office; and more sharply worded communiques on the Israeli-Palestinian issue after the European Union’s monthly foreign ministers’ meetings”. In other words, the EU may stop saying please.

“There is also a proposal to reconsider the European Union’s commitment not to participate in debates at the UN Human Rights Council under Clause 7, which relates specifically to the state of human rights in the West Bank,” Haaretz reported. However, it is unclear how EU participation would make a difference when Israel has consistently ignored the council’s resolutions since its creation in 2006.

Other sanctions reportedly include “marking products manufactured in the settlements in EU supermarkets” (not prohibiting their sale), “limiting cooperation with Israel in various areas” (not stopping it), and “restrictions on the free-trade agreement with Israel” (not reconsidering the agreement itself).

None of this sounds like it would give Israel cause for serious concern.

“Labelling settlement products, implementing the EU-Israel trade agreement properly, and distinguishing between the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel are not really sanctions in my opinion,” an expert on international law regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, who has written extensively on EU relations with Israel, told me.

This whole affair makes the EU look supine, but it is not cause for Israeli celebration. The tide of European public opinion continues to turn against Israel – this cannot be indefinitely ignored or defied.

Furthermore, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel continues to make significant gains in Europe regardless of individual governments’ stances.

EU inaction is likely to further bolster BDS if it is seen as the only effective avenue for European rejection of Israeli policies.

Note: Yesterday, Israel air-bombed Gaza again and nobody complained. Would the US refrain in the coming 24 hours from vetoing the Palestinian State proposal again for the 50th time?


Tales from the British India Office

Muscat (1811)
Muscat pictured in 1811

A transgender singer hits stardom in Baghdad. Officials scramble to impose order after a Kuwaiti restaurant is found to be selling cat meat. Gulf royals on an official visit to London are left marooned in a drab south London suburb because of a shortage of hotel rooms in the West End.

These are some of the quirky stories hiding in 9 miles of shelving at the British Library (BL) that hold the India Office Records – millions of documents recording Britain’s 350-year presence in the sub-continent.

The India Office did not only administer India, it also exercised colonial rule over an area stretching west as far as Aden. That’s why the files cover Persia and Arabia. And the reason the stories are coming to light is that the Qatar Foundation has paid £8.7m for nearly half a million documents relating to the Gulf to be digitised.

Work started in 2012, and many of those documents have now gone online at the Qatar National Library’s digital library portal.

Never formally part of the British Empire, the Gulf nonetheless came under colonial administration after being targeted for trade in the 17th Century by the East India Company.

Two centuries later, the government established direct control through the India Office.

Persia and Arabia (map of 1850)

For much of the period covered by the documents – from the 1750s to 1951 – the Gulf was a little-regarded backwater, dotted with coastal villages that scraped a living through fishing or pearl-diving, with basic goods being traded to and fro.

Officials created a complex network of regional authorities.

British officers and locally recruited “native agents” in Bahrain, Muscat, Sharjah and other towns reported to a British ambassador known as the Resident, based for most of this period in the Persian port of Bushire or Busheer (now Bushehr in Iran).

British officials would also travel the region, making some of the first journeys by outsiders into the harsh desert interior.

In 1865 Lewis Pelly, the British Resident, was dispatched to Riyadh – then a small oasis settlement – to placate tribes accused of raiding the coastal towns, one of the first such expeditions by an outsider. He was knighted nine years later.

Pelly’s passport – “fair but sunburnt”

Front cover of passport issued at Bombay Castle in 1858 to Lewis Pelly, East India Company officer and British diplomat (“…complexion fair but sunburnt…”), for a journey from India to England.
Front cover of passport issued at Bombay Castle in 1858 to Lewis Pelly, East India Company officer and British diplomat (“complexion fair but sunburnt…”), for a journey from India to England

The records Pelly and other officials left – government papers, diplomatic dispatches, letters, diaries, financial receipts, maps, sketches, photographs and so on – have long been accessible only to those researchers able to visit the BL in person and navigate the often haphazardly catalogued archive.

“Given the paucity of publicly available data within the Gulf States, materials held in Britain are often the primary source of data for scholars working on the Gulf,” says Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, author of Qatar and the Arab Spring.

“Digitising the collection will make it far easier for scholars who are unable to visit London to access the material.”

Anyone with internet access will be able to search 475,000 pages from the two most important British outposts, at Bushire and Bahrain, along with 25,000 pages of medieval Arabic scientific manuscripts from the British Library’s own collections.

Boxes of cinnamon

Handwritten note from 1863 by Lewis Pelly outlining approximate annual imports by sea from India to Basrah and Baghdad, showing the rich array of goods passing through the Gulf at that time, including cinnamon, coffee, copper, ebony, ginger and indigo.
Handwritten note from 1863 by Lewis Pelly outlining approximate annual imports by sea from India to Basra and Baghdad, showing the rich array of goods passing through the Gulf at that time, including wax candles, cardamom and cinnamon – and, lower down (out of sight), coffee, copper, ebony, ginger and indigo

The portal currently holds between a quarter and a third of this total, with the remainder due online by the end of this year. Access is free, without registration, and the entire site is navigable in English and Arabic.

“What makes this project special is the variety of content – maps, archives, manuscripts – and the work we’re doing to create metadata for search, to make sure this content is relevant to a wide range of audiences, both in the UK and internationally,” says Richard Gibby, head of the British Library/Qatar Foundation partnership.

The BL’s curators are also writing contextual features, to help interpret the wealth of material and highlight unique stories from the archive – such as the tale of Massoud El Amaratly.

Born female in southern Iraq in the early 20th Century, El Amaratly identified as male, and became famous in Baghdad in the 1920s for his distinctive renditions of rural folk songs. The BL has several recordings, and has brought in ethnomusicologist Rolf Killius to curate a unique digital Gulf music archive that also includes such rarities as traditional pearl-divers’ sea shanties.

As part of his research, Killius has also embarked on fieldwork, filming new performances of traditional music such as this bagpipe and drum ensemble in Oman.

One benefit of the digitisation project is that curators handle every item in previously poorly-labelled files, sometimes unearthing gems in the process.

Amid a shortage of paper, an unknown clerk in 1940s Bahrain took a couple of British World War II Arabic propaganda posters, turned them over and typed on the back.

Propaganda leaflet

These rare posters, trumpeting British freedoms and progressiveness, went unnoticed for 70 years, until BL curator Louis Allday chanced upon them while preparing files for digitisation. He writes about his find here.

But principles of free academic inquiry, which guide the BL’s work, contrast with Freedom House’s assessment of Qatar as “not free”.

Amnesty International called Qatar’s new cybercrimes law, passed last month, “a major setback for freedom of expression”, and Qatari writer Mohammed Al-Ajami remains in jail, serving a 15-year sentence for a poem deemed insulting to the monarch.

The BL and Qatar National Library (QNL) both hold copies of the digitised archive but Gibby’s expectation is that the portal – currently hosted by Amazon – will eventually be transferred for hosting in Qatar. That could theoretically expose material to manipulation by Qatari censors.

“That was discussed very clearly right from the beginning,” says Gibby. “Both sides made very clear to each other that there is no suggestion this will be censored. To date that has been borne out. We, the British Library, are trusting [the Qatar Foundation] and our faith is in them.”

Rosie Bsheer, history professor at Yale University, comments that any endeavour to make archives more accessible should be welcomed “despite Qatar’s egregious record on civil liberties”.

Al-Biruni and Archimedes

Manuscripts from the British Library - Al-Biruni and a translation of Archimedes
Left: A page from one of only three known copies of a treatise on astrolabes by 11th Century polymath Al-Biruni. The illustration is for a hand-held mechanical calendar, the Box of the Moon, showing internal gears.
Al-Biruni’s manuscript may have been the first to depict such miniature technology.
Right: Arabic translation of a work by Archimedes, showing a section of a water-clock – the man’s head has eyes that change colour on the hour, as a bird drops balls on to a cymbal.

The digitisation project has created dozens of jobs at the BL, where staff are pushing the boundaries of Optical Character Recognition software to convert typescripts and printed text into searchable files – relatively straightforward in English, but notoriously difficult in Arabic, which uses cursive letter-forms.

“In Europe, these kind of funds are not available,” says Dr Joachim Gierlichs of the QNL, referring to the millions provided by the Qatar Foundation. “As a curator, your struggle is to keep the collection open. But to develop and enhance it like this? That’s not an opportunity any more.”

The greatest benefits may be intangible.

A project on this scale, facilitating universal access to a major archive in English and Arabic, has the potential to change perceptions of the Middle East – from outside, and also from within.

“The partnership,” says Gierlichs, “enables Qatar and the Gulf to discover their own history.”

Photo taken in the 1880s by Meccan photographer Abd al-Ghaffar. It shows Sharif Yahya (second from right), a close relative of the ruler of Mecca, with two lesser noblemen (left). Yahya's slave (far right) holds a long-barrelled rifle, and all four men wear traditional weapons, known as "janbiya" – three are long scimitars, one is a shorter, curved dagger.
Abd al-Ghaffar, the first Meccan photographer, took more than 250 shots of Mecca and its inhabitants between 1886 and 1889, as well as the first photographs of pilgrims participating in the hajj pilgrimage

This weekend Matthew Teller starts Round the Bend, a weekly series of tales from the India Office, in the Magazine Monitor.


The Urban Dictionary Of Design Slang

The designer terms you need to know,

And quite a few terms most designers would love to never hear again.

Joining the ranks of any profession is the same as committing yourself to learning an entirely new language, most of which is frankly gibberish. (TPS reports, anyone?)

(Every discipline love to invent its own terminology in order to give the illusion that it is a profession in the trade)

Design is no exception.

We asked some of our friends at design firms—including Pentagram, Ammunition, Huge, Ziba, Pensole, Google Ventures, Sagmeister & Walsh, and more—to define their favorite examples of design slang and jargon.

The answers we received range from serious to tongue-in-cheek, but if you’ve ever been puzzled by a designer telling you he needed to “ideate a more approachable FTUX” or “add more value to that horsey megamenu,” this resource should help you translate.

We’ve updated the post below to contain a few more definitions, and we will continue to update this story with new definitions supplied by our readers: just leave a comment or Tweet at @FastCoDesign with the hashtag #DesignJargon to get your entry added. Let us know if we missed anything!

2×2 n. The design world’s favorite visualization of strategy. Typical axis labels include “high cost/low cost” “emotional/rational” “mild/wild” (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


A bunch of numpties n. A group of idiots. Can also be used to refer to placeholder elements on a page that have zero UX thinking behind them. (Source: Kate Proulx, Huge)

A magnet that acquires meaning n. A design that gets recognized over times, and becomes associated with people’s experiences. For example, your first MP3 player. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Above the fold adj. “This term is about whatever content can be seen on a web page before the user starts to scroll. It originates from the print industry, where above the fold meant the top half of a front page on a folded newspaper. This term is disliked by many designers I know (myself included) because we know that although first impressions are very important, users will inevitably scroll down a page to see the remainder of the content. Also, the “fold” in digital is different depending on what device the user is on, so designing with a specific size in mind will actually do more harm than good.” (Source: Natalie Be’er, Huge)

Add more value v. Something a client requests when a project is already overbudget. (Source:  

D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Approachable adj. Something super boring. (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

ASAP  adv. “This acronym really irritates the shit out of me, so I believe it means this: As Slow As Possible. Otherwise, why not give me a fucking date?” (Source:  

Eddie Opara, Pentagram)

Authentic adj. Something fabricated to feel like it was not fabricated. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Authoritative adj. An antonym for friendly. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Big data n. A number, table, chart, or database that may be very large or very small, but is dependably very impressive. (Source: Alex Geller, Fathom)

Brainstorm session n. “We’ll get together and sell you our ideas in a casual group forum.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Celebrate v. In sneaker design, a way to say: “Make it look like the old shoe.” (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Charrette n. Because designers don’t sound pretentious enough already, so let’s throw in a French word. (Source: Jake Knapp, Google Ventures)

Classic adj. A politically correct way of saying ‘boring.’ (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Clean adj. Example: I want a design that looks clean. Undefinable. No one exactly knows what this means. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse); Smooth and uninterrupted design. The visible elements are functional, not embellished. Easy on the eyes. (Source: @SoftGoodsJess on Twitter)

Collaboration n. A project combining the inputs of multiple people. Frequently used in place of the traditional “client/consultant” or “employee/employer” title. Collaborator is seen as a more valuable relationship working as peers. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Collaborative adj. Working with your partners, instead of just telling them what to do. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Collaborative process n. Client would like to make the decision. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Commercial adj. Something that works now, rather than when the product will actually come to market (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Contemporary adj. A solution that is fresh and appropriate to the current marketplace. A classy, slightly longer-term version of trendy. The opposite of retro. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Content n. What used to be called “writing.” (Source: Carl Alviani, Ziba)

Cool adj. An adjective used to describe any color associated with blue. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Creating an experience v. Designing a banner ad you can click on. (Source:  

Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)

Crisp adj. A design with tight edges and materials. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Critical Path n. The most important things you need to pay attention to in a design. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Data ink ratio n. If your information design were a car, this would be its miles per gallon rating (Source: Brian James, Fathom)

Decorative adj. A four-letter word. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

Design research n. See: research. Adding the word “design” in front makes your focus groups seem less like total bullshit. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Design thinking n. Just a fancier word for brainstorming. See also: ideating. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse); Gluing innovation and collaboration together with some common sense and some flash cards. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Disruptive adj. A design that both changes the market and simultaneously references what currently exists. No one likes it. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole); Break some rules until we realize we can’t really break any rules. (Source: Paul O’Connor, Ziba)

Do a walkthrough idiom. Translation: try to stay awake. (Shawn Harrington, comments)


Ephemera adj. A fancy word for printed material that has a short life span. Usually posters, brochures, or invitations. (Source: James Grady, Fathom)

Executive review n. An overly simplified presentation of actual work. (Source: nitishq on Twitter)

Experience n. The gestalt of a complete solution that considers the solution of a core product as well as all the surrounding context like packaging, messaging, and customer journey. Most designers see themselves as responsible for a consistent positive experience with a product or brand rather than resolving just the core product. Also called UX. Few designers would not see “experience” as their expertise. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Exploring notions of typographic instability v. “I’m putting the outlines of several different typefaces on top of each other.” (Source: Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)


Familiar adj. A term non-designers use to say they like something. See also: progressive. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Faster adj. Put more shit on a design. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Feature creep n. When a client requests more deliverables with the expectation of no additional cost after a project is bid and underway. (Source: Linda Cobb, Bumpercrop Studio)

Feminine adj. Anything tasteful. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Fit and finish n. Use this phrase to make it seem like you embody Apple’s design principles. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Flat adj. Ugly. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

FPO adj. An acronym technically meaning “For position (or placement) only.” What it really means: stock photography sucks, please let us actually shoot this. (Source: Colin Murphy, Huge)

Framework n. “A diagram that proves I am right.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Frankensteining v. The combination of the best parts of multiple independent concepts into a single uber-concept. Beware this siren song. The sum is rarely greater than the parts. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Fresh adj. A synonym for something that feels new. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

FTUX n. A vaguely profane sounding acronym meaning “First Time User Experience.” See also: NUX. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)


Gating item n. Something that prevents a design from going to market. Example: “We don’t want packaging to be the gating item.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Give them a finger idiom. Intentionally placing a glaring mistake (e.g., typo in headline) so the client points their finger at that mistake, rather than pointing their finger at something more fundamental. (Source: Joel Emmett, comments)

Grilled cheese n. A menu icon represented by two stacked lines. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

GSP idiom. Acronym for “get shit paid.” (Source: Nyuudo on Twitter)

Guerilla adj. Typically paired with “research,” guerilla can refer to any process that is done quickly or without a completely rigorous process. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Guidelines n. Telling a client exactly what to do—forever. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)


Hack v. A quick and dirty approach to problem-solving. To hack is to be a free-thinker and unafraid to break rules in search of the right answer. The cool new version of prototyping is hacking. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Hamburger n. A menu icon represented by three stacked lines. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Holistic approach n. Translation: “Let us do everything for you, we need the money.” (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Honking adj. Ugly. Synonym of ‘horsey’, just more fun to say. (Source: Julie Bunnick, comments); Too big in general. (Source: Normalcod, comments)

Horsey adj. Ugly. See also: honking. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba); Too big or ungainly for the space it’s in. (Source: Norcalmod, commnets)


I showed this to my (wife / husband / other)… phrase. “I don’t like the concept, but would rather attribute the criticism to someone else.” (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)

Ideating v. Another fancy word for brainstorming. See also: design thinking. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)

Ideation n. “Give me time to think about stuff.” (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Immersive experiencen. Low hanging fruits on the design tree that sound impressive. See also: multi-sensorial touchpoints. (Source: derjo_de on Twitter)

In progress idiom. “This means that we either don’t like a design yet, or there are things wrong with it we haven’t figured out yet.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group); “We have nothing to show you, because we haven’t started working on your project yet.” (Source: Charles Samuels, comments)

In real time idiom. A solution that is developed on the fly without prior planning. This has a more positive connotation than saying “unprepared.” (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Industrial chic adj. Unknown. Something made by wealthy artisans? (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Infographic n. The same information that’s in the text, but in a different font and with a lot more pictures. (Source: Carl Alviani, Ziba)

Innovation n. Not doing things in the same top-down bureaucratic way as you were doing them before. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Insight n. Translation: what came up when I Googled “trend” plus the name of your industry. Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

Internal review n. “We need to see what we’ve actually done so far.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Intuitive adj. The “ideal” product interaction. Based on the assumption that there are built in instincts in all human beings that provide the keys to a product experience that is easy and enjoyable. Examples of intuitive interactions are often in fact just familiar. What may be intuitive to one person (based on his/her experience) may be counter-intuitive to another person. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Invitational adj. A synonym for friendly. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Iterate v. “Try another version, please.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Magical interaction n. Any design with magnets. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Makai target consumer n. A nebulous, imaginary consumer who can be retrofitted to support anything it is that I’m saying at any given moment. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Make it look like Apple v. “We have no idea what we want.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Make it sexy v. “We have no idea what we want.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Marketer n. “A term I was once called trying to push through a bus shelter ad with very witty copy.” (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Masculine adj. Any design with straight lines and angles. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Megamenu n. A dropdown menu with a ton of content. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Merch together v. Make it all the same color. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Modern adj. Something that looks good, but your client doesn’t know what it is. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge); Looks like an iPod. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Multi-channel adj. An obsolete term people use when they mean “multi-device” instead. (Source: Kate Proulx, Huge)

Multi-sensorial touchpoints n. Low hanging fruits on the design tree that sound impressive. See also: immersive experience. (Source: derjo_de on Twitter)


New material n. “We’re still trying to find a spot for that uber-cool but expensive ceramic we saw once.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Not fully resolved adj. “We’re probably going in the wrong direction.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

NUX n. A vaguely profane sounding acronym meaning “New User Experience.” See also: FTUX. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)


On-trend adj. A back-handed compliment similar to fast follower. Applying proven ideas rather than pushing forward. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Pain points n. Things that will be difficult for people. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Parallel path n. “There’s a difference in opinion. May fate shine on the winner in terms of schedule and budget.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Pivot v. Where a client spins around and becomes something else, like a ballerina! (Source: Eddie Opara, Pentagram)

Pop of color n. Literally anything that has color when other things don’t. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Problem set n. “The things you already asked us to work on.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Progressive adj. An adjective designers use to say they like something. See also: familiar. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)


qualitative research n. “We only had time to interview four users.” (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

quantitative research n. The infinite monkey theorem in practice. (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)


Rag n. The edge of the text that no one but designers cares about. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Rapid prototyping n. Quickly verifying an idea rather than assuming you are right, typically using a 3-D printer and Arduino. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Relevance n. The appeal of a solution to a particular user group. Companies find it especially difficult to maintain cultural relevance as technologies change. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Research n. Something you should do, even though nobody will listen. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Robust solution n. “We think it will work.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Shaping someone’s understanding v. Design that conveys to the audience the underlying strategy or message. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Sleek adj. The generic term for things that feel cool, modern, and or “designy.” Frequently heard in focus groups as a positive. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Slow consumer n. Someone who doesn’t know what’s cool. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Slower adj. Put less shit on it. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Sustainability n. A wide-ranging term which captures all the philosophies on how to make responsible choices to protect our environment. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Synthesize v. “We’re going to take what we heard you want, pick out the best stuff, and throw away the rest.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Tasty adj. A term meaning ‘attractive design’ driven into the ground by yuppies in the late 70’s and early 80’s. (Source: Packgraphics in the comments)

Technical debt n. “I hacked this together to hit the deadline, and now we have to rebuilt it so it doesn’t explode.” (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

Thinking outside of the box v. What you did last year. (Source: Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)

Third read n. A solution that has been considered to a very high level of detail. The designer has considered elements that won’t be appreciated by the user until they look at the product for the third time. Interest in this level of solution is seen as a sign of craftsmanship. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Tight adj. Well-resolved. A design that features perfect detailing. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Timeless adj. A solution that will not be embarrassing in the future. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

TM n.The process of trademarking a new slogan, name, or other communication to express a new approach to design-based problem solving. This cliché captures the design industry’s thirst for invented words that describe innovative processes. The most desirable trademarked terms are mashups of two established concepts (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Too-pushed-on adj. Translation: you’ve gone too far. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Touchpoints n. Places in a design where something happens. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Trendy adj. Typically, a dirty word in the design world, referring to a solution that appeals to the short-lasting whims of society. The opposite of timeless. See contemporary. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Understated elegance n. Something overpriced without too much explanation. (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Universal Design n. The search for solutions that appeal to humanity as a whole. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Unsophisticated. adj. Ugly. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Up-level v. To identify a more significant problem or opportunity beyond the original request. Up-leveling a conversation shows your ability to think big picture. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Usability study n. “Get more numbers to convince the team and push obvious design solutions.” (Source: [url=]nitishq on Twitter)

User advocate n. Most designers seek to represent the needs of a potential customer and provide a counterpoint to the myopic point of view that is common within large companies. Related to experience design. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Voice-controlled adj. Something that increases your budget by a factor of 10. (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)


Warm adj. An adjective used to describe any color associated with red. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

White space n. Those blank areas. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Widow n. When a lonely word is left on a line by itself. (Be nice! Give it a friend!) (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Wireless adj. Something that increases your budget by a factor of three. (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)

Wordmark n. Not just a font. A special font. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

What did we miss? Sound off in the comments or tweet at us (@FastCoDesign) using the hashtag #DesignJargon.




December 2014

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