Responsive Logo Design and Sustainability

A couple of years ago I wrote about the notion of “deep rollback” – meaning that processes at the end of design workflow (e.g. site engineering, web performance optimization) should be able to feed back and cause adjustments in design.

In that post, I also discussed the notion that a sustainable visual designer had to think of their images a series of images, adapted for different Internet speeds, screen sizes, and user contexts. I called this idea “virtual hedonics.” The economic meaning of this, is when times are tough, hamburger will substitute for steak.

Here is the original image from my earlier post:

virtual hedonics, as applied to a famous director - three images, with progressively more bits to source
virtual hedonics, applied to a famous director

Well, now this concept has a nameResponsive Logo Design. Here is an awesome example of a responsive logo:

Responsive logo design, showing a series of images of the disney logo at different resolutions
Responsive Logo Design, Applied to Disney

Now, there have been some discussion of responsive logos – the the only things going on with most of these techniques (e.g. icon fonts) is pure scaling. This would be better called “scalable logo design.”

True responsive design also requires that we change our interface, not simply adjust to fit. This is a direct violation of traditional logo design, where the style document usually defines all the ways we can’t change the logo’s appearance. Like the Internet, responsive logo design brings up the concept of visual identity as fluid, not static, as described by Ann Hagner.

As Melanie Graham says, it’s all about the User Experience!

The following article by Jason Kottke considers how the logo is responsive – it retains its meaning while changing size and context.

The author also considers how the concept of responsive logo design is similar to abstraction practiced in animation and comic art:

a series of faces showing abstraction of comic art design
an example of a man’s face, from realistic to comic book style ,demonstrating abstraction

In short, responsive logo design is a key example of where designers must think about sustainability. If the designer ignored web performance and only focused on their silo of visual design, they would never think of this. It takes a designer-developer hybrid (the infamous “T” shaped designer) to develop concepts that enhance web sustainability.

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