Speaker Spotlight: Simon Collison

All-around polymath Simon Collison is a world-renowned designer, author, organizer, and thinker. In the hopes of stealing just a smidgen of his brilliance for our own use, we asked Simon a few questions ahead of his appearance at AEA Seattle.

Q. What's the main takeaway from your talk?

The focus is on restraint and economy in the systems we build. I'll be looking at ways to improve the dialogue between us and our audiences, with some subtle, almost invisible methods. Conversely, I'm interested in how we often strive for simplicity at the expense of complexity, the latter being a valuable thing in the right hands. It's all about improving communication, and putting richer, more rewarding experiences in front of people.

Q. What's a useful tip or trick you've learned in the last few months?

This is embarrassing, as I use Photoshop almost every day, and I'm pretty good with shortcuts. Anyway, I've spent years scrolling up and down the Layers palette frantically trying to find and select the layer I need. It was often trial and error and lost me loads of time. I just thought that was how it worked: badly. Then my friend Greg showed me the light.

With the Move Tool selected, uncheck Auto-Select (makes it easier to dictate selection), choose Layer in the drop-down. After that, any time the Move Tool is selected, you can do command-click on any layer to automatically select it.

Like I said; embarrassing.

Q. What professional website are you visiting most these days?

Gimme Bar. I've been using it to collect the web, but with more folks to follow since it was opened up, it's become a wonderful voyage into serendipity. Through my Discovery feed, I find articles, quotes, techniques, and inspiration from the designers I admire. Its usefulness as a professional site depends on how you curate it, but for me it's like a portal into the minds of others. I see how they collect, what inspires them, and the things they read. It's an almighty bucket of inspiration, yet not too proud to throw me an animated kitten or two.

Q. Tell us something we don't know about you.

In the Summer of 1998, I saved Icelandic Hip-Hop. It's not exactly my genre, but I'm proud of my contribution to its history. This is something probably best explained over a drink in Seattle, so by all means ask me when we have more time.