Lee LeFever reflects on the CommonCraft style

On this week’s Innovators show I spoke with Lee LeFever who, with his wife Sachi, runs CommonCraft. You’ve probably seen their clever animated videos explaining web topics like RSS and Twitter. If not, check out their most popular one, RSS in Plain English. It’s uncannily effective, and a real inspiration to those of us who’ve struggled to explain this concept to civilians.

As I mentioned here, and as we also discuss in the interview, the CommonCraft style shares some DNA with the practice of paper prototyping as described by Bill Buxton in another interview. In Bill Buxton’s case, you abstract away unnecessary detail, and convey action, by sketching and manually animating parts of the interface you’re designing. In Lee’s case you use the same methods downstream, not to elicit the key concepts to be embodied in the yet-unbuilt software, but instead to explain those concepts after it’s shipped. Two sides of the same coin, I think.

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