Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Everything Is Portrait Now

You know that horrible experience when you first buy a car, and then you see loads of the same one coming in the opposite direction all the time. It’s a known human cognitive bias, the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, I know it’s false, but I am experiencing it with vertical things at the minute and I can’t work out where it is going.

It started on Saturday when I was running (donate to London For Lucie by the way!) and listening to The Vergecast. In which they were talking about all video apps being the same, just consuming each other’s ideas and increasing the length of vertical video viewable in apps. Which is interesting considering, as they point out, a service like Quibi, despite it terrible name, might not have been the worst idea ever. An idea explored in episode 1 of The Big Flop. Smartphone users really like vertical videos, and it feels much more natural.

This started a flash back to weird marketing events I have been to where people have discussed vertical video and very much switched off (I hate those type of events). I began to wonder just how much do people prefer watching vertical videos because it does make a lot of sense for many situations, but everything bar the smartphone sticks to horizontal. Of course, you can find stats all over the place, but turns out – it’s a lot.

Still seems odd to me outside of quick scrolling social media, but I’m not one to argue with the stats and considering how old I am, my opinions could just be the old guy shouting at the clouds again. It just made me think back to a few years ago when any person filming vertical video would have been chastised. Now it is not only the norm, but it is expected. This also got me questioning many things.

There’s new TV’s with vertical modes, floor stands to make yours do it, and all sorts of products pushing vertical monitors. It seems absurd at first, but when you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. I’m a bit stuck with a reason on actual TVs, but websites, apps and almost any user interface I come across has the majority of its elements in a vertical stack. This got me thinking about my work, mainly being in web UI and Print design (which is nearly all vertical). I had side eyed the oddly shaped LG DualUp when it was first launched, thinking it made sense at the time – so I bought one.

It was relatively cheap in the world on monitors, and comes with a really nice ergonomic arm, so I feel like I got a good deal. However, as soon as I placed it down on my desk (well, clamped it to it) I felt conflicted. As much as the size and orientation makes sense, it just feels strange. That all went away when using it, though. The build quality, screen resolution and portrait set up means I am over the moon with it. Why on earth I didn’t pull the rigger before I will never know, maybe I have been indoctrinated by the previous landscape based world. However, now I am free!

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