I've been passionate about making things easier to use and nicer to look at since I can remember. My mother used to tease me that I could pick the most expensive item out of a lineup since I was a toddler (and that was inevitably the one I would want, as well), but more than a love of fancy things, I have an appreciation for quality and detail.
Although I primarily work in the "technology" field doing User Interface and User Experience design, my formal education was a B.F.A. in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design. While at first the two disciplines may not seem too related, I've found that having a strong fine arts background as a foundation for User Experience design is indispensable. Understanding how and why a person reacts emotionally to what they're seeing and using is incredibly important to fostering intuitive, enjoyable digital products, and collaborating with other creatives who share this methodology has been my professional mission since I came to Los Angeles.
I live for strong tea, ceviche, scarves, stand-up comedy, TED Talks, leather goods, and guacamole, and my least favorite thing in the world is people driving under the speed limit. I have a neurotic 10lb Chihuahua / Italian Greyhound mix, a banshee masquerading as a housecat, and a South American web-developer husband who keeps this site running smoothly (for the most part).
I’m a big believer in the saying “Design should never say ‘Look at me,’ it should say, ‘Look at THIS.'”
One of the very first things I do when I set out to brand something is to find out what the crux of the product is, and what the goals of the owner are. From there we can determine who the target demographic is, and how they like to be communicated with. Doing this legwork in the very beginning is crucial, because what we learn in this phase will inform every other decision we make going forward.
I like to use client questionnaires. I think they’re a good, straightforward and relatively painless way to get all of the important bits down on paper so everyone can wrap their minds around the project. Whether it’s a logo design, a website, or a full multi-platform campaign, keeping a short list of must-haves will focus and strengthen the creative process.
When I do freelance work, the next thing I take care of is assets acquisition. I’ll need all the existing brand elements you have, usually things like official colors, photography, and written copy. We talk about how these items fit into the greater scheme of things, and then we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and do…
…the site map! Obviously this is only in the case of websites and mobile applications. This is probably the most important step, because this is where we hash out what goes where and establish a hierarchy of information. In a perfect world, its in this phase that we run into problems and disagreements about what content we need and where it should go. Getting all that ironed out early on is our best defense against running over both the timeline and budget.
Next is design, approvals. Design, design, revisions. Design, design, approvals. We do this until everything is resolved and laid out and ready to be passed on to the developer (again, only in the case of websites and mobile applications).
Once the developer has all of the design files, he (or she) will peace out for a few weeks to build the site. There will be sporadic updates and sneak peeks, but the site will still need an official art direction review – this generally entails going through the site with a fine-toothed comb and finding anything that needs sprucing up before….
…we’re ready to go live! This is the exciting part. Once we open the cage and let the baby website take its first shaky steps into the sunlight, we’re officially out of development and it’s champagne time!
Obviously every project is different (and that’s what makes it interesting, right?) but this overview comes pretty close to outlining the general design process. If you’d like a more personal rundown of what I do, or are interested in starting your own project, please reach out to me – I’d love to speak with you!