I have worked with marketing, package design, social web, branding, mobile apps evolve since the late nineties. I consider myself lucky to move products forward in the great city of New York.
Optics have a lot to do with the assumptions a person will make in the first minute. Colors, font treatments and other aesthetics should give a new viewer an idea of what to respect regarding tone, functionality and interaction. I help companies build a strong brand by asking a lot of questions. Then it's just an iterative process through mood boards, logo design and style tiles until all key members are satisfied with the emotions the design evokes. Once this is settled, I begin the task of developing a style guide for developers and designers to use. Style guides help maintain the brand look, reduce unnecessary work and puts useful restraints on the designers to focus on usability rather than style.
One of the principles of UX is that each page should have one clear focus. Creating interfaces that are obvious and easy to navigate are key to an enjoyable experience. Designing mobile first gives you healthy constraints in regards to the amount of objects you can have in one view. You have to break the flow down gracefully into windows that make sense. Navigation has to stay simple as well. I've designed apps for IOS and hybrid apps with Ionic where I was able to do some of the front-end development as well. I also create responsive sites for mobile and web.
Website design was one of the first things I've learned. A good site is designed with hierarchy, incentives and balance in mind. You want to start simple and then peak a user's interest and motivation to do the work of exploring more to move along your path. If this flow is done correctly, your visitor will be happy and energized once they're done. When things are out of balance, you can encounter fatigue and frustration which will hurt your engagement and retention.
Print is technically fun since you sit there with a physical pantone deck in your hand and visualize the object on your screen in real life. Sometimes you're making something small like a business card, or gigantic like a billboard. Other times you're designing interesting things in three dimensions like you do when designing packages. It's fun and combines shares many principles with other areas of design.
Advertising is one of the most fun types of design since it involves taking educated guesses that include instinct and psychology. I first have to get a clear idea of the type of impression you are trying to make. How much would you like to exaggerate the promise in order to get people over the hump of clicking through. Less direct marketing could translate into trust that's more likely to grab a conversion depending on the type of company. Winning those high click-thru rates are rewarding. I built one Pandora ad for a dating company with the slogan "Turn up the volume on your love life". This ad maintained a 50% click-thru because the imagery was compelling and was relevant to the experience the user was having at the moment. At another apparel company, I created three email campaigns a week which would normally be considered spammy but due to the price point and constant surprise and delight of the designs, I always kept a 25-50% click-thru rate. Ask me how I sold a scratched up high mileage car on Craigslist at the highest price listed on the page. There might be a reason that I've earned the label "Queen of Direct Marketing" at a few companies without prompt.
App design is interesting because you are not as limited regarding load and speed. There is also an interactive element that if done right, helps move a user along the journey smoothly evoking fun and relaxation. There are also native paradigms between iOS and android to consider, as well as the many variations in screen proportion. It forces you to think of spacial relationships differently than you might desktop design. I also enjoy graceful degradation as it allows me, as a designer to also relax and concentrate on the correct hierarchy one action at a time.
Email design is sometimes a challenge because you have to make sure that it renders correctly in many different types of applications. You have to be aware of how this may affect your responsive design. Another challenge is understanding the rules of subject lines to keep you from being declared spam by users and email servers. The fun part is the fact that you are literally fighting for people's attention in a sea of unwelcome messages so you have to use everything in your arsenal to generate those beautiful click-thrus.
Illustration is a different ballgame from web design. I studied academic anatomical art in college, enjoy drawing with pen, pencil, paint and even a stylus. I wouldn't say I've spent enough time with it to be a master but I'm pretty proud of the work that I've done. I think that it helps to have an artistic eye when trying to navigate the different rules of user centered design. There is some repetitive logic to it but if your brain operates visually, a lot of it will come subconsciously and you'll immediately know when something is working or needs adjustment. Being an illustrator also helps me think more outside of the box in terms of subtle combinations of elements that can make a big impact.
Prototyping is a necessary part of design so that we can convey use cases, flow and functionality. There are so many great apps that allow you to work quickly and seamlessly. I prefer to use sketch alongside mirror to create mocks and assets. Most of the time I will also create a clickable Marvel prototype so that I can share and gather early learnings. Knowing what to test, when and how is crucial in order to get the relevant information you need to have confidence in a decision. I rely on heat maps, 5 second tests, a/b comparisons, google analytics, qualitative feedback from video interviews, and in person and other tools in order figure out whether a change is successful, needs to be tweaked or should be reverted. In addition to user testing, holding constructive critiques between designers, and making sure to ask questions to other departments is a thorough and efficient way to focus and move forward.
I'm an adept front-end coder and can even start to figure out the back-end if given enough time. I like to search for answers on my own or pair with a developer. I love to code because it's a different part of my brain that I get to use, almost like a way to rest your creative side while you have fun organizing the logical side. The other reason that I find it necessary to code is so I can control the end result. Developers are usually able to get my designs close but I can't expect them to see all the slight nuances that keep it from being pixel perfect. I almost always ask for the ability to push code myself in any job environments. I feel it relieves the developer of tedious work, gives me control over the end result and makes the entire process go much faster.