The Daily UI Challenge is a great way to flex the design muscle. I'll be posting my projects here as they are completed and all can be found on my Dribbble page as well.
Three hundred sixty one days ago my morning started off in an airplane on a red eye flight to Miami. My parents, then fiancé, and I traveled to Florida for a week of preparation and relaxation (or insanity as it turned out to be) for my wedding day. As I'm musing about the time almost one year later, I wanted to think about all the details that I stressed over and wonder if it was really worth it?
Of course as a designer, I created everything that went into this event. Save the date cards, invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signage, even a custom label for cigars. Most importantly I designed the experience of the big day. Looking back on it all, memories of planning that remain with me in the forefront are those around designing our invitations.
When the time came to begin sketching up ideas and creating a few mocks, I immediately had a vision of what was to be accomplished. My husband – a.k.a. client number two – had few requirements and overall told me to do my thing. Our friend and engagement photographer Danny shot the most stunning photographs at Point Dume beach in Malibu, CA. The vibes were on point and the weather was perfect. We all spent the day together as friends and he documented some surreal moments. Needless to say, he made the content portion of my design easy.
Photographs by Daniel Leist
The mood board was simple: a few hues of royal purple and gold, a modern art deco typeface, and simple accent graphics. This was singlehandedly the clearest I have ever seen a design in my mind and transpose it so perfectly into a tangible item. With our Save the Date cards, I was able to test out the palette and font combinations. They were timeless yet felt casual for a modern age. Being overjoyed with the results, the next design of the invitations were executed so quickly it left me feeling slightly bewildered. "It's never this easy," I remember thinking to myself.
Flying back from St. Louis to Los Angeles, I whipped out my laptop and zoned in. Two hours later I had my design. We made a single change and sent to print. My vision was one of a 5" x 7" landscape card with a gate fold. Guests would receive a royal purple envelope that had an incredible textured surface – immediately setting a tone. The most labor intensive DIY project was addressing each invitation by hand with gold ink. But damn if I, a typography aficionado, would have anything less than my hand calligraphy on my wedding invites! (Which sped up the impending tendinitis in my arm but we do it for our craft, right?) Each invitation was wrapped in gold ribbon and once the guest opened the two folds, the main text of our names, invitation script, and a full bleed photograph of us overlooking the Pacific Ocean would allude to our ceremony taking place on the beach.
Most brides play with color swatches for flowers and table linens. I play in a Pantone world where those are the only swatches that matter. At this stage of the project, we were working with our friend Jose who was our printer. I'll never forget when he called and said the test run was ready for pickup and he couldn't' wait to show us. We drove down to Orange County and I held the mock in my hands, smiling down upon it as if it were my firstborn. The alignment and colors were perfect. Two weeks later we had our invitations and off they went via post.
There is so much pride I have for this project because it came to life not only from my mind but with the involvement of my husband and our friends. It was nurtured and given such consideration and careful thought with each piece. Yet it was so natural and organic of a process. The passion to create this idea instead of chasing perfection led to my forever favorite print design.
It's easy for us designers to get hung up on an idea, a step in our process, trying to achieve the ultimate solution. What we need to remember to do is just listen to our intuition and keep in mind that these ideas and these visions we have are reasons as to why we are creatives and to roll with it. Stop thinking and just do.
Working with brand guidelines can put a designer in a real funk when it comes to colors. We stick to what has been approved albeit our personal preferences. I personally have designed so many blue things I thought that I had seen the gamut of shades of blue but, nay! More were to be found. In the past year and a few months, I focussed solely on the color green with 17hats. (Green for positivity! money! success! more money!) Needless to say, I am now ready to work on projects that have NO GREEN!
Recently, a friend approached me with a UI project for his current endeavor: DropTrack. This product is a music marketing platform for musicians, djs, etc. to get their music into the hands of record labels, other artists, bloggers, and more. As someone who is a musician and music takes up 1/3 of life, I knew that this would be a fun opportunity. The original screens that were presented to me were laid out with an engineer's precision for functionality and ready to take on some designer TLC. I asked the owner, "How do you feel about adding in more color?" The response was, "Let's see it."
This post is presented as a Part 1 for a main reason: I am focussing on a few details at a time. The hope with this series is to display these UI elements to really showcase some of the detail work before featuring on the full screen UI.
My relationship with color in this product has been executed in phases. First was the whole page - how do I present an artists tracks elegantly? How can this product be an even better showcase for these artists? From there, color was used with all CTAs, messaging, alerts, tags. If it wasn't body text, it probably was assigned a nifty RGB value. It made the page come alive but in a functional way. Here are a few samples created thus far:
This project is exciting in the fact that there is a great deal of creative freedom while respecting the product itself. The use of color can still allow for a sleek and modern look if done tastefully and correctly. There's always a reason behind a color selection which is why it is effective.
Stay tuned for Part 2 to see how the UI on this product develops.
As a designer who has an affinity towards pen and ink as primary tools of the trade, I always look to see what fun products are available to aid in UI and UX development. I came across UI Stencils while going on a slight binge to up my wireframing game.
A main component of my process as a UX designer is transferring any and all ideas onto paper. The sketches are my shorthand and allow me to communicate actions and flows faster than working on the computer (some may call this odd, I call this one of the wonders of Jen's designs). By fleshing out actions, gestures, questions, etc. via sketching, I am able to cut down on time spent on a series of digital wireframes that can sometimes lead to a collection of chaos. What I mean by that is artboards that go on forever and the idea you want to execute gets lost.
Enter UI stencils. They have thought of everything and I felt like Christmas came early when I browsed their product list. I went ham on adding items to my cart - stencils for iOS, Android, Web, gestures(!!!), a pixel ruler, and an every day carry kit (because everyone should have this in their pocket, am I right?). It didn't end there. Then began the addition of all the Sketch pads to pair with the stencil kits. Whoa!
My arsenal was full and ready to be used. I created incredibly detailed sketches that aided in my conversations with developers and stakeholders for feature development. Some of the developers had hearts in their eyes for some good old fashioned paper drawings stating, "this is why pen and paper should still be used." It felt like a huge win to me. With these wireframes, I accurately transferred the designs into PRD's and used them as the base for my digital wireframes. Process streamlined even more.
Yet with all the praises I have for these products come a few places for improvement. I found that many of the icons were just too large and felt like they would have been great back with older iOS guidelines for image sizes. Times have changed and we are no longer constrained to 44px! Icons were especially large when I used a fine pen such as 0.1 or 0.5, the sizes I comfortably use for sketching. Another wish list item would be horizontal lines for main UI components such as navigation tab bars, top bars, etc. While there is a small notch on the side to indicate where to draw the line, that secondary step could be eliminated by a simple thin line etched out. The last "please make this happen" item was a fuller notes section. I would love to be able to write out more notes alongside the devices. Yes, this would call for a larger sketchpad but SO WORTH IT in the long run.
Overall, everyone who encountered either the UI Stencils products or my sketches created using their products was incredibly pleased. It made sketching not just more fun but more accurate to tell a feature story even better.
Thanks UI Stencils for the stellar products!
Earlier in the year I wrote this article to help stress the importance of design in businesses. Many entrepreneurs undervalue or even forget the benefits that design can have with a brand, product, and business.
Originally posted to the 17hats blog, read on to hear my tips about implementing killer and strategic design with your business.
Starting and running your own business is one thing, but when it comes to standing out from the pack of your peers and competitors, one crucial aspect can set you apart from the pack. No, it's not a perfected sales funnel or in-depth marketing strategy -- it's good design.
These days, we know you have precious few seconds to catch someone's attention and hold it. With smartphones buzzing, ads flashing by everywhere you look, and the hustle and bustle of modern living, how will your business make its mark? Not with boring design, that's for sure.
Subconsciously or even actively, the quality of your logo, business cards, website, or even physical product will be evaluated, and worth will be assigned to your business just based on how things look!
When faced with the challenge of design many business owners think, "well, I'm not a designer, I don't know what I'm doing." While that may be true, it doesn't need to remain that way.
Here are some surefire ways you can up your design yourself (or maybe even outsource some, if you need to).
Your Business Has a Story to Tell
One of the core aspects of design is being able to convey your message effectively via visual cues and themes.
What is your business’s story? What do you want your brand to say to the world?
Knowing what you want is the fundamental first step toward refining and unifying your business’s visual assets.
Once you have that solidified, conduct research on websites in your field, study marketing collateral, or even build a Pinterest board with things you like in order to build a collection of inspiration that resonates with you and your brand's core values.
Gathered a few ideas?
Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for their opinion about the creative direction you’re wanting to explore for your business. Solicit feedback and conduct surveys: do your new look and feel represent the values behind the product or service you're trying to sell? Is the message clear and consistent?
When you have your messaging ready to go, you can then begin to translate that into a visual direction. This is extremely helpful for communicating to not only your audience but to anyone who may be producing the actual design materials!
Wave That Magic Mouse, and Bring Your Ideas to Life
A lot of people say, “I’m not creative, I can’t make the graphics myself.” This is so not true.
You thought up and started a business, didn't you? That's an incredibly complex and creative task. You clearly have problem-solving skills and now it's time to put them to work in a different capacity.
If you just need to get a grip on the basics, there are many free resources available to all skill levels. Enter Canva – a graphic design tool which allows you to create beautiful imagery with a very low learning curve.
Canva's drag and drop tool makes it easy to edit images, add type, and even format for proper social media sizes to beautify your images in no time. Canva is so easy to use that even those of you who look at design as a daunting task may have fun with it! What’s more, Canva has some great resources that aid in helping you learn the product and how to use the features to their full capacity.
If you’re feeling like you want more of a challenge, Photoshop does offer a 30-day free trial to get you started before making any type of financial commitment, plus a wonderful and huge community to look to for aid.
Don't Go it Alone
Not feeling up to the DIY method? There are many, many designers out in the world and no, they do not all cost as much as you think (without sacrificing quality).
Generally, there will be at least one person who can pass along a good candidate. Not only have you made the search easier for yourself, but you are gaining a resource that comes backed by an endorsement. That eases the vetting part of the hunt!
What I really enjoy about Upwork is the transparency between the client and designer, since you'll be able to view the designer’s work in advance and read reviews from previous clients.
No matter the route you go in finding a candidate, here are a few tips for working with designers:
- Don’t be afraid to speak to more than one designer. See which potential hires can communicate with you effectively and are excited about working on your project. I can't stress the excitement enough; it is very important the person tasked with translating your idea into reality actually cares!
- Always view a designer's portfolio and receive a quote for potential services. Like any other person you work with, know what you are getting into before committing. Let their work speak for them more than what they like to express to you in an email. Remember, it’s what you can see versus what you can hear.
- Use the power of “No.” When working with a creative, it’s okay and encouraged to provide constructive feedback! Your designer is creating your ideas, not the other way around. Communicate effectively and provide feedback that will only help the designer achieve your desired goal. Us designers will not be offended if you express that the design is not on the right path – help us to get back on track!
Look at Your Beautiful Business Now
Now that you have decided on your business’s messaging and determined how to execute it, you are on the up with integrating a visual theme that will strengthen your brand recognition.
Make sure that every new piece of collateral you produce has the same look and feel you've established so that your clients can come to expect consistency. To go one step further, have your designer build a mini style guide for you with color palettes, fonts, and any other imagery you'd likely be using again in the future.
With learning anything new, practice makes perfect. Keep working and iterating until you have designed collateral that you are happy with and that your business deserves.
After the tragic incidents which occurred in Paris, the masses took to social media for support. Messages of solace, love, and sorrow were all expressed through words and images. It's beautiful to see so many people from around the world unite even under the worst of circumstances to shine some light in such a dark hour.
Before hearing the news yesterday afternoon, my fiancé and I had been researching supplies for our bug-out/earthquake bag. The search took a backseat while following the events, work, and discussion around the state of affairs occurred. When the hunt resumed, I began to type into amazon's search bar for "emergency supplies" and made it as far as typing "emer" before stopping in my tracks. Amazon had implemented their message of support with an extremely simple yet effective design.
One color, one graphic, and one word combined to create endless messages. Not to mention the graphic and type in the top right corner used as global elements in the top bar added even more impact. The design is powerful in its simplicity.
This is a prime example of how design is used for meaning. A majority of people (although the thinking is changing more so nowadays) believe design is just for making things pretty. And while that is an objective, it is not necessarily the main goal. We, designers, are storytellers. We are people with messages to be conveyed which are to not just be absorbed but rather to ignite discussion, thoughts, and in some cases, for people to take action. This design by amazon pushed the state of affairs point blank to the viewer.
Amazon is not the only site to make changes which demonstrate support. Facebook brought back the profile picture filter using the French flag's colors and design. To some, the idea of changing a profile photo seems incidental, meaningless. But to others, it can mean a great deal. After the gay marriage ruling by the Supreme Court in the U.S. earlier this year, Facebook revealed this feature of the profile picture filter with a rainbow color scheme. Millions of people changed their image to demonstrate support for the cause. Members of the LGBTQ community responded by stating that the image change was meaningful to them when seeing their straight peers visually advocate for the cause . I hope that now, there is a similar effect with the current feature. The design brings about conversation and awareness. When some do not know how to act or do not have the means to financially or physically provide assistance, there is an outlet to visually express their feelings. What may seem like a small action to some could potentially provide a large impact for another.
Design may not save the world but it will certainly help to bring awareness, conversation, and ideas to the forefront. And in my eyes, that certainly takes us one step closer.
Ok InVision, you already make my life easier with prototyping and your blog brings me much joy. I look forward to receiving the newsletter and checking out the webinars.
But lo, what is this? User Testing? USER TESTING! I can not explain how much time I feel the process of gathering information from user tests is wasted based on clunky systems. Collecting data in a poorly filled out excel file, watching videos where testing software is being glitchy and affecting the results, and, sifting through all the information in sub-par programs just wastes too much of my time.
After viewing the blog post on InVision's page, I have high hopes that even in beta this product will streamline the user testing process. So far the MVP feature set is solid, I look forward to how this develops!
Sweet melodies with that deep, soulful voice enveloped my mind. Johnny Cash playing in the background while I organized my day turned from me writing out a to-do list to writing out lines from the songs which filled the room. A-ha! A new project...
Here are a few quick works in progress shots. I wanted to focus on having a light and airy feel with the ink to contrast with his voice. As I finalize the lettering I'll then be incorporating imagery with the type.
"If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell."