Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

7 Reflections from a Newbie Creative Manager

AUTHOR:
DATE:
30 August 2014.

newbie-manager
Last October, I was promoted. The promotion was something I had hoped for, wanted and mentally prepared for (or so I thought).

The truth is, the only thing that can set you up for success in management is hands-on experience and reflection. No amount of advice, reading or research can inform on how to use your natural abilities and strengths to excel in management. Similarly, you may not become fully aware of your weakness until they’re revealed under pressure.

It’s important to self-analyze and identify areas for personal improvement. I find myself reflecting almost daily on the successes and failures of my interactions with my team and my time management. In order to improve, you have to take action and expose yourself to situations that will strengthen your ‘problem’ areas.

Here are some of the things I have learned to this point and will continue to focus on:

1. Challenging Myself
Seek opportunity to improve your weaknesses. For me, public speaking and directness with regard to expectations, deadlines and quality of work don’t come extremely naturally. I have started to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve realized that feeling uneasy about something means you’ve put yourself in a position to strengthen a weakness and you’re nervous because you care about the outcome. Embrace the awkward until it starts to feel normal.

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9 User Experience and Interface (UX+UI) Considerations for Global Web Projects

AUTHOR:
DATE:
8 April 2014.

In 2013, I designed the UI and UX for the largest web project I’ve ever been a part of. The design governs around 1800 pages of content (in the primary language); it’s also global, multi-region and multi-language. I was also responsible for designing the UI/UX for a Magento e-commerce instance of similar scope.

I worked independently on the design and made a lot of UX decisions beyond my pay grade at the time with minimal feedback or checking-and-balancing taking place. In short, there was no one else. It was at once extremely stressful and awesome on account of the freedom.

Now, to discuss some of the challenges I faced:

1. Designing for the space hog

If there isn’t a way around building text into your interface (navigation, for instance) build in enough space, or adjust the font in a way that will allow for the space-hoggiest languages.
spacehog

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Automate Your Internet with IFTTT.com

AUTHOR:
DATE:
7 December 2013.

Last week I came across a tool that is probably the coolest damn cool I have come across in months. It’s called IFTTT (If This Than That). It automates process on the internet. A simple example is that it will automatically upload any new Instagram photo to Flickr.

I came across IFTTT in trying to automate all of my social activity (tweets, vimeo posts, instagram photos, etc) to dump into my tumblr account as a catch-all. It took about 15 minutes to set up. Beautiful. It’s based on a concept called Recipes. You can create your own from scratch or browse existing recipes and still people’s ideas.

recipes

It can do more complex things, though, like adding any Tweet that your favorite to Evernote, Google Docs or Pocket.

You can set time based rules, such as posting a Facebook status to thank people for the birthday wishes every year, on your birthday. (A bit presumptuous, perhaps, but pretty slick!).

The one that really blew my mind and also widened it was the ability to have your WeMo controlled home lighting change colors based on temperature.

Sidenote: WeMo is a Belkin product line of WiFi, 3G/4G/LTE controlled switches. I’m thinking hard for a reason to drop $50 bones on one of these switches.

Cincinnati from three different focal lengths

AUTHOR:
DATE:
21 May 2013.

Shot on a Canon 7D 1.6x crop sensor. Canon 50mm f1.8, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 at 10mm, and Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 at around 35mm. Scouting mission on my lunch break around 1:30pm on May 21, 2013. My plan is to go back one weekend morning and catch a sunrise or a sunset at dusk.

Good Design Advice

AUTHOR:
DATE:
18 May 2013.

Recently, a good friend of mine sent me an email asking for design advice. I was flattered that he reached out to me and then briefly thought about how to respond given the vastness of his inquiry. Before I knew it I had written a lengthy email filled with important nuggets from my personal design philosophy, useful links and an invitation to bounce ideas off of me at any time.

work-harder


Tonight it occurred to me that along the way I have saved up quite a few pieces of advice for designers just starting out, with a few years of experience, or looking to push past a development plateau. Obviously, I linked him to Good F-cking Design Advice, obviously. Some of the suggestions below were in my email, some came to me after I had hit send. Here they are:

1. Have a concept before you start pushing pixels, you’ll work 3-times more quickly. This took me years to start doing regularly, and now it’s my process. I’m a pen and paper guy, that helps me get my plan together and allows for freedom of exploration. Not only sketching for layouts and logo comps, but creating timelines and mind maps for mini-documentaries.

2. Listen to feedback, consider it, then very possibly disregard it to follow your instinct. You have to trust your decisions. This is especially important for editors of any kind. Decisiveness isn’t natural for some, so hone it.

3. Your first idea isn’t always your best. Scrap or set aside your first draft and push through to find the possibly better 2nd or 3rd idea. Time will be the enemy of this pursuit. Stay up later.

4. Clearly communicating is your #1 goal, everything else is secondary to that. Keep it simple. Your job is done when there is nothing left to subtract.

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Brand Managers: Loosen Up on Your Logo

AUTHOR:
DATE:
16 May 2013.

D-10-capesigners who have interacted with corporations have undoubtedly also interacted with, or otherwise had their potential creativity stifled by branding guidelines. These ‘necessary evil’ documents range anywhere from 5-to-infinity pages and lay out the rules and regulations in dealing with a given company’s trademark (or logo) and name.

corp-branding

Here’s the problem: If you haven’t updated your branding guidelines in the last 2-3 years your brand is in all likelihood severely outdated and suffering in today’s marketplace as a result.

Furthermore, the fact that you’re bustin’ my chops about my having placed another design element less than the mandated 3/4″ clear of your logo is a draaag, bro. Loosen up.

Brand Managers need to think about and convince their c-levels that adapting a more flexible branding system is the future. What I mean is, find a way to write into your guidelines that they aren’t 100% rigid.

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