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Workshops

Alice Williams

I was able to attend another one of AIGA of Raleigh’s Lunch and Learn events. Writing for the Web is part of their Homegrown series. I find these workshops to be really helpful and the delicious Mediterranean food from Sitti probably doesn’t hurt. Our speaker for the day was Alice Williams of Hesketh – a firm in Raleigh specializing in web design and strategy.

We started the workshop with a six word personal statement, much like the one we did on the iMedia Professional Development Day with Ross Wade. The goal is to be concise, which is exactly what text on a website needs to be. Much of the discussion was based on the harsh reality that people don’t read text on websites. “The web is showing, not telling. If you don’t know who you are authentically, then you have nothing to show,” a quote from Alice’s presentation.

We also learned about establishing PET – persuasion, emotion and trust. A large part of employing these techniques in writing is tone. I learned a lot about tone that I hadn’t even thought about before. Tone can be mirroring mental models, content choice, word choice, connotation, sentence structure, information chunking and the list goes on.

We also talked about some user experience elements like F-patterns and the way that people look at websites. It’s important to make the text scannable – bullets are good for this, front load key information and integrate text and visuals.

My biggest take-away was a reminder to remember the call to action for the website. Sometimes I get so caught up in designing and making it look good that I forget to think about the most important part – what I want people to take away from the site. I enjoyed Alice’s presentation and definitely have some homework to do. She mentioned two books that I think will be worth checking out – The Ad Free Brand by Chris Grams and Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.

Iconathon

I participated in Iconathon an event sponsored by The Noun Project and Cree – a local LED lighting manufacturer.  The goal was to brainstorm icons that could represent LED lights and other energy efficient symbols. It was a great event put together by Ginny Skalski – someone I started following on Twitter when I first moved to Raleigh two years ago. It was great to meet her and find out more about her role as a social media specialist. I could see definitely seemyself doing a job like Ginny’s after I graduate.

The day’s events were really informative and I learned a lot about energy efficient lighting as well as more effective ways to create icons. We were paired at a table with someone who works as an engineer at Cree, so we got a lot of good insight about how LEDs work and how we could best represent them. Earlier last semester I struggled with a project where I needed to create a symbol/logo for a PSA on energy efficiency – so this event was really perfect for reframing the way I create icons.

I found the Noun Project’s presentation to be really interesting. They gave helpful tips about how to develop icons that I honestly never thought about before. The way past participants used of negative space was really creative and effective. I love this icon for  lungs and the respiratory system. non project

The icons we created during Cree Iconathon probably won’t be on the website for a while, but check out the icons from past Iconathon’s here. The cool thing is all the icons on the Noun Project’s site are public domain. They have so many awesome icons that anyone can use.

To continue my post about the web toolkit Lunch and Learn event today held by AIGA Raleigh with speaker, Mindy Wagner, let’s recap. The first two steps of your process should be kickoff exercises and mood boards to get a feel for what the client wants. The next step in the design process is comps – defining the details. This is where the designer actually starts working on designing the website. An important part of this step is using wireframes, and in this case, Viget has their own UX department that develops wireframes. It is very important to keep yourself and your files organized in the stage so that everything is clear when you hand it off to the developer.

Buildout considerations and Style Guides are next and important to the longevity of the site. These will help in the future if any other pages or branding materials are needed.

Overall, this was an extremely helpful and valuable event. I wish our whole iMedia class could have been there because some of this information could be directly applied to our fly-ins. I can’t wait to get started on developing my own specific process and of course eventually tweaking it along the way.

Today is the last day of exams, but that doesn’t mean it’s the last day of work. Katie and I attended AIGA of Raleigh’s Lunch and Learn Program, Homegrown – A Web Toolkit. It was a great experience accompanied by some great food at Sitti, a Mediterranean restaurant in Raleigh. Mindy Wagner a designer at Viget in Durham talked about web design process. Once again, I was reminded how important it is to have a process and a way to develop your ideas.

 

Mindy took us through Viget’s step-by-step design process. They first start with a kickoff meeting/presentation that includes the client and all of the different departments at Viget, including project managers, UX people, designers and developers. During this kickoff meeting, the client is given a survey or opposites spectrum quiz which helps Viget determine their brand personality.

With this information, the Viget design team can then develop mood boards to show the client. Mood boards lay out color palettes, typography choices, basically the overall feel to the website. They create at least three for their next presentation. Mood boards are a good way to start because they are informal and non-threatening to clients. Clients are usually able to pinpoint a style they like right away, or pick and choose from the three boards.

These first initial meetings and mood boards are a great way to get clients involved. They feel that they’re able to get their ideas heard and play a role in the design. It was helpful to hear about the preparations that come before the actual designing. Instead of just pulling something from thin air, this process allows the designer to get feedback as they are working so they can provide the best possible work and prevent a client from throwing design out.

To be continued…