A Simple UX Process

After witnessing and beginning to work on a number of web design projects, I’ve been able to get a clear idea of a typical UX process. This is a simple overview of a UX project flow. Of course, each project is unique and requires it’s own additional work (looking through analytics, conducting user testing, etc.).  As a starting point, this is what I see almost every project including:

  • Understand the problem and/or goals of the project.
  • Identify the users: Who are they? What do they really want to know? Where are they coming from? Why are they on this website?
  • Identify the competition: What are others in the client’s space doing? How are they presenting information? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong?
  • Review the current website or web presence of the client: What is their current website doing right? What is their current website doing wrong? What are their company quirks? What makes them different?
  • Gather the client’s content, as this is what  will be presented on the website, it should be collected early on. At the very least, you should have an idea of the type of information that will be presented on the website.
  • Identify what sections and categories will need to be present on the website: How can the client’s mission and content be best organized?
  • Begin to design wireframes, keeping content, hierarchy, and user flow top of mind.
  • Edit wireframes according to client feedback.
  • Coordinate and communicate with the design team to ensure that the content and hierarchy identified in the wireframing process are included and upheld in the final designs.

The User Experience

I recently began an internship in User Experience design, a field I’ve been interested in since I first learned of its existence in college. UX Design is multi-faceted and includes design, strategic thinking, and thoughtful planning.

It’s been an exciting month full of learning and observation. Here are 5 things I’ve learned about UX design so far:

1. UX designers are the content keepers: For most marketing websites, content is king. You want to tell a brand’s story, and the most effective way to do so is to thoughtfully combine of text and imagery. As a UX designer, it’s important to safeguard the content of a website. We must make sure that the most useful content is not sacrificed or forgotten in the design process.

2. Watch the hierarchy: Where you place elements and their order is an amazingly important part of UX design. It is a UX designer’s job to decide what the most important elements of a website are and then design accordingly. Making the important content the most visible and/or prominent is a core component of UX design.

3. Words are important, too: When dealing with a website’s text (especially on an About page) you need to know what type of information will be presented, and its textual amount. We employ “content wireframes” to organize this important copy and help build a textual narrative. This is one of my favorite discoveries about UX– that it can involve narrative storytelling along with the visual design.

4. You’re the starting point:  Following the initial work of business development and onboarding from project managers, the UX team is the first to touch a project. At least at the agency where I’m interning, the UX team is the first to dive into a new project once it has begun. The initial steps vary for each project, but they can include wireframing, sketch sessions (with the design team and/or the client), and content audits.

5. Keep it simple, give it space, and less is more: UX design is essentially the layout and guiding force for final website designs; therefore, they need to be basic, simple, and thoroughly thought-through. When working through the UX process, it is essential to:

  1. Think of the website’s user
  2. Envision their journey
  3. Come up with creative solutions to their problems
  4. Distill this all down into a flow and design that is easy to follow and implement.

I love this way of thinking, and I hope to further refine the presentation of my ideas and concepts into simple and logical designs. Stay tuned!

Floral Frenzy

It’s Spring. It’s warm! It’s amazing.

In the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share some of my spring fever. Flowers are one of my favorite things to photograph– they have so much depth and detail.

Here are a few of my floral photographs to brighten your day///

Rag & Bone Fall/Winter 2015

Rag & Bone is one of my favorite brands, & this video is exactly why. It’s just. so. cool.

Mikhail Baryshnikov & Lil’ Buck dance in this short film directed by Georgie Greville to promote Rag & Bone’s F/W 2015 collection. Rag & Bone created this viral video because, as managing partner David Neville puts it, “Runway shows don’t resonate with the regular guy. So we wanted to challenge ourselves and engage people. We hope it’s memorable.” (WWD)

I love the music (“Öngyilkos Vasárnap” by Venetian Snares), the theme of old vs. young, the editing, the lighting… seriously, I love everything.

What really stood out to me, however, was how I actually noticed the clothing. Even without the Rag & Bone/fashion context I would have loved how the dancing involved their trenches, harem pants, & scarves. The pieces were integrated seamlessly into the different routines, creating a really cohesive & interesting way to showcase the collection.

It’s this type of work that inspires me to pursue creativity within the branding context. This is viral marketing done all kinds of right. Now, if you excuse me, I’ll just be watching this about a million more times….

Thoughts at 7AM

highline

I was having this thought mid-waking this morning: you know that time where you’re still partially in dreamland and just beginning to open your eyes to the reality of another day? Well, during this bleary-eyed time I started thinking about doors (please just keep in mind that I’m still half asleep during the following stream of thought).  I started wondering  if we were on this earth with nothing– no civilization, no community, no cities or towns– would we alone know to build these homes that we are so accustomed to? If you were outside the confines, would you build a home, a room, a tub like we know today? Would you even think to create a doorknob, a couch, a sink?

This half-conscious thought really got me thinking about society and our collective effort to create and build things. I also began to wonder about innovation- does it still exist in our time? Or are we no longer questioning enough of our preconceived utilities, materials, and modes of thought?

If you weren’t given a door already, would you create one like we have today?

This series of strange questioning led me to the reaffirmation that I don’t want to settle with accepting preconceived notions. I would like to stay grounded in my questioning of everything- to approach every situation asking: “Is this the right way to do something? Is this the only option? If this solution wasn’t already presented to me, would I create the same thing?”

I really desire to stay original, to stay thoughtful, and to not settle for “how things are.”

I guess what I’m trying to say (as so many before me have already professed) is that we need to stay curious and questioning. We need to keep our eyes open to all alternative solutions, and maybe we can create something of our own that is truly great.

If you weren’t given a door already, what would you create instead?

Spring…Almost?

Sure, it’s only February, but if I try hard enough, I can almost feel the impending warmth & smell the soon to bloom flowers. To celebrate that we’re one month closer to warmth, sunshine, & temperatures above 40F, here is my inspiration for the season ahead….

(& stay tuned for a few changed & updates to Transient Times!)

SpringFeels

All photo credits can be found via my Pinterest

Falling…

It’s that time of year again: the air gets crisp, the nights are cool, & the world shifts into a riot of red, yellow, and orange. It’s the fall season once more.

For me, the beginning of this new season means one thing: it’s time to visit the farm. My family loves to visit one little farm up in Roxbury, CT at this time of year. The ride there makes for impressive leaf peeping as we wind through the country roads. Once there, we’re greeted with herds of sheep, crates full of pumpkins, & baskets of mums. This farm experience truly captures the essence of fall & all the richness it brings.

fall_on_farm fall_on_farm2We got an earlier start this year, but with the Autumnal Equinox tonight, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this new season. Fall has always been my favorite season– I’m already looking forward to more outdoor adventures, cozy meals, & an abundance of sweater-based outfits.

Here’s to the new season ahead!

sustainability in cities

Currently, the world population is well over six billion people and is set to only continue to grow with time. While modern day miracles including vaccinations, clean water, and accessible clean living conditions have contributed to higher life expectancy rates and less mortality overall, the sheer number of people on our planet is beginning to take a toll on our resources.

As Alex Steffen discusses in his TED Talk, “Alex Steffen Sees a Sustainable Future,” the ecological footprint for western countries is entirely too large for our planet to sustain. Steffen uses the example of “multiple worlds” to explain: “Every society has an ecological footprint. It has an amount of impact on the planet that’s measurable: how much stuff goes through your life, how much waste is left behind you…We at the moment…are using up about five planets.” As Steffen demonstrates, there are simply too many people on our one Earth, consuming far too many resources (five Earth’s worth), in order for our ONE planet to sustain us into the future.

Cities pose a unique set of issues for sustainable living. Not only is land already extremely limited in most, if not all, city environments, it’s also a struggle to harness this available land for agricultural use. Land is simply not used properly. Businesses, people, and resources are therefore scattered, inaccessible, and unmanageable. Since city-dwellers cannot produce their own food within the confines of their cities, they therefore must procure virtually all of their food from elsewhere.

Currently, we are in a “global food market” where one can actually use “food miles” as a measurement—that is, it is possible to measure the distance food is transported from its time of production until its in the hand of consumers. For example, orange juice consumed in Europe may have been first produced from oranges in Brazil, meaning that for a European to enjoy a single glass of OJ at breakfast, 1,200km must have been logged (Sustainable Cities). About 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions from today’s food system come just from the product’s transportation. Of course, this percentage is much lower when food is grown locally and does not have to travel across oceans and borders to make it to our tables; however, in today’s city landscape this type of local production is next to impossible.

Access to locally grown food is an imperative component of sustainable living that most– if not all– cities lack. City-dwellers consume more food than those living in the suburbs or out in the country, and their food also requires more production and processing. While those in more rural areas can pick up fresh produce, eggs, and meats locally and use them at least within the week they’ve purchased them, city-dwellers do not have this luxury.

Food going to cities has to be made to last much longer, therefore requiring more intensive packaging like plastic containers, along with more chemical intervention to preserve the freshness of the food, including the use of harmful pesticides in production and the addition of preservatives in food packaging. Although in many cases living in a city can be more convenient in terms of proximity to schools, jobs, etc. when it comes to food, those in more country/suburban areas with more access to locally grown sources are winning the sustainability game.

It is clear that cities face a truly an uphill battle when it comes to achieving sustainability. Issues like population growth and food transportation are accelerated at an extremely unsustainable rate in most cities throughout the world. However, if a complete restructuring and redesign of cities is seriously considered– by city planners, government officials, and the city population in general– cities could be transformed. If cities can realign with the needs of the planet and redesign to offer compact community-based living options then a more sustainable future will be definitely be possible for cities and the world alike.