Design leadership is more than mentoring junior team members. It's problem-solving; it's discovering the true needs and then formulating a plan of action to ensure they are met.
Design is more than making things “pretty.” It's organizing, simplifying, and communicating; it's about the overall experience (yes, it matters with printed materials, too).
Design projects (particularly products) are never truly complete. Once you launch/release, you must constantly analyze user data, analytics—anything you can—and adjust accordingly.
My creative/design principles & Style
It’s never about just “making things pretty.”
That's just the last step in the process. I believe every experience deserves to be as pleasing as possible. That’s probably why I’m a big-city-loving gal who works in beautiful Chicago, IL. I’m inspired every time I step outside and look up! I’m also one of those “foodies,” and a coffee & beer enthusiast. Should I brew a cup of single-origin Intelligentsia coffee, head to work, create something awesome, then end the day with a delicious meal & a flavorful IPA? Hell yeah, I should!
I’m also a mid-century modern design addict. Due to this, I tend to have a very simple and angular style. This style tends to translate well into the web environment, helping to rely less on imagery and more on information priotitization.
Creating an efficient, inclusive—yeah, we're sending a shout-out to the W3's (WCAG) 2.1, here—and well-performing product is a must in today’s digital world. Carrying over these user experience (UX) values into the marketing & sales funnel is key, too, especially in today's fast-paced, instant-gratification environment. Our bread and butter may very well rely on that one last conversion…and that one last conversion might not happen if that CTA button isn't clear to the user with Deuteranomaly.
Who I really am & why
Now that we've broken the Ice...
Okay, so I may have misled you earlier. I'll actually brew waaaaaay more than a single cup of coffee (hey, I need to fuel the fire). And I'm actually an executive-level product manager who began as a multi-disciplined designer. I focus on that big-picture goal and I know how to get everyone there.
My passion for the craft & full customer journey is why I prefer to work with smaller teams so I can lead through hands' on examples, when necessary. I'm always going to be someone who needs to dive-in and get my hands dirty, and I don't think I'll ever change!
I naturally gravitate to this type of small-group leadership due to how I view products and their design, in general: from a problem-solving perspective. At the end of the day, all designers really do is communicate. We solve puzzles. We work through a maze of information, then organize, clarify, communicate, and present it in a way that is not only easily digested, but looks damn nice, too.
After all of this time and all of my professional changes…the answer really is simple: because I freakin’ love it! The process of creative work is fun and challenging and frustrating and fun and exhausting and strategic and rewarding and fun and I cannot see myself ever walking away from that.
I think those are all the same reasons people play video games…which is funny because I am terrible at videogames.
- Product Management
- Branding strategy & design
- Product strategy & design
- User experience (UX) strategy
- User interface (UI) systems
- Customer experience
- User & industry research
- UI design
- UX design
- Information Architecture (IA)
- User journey mapping
- Online video
- Email marketing
- Websites & Microsites
- WordPress CMS
- Front-end (layout-focused)
- CSS Grids
- Sales collateral
- Event materials
- Print production
- Artistic/Fine art
...How Did I Become a Nerd?*
I got into the business of design—particularly designing & building websites—because I found the entire process to be a challenging yet rewarding experience (not to mention completely fun). Plus, for as long as I can remember, I’ve also had a serious interest in knowing how things work. I reverse-engineered my bicycle when I was 11 and did my first oil change at 15. Thankfully, I didn't have any bolts left over when I was done with either task.
When it comes to hands-on design, I still get lost within it. I’ve been known to pound a coffee or two (or six), blast some music in the background, and start a new wireframe or finish up the interaction details in a prototype. Once I’m inspired, I hit the ground running—usually not even noticing the time pass by.
I’ve also participated in a few of those code-challenges, too. You know, the “parties” where a bunch of us nerds* get together, set a completely unrealistic time line for ourselves, and build something awesome just…to be nerdy* (yet another time when those delicious IPAs come in).
Hey Jen, Just give me the ‘tl;dr’, would ya?
When you break it down, all I really do is use organization, communication, and a bit of visual sass to solve problems. And I gotta’ tell ya’, it is a damn wonderful thing to do for a living.*nerds are cool now, so don’t hate.