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 simplifying and communicating; it's about the overall experience (yes, it matters with printed materials, too).
Design & creative projects are never truly complete. Once you launch/release, you must constantly analyze user data, analytics—anything you can—and adjust accordingly.
It’s not all about “making things pretty.”
In fact, 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, where I can design something awesome then end the day with a delicious meal and a flavorful IPA? Hell yes!
I’m a mid-century modern design addict, too. Due to this, I tend to have a very modern and angular style. This style tends to translate well into the web environment, helping to rely less on imagery and more on creative use of code. Creating an efficient and well-performing product or marketing campaign—especially websites—is a must in today’s digital world. Carrying over these user experience (UX) values into the marketing funnel is key, especially in a direct-response environment where our bread and butter may very well rely on that one last conversion.
Okay, so I may have misled you earlier. I'll actually brew waaaaaay more than a single cup of coffee. But that's only because I'm always going to be someone who needs to dive-in and get my hands dirty, and I need fuel for that! This passion for the craft is why I prefer to work with smaller teams so I can lead through hands' on examples when necessary. I naturally gravitate to this type of leadership due to how I view 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.
A quick summary of why I design:
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 doing anything else.
I think those are all the same reasons people play video games…
User experience (UX) design
User interface (UI) design
Customer experience strategy
(Digital) product design
Branding strategy & design
Software product strategy
WordPress and other CMS
Content marketing visual support
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 nine 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 design, I’ve been known to pound a coffee or two (or six), blast some music in the background, and pull an all-nighter to build a website from scratch or finish up an animated video. Yes, I’m sure a few of those evenings were deadline related, but 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?
There are lots of terms for what I do; art director, creative director, designer, writer, developer, etc. But when you break it down, all I really do is use organization, communication, and a bit of visual sass to simply 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.