Day in the Life of an Interactive Designer
My name is Emily. My fellow atLargers call me EZ because…
- I break things up into baby steps so even the trickiest projects seem easier. I call it my “easy, done” setting.
- We’re pressed for time so we grab each other’s initials over our first names.
- It’s an abbreviated version of “EZ Train”–a reference to my soccer days when I’d plough through any defensive line.
So, now that we’re on a first-name basis–I can tell you more about my work. I’m an interactive designer with atLarge, Inc. What the heck does an “interactive” designer do? If you guessed jump up and down while designing–you’re wrong. (It happens to the best of us.) As an interactive designer, I design everything except print campaigns. Usually, that means I’m working on social media campaigns, websites and mobile apps. I collaborate closely with atLarge programmers, writers and account managers along the way.
Here’s how my day typically starts:
I roll out of bed by 7.40AM ready to start the day. In case you can’t tell–I’m a morning person;)
Why so chipper? The way I see it, I get paid to do something I love that I’m good at–why wouldn’t I be stoked to meet the day? Plus, I paid buko bucks to go to the design school of my dreams–shout out to Pratt Institute –so I’m cashing in on my investment! (Actually, I will continue to make payments for the next 10 years but that’s besides the point.)
We’re a pretty casual crew so I grab a sundress or jeans and a T and I’m set. If I’m meeting with a client, I’ll lay out my clothes the night before. Otherwise, I grab what catches my fancy.
I roll into atLarge 5 minutes early so I’m ready to go right at 8.30AM.
This is my ready, set, go ritual:
Start my coffee.
Greet my office mates.
Turn my computer on.
Grab my coffee.
Sit down at my desk.
Put my glasses on.
Slap the iPod on.
Put the headphones on. (By the way–noise-canceling headphones are pure genius. If you don’t have a pair, you’re missing out. I like my Bose Triport headphones.)
Now, I’m officially on the job. (Notice my serious game face.)
I check my email to make sure no one needs anything new from me. (Off the hook for emergencies today.) Then, it’s straight to my calendar to review due dates. Now, I set my priorities for the day. Looks like I’ll be finalizing a set of logos, working on website comps, testing a mobile app I designed and working on the atLarge newsletter.
Here we go.
Fun with Logos
Just a few tweaks before my show-and-tell meeting with the client. Ahh, that’s nice.
Now, I’m off to a quick meeting with my client. They love it. Sigh. I’ve been working on this for two weeks so it’s nice to see it all come together.
Fun with Websites
This project has been on my plate for six weeks now. Three weeks ago, I shared moodboards which are rough ideas for colors, treatments and overall look and feel. Last week, I shared rough design comps. Now, I’m in the homestretch. This week, I share my final round of design comps so I’m perfecting all the nitty gritty details and making sure the design flows throughout all the pages before I hand it of to our development team.
Date with atLarge Newsletter
I love working on client projects but it’s nice to come home to our own brand. Since our newsletter is shipping out in a couple days I lay it out now so it’s ready on time.
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This is an iPhone app that we’re launching in a few weeks. I’m troubleshooting to make sure my icons and treatments look right across the app. I document a couple of suggestions to discuss with the programming team in our next project meeting.
This is a project that’s in build. The designs were finished a couple weeks ago but this is my first look on the development site. I check for any inconsistencies in design treatments and any usability flaws that would make a visitor confused. We’re having a walkthrough meeting with the client next week so I’ll continue to check the site as the programming team moves along.
Go Inside My Design Process
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in the work I do. My process is always the same though. Here’s a peak:
- I ask a lot of questions and read everything I can about a client’s industry.
- I take scrupulous notes in every meeting and refer back to them often.
- To keep a client’s big picture business goals in mind–I’ll write them out on sticky notes and post them where I can see them.
- I create wireframes and moodboards for every interactive design project.
- I also keep a working Evernote notebooks for every project. (Quick rave on Evernote. I use it to capture everything I love online–a cool blog post idea, an awesome social media contest or a killer website. I snatch a screenshot and store it away. I have notebooks topics like buttons, footers, headers, navigation, image treatments and design elements.)
- I share designs early with clients to make sure that I’m headed in the right direction before I’ve spent too much time speeding down the wrong path. (I move fast because I’m still on New York time.)
- Once designs are approved, I work with the rest of the team to bring them to life.
I need a little bit of inspiration so I have lunch with my online buddies. Let’s go surfing.
CMYBacon – Inspiring and funny things in the world of art & design
Dribbble – Show and tell for creatives
DesignWorkLife – Cataloging inspiration daily
Pattern Tap – Web Design Collections
Time for a Social Call
Just a few minutes left in the day so I tweet some of the awesome design gems I found inspiration surfing. (Want to stay up to speed on my finds? Feel free to follow @EmilyZier and @atlargeinc for a daily dose of fun.)
Whew, and before I know it–it’s closing time!
Got questions about how I fell into interactive design? Or suggestions of your own for creative inspiration? I’m always collecting design resources–so please share!
This post originally appeared on the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association blog–the ultimate Public Relations resource.