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Hi. I’m Rob, the main website designer at Corporate Zen. I designed most of the websites featured on our portfolio page. I also designed the site you’re looking at now. I was asked to create this post to provide a little background about me, my process, and my design philosophy. Here goes.
How I Became A Designer
I didn’t take a linear path to designing websites. I studied studio art in undergrad and considered going on to get a masters in fine art. Instead, I opted to use the other side of my double major, political science, and went to law school. I passed the bar after graduating and worked in an academic law library for several years. I enjoyed the work, but couldn’t get rid of my desire to create.
I started studying everything I could about websites, the code they run on, how users interact with them, and different styles and trends. In 2016, Han offered me a job at CZ. I took it. My role at CZ allowed me to grow and develop as a designer.
So, that’s how I got to my current role. The non-traditional path I took gives me a unique design perspective. It also helps me empathize with and understand a variety client perspectives. Now, on to how I operate in this role.
My design philosophy centers on you, the client. Focusing on the client requires significant client input. It’s the only way that I can understand what styles they like and how their website needs to function. I believe that no one knows the needs of their organization better than the people who work there. I want to create products that match the client’s aesthetic, while also performing as needed. That’s what I love about designing websites — the challenge of making them both visually appealing and easy to use.
While meeting clients’ expectations, I feel a responsibility to also create websites with an up-to-date design that will satisfy the needs and expectations of users. If I don’t share my knowledge of websites with clients, then they are not getting the full benefit of our services. This sometimes means suggesting alternatives. Maybe it’s feasible to do exactly what they’ve asked for, but we can do something similar for half the cost. Or maybe, we can make a small modification to better match users’ expectations. Identifying these opportunities and sharing them with clients is where I can add significant value to projects.
When it comes to the look of a website, I strive for something aligns with the client’s requested aesthetic, current website patterns, and user expectations. My goal is to create a website that looks current but isn’t built on questionable trends that will likely fade rapidly and leave the site feeling dated. Of course, there’s no way to future proof the look of a website — like fashion, the world of web design regularly evolves. But, by being careful in your design selections, you can maximize a site’s visual longevity.
It’s also important to avoid design features that look cool but will confuse users. In keeping up with design trends, I come across some truly beautiful sites. However, many of them take me, someone reasonably familiar with the web, a while to figure out. Some sites I come across take forever to load because they are bogged down with the code needed for their extensive animations. These aren’t the types of sites I want to build. While they look great, their user experience is poor and may negatively impact traffic and user engagement. The websites I take note of and the ones I strive to create are those that look beautiful and work well.
My Website Design Process
Moving to the nuts and bolts of what would happen if you work with me…. We’d start with a meeting or two to get a good understanding of your organization and the role of your website or web based platform. If you have Google Analytics set up on your existing site, I would review that data to identify your most popular pages and any potential pain points on the existing site. Then, we’d move to talking about specific features and functionality that you need. I’d also ask you to provide several examples of sites that you like the look and feel of. From there, I’d do some sketches and mockup several homepages based on everything we’d covered. Creating a homepage provides a concrete starting point for another discussion about look and functionality — mood boards are nice, but it can be hard to visualize how things will look when you’re that abstract. Based on your feedback, I’d finalize your favorite homepage. Then I’d mock up the rest of the pages and we’d have another round of review. If it makes sense, we’d also do some user testing at this stage to confirm we’re on the right track. Once we have everything set, I’d turn it over for development. And that’s a very high level overview of my typical design process. Of course, every client is different, so I modify the process as needed.
Thank you for reading this overview of how I came to my current role and what to expect if you decide to work with me. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out via the contact form at the bottom of the page. Also, if you’re interested in seeing a few more sites I’ve worked on, check out my portfolio. And, if you’re wondering what I do when I’m not working on websites, I have an ever expanding list of hobbies and activities. As of this post, I’m into making pizza and have rediscovered bird watching, which I used to do with my grandfather.
If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, please let me know. Hope you enjoyed the post!