The state of my design Designing for the internet


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I’ve had a blog post in my drafts area for over two weeks now. It’s pretty much done, but for some reason or another I didn’t hit the big ol’ publish button.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy with work lately (I know, right?) and haven’t had the chance — or mental focus — to check over it, proofread, make changes, add links, and wrap it up with a clever final sentence. Maybe it’s because I make a few assumptions — possibly premature — and was afraid to put them out there.

This morning I’ve decided to hit that big ol’ publish button, because it seems I’m not the only one feeling these assumptions.

Why?

Because this morning this post from Cognition landed in my RSS feed reader, and it started a morning reading session that jumped from there, to this post by Khoi Vinh, and then to this post by Ben Pierrat. Ben’s piece had summed up my whole original blog post in one line: “I run Svpply.com. I am its Designer. I used to design logos and now I design for the internet.

These articles talk about ‘products’ becoming more and more digital, and the shift from Company A making product B, and hiring Agency C to present it to the world. Now, Company A makes digital product X, and hires Freelance Designer/Web Developer Y to allow Company A to present it to the world. The middleman in this scenario is gone; the company has hired the talent to work in house, as part of themselves, because digital products need to maintained, developed further, have bugs fixed, and evolved. It cannot be designed, developed, and launched. It needs continual treatment, something the traditional design or ad agency can’t supply (who will work on the next client?).

Everything’s changing, and it’s it’s exciting! I’m in the fortunate position to be able to pay close attention from the sidelines; and move into what feels right upon my return to full-time employment.

Will I work for another design agency, a single company as the in-house design guy, myself, or something new?

Original post (written 2nd Aug)

The state of my design

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been kinda busy with work. Work in the sense of standing at the computer and working on design, not in the sense of getting paid. I’m working on various pro bono projects for friends and acquaintances ranging from email invites, to cd covers, to a series of three cd covers, to posters, to smallish websites, to medium-sized-ish websites. All for free, which is great.

Some work is for friends who can’t afford high-quality design services are getting them for cheap free, and some work is for organisations which (I think) are in need of high-quality design to help them prosper, or possibly stay running.

Historically, I’m a print and conceptual designer, so I can create concepts for cd covers and posters, branding for companies small and large, even copywriting to some degree[1. Conceptual copywriting for advertisements and brochures, but also copywriting for the web. Yes, they are different.]. But over the last half-decade I’ve been designing more and more for the web (as are most print designers, I’m sure). The benefit I had working for Six Degrees Digital was I was working with top-notch web developers, and learned a lot about designing for the web in terms of what’s possible with technology, and which technology to go for for different projects and budgets. Let’s call this the BODY — how to design for the web.

Since starting my sabbatical, I’ve been learning about the BRAINS of web design. UI, UX, AI. All the fancy acronyms. And I’ve learned a lot[2. It also helps to have a like-minded User Experience Architect who likes to share on my side]. And at the moment I’m more excited about the brains of web design than the conceptual and print-based designs I was working on five years ago.

The two organisations I’m designing websites for currently are getting the real designer-me. And they can probably sense it. I’m really excited about doing the work, despite not being paid, and I think they’ll get great websites in return. It’s fortunate for them I have the free time during my sabbatical to go nuts and give these sites my full attention and enthusiasm. And I’m fortunate to have some real-world projects I can hone my newly-learned skillz on. It’s a win-win.

I expect I’ll find it hard to say ‘yes’ to any more print-based pro bono work (or perhaps even paid work?) while on sabbatical, preferring instead to spend my free time focusing on the ins and outs, body and brains of web design. Once I’ve completed these remaining few print projects, it’ll be websites, icons, and even iPhone apps from here on out.

…well, until my sabbatical ends and I need to be employed again. But even then I’ll be looking for creative pixel-based jobs as opposed to print-based. Or maybe a complete change of career?