Rebecca's one year birthday at Styles Webbin is approaching in a few weeks and we thought it would be the ideal time for her to reflect on some of the things that she's learnt over the past year:
I moved to London from Sydney just over a year ago, looking to be part of a bigger design world that London offers. In my previous roles as a designer, I worked predominantly in-house and did mostly print work designing posters and brochures. So, the move to a small digital agency proved to be a bit of a challenge, especially in my first few weeks.
One of my first website designs was for Local Space. I was trying to integrate a hexagonal pattern into the background, which conceptually referred to both housing and the community. I was constantly moving the same pixels around for a few hours hoping that the design would miraculously come together. I knew it wasn't working – I was going around in circles nevertheless and it was frustrating. At this point, it's probably good to stop and take a new direction. As a designer, it's important to learn to be vulnerable and ask for feedback, and get an opinion from a fresh pair of eyes. In the end, the pattern was too heavy for the site and just needed to be less of a feature.
For me, I left working as an in-house designer because it started to feel monotonous and what I enjoy most about being in an agency is the range of clients that I get to work with. At Styles, we often work with start-up or charities who have basic branding and one of our biggest challenges is adapting and extending this brand online. How do you communicate a friendly community vibe through images? Through type? Through colours? This was the case with the PTA-UK/easyfundraising site, where we had to deal with two brands and one could not take significant prominence over the other. We needed to communicate in the header that the two brands were in partnership and explored different ways of doing this. It wasn't easy to strike that balance but we opted for a grey dividing gradient which was subtle and neutral and determined the rest of the feel for the site. The grey and white background panels were a conscious decision to allow easyfundraising's blues and purples and PTA's red to shine through. Being respectful to brands and communicating their needs has been something that I've learnt to do throughout the year.
The move from print to digital was also very deliberate decision as I felt that I was otherwise being left behind as a designer. A year ago, I hardly even knew what a responsive website was and now with every website, I resize my browser to see if it is. Responsive design requires a bit more holistic thinking and requires establishing a very clear content hierarchy across all devices. Since content stacks vertically on mobile, the top of the screen is really valuable and needs to have a lot of impact. When working on the Mushroom site, we segmented content within the grid, which determined how content would flow. I've learnt that it's easy to know how the page will work responsively when you break the page down into different parts.
It constantly surprises me how fast the digital world is moving and there are many unchartered waters, which makes for a very exciting industry to work in and I can't wait to see what my next year in London will bring!