This post comes courtesy of Gretchen Wieshuber, designer and owner of Studio 2D. We've made some incredible things with Gretchen's help and we appreciate having her share her thoughts there.
1. 2wav respects my expertise.
Andy appreciates good design and has done a fair amount of design for his own businesses. But when he comes to me with a project, he trusts my experience. His team is open-minded about implementing some of the picky things I ask for, like em dashes and curly quotes. When faced with a request for a specific kind of animation or effect, they accept the challenge and nail it. We designed this tesseract effect for PavlovMedia.com, which has very cool animation and 3d effects.
2. They understand the creative process.
Designers need raw material to do their job. We don’t start out with the end in mind. The worst kind of directions are something like, “Blue is my favorite color, so make my website blue. And I love Papyrus. So use that font.” We are not designing the website for you! We are using our knowledge of the visual language to send a message to your target audience. A designer wants to know whom you are trying to reach: age, gender, geographical location, lifestyle, income level, education level, and how your product or service fits into their lives. Furthermore, we want to know how you are positioning your business relative to your competition—descriptive words are helpful. If you have thought about and can answer those questions, designers will love you. Once design mock-ups are presented, we like to get feedback in the form of more descriptive words. For example, “This looks too serious. Make it more playful.” Design is a collaborative process, and when we get the best description of the goals, you get the best design. We created the Stradjectives app to help choose descriptive words that lead to a color palette.
3. User stories.
I always ask, “Who is the target audience?” Defining that audience in as much detail as possible increases the odds that you will connect with them. Designing for mobile is much more than making a first impression—it is about creating an experience. 2wav taught me about the user story—bringing your target to life in the form a specific person using your website or app. We have had fun writing user stories. As long as they thoroughly cover every step of the user experience, we can be creative with the details, like the site that we built for East Central Illinois SCORE, which provides free business counseling to entrepreneurs start up and grow their small businesses.
4. 2wav doesn’t micromanage.
They know the vocabulary to use for revisions. Instead of saying, “Make this bigger,” they will say “This needs more emphasis.” Designers have many ways of adding emphasis: color, size, contrast, isolation, or proximity, to name a few. As a model client, 2wav can express a problem and let me find a way to solve it within the visual language that I have created. For example, “We need to show hierarchy here so the user doesn’t get lost.” This feedback was invaluable when we built a site for Women’s Health Practice.
5. They make me look good.
Sometimes that means they back me up when a client questions design decisions. Because Andy has a sophisticated understanding of design principles, he is not willing to throw them overboard on a whim. We work together to make the client happy without compromising good design. When I see my vision come to life, it is very satisfying. I am proud of the work we have done together, like this stunning web site we built for Bacon's Windows and Doors, and can show it off without apologies.