Behind the Scenes: The Art and Science of Web Design
My name is Janna Netland Lover, and I am a UX designer, and I work with TEN7 a lot.
I connected with Ivan actually a long time ago when TEN7 was just Ivan in his basement, and we started working on websites together. I think it's possible that the first couple of sites that we did together were static. So that will tell you how long ago it was.
When I first met with Ivan, talking about doing some partnerships, I was really struck by how he understood the importance of design. I had worked with other developers before and a lot of them were very straight up coders and I had to be kind of always fighting for design actually matters. And the users are going to think that this is important, and they're going to find the information better when you have a solid design behind it. And Ivan really understood that from the get-go.
It was incredibly validating at the time, because so much of what you would see in those days on the web was well...
Who cares what it looks like, if it works? And I understand things have to work, that is absolutely fundamental. But also, users have to want to work with them. So that is where I come in and where I have always placed the importance of my work is, let's make it actually work for the user. So that it's something that people want to interact with.
I started in advertising actually, in newspaper advertising. And I quickly switched to a more digital orientation because that was really the way that the market was going and that was where the more interesting projects were.
From there, I started getting interested in web design and what that could do for communications, because it was just sort of exploding at the time.
What I like about web design is the living nature of it. When you are doing print design, once you get it on paper, and it's printed, it's there. And that's what it looks like forever. Websites are so interesting, because they are living documents, and you can change not only just what they say, but you can change what they look like, at any time. And you can change the focus of it. So, they're just so malleable as it relates to your business marketing goals, and when values change, and sometimes the whole direction of a business changes. And this is actually a document that can respond to that. So, the living nature of it is always very interesting to me.
I think in the design industry it's really interesting, because there's kind of this continuum of people that consider it art and people that consider it science. And I find myself somewhere in between, because with design the important things that I do with design are communication. I don't think I would describe myself as an artist. There's a lot of art about what I do, but it's more about effective communication. And there are so many components of that. If you design something that can't be developed, it doesn't do you any good. So, you can design the coolest thing, the thing that looks the best, if it can't be developed and maintained, then it does not have any value.
One of the things that I like best about working with TEN7 is that I am able to work closely with the developers who are working on this specific site that I design. So, they always come back to me if there are questions on the way interaction should perform, or if they need to extrapolate on a design that I've made, and they want to make sure that they are extrapolating correctly, or, taking it in the direction that I intended. They always come back to me, and there's close communication on that, and I really appreciate that communication a lot.
I love seeing the projects when the developers are done with them, or even when they're halfway through them. I'm like, wow, this works. Like look at it. Oh, look, it's beautiful. It's really exciting to see things because so often I'm looking at static screens, but when you see the interactivity and you see the motion, and you see the way that people are actually going to interact with it, it's really exciting to see it come together.
So, the TEN7 mission Make Things that Matter is really important to me when I work with them, because I know that any project that they call me in on is going to be a project that I am proud to work on. Also, a project that the rest of the members of the team are also going to feel good about working on. And those projects where you feel good about working on it, in general, are just so much more energizing. They make you want to sit at your desk. They make you want to push your boundaries and figure out ways to do things and really be a problem solver.
One of my first work supervisors gave me a really great compliment one time because she said I was a creative problem solver. And that that skill was going to take me really far. And one of the things that I appreciate so much about working with TEN7 is that they are always open to creative problem solving.
So even as a UX designer, I can go to developers and say, “What can we do? I'm stuck in this one place. What can we do to push past this, or to find something creative that we can do here to fix this little area that’s a difficulty? And we will brainstorm together, and I absolutely love that.