Long Haute Winter: An Interview with Sarena Douglass
Sarena Douglass, Senior Designer at Velir discusses all things design - inspiration, process, and what's hot right now.
In this episode, you will learn:
- A current challenge in the design space and one way to handle it (1:32)
- The type of design that people are currently looking for (3:26)
- How to handle website accessibility and what one needs to consider (4:15)
"I get most of my inspiration from seeing things that I’ve never seen... experiencing things that I’ve never experienced."
Video Transcript (Edited for Clarity)
[Public Interface Intro]
Long Haute Winter
Mark Stiles: Welcome to Public Interface, I'm Mark [a Principal Web Developer]! Joining me today is Sarena Douglass, a Senior Visual Designer at Velir.
Sarena Douglass: [Waves]
Mark: Today we're going to be talking about the creative process.
Sarena: Hey Mark, how are you?
Mark: Thank you for sitting with me!
Sarena: Thank you for having me!
Mark: So, I simply must know what is it that you as a designer create?
Sarena: At Velir, what I primarily do is work on responsive websites for our clients. Also, sometimes as part of these new products or services we get involved in the branding for them. So, we've worked on logos for various clients, we've worked on brand identities—and that involves things such as letterhead —offline documents like print documents, brochures—I just recently finished a poster for a client that was actually kind of alongside a web project that we did for them. Primarily it's web designs but again like I said, once in a while, we take on some of those other projects.
Mark: Okay. What is a difficult problem in the design space?
Sarena: One of the things I find most challenging about design is that it's very subjective. There's no right or wrong to it, whereas say in development, if you do not code something correctly it will not work. You can design something in many different ways, and it could work for some people and not work for others. Everybody has an opinion about it and a lot of times those opinions all conflict. So that's a challenge. I think what's more challenging is taking all of that feedback and distilling it into something useful that you can take back to the designs and update to make those stakeholders happy, but also maintain the general aesthetic of the design.
Mark: And when you need to get into that creative mindset what kind of things do you do?
Sarena: Well, when I'm in the office, I like to turn on some tunage and I like to kind of go to various websites that I visit on a regular basis to get inspiration. Awards.com, A-W-A-R-D-S DOT COM has a lot of really great sites on there for inspiration. Site Inspire, Dribble, I use Pinterest a lot—but when I’m not in the office, I find that I get most of my inspiration from seeing things that I've never seen experienced things that I've never experienced to kind of open up my mind and start the creative juices and help inspire me to try new things and do different things with my work.
Mark: Feed the mind.
Sarena: Feed the mind, yeah.
Mark: Right now, what's hot? What are you keeping your eye on right now?
Sarena: Well, what's hot—I would say minimalist design is hot right now. The nice thing about minimalist design is that it makes it easier for design to stay timeless. Also, flat design has been something that's been popular for you know the past few years but taking that a step further Google material design has kind of taken the minimalist and flat design approach but adding like subtle drop shadows to elements to make them seem more real to the user so it's more actionable. That's better for older users who aren't as familiar with flat design and what it means.
Mark: The iconography…
Sarena: Yeah, stuff like that.
Mark: And when you're designing, what do you have to consider when you're working with accessibility?
Sarena: The biggest one is color and contrast. So, you have to make sure that any text that you have is in a color that's dark enough that's readable and if you have it on a background color you have to make sure that those the contrast between those two colors is great enough that people who have visual impairments can read that. You want to make sure the text is large enough for readability—you want to make sure that you're using a very legible font.
Mark: In the serifs.
Sarena: Yeah, well only maybe for very large text.
Mark: The last question I have for you: what’s your favorite color?
Sarena: My favorite color just I guess like personally is a like brick red with maybe an orangey hue to it. I tend to go for that color a lot when I'm buying things for my house and stuff. But strangely enough I don't really use that color much in my web design, so I don't know what that means…
Mark: All for Serena.
Sarena: Yeah, it’s all for me. But yeah, I keep it to myself. But yeah.
Mark: All right, well thank you for sitting here and taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
Sarena: Well, thank you so much for having me.
Mark: So that's our show. Follow us on Twitter (@Velir)—let us know your thoughts in the comments, and as always watch us next time as we implement another episode of Public Interface.
[Outro Music and Closing Credits]
Today’s Guests: Sarena Douglass
Produced By: Velir
Executive Director: Mark Stiles
Technical Director: Chris Brady
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