As a designer at The Secret Lab who’s skill set and ambitions bleed outside the box that defines the expected role of a designer, I’ve continuously struggled with concisely conveying what I do, and how I do it. The on-going development of new plugins, digital fabrication software and open source design libraries constantly push us to improve our skills, leaving behind the old tools in order to learn the latest ones. In this hyper-fast system, we fight to find new solutions. This is why our purpose is not only providing high quality visual products, but to find the best process of creating these products.

 

Define the Idea

Everybody knows that a great idea is the basis of a successful product. No matter what kind of product it is — a new online shop, the kick off for a marketing campaign or a native app release — there is a wide gap between the words and the way they can be translated into visual elements. This is why, it is essential to define the goal of the project and to understand the brand (mission, vision, positioning and differentiating values). In short, we have to figure out what our clients really need.

 

See the Big Picture

Now, once we’ve been briefed, researched and taken notes, starts the fun part. We collect pictures, create moodboards, sketch proposals and discuss it. But we always have to keep in mind the big picture, a huge board (mental, digital or printed) of all possible product interactions. Consider that your website is not only another domain in the web jungle. It is your business card to the world wide community. It defines your character, your approach to your current or potential clients, your style, your competence and reliability as an affirmed brand. With their first glance, we have to have convinced the user not to look at anything else but your website. Moreover, it has to deal with a strong online strategy. This is why, when we create wireframes, we already consider how to let the landing page communicate with your existing system, your mobile app, your Facebook tab, your Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus account. On top of all this, the design has to be driven by our awareness of what is possible in terms of time and development.

 

Design Technicals

As I mentioned, designers always have to be up-to-date with the latest design tools. Similarly we have to grow and improve our skills in several other areas such as illustration, typography, iconography, motion graphics, geometric patterns etc. Although technical improvements might not coincide with contemporary style tendencies — like the new age hipster-mania — web design trends such as Flat UI, long Scroll, Hero images or animations are a MUST-KNOW.

For instance, the online presentation editor Slides just became part to our Top 10 Design Tools. It is a reveal.js based editor, which enables anyone with a web browser to easily create, present and share beautiful presentations for free. A great way to impress clients in a few clicks!