Our next Akendi session was taught by Daniel Iaboni, lead UX specialist with a background in engineering. He spoke about many things including the different dimensions of design, the way in which users think and process information, and design patterns. The most important thing I took away was in regards to wireframing. Prior to this session, I thought that wireframes only came in two forms: loose sketches or detailed digital wireframes, however there are many different kinds of wireframes that must be tailored to different audiences.
We had another UX session, this time with Lisa Min, Senior Experience Architect at Akendi. In this post I will go over the key points I took away from the session.
Information architecture (IA) is the foundation or skeletal structure of the product. It’s about the relationship between users and content, and how that content is organized. It’s also about how we shape information and experiences to support findability.
IA shouldn’t be confused with wire-framing, graphic design and coding. IA done well helps reduce frustration in not finding information. If a user feels confident while using your site/app, it’s probably because it has a strong IA.
IAB Canada recently held a free webinar series about HTML5 and how it’s changing the new advertising landscape. In the same way that websites have become responsive, ads are quickly following suit. Responsive ads are fluid, lightweight, and must adhere to IAB guidelines. Fully animated ads average 15KB in size, and the best part is, just one ad can service multiple screen sizes. This means designers no longer have to create separate ads for multiple screens — with the right tools and code, just one ad will do.
Paul Vincent, CEO of Neuranet, hosted the first webinar of the series and spoke about transitioning from a Flash ad environment to one based in HTML5. He showed us many examples of responsive ads that adapt to various screen sizes, including animated ads.
Our design team has the unique opportunity to learn about User Experience with Akendi, a UX design, research & product strategy firm in Toronto. The first session provided an in-depth look at the theory, process, tools and techniques of UX design, and mixed it with practical application. Tedde Van Gelderen, President of Akendi, led the first session, introducing us to the human factors that influence usability, and gave us a thorough overview of UX and user-centered design and its applications. Without giving too much away, I’d like to hit on the most important bits of information I’ve taken away from this session that helped me better understand the importance of UX Design.
It’s been said that good typography goes unnoticed. It’s only when typography fails that readers take note. One of the ways I encounter good typography is when I’m lost in the pages of a riveting book. Yes, great deal of it has to do with good writing; but the grease the fuels this desire to read is the design of the text. How the text flows on a page, its texture, spacing, composition, rhythm, harmony, emphasis, and the positive and negative space all work together to support the text. Inspired by a friend’s insightful presentation about web typography, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn more about how we as designers can optimize the user’s reading experience. After devouring some great articles about web typography, here are the highlights of what I’ve learned.
Miranda Urbanski, manger of web marketing and communications at Bell Mobility, came to our class to talk about her non-linear career path, and the fact that there’s more than one way to get to where you’re going. Like many of our guest speakers, she is a graduate of Sheridan’s New Media Program (now called Web Design). She holds various degrees such as a Bachelor and Masters of Fine Art, in addition to many certificates
in Business and Web Marketing. Despite all this, she said her one year at Sheridan was the most useful. This is a comforting thought for us as we finish off the school year. Miranda gave us great advice when it comes to sampling different jobs and weaving our own career paths. Not one path will be the same as another, and Miranda’s is truly unique!
The second half of the RGD HeadStart conference was just as jam-packed with useful information as the first half, plus with extra free goodies (seen above). The presentations exceeded my expectations and made me think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise considered such as how to be a successful freelancer. I also got much needed advice on how to approach interviews, and how to lessen the anxiety when it comes to networking. During the talks, we were encouraged to tweet pieces of information and quotes that we found valuable during the conference. To my utter surprise, I was selected as one of the winners of the contest. I received a book called Playing with Sketches: 50 Creative Exercises for Designers and Artists by Whitney Sherman. As a book lover and artist, I was over the moon. I now have a way to help combat art-block, and I can fill my sketchbooks with new ideas.
I was generously invited to attend the RGD HeadStart Conference by the kind folks over at Creative Niche. HeadStart is RGD‘s largest conference for emerging designers and students. There are various presentations and panels that discuss the latest trends in the design industry, how to land your dream job, how to start a successful freelancing career, and more! Their experienced speakers guided us through the process of creating a strong portfolio, and also gave invaluable interview tips. One-on-one portfolio review sessions allowed industry professionals to give us constructive criticism on our work. It also gave us the chance to practice our interview skills. It was a full, jam-packed day, and I learned so much that it couldn’t be contained in one blog post. Let’s begin!
Alexander Younger, the President and CEO of Design Lab, came by to give us excellent advice regarding the job search process. He talked about the importance of company culture, and the difference between the waterfall and agile working process. Design Lab is an agency in downtown Toronto that has a strong corporate culture and has won many marketing & communications awards. All of their computers are powered by the sun, and they even have a useful green mini site and energy calculator that can help you cut down on energy consumption and costs. Overall, Alexander’s presentation made me more optimistic about job searching.
Our next guest speaker was Justin Cook, the Director of Internet Marketing at 9thCO. The company is a web design and marketing agency in downtown Toronto that focuses on search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM) to drive traffic and leads to client websites. Justin gave us a thorough overview of the different roles in an internet marketing firm, and presented many case studies of successful SEO and SEM he experienced with his clients. I’ll be focusing on two topics Justin touched on: SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) — if you haven’t already guessed, there’ll be a lot of acronyms in this post.