There are certain elements that I consider most important to good design. I believe that design should be clean and easy for the audience to read or use. (Oddly enough, this is in direct contrast to a lot of my metal work, which can be decidedly on the overly-complicated side.) Hence, one particular aspect of Web Design I’m very interested in is User Experience and User Interaction (UX/UI)- and I find that my rather unique background makes me particularly good at it. See, for those of us in the Functional Art/Fine Crafts world, UX is not a new thing; it’s been part of how we approach our work all along- not that we ever called it that. We call it Functional Design. My designs for my metalwork have to be functional in a very real, physical way in order to make objects that will actually function the way they’re intended.
When I forge a spoon, I have to consider how to shape it so that it meets all the technical specifications- able to hold liquid, how much liquid, how to shape it so the it doesn’t tip over on the table and spill, etc. I also have to consider how that spoon is going to fit in someone’s hand, make sure it doesn’t have any sharp edges that could cut someone’s tongue, etc. When I make a pair of earrings or a necklace, I have to consider how they’ll hang on someone’s body, if they’ll be too heavy, etc, in addition to how they look. Similarly, in graphic design work, I have to consider the readability of the text in regards to media. Websites use larger typefaces than books. There are typefaces specifically designed to be used for book text that are easier to read than others. UX is simply taking these ways of approaching a project and applying them to a different media. What information is being presented? Can the user find what they need easily? What are the industry standards for this type of site? It doesn’t matter how pretty or flashy a website is if no one can figure how to get to the information they need or even get from one page to another.
In addition to my art and design work, my Bachelor’s degree is in Psychology and I worked in Social Work for a number of years. I’ve worked with senior citizens, kids, college students, and adults from a wide range of backgrounds and this has helped me gain a lot of insight into how different people view and interact with the world. There’s two particular keys I’ve discovered in working with people. First, people will not do something simply because that’s what you want or expect them to do or what you would do. The second is that if you want people to understand something, you need to explain it to them in terms they can understand. Technical jargon is great when you’re talking to other tech people but not the best way to explain to a less technologically aware client what exactly it is that you’re doing or not doing something. Explaining technical processes in an understandable way is a skill I’ve developed a knack for and it has served me well, particularly when dealing with students and clients.