02 May

Course Review: UX Design from a Print Designer

This past February, my fellow pepper, Dave Meade, and I wrapped up a 10-week User Experience Design course through General Assembly. It was quite an experience, with many highs and lows, but we both walked away with a greater understanding of the complex UX field and a fun final project. I came into the class with a print design background, and it was exciting (and a little terrifying) to translate those skills into UX design. There are many takeaways I could share from our experience, but here are my top three:

It’s all about PEOPLE.

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that user experience design is about the user. As designers, we’ve all been enthusiastic about the next big idea only to have the client not understand it. That scenario can be even more crushing when a user can’t actually use your product efficiently. It’s the UX designer’s job to listen to and observe human behavior (especially things they struggle with), and then make design decisions that will ultimately solve people’s problems. No sweat, right? It’s a challenge, but the end result is worth it. Bottom line: you are not your user.

Try something NEW.

No matter what point you’re at in your career, you should never stop learning. The design field in general is always moving and changing, and it’s our responsibility to move and change with it. User Experience Design seems like the hot new thing, but really it’s been around for a long time…it just has a fancier name now. Humans have been trying to optimize their surroundings for maximum user comfort for centuries. Today, we are focused on doing this through technology (apps, web sites, etc.). For me, it was the technology that was intimidating. But once I learned about UX’s history and how it’s impacted our culture, I started to think about the field in a more accessible and enlightening way. I still have a lot to learn, but I am more confident in my approach and what I can bring to the table. You’re never starting at ground zero; we all have a unique perspective that can be applied to any new skill. That doesn’t sound so scary, right?

Stay CONNECTED.

I was hesitant about taking an online class. How would I interact with my classmates in a meaningful way? While relying on technology to run the class had its’ challenges (dropped audio, trouble sharing screens, etc.), it turns out there are other benefits to online classes than being able to attend in your pajamas. We were all so used to connecting in a virtual space for the class, that the conversations continued in that space after the lectures were over. Slack message chains were developed, where classmates could post links to resources and funny memes. It felt natural to connect on other virtual platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. And even though there were people in the class from all over the country, Dave and I found there were a few classmates in Maryland (and very close by!). I’ve already met with one such classmate for coffee, and we talked for 3 hours. Expanding your personal and professional network is possible in any setting if you are open to it.



WRITTEN BY

Audra Harvey
Designer at 11p, Avid Traveler, Miniature Golf Pro, Baker of Delicious Treats.

 

 

01 Jun

From Finalists to Winners!

On Thursday, May 17th, Eleven Peppers Studios was awarded Third Place in the Small Business category for Baltimore Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” competition. We are honored to be recognized among so many other talented companies in the city of Baltimore. Thank you to everyone that voted and had great things to say about Eleven Peppers Studios. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you!

As part of the Best Places to Work awards process, the Baltimore Business Journal posed the following question to several of our employees:

If you were pitching your company to a potential hire, what is one fun fact you would share?

“I would inform our potential hire that not only does Eleven Peppers focus on creating outstanding work, but they also recognize the importance of the well-being of their employees. As designers, it’s very easy for us to get burnt out creatively. Eleven Peppers is an agency that recognizes this and encourages maintaining a steady work-life balance. This is a company that never makes you feel like “just a number” and it is full of supportive people that constantly look out for one another. As a result of this, we create some of our best work and form great relationships with happy clients.” – Ashley Philip, Designer

“Joining Eleven Peppers is like becoming part of a welcoming and caring family. It’s the kind of company where always people look out for one another and are willing to lend a helping hand. Our passion for what we do comes through both inside and outside of the workplace. From family picnics to artistic endeavors to sporting events, there’s always something fun going on. I’m so proud to be part of such a creative and talented group of people!” – Debbie Williams, Senior User Experience Architect

“I usually get asked where our company name came from or what it means. The short answer I give is, “Have you ever had dinner at a restaurant and the food was so delicious that you wanted to go back and get the exact same meal?” (I have…many times!) Design is very similar. Once something is designed well, you want more! Then I usually tell them how everything in our company is ‘pepper-related’. When a new hire starts, we usually ask them, “What kind of pepper are you?” Our company newsletter is called the “Spice of Life” and when we get together for happy hours, we tend to call them ‘pepper’ hours.” — Ryan Kelly, Senior User Experience Designer

“We are more than just a company, but a lot like an extended family. We hang out a lot outside of work, for fun Pepper coordinated events like bowling, O’s games, Paint Night, Picnic’s, and even a trip to Disney World. We also tend to hang out just for fun. Whether it be cookouts at each others houses, going to movies or musicals, trips to breweries, or even homebrewing together.” — David Meade, Senior User Experience Designer

First place… we’re coming for you next year!

24 Mar

Out and About: MICA’s Grassroots DesignFest

Recently, one of our Art Directors, Melissa London, participated in MICA’s first ever DesignFest after hearing how rewarding these “design-offs” could be from advertising colleagues. The event was sponsored by the T. Rowe Price Foundation and organized by MICA’s Social Design Department.

The event gave design students, thinkers, and professionals the opportunity to contribute to the social change movement in Baltimore while collaborating face-to-face with other designers and nonprofits. There were a wide array of nonprofits that needed design help such as updating logos, designing infographics, assisting with brand strategy and refreshing web pages.

Melissa was paired with the Waterfront Partnership, specifically the Healthy Harbor Initiative which works with the community and downtown businesses to remove pollutants from the harbor with the (ambitious) goal of making it swimmable by 2020. Their focus for the day was improving the approach and design of their annual water quality “report card”. The intent of participating in the DesignFest was not to walk away with finished vector art but to collaborate to develop a strategy/plan and produce mockups for new creative directions.

Assembled for the challenge were one MICA design student, one MICA graduate student from the Master of Business/Master of Arts program, and one design professional (Melissa – no pressure!). After the two representatives from Waterfront Partnership introduced the objective, they were left alone to brainstorm and collaborate on design directions they could take. The team accomplished a lot in the limited schedule (approximately 4.5 hours of design time). They produced a list of alternative report names, infographic concepts, outreach ideas to educate children, poster concepts, a set of icons and layout mockups for the report.

Reflecting on the event, Melissa stated, “It was truly exciting to watch our initial awkward meet-and-greet grow to a casual, open forum for ideas and creativity. I would recommend this event to all my fellow Peppers and design/social-minded friends. Not only did we get an opportunity to shake up our design routine, but we got to give back to our community and become more aware of our pollution footprint.”

Some Waterfront Partnership highlights and ways to get involved:

  • This trash wheel is awesome and apparently an International sensation!
  • Stormwater management is crucial, landscape with plants and trees to help prevent sewage overflow.
  • Who doesn’t love oysters?!? Help restore our oyster population by oyster gardening, volunteer opportunities happen on the third Saturday of the month (September through June).
  • “There is no such thing as a flushable wipe”
  • How much fun does this event look? Baltimore Floatilla