This week I travelled deep into the bowels of the Postcode Anywhere offices to seek out our dynamic design duo Ralph (who we ingeniously nicknamed Rolf) and Gemma (who no-one’s dared to come up with a nickname for yet).
Ralph’s the one on the left in the picture, in case you wondered.
I asked them a couple of questions:
Good morning both. Now, what does a typical day involve for team design?
Ralph: Generally I like to clear my emails in the morning, and then move onto the smaller jobs. By the afternoon, I can focus more on larger projects such as the upcoming homepage re-align.
Gemma: I tend to work the other way around: I find my focus is better in the mornings, so I’ll work on what bigger projects I have on. I do all the design for print, where as Ralph typically focuses on the web projects. When I started it’s the roles we sort of fell into.
Sounds like a sensible way to work to me. With all these projects on the go, what do you enjoy the most?
Ralph: I enjoy the creation of icons and working them into an interface. I like the challenge of making things purposeful and usable by using only a few pixels. For me it’s about making things function and increasing usability. In fact, we’re about to change the navigation on the site to make things a little clearer.
Gemma: For me, the best part of the job is getting the print work back – it’s really satisfying to see a project you’ve been working on printed on smart paper with some nice finishes. I also enjoy the challenge of making everything match across the brand.
OK. I think you’ve done a pretty good job too. So what made you take up design?
Gemma: I was quite interested in art at school and I’ve always liked drawing. My degree was a toss up between Graphic Design and Photography. I decided to pursue Graphic Design and kept photography as one of my hobbies. My interest in typefaces and print work developed at university. If you choose the wrong font, design can look terrible. Changing a serif to a sans serif can make all the difference.
Ralph: I didn’t do a design course at college. Instead, I took media, and then decided to get a job in web design. The more I did it, the more my passion for it grew. Now I’m working on designs across the PCA site and Route Optimiser. It’s always changing and I am working on constant improvements, to keep it always at its best.
So, apart from constant refinement, what is good design?
Gemma: Good design is enjoyable, even playful. You don’t know good design when you see it, it’ll pass you by seamlessly, but you’ll tell straightaway when you see bad design and people will always comment on their negative experience with something.
Ralph: Good design conveys the message without being self-aware. Like an iPhone, you don’t need to be told how to use it; good design is intrinsically linked to usability and function. This works everywhere, from hardware to the design of ecommerce shopping carts and entire websites. Design is how it works, not always what it looks like.
Gemma: The whole challenge is to make it look great, while knowing there must be a function. Where the two meet, you have good design.
I like that definition. To finish, do you have any big projects coming up?
Gemma: At the moment I’m working on a new set of product sheets, which should be ready in the next few weeks, and the new corporate brochure.
Ralph: There’s a re-align of the Postcode Anywhere homepage coming up – so watch this space.