Next up we have a spotlight on our speaker, Kathryn Bondi, who will be presenting a morning session “Designing a Rad Blog Brand Experience (without Unicorns, Mermaids, or Glitter).”
Kathryn is currently a Digital Designer at Posture Interactive, a full-service advertising agency that focuses on website development. A Bethlehem, PA native, she graduated from Marywood University with her BFA in Graphic Design and and now spends time in the Marywood classroom as an adjunct instructor in the design department. Her previous background as a designer and Creative Director at Net Driven helped build up her love for the world of web design. Kathryn has also served on the board of directors for the American Advertising Federation of NEPA since 2011, and is currently Vice President of the board for 2016-2018. She also consults on the board of directors for the NEPA Design Collective. Kathryn has been involved as a speaker in several other conference events such as 2014 TEDxScranton and the 2016 TecBridge Entrepreneur Institute. In her “spare” creative time, she is involved with performances at the Diva Theater where she occasionally acts in a show or designs sets, and she creates light and branch sculptures/jewelry under her brand “BrokenTwig.” Kathryn is a lover of all things art and gladly supports being involved in community-driven events like NEPA Blogcon!
Kathryn has been designing our printed and social media graphics for 3 years, and we appreciate her aesthetic. Here’s what she had to say about her love of design and branding:
What first got you interested in design and user experience?
I had always had a love for design, but I first got really interested in design as it relates to user experience when I was fresh out of college. I was working as a freelancer when I got my first website “redesign” job for my brother’s engineering company and I was amazed at how they were totally okay with so much inaccessible information, confusing navigation, buried forms, and broken links. I thought to myself, I can definitely make this better – not just design-wise, but also usability-wise. As I encountered these situations over and over again in my early career, I started to realize that this is what my mission as a designer could really embody – designing efficient websites that truly satisfy both form and function to create a seamless user experience.
What’s the process you use in finding the best solution for a user experience problem?
The best process/reminder that I tell clients/students all the time is: YOU are not your user. You will not think like your user, nor will you understand and utilize your product/service like your user does, especially when considering a user that is completely new to your website or business model. The best solution to a user experience problem is to get outside your own feedback loop and present the problem to outside resources. Try a usability testing application like Hotjar, UserTesting, or Optimizely. Hire people off the street for $5 D&D giftcards if they give you 5 mins of their time for user feedback – or offer some college students free pizza and have them use your website and record their results. Or even ask your parents to use your website, for goodness sake! If your user experience isn’t received well in any combination of these environments, chances are you’re leaving out a good portion of your user base, too.
Are there any real-world design flaws you wish you could fix?
All the time – but I have to pick my battles! I think one of the biggest real-world design flaws that’s really getting to me lately with “construction season” is the way traffic redirection is handled when a road needs to be all/partially blocked off for construction. There has to be a more elegant design solution for that, right? More warning/clear direction further away from the construction zone in a city, or better use of traffic cones to direct drivers where to go. Maybe someone develops a “road bridge” that unfolds from the back of a tractor trailer and allows users to drive directly OVER the construction zone, as if it were never there. On highway construction, I’ve always cringed at how a “zipper merge” situation almost never works – if there was some sort of design solution to ensure that no one can cut the line and cars must merge every other car. Until we all have Google cars though, I think that dream is far off..
What advice would you give someone trying to solve a problem when they have run out of creative influence?
Shift gears to a different creative activity. Cooking, gardening, hiking, playing an instrument – something that requires minimal intensive thought and more free-flowing creativity and muscle-memory actions. Something that allows your brain to wander during the activity and “get bored.” Much like the “best ideas in the shower” principle, I find that my worst creative blocks have been unblocked when I’m distraction-free (read: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE) and focused on one activity the allows my mind to wander freely. Oftentimes a different creative discipline will also help you to see the solution to a work-related creative problem or writer’s block in a way you wouldn’t normally approach it.
Are there any people/other resources that have inspired your personal design process?
Absolutely – the people I work with at Posture Interactive inspire my process daily. We all have different ways of functioning on creative and logical levels, and I think we all have the ability to influence each other’s creative processes in a positive way when working together on a project. I also love watching Skillshare videos/courses when I have time – they help expand my design approach to certain problems and projects. Aaron Draplin was definitely one of my favorite influences as of late on Skillshare. He’s got a great perspective on design process and life in general, and he’s a real down-to-earth guy at the same time that doesn’t get caught up in terminology or buzz words. He just tells it like it is – what works for him and what doesn’t.
Want more of an inside scoop on branding and design? Be sure to reserve your NEPA BlogCon ticket before they disappear! Thank you for your time, Kathryn!