Pure Design from a 6-Year-Old

Graphic design is about getting someone to do something and feel something that the designer intends. There are lots tools and tricks for creating great designs that deliver on their intentions. When I craft a design for a client there’s thought, there’s research, there’s pointed questions, and revealing answers. There’s connection, discovery and great “a-ha” moments.

But there’s also inspiration: This way of moving and feeling and flowing and “NOT-thinking.”

That’s powerful stuff.

And then there are the moments when I’m awed by the ideas and pure design that comes out of my kids. They sit. They get an idea. The create. It’s usually quite a fast process. It’s never what I’d do. It’s often so “raw” but that’s what makes it powerful.

The other day my 6-year-old sat down, he stapled some pages together and he whipped up this book. I’d say the ideas just popped of the top of his head, but actually I think they came right from his heart.

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Two Key Questions That Apply to Any Communication

As a designer with a flare for branding and messaging, “figuring it out” always boils down to two KEY questions. The cool thing is, these two questions apply to SO MUCH MORE than design. Continue reading

How to Harness the Power of a Well-Cropped Photo


An article I wrote was just published and you can read it on Web Designer Depot.

Here’s the intro snippet:


As website designer, I’ve always been fascinated by design (of any kind) that “works” and why.

Of late, I’ve become particularly appreciative of the power of photography to anchor a visually appealing design that tells the right story, triggers the desired emotions, engages the viewer, and enhances the content (whether by breaking it up or calling it out).


Good Design = Reconciling Opposing Forces


Even after 17 years in web design, I still get all charged up when over a design assignment where I am faced with diametrically opposed forces (also known as design requirements). The truth is, this describes nearly every design assignment I’ve ever had.

PRETEND LITTLE CONVERSATION IN MY HEAD (based on real life events):


ME: What’s more important… An uncluttered design that breathes, or getting all 500 billion of these elements to fit on the screen?


ME: What’s more important… Maintaining brand consistency with current marketing materials, or feeling fresh, new, and doing a major brand revamp?


ME: What’s more important… Having a design that really makes the viewer sit up and go wow! … or sticking to a ridiculously lean time constraint and budget?


ME: Could ya please stop sayin’ both to everything?

CLIENT: Sure… We want all of the above!


The truth is, answering both to the questions above is just part of reality. And they are solvable. Sometimes, it means teasing out the right new questions. Sometimes it means pushing back. Always it means taking things past where they need to be, and then bringing them “back” in smart ways.

It means sketching multiple ideas and bouncing them around to see what sticks. In fact, part of my process is to do little sprints… Spend 10-15 minutes busting out a concept. Then switch! Start something new. Switch! Doing this exercise a few times is a great way to get ideas flowing. It’s just one of many tools in my toolkit.

What makes me reflect on all of this right now?

I’m in Boston on a 3-day design & usability blitz. Once again, team Gravity Switch is faced with some hefty design challenges.

Call me a glutton for punishment. Call me a fool. But I am ENERGIZED by this!