Dan and I have been having a lot of fun collaborating on some incremental design changes to Lanyrd. We're by no means finished, but of course with a startup nothing ever is!
Lanyrd has changed a lot since we first launched in August two years ago, and more than that I have changed a lot too. Some of you will already know the journey I've been on to improve my design skills. I came from a computer science background and was an experienced front-end developer when we started with only a few personal projects in my own design portfolio.
As you can imagine, I've learned an enormous amount in the past two years and my design tastes have evolved as a result. In preparation for Dan's arrival, I created a mood board highlighting parts of my design work around the site that I liked.
If you take a look at the mood board you'll see it's different from a lot of the older parts of the site, which haven't yet had a design refresh. The new direction leans more toward flatter, bolder colours, less variety of gradients and smarter use of typography.
Lanyrd's colour scheme was inspired by our trip to Chefchaouen in Morocco, a few weeks before we started working on Lanyrd in Casablanca. Chefchaouen has a magical old medina (old walled town) painted entirely in shades of blue.
The chap up there in the header is there to represent the general impression I was aiming for - smart casual, professional but relaxed - jeans and a suit jacket.
This exercise helped provide a visual aide to conversations with Dan when he joined us on Monday. It's been a very exciting week working together and going through the early phases of tinkering with the design.
These changes don't constitute a redesign, but in very little time we've already started making subtle site-wide changes, with lots more yet to be implemented of course.
I am really looking forward to working more with Dan and learning from his experience and expertise. It has been a difficult journey developing my skills as a designer when I have not been working directly together with others with more design experience than me.
Helping me through this process instead I have had my friends. I would like to thank all who have helped mentor me and provide support and critical feedback and I hope they will continue to do so. Tom Coates, Paul Lloyd, James Box, James Bates and Paul Annett [All of the Pauls and all of the Jameses I worked with at Clearleft] Hannah Donovan, Mark Hurrell, Dan Rubin and Leisa Reichelt amongst others.
I have also found the support and feedback from Dribbble and finalfinal particularly invaluable and would recommend it to anyone starting out on a similar design journey. I'd be the first to advocate sketching everything in a nice sketchbook too, writing down all the edge-cases & user flows, keep drawing and drawing till you are happy with it. Implement, test, monitor and design again.
Design is often mis-understood as just a commodity, but it's a very important continuing part of doing a startup: it's not something that can be bought, implemented and forgotten about. Real design is "how the product works" and not just what it looks like. It is an ongoing process.
You can expect plenty more design improvements from Dan and I, we're just getting started!
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