Gizmo: the Redesign, Week 1

I’m in the middle of week #1 now at my almost new job and so far it’s going really well. I’m about 95% sure this will be my new place of employment, leaving 5% for the (unlikely) unknown that could take place over the next week and a half or so. The mood at the office is nice… work gets done, and things have deadlines and emergencies pop up frequently like those whack-a-mole things arguing for time and screaming “C’mon! Beat me!” yet things remain relatively calm and light.

My first task should be to help my new co-workers make a decent cup of coffee.

Dear co-workers, coffee grounds lose their purpose once they leave the filter; they become pollutants to the point. Coffee was not meant to be crunchy or opaque, it was meant to have flavor, body, and aroma while doubling as a delivery mechanism for the molecular compound of the gods.

My first real task is to design a set of prototypes for the new public face of the site. So far, so good. I started it on Monday, and yesterday (Tuesday) version one of the homepage made it to my boss’ screen where it was then simulcasted to my other boss’ screen somewhere in Massachusetts. There was plenty of feedback. I love feedback. A lot of nice things were said and some helpful insights were passed down. Today, I buzzed through about 3 progressive iterations based on their feedback.

At a certain point, though, it all starts looking like junk. At first, it started out with what seemed like innovation and elegance—like a colorful, spicy sushi roll—but has now become unsalted mashed potatoes (to me at least). This tends to happen when I’ve been staring at a layout for hours, pushing elements over here, then over there, using this color and that one trying to find the zen within it all. This also happens when the review of the first draft illuminates missing things. The beauty in the simplicity starts to wain when trying to find places to put things in a design that never intended to have these various things. It is not design if it ends up looking slapped together where everything starts looking like an after-thought.

Still, I left the office today feeling great, like progress was taking place. It also feels good to leave at the end of the day knowing I don’t have to stress about finding work tomorrow. I love knowing that I won’t be surrounded by it at home. Freelancing is just as much a prison as it is freedom. At this point, the only thing I miss about freelancing is being around Jen and going on bike rides and adventures with her, picking up the kids from school, and taking a shower at whenever o’clock.

So, I get home and flip through my feeds and view finished, functional designs and I start thinking, I’m just a hack. Look at that. I’d have never thought to do it that way and that’s awesome. This is all, of course, just self-imposed garbage. The feedback and reactions dictate quite the opposite. And in my own defense against myself, each site (and sometimes each page) has its own set of problems and issues and requirements. Self, get over yourself.

I have some ideas to try out tomorrow to bring the innovation back into the project that I felt like the first draft had. The simplicity needs to be reinstated one way or another—it has to on a conversion site.

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