One thing I’ve learned working in content strategy: Words are just the beginning. It takes great design to transform words on a screen into dynamic content that readers can find, easily read and will want to share.
Our team depends on content designers to supercharge everything we write. One of those all-star designers is Kelsey Gallagher. Kelsey’s first big design project was in high school, creating motion graphics for the football scoreboard. She says that witnessing the utility of good design as a teenager intrigued her to explore design further. She set her sights on creating functional designs that communicate a message or solve a problem — which makes her a perfect designer for B2B content.
I asked Kelsey how content design has evolved during her career, what’s coming next for content marketers and designers, and the advice she’d share with aspiring designers.
How has designing web content changed in the past few years? What have you learned about creating optimal experiences for users viewing content online?
The web is changing every day. Designing for the web has shifted from desktop to mobile during my time as a designer. It all happened right about when I was graduating college. I graduated knowing absolutely nothing about mobile design, but all the web design positions were designing responsive sites. I had to learn really quickly about device sizes, pixel density and how to design for mobile first. It’s a lot to keep up with. The responsive nature of the web is pushing design to be more modular and simple, and I like that.The responsive nature of the web is pushing design to be more modular and simple. @repcapital Click To Tweet
What do you think is coming next in web and content design?
I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more video. I can’t help but think of how quickly Snapchat adopted the Featured section, where it displays little clips from various news and media sources, taking a kind of “Flipboard meets BuzzFeed” approach. I think this method of content consumption will continue making its way into the mainstream. Interactivity and user experience is going to play a big role in how the content is accessed and consumed.What’s important now in content design: interactivity and user experience. @repcapital Click To Tweet
You said you’re challenging yourself to ‘make some new stuff in 2017.’ How do you push yourself to come up with fresh ideas, and push back on trends?
I am consciously taking on new and interesting projects that come my way — projects I may have been intimidated by in the past, or projects that seem out of my standard set of skills. I’m working on an interactive book for teenagers at the moment, and I joined an early stage startup as head of product. Both have been really challenging and fun and have forced me to work outside of my normal day-to-day processes.
What advice do you have for someone who’s just starting out as a designer?
If you’re able, find a mentor. I learned and grew the most outside of school and in the workplace. In each of my work experiences, I was fortunate enough to work with at least one senior-level designer who gave great guidance and pushed me to do better work. I still talk to a lot of them today.
Another big one: Require compensation for your work. Even if you’re a beginner, your time is valuable and you deserve to be compensated.
A final piece of advice: If you’re trying to build your portfolio, try freelancing. If you’re nervous about getting your own clients you could start by contacting other freelancers in your network and see if they need help with some of their projects. I always need help. Seriously, email me.Advice for aspiring designers from @kelseygallagher: Find a mentor + charge for your work. Click To Tweet