“Rules are fantastic because once you break them, you get to make up new ones.”
Michelle LeClerc is a freelance Creative Director and Graphic Designer residing in Los Angeles. She’s worked with top studios and agencies including Beutler Ink, Heavenspot, The Compound, and been an integral team member on projects for American Express, Mindjet, Google and Nike.
Which were you first, a graphic designer or a web designer, or… not that simple?
I was a graphic designer. My first position focused on print campaigns for music and film. After I left, I expanded into web design with the help of my friends at The Compound. At the time, people thought print design was going to disappear, but people thought the same thing about letterpress and it’s still kicking. You wouldn’t want comic sans on your wedding invitations after all.
What would you consider your most developed aspect of web design? (UX, UI, Graphics, front end development, quality assurance, marketing?)
I guess I would consider graphics my most developed aspect, although I find the other aspects to be equally as important.
What’s your favorite part of the web design/development process?
The design phase, when you submit your first round of comps and styles. I love trying to guess what the client will pick. It’s never what you expect but when they select your secret favorite, it’s the best feeling in the world. The sensation is like someone throwing a bunch of warm blankets on you, fresh out of the dryer.
Do you think it’s necessary or helpful to know code as a web designer?
I think that it’s extremely helpful, but not necessary. They are very different skills. I often collaborate with developers whose skills far exceed anything I’d be able to achieve on my own. In this way I can work on a wide array of platforms.
Being it a fairly new practice, what strategies have you taken when encountering a new problem? (Pretend no one on the internet has done something similar yet. What do you do? Where do you start?)
You’re never going to start from scratch. Clients usually have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for, and they’ll always provide you with assets. Lay them all out in front of you like a puzzle and try to put the pieces in place. When it all fits together, the rest is easy.
How is web design different from other kinds of design?
Web design has more rules, which I love. Rules are fantastic because once you break them, you get to make up new ones. Remember when we could only use web-safe fonts? Someone found a way around that because font limitations are now almost non-existent. The responsive site would have never come about if everyone decided the rules were good enough.
Where does design end and developing begin? Does it end and begin somewhere?
When I hand the PSD files over!
What are your thoughts on the future of web? Will web apps take over native apps, the other way around? What’s next after HTML5 Video?
More and more we’re seeing card-based UI, which may bridge the divide between native and web. Google, Twitter and Pinterest already use them. Without a doubt it’s the hottest new tend.
What are your favorite resources, websites, books, whatever?
Awwwards, the very first website I like to visit for website inspiration. It’s curated beautifully. Behance is an endless source of visual inspiration. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman is a thoughtful glance into some of the most creative minds in the design world. The balance of ideas and art is what makes us designers, so it’s important to look not just to visual inspiration, but strategic inspiration as well. Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite & It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden—these books are a shot of whiskey when you’re just expecting black coffee. Each one is a dose of courage, in the form of a book. An essential read for any creative thinker.
Are you like Michelle or becoming like her? Or maybe you’re an app designer? SASS master? Let’s talk, there’s a good chance I want to interview you for this series. Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clay Cooper is a Front End Developer at HAUS