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Velora Newsletter | Issue 12 | December, 5th 2011


This month we're talking with Brian Hoff about grid design, workflows and becoming more influential in the design community. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy this interview with a respected graphic designer and author of The Design Cubicle.

One more question though: how fast does it take you to make a functional prototype for an app or website? Before you start the timer, check out our Monthly Tips section with links to great resources and libraries you can use to become a better and faster web developer.

This Month's Spotlight Interview:

 Brian Hoff
Brand and Web Designer

Brian Hoff is a graphic designer passionate about creating memorable brand identities and captivating websites. He is also the author of the popular design and business blog The Design Cubicle. Check out his work on Dribble and follow him on Twitter @behoff.

V: What is your goal as a designer and how do you plan to achieve it?

Brian: My goal has always been to do good, honest, intuitive work. Every year I try to learn a new thing or two. Growing and learning in this profession is essential to thriving and expanding. It moves quickly and technologies change by the month. I always try to bring something new to each project as well. A new way to handle an activity stream or a new way for users to interact with a certain element. I try to often re-think what's already been done. Sometimes it's a success, often a failure, but at the least it gets me thinking in new ways and often leads to other discoveries in my work.

V: Layout is an important aspect for you in design. What do you think about the grid-based approach in design?

Brian: Grids are great. They drive balance and guide the structure, but if you adhere only to a strict grid you're bound to find a bland design. Layout and format is certainly the focus on much of my work. I like playing with content and have that guide my layout instead of the other way around. I come from a print background and love for print and magazine design. Most magazines – the well designed ones anyways – have layouts that fit the contents mood. I like to bring this same element to my work on the web. My work starts off with a simple grid and then breaks it when necessary. Sometimes I break it to add contrast and other times adding a bit more dynamism to the page.

V: You have addressed a variety of topics on your blog and one of your goals is to educate clients and spread design awareness. What is the most difficult topic you have written about that is commonly misunderstood by people?

Brian: I've always tried to express the business side of design on my blog. It's the most un-spoke of and sheltered topic in our field. Especially when it comes to pricing. Pricing is often misunderstood because there is no science to it. Someone's ability to charge $150 per hour has a number of factors that go into play compared to someone that charges $35 per hour. Geography, skill level, demand, knowledge... All difficult things to put a price tag on.

V: What are your thoughts on using questionnaires and templates to optimize one's workflow and work more efficiently with clients?

Brian: I love using project questionnaires. I find that they tell you more about the client than just the project details. They help me weed out the good versus the red flag clients. For example, clients that fill out the questions with little thought are often showcasing a lack of passion or commitment on their end.

V: What guideline(s) in the design process have you changed or adapted to fit your work style and preferences?

Brian: Actually I try not to adhere much to a strict process. Each project is unique and needs to be handled differently. Applying one process to every project makes things a bit boring as well. I like to get things interesting.

V: The Design Cubicle is one of the most popular and respected blogs in the design community. What should designers do to have a strong impact and grow a loyal audience?

Brian: Designers need passion and a thinking voice. Without passion you can only get so far in work / life and without a thinking (and re-thinking) voice, what you have to say on your blog becomes the norm that you typically read on a website.

Thanks for the interview and keep in touch!

Monthly Tip: Great Resources for Fast Developers

The web is evolving thanks to a pro-active and passionate community of developers helping everything move forward and building great open source resources for anybody to use. If you are a web designer and developer, you probably have already saved your own snippets and templates for building websites and apps quicker. If you haven't, then here are the most useful libraries that help you speed up front-end development:

Move The Web Forward - a bold project meant to encourage expert and first time developers become more involved in the community, contribute, learn and "move the web forward".
HTML5 Boilerplate - a complete HTML5 template for a future-proof website.
Bootstrap from Twitter - a toolkit for developing apps and websites, including HTML, CSS and Javascript basics.
Foundation from Zurb - a framework for easy prototyping and code production from Zurb
Modernizr - an open-source javascript library that helps you write and test code faster for cross-browser compatibility.

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Until next time -
Be Brilliant!

The Velora Studios Team
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