The isometric maze gift blanket began as a weekend personal project. The idea was sparked while I was developing our illustration approach for security case studies. The calm isometric look was a combination of professional and approachable that reflected the brand we were building.
As I developed the first round of illustrations, the idea of Cobalt’s iconic robot roaming the halls of an isometric maze continued to nag at me. Finally, one Sunday morning, I sat down with a cup of coffee and worked out the seamlessly repeating pattern.
The look was simple, but striking, enhanced by the electric blue that traveled along the tops of the walls.
I dropped in a robot, and it looked great… but there was so much blue it was oppressive. Solution: an occasional planter with a poof of flowers in bright complementary colors relieved the monotony.
When the time came to discuss a holiday gift for the company, I was excited to share a few ideas that involved the maze pattern, and the concept was received with enthusiasm. Super soft sherpa blankets were produced with the Society6 print-on-demand system, and were a hit with the Cobalt team. It was a delight and an honor to give a little of my time toward what became a heartfelt gift to the entire company.
Above: the launched Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) app.
Cobalt Robotics is a security service powered by robots and human Robot Specialists working together. It’s a new way of using robots and a dramatically new way of doing security.
How Cobalt’s security service works
When the robot begins a patrol (step 1), Cobalt’s team of remote Specialists monitors it via a video feed and control panel.
Customers quickly let us know they needed something similar.
Based on research the Head of Product and I conducted—sometimes together and sometimes individually—I designed the app for four key priorities: 1. urgent situations, 2. fast decision-making, 3. easy spacial orientation (i.e. where am I and what am I looking at?), and 4. function first (while maintaining our clean aesthetic).
In addition to interviews with security managers on-site and at our offices, I also dove deeply into industry norms by undergoing security guard certification and visiting working security operations centers.
We learned about the kinds of information they were used to seeing, management’s backgrounds (often in military and law enforcement), and what features we could offer users highly trained in security, but not in robotics.
Wireframes were begun on paper. Shown here are some next-stage (but still early) concepts.
Beyond the essential functions, we also began to get a sense of the aesthetics that would reflect Cobalt’s white glove service, communicate credibility, and earn the trust of an industry that has no patience for flashy startups.
The results are an intuitive tool that delivers increasingly meaningful features as our customer base expands.
Customers can now remotely monitor incidents as they are happening at any time during the robot’s patrol hours. If an unusual or critical incident requires immediate action, customers can view video surveillance in real time to make better high-impact decisions.
Also, providing the ability to remotely experience Cobalt’s patrols is a powerful way to demonstrate the value of the service.
No actual customer locations are shown in these examples.
Proposed event modals.
Research into workflow, backgrounds, worries and aspirations of the GSOC’s intended users.
Design of wireframes, and proposed app layouts, features and user flows.
Worked with engineering to clarify and determine technical requirements and security restrictions.
Created prototypes to review, finalize and test for usability and flow.
Designed and delivered final app layouts and visual assets.
Created illustrations of the robot, as well as nonstandard icons.
Documented any elements that furthered the evolution of Cobalt’s brand.
I underwent basic guard card certification at a training facility as part of my research. Scored top marks!
Favly is a social referral app that relies on personal referrals from users’ own networks, rather than star ratings and reviews.
When I stepped in, the iOS app was already underway but:
Design decisions had been made outside of native iOS standards, draining development resources.
Without Android and web platforms it was not meeting MVP requirements.
Email and mobile notification features had yet to be developed.
Along with founders, the key stakeholder was the marketing director. I collaborated with him on strategy, and led a senior and junior designer. I coordinated directly with the dev team to drive the project forward with the least possible friction.
Our iOS version of the app was far enough along that we could use it as a user-testable prototype, with the plan to leapfrog improvements between the two mobile platforms based on user feedback.
Tight on resources, I designed a simple base email template and commandeered wall space to map and track all notifications. The marketing director and I co-planned, co-wrote, and co-strategized every piece with the intent to maximize the potential of these touchpoints for:
Helpfulness to users
Attracting more users
For iOS, I worked with the senior designer to iterate UX and UI improvements, as well as promised features, steering the product away from its initial ultra-customized interface and catering more to iOS-native design.
In contrast to the approach that had been taken for the iOS version of the app, we chose to design for as Android-native an experience as possible, closely following material design and material.io guidelines and best practices, so that we could focus development resources on improving current features and introducing promised new ones.
Of the three platforms, we tackled the web app last. I pushed to balance consistency to the mobile app experience with the opportunity to offer features that would take full advantage of the platform.
For more details about my identity and brand design work for this company, see Favly, Inc. Brand.
When I began at Favly, makers of a new social referral app, there was already a first-round website, a nearly-complete iOS version of the app, and a logo. While there was a rough styleguide, the logo and its uses had evolved since it was created. All resources were now focused on the iOS launch.
To create a system, a coherent visual identity, and to begin delivering materials that would best serve our goals, I began with a brand discovery process, and spoke with each founder to get a feel for their vision. The resulting document—The Favly Story—was not only a valuable resource for myself and new hires, but was added to the fundraising arsenal.
Once I had confirmation from management that The Favly Story reflected the company’s principles and vision, I began the first draft of the styleguide. This was a more conventional document, but I used excerpts from the Story to reinforce the reasoning behind various style rules, such as the use of gradients and copy tone.
With the beginnings of a system in place, my design team revisited the company’s marketing materials and landing pages, as well as the product itself. In print, on the web and in mobile app environments, we generated visuals that are a dynamic balance of consistency and vitality.
Other fundraising support included a deep overhaul of the slide presentation to reflect the app’s core ideas with greater clarity and professionalism.
Email design and notification strategy
One of my most challenging projects was working closely with the Director of Marketing, the planning and implementation of about fifty emails. Most of these were critical moving parts of the product, and an indispensable step in earning new users to grow our traction. Tight on resources, I designed a simple base template and commandeered wall space to map and track the emails. We co-planned, co-wrote, and co-strategized every piece with the intent to maximize the potential of these touchpoints.
Wide and experimental pattern range for interior design client, Christel Ferguson.
I developed patterns, exploring a variety of styles that ranged from hand-drawn and loose to traditional and quite rigid. We explored trend colors as well as Christel’s own particular tastes, and researched fabrication options that included both hand-embroidered and the latest print-on-demand technologies.
TOK Media produces live discussion, networked polls, and content platforms that publishers can embed into their existing websites. The concept was well developed, but needed the UI to accommodate its next round of feature updates. Also, to give it the credibility that would help sell it to publishers, it needed a more polished look and feel.
As project lead, I worked with the founder and lead developer. In addition to their detailed notes and numerous meetings, I researched existing paid content models and participated in the TOK platform to understand the product and user behavior.
I wireframed interactions for the multi-platform experience, produced many, many interactive prototypes, and then nailed down visual details with Photoshop.
One of the more interesting challenges was finding a way for poll users to scale the number of voters they could view. The example below shows the two most extreme views—as few as a dozen voters and as many as 1,216 voters (color-grouped by their vote).
The overriding requirement for this project was to honor the values of an international, professional audience. We deeply examined look and feel—with much debate about color—as well as overall user experience, based on feedback from a global network of job seekers, recruiters and potential partners.
Click to enlarge:
I stepped in to development of H1Talent as a salable product about halfway through the cycle. Much had changed, but the team was mired in outdated documentation and needed a fresh perspective. I researched the industry and evaluated feedback from test users, then re-mapped the site and began developing user flows.
For the co-branded native ad product I developed for doityourself.com, the challenge was to deliver a modular system that was super efficient to implement while also being flexible enough to accommodate the drastically different types of content each brand had available.
Advertisers essentially “took over” a section of the doityourself.com website. We gathered relevant content both from its massive library of articles as well as that of the advertiser. As much as possible, we stuck to instructive or inspiring content.
The “product” is essentially the website’s targeted (do-it-yourselfers) and substantial traffic.
The site owns abundant content highly relevant to DIY advertisers.
These are max 3- to 6-month campaigns, so longtail strategies that content-based sites like ours generally rely on won’t work.
Advertisers with the most content (any combination of articles, photos, videos and/or community features), the least “salesy” content, and the best organized content had the best results.
This bakery client was already well positioned in gourmet grocery and specialty shops worldwide. They wanted to take their most popular product to the next level and asked for a full business rollout, including brand identity, website, packaging, advertising and product ideas.