We're tracking down InVision users inside the world's most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, books, methods, and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome. This week we interviewed Chad Bercea, a Graphic Designer at UserVoice in San Francisco.
What are the top 3 essentials in your workspace?
- Pen and Paper: Everything I do starts with pen and paper, even if it’s drawing a UI or buttons. I’ve been drawing since before I could talk: it’s the most natural starting point.
- Clean Desk: I need lots of space without any distractions or clutter.
- Tunes: Gotta have tunes.
- Bonus: I also have a leftover Halloween decoration that I named Chester Copperpot after the skeleton in my favorite movie The Goonies. He sits atop a unicorn one of our community managers bought for me. I look at that thing every day and laugh... Chester Copperpot is riding a unicorn in the creative room.
How important is your workspace to your creativity?
It’s pretty important because it can frame your mood or play into the psychology of wherever your head space is at. The creative process has so many variables and the space you are creating in can add or subtract from the quality of your work.
Do you ever work outside of the office? Where?
Yes, every Thursday is a focus day so I work from my home office. I have a huge desk from Ikea with all kinds of organizational things on it, but the end is stacked with bills and books. I always look at the piles and am so sad. I usually end up going out to my bar stool area in the kitchen and just work from there because there is nothing on it. That desk is the messiest part of my house.
InVision is becoming a standard tool in my arsenal...I can just drag files off my desktop into a project, and a click later have a link copied to my clipboard that I can throw into a team chat or email.
What do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?
Communication is key. Nine times out of ten, if you just have a real conversation with the dude (or lady), you’re gonna get to a good space. Just have a conversation face-to-face, not over chat or email. Speak to the point. Be compassionate. You are working with other human beings, and no one here is out to frustrate anyone else.
Don’t Think About It
I’ll grab one of the engineers who is an air hockey fanatic. He’s from Finland and they don’t have air hockey. He’s a super dude. He’s always down to grab a beer and play some air hockey. So sometimes when I’m stuck I’ll just go grab him and he is instantly down no matter what he is doing and I’ll try not to think about it for 20 minutes.
See What Else is Out There
I’ll often cruise through Dribbble to see what my colleagues and friends are doing.
Do you do any sketching on paper?
Yes! Some people can type as fast as they think but for me it’s the opposite. I don’t want to have to fiddle with a mouse or buttons in Photoshop or Illustrator. I just want to get straight to it. We just launched UserVoice for iOS and it started right here in my little notebook. The second you have an idea, you just gotta get it down. For me, pen and paper is the path of least resistance.
Even when I’m half way through an idea or concept, I’m throwing it into InVision and getting feedback.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Ideation is my favorite part right now because ideas come as quick as talking. You can dream anything up. If you’re on a good team and you have smart people in the room, you can think of anything. I mean, I love shipping the product and having the pixels exactly where I want them, and showing them to the world... that part is fun. But being in the room when it’s just an idea, and helping form that idea before you help make it a “thing,” is my favorite part.
What is the most frustrating aspect of design?
Design language. I can say one thing and a designer or developer can hear something else because of the words we use. Let’s say I just want a sick graphic in the header. Someone else will hear “header” and instantly think HTML5 tag, when what I really want is a masthead.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love looking through Vanity Fair Magazine, which is a little funny for a visual designer, especially in the tech space. But their typography and photography is pretty gnarly sometimes so I’ll look at that and see if any part of it can become part of a user interface or marketing flow I’m working on.
Who do you look up to as a designer?
They all do really clean, really simple, almost minimal work. Wherever they place stuff, it’s smart.
Ever since I started using InVision, everything is aggregated into one space: feedback, comments, and linking to Google Docs with references, it’s all in one place.
How do you know when you've achieved an understanding of what the client really wants?
Whenever you get an assignment, there are two things going on: They are presenting you with a problem and you get to help solve it, or they’re presenting you the solution but they’re not telling you the problem. Each of those scenarios have their own set of problems, so I like to figure out which scenario I’m in.
The best way to go about it is to figure out where we want to go. What is the end result? You want me to build a landing page, but you really want more sign ups. So let’s figure out how to get more sign ups, because maybe the landing page isn’t the best route. I try to get to the heart of what the end goal is, and reverse engineer from there.
How do you present your work to your clients?
Depending on the project type, I’ve used email attachments and a variety of apps, but the best way we’ve done it, especially for prototypes, is to throw it into InVision. I build fully linkable prototypes in InVision, hook my computer up to one of the big screen TVs, and we’ll just walk through screens. It’s super easy: one or two clicks and I’m navigating around in a project.
Tell us about some of your favorite books.
It isn't enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today's marketplace, all of us-even the accountants-have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand.
- Linchpin by Seth Godin: This book talks posits that everyone is an artist, and there’s art in everything you do. It also talks about how you can figure out a way to be indispensable to your job, team, niche, etc. and how each person has a unique offering - you just have to find it.
- The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry: This is my favorite book right now. I read it every morning on BART. It has given me so much insight into what saps creativity and what can help you be more creative. It talks about practices and disciplines you can introduce into your daily life that will help you create more consistently and create your best work.
What music do you listen to when you’re designing?
What is your beverage of choice?
Double Maker’s Neat
Tell us about some of your favorite tools for the creative process.
- InVision: I use InVision to get feedback from the whole team and to keep track of my to-do's.
- Illustrator: My daily go-to is more and more Illustrator rather than Photoshop. I don’t see Photoshop being the main tool for designers anymore... I only use 10% of what it’s meant to do.
- Cinch: Cinch lets you smart resize any window you’re using.
- Coda 2: I use Coda 2 because it has the terminal, file manager, code editor, and ftp all in one place.
- Clear: I use Clear for personal checklists for projects.
- Rdio: I use Rdio for my beats and such.
- xScope: I use xScope for my perfectionism (this app has kept me from losing sleep).
- Pochade: Pochade is the best color picker ever.
- Fantastical: I use Fantastical for managing all my calendars.
Tell us about the equipment you're using.
- iMac: Late 2010 iMac quad core with 12 GB ram and a 1 TB hard drive. I got into some pretty heavy print design doing 13 foot banners for conferences which was taking time. I’ve been doing a lot of video editing and animation as well, so I needed the horsepower for the renders.
- Wireless Keyboard & Trackpad: I have a wireless keyboard, with the trackpad on the left. The trackpad is dedicated just to gestures.
- Wacom Tablet: Intuos 4 Wacom tablet is the next best thing to pen and paper.
- Nerf Gun: My back is always to the door. Our CEO Richard White will shoot darts over my shoulder and stick them to my 30” screen so I always keep my Nerf gun cocked and ready for battle. And I do aim for the face. I want to make them sad.
Now that everything is in the same place... I go to InVision to see what I need to do next.
How does InVision help you in your design process?
When it’s time to get feedback from the whole team, I’ll kick out a link to InVision so everyone can comment. I used to just use InVision for finished stuff when I wanted feedback, but honestly, InVision is becoming a pretty standard tool in my arsenal. InVision is my go-to because I can just drag files off my desktop into a project, and a click later have a link copied to my clipboard that I can throw into a team chat or email. Even when I’m half way through an idea or concept, I’m throwing it into InVision and getting feedback.
It’s All in One Place
The bane of my existence is email. I hate it so much. I just did all the collateral and identity for a conference we just had. Our Community Manager sent me an email asking for the logo to drop into a newsletter. So you think in your brain, “Just resize the logo I already have to the dimensions he wants, kick it off, it’s done.” But then it turned into a 35 email thread of “this doesn’t fit,” “the colors are weird,” etc. Versions get lost and I am taking time away from creating and having to track down emails.
Ever since I started using InVision, everything is aggregated into one space: feedback, comments, and linking to Google Docs with references, it’s all in one place. Now when I am working on a project, I go to InVision to see what I need to do next.
How important is collaborating with other designers?
In design, you have to have other people. I do 70% of my work with another designer. It’s nice to be by yourself, but sometimes it’s cool when inside jokes happen, or awkward moments. Those are my favorite. I mean, having an awkward moment by yourself is sort of... non-existent. I always have people around me here in the office. We work really closely together.
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Hi, my name’s Chad Bercea, and before I could speak I learned to draw. When the Norse Gods gave me the Internet, I learned to code. Now I live and work in San Francisco, CA, focusing on print design, UI/UX, CSS3, even motion graphics. I also frequently hack on Node.js with friends. I’m extremely passionate about my work, but when I’m not shipping code or pixels, I read comic books, volunteer my time to a nonprofit cafe, play the drums, program beats, and enjoy making people laugh with my ridiculous use of the english language. You can find me on Twitter and Dribbble.
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