Design Chats

A look Inside Design at Getty Images

4 min read
Amanda Hackwith  •  May 6, 2014
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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 Jennifer Hogan, Manager of User Experience and Design at Getty Images in Calgary, Canada.

What is your role and responsibilities at Getty Images?

I’m the manager of the UX and design team on iStock. Our team is primarily responsible for the user experience on iStock.com. I lead and manage a team of IA/UX designers, visual designers and writers. My job is to motivate and support people so they can do awesome work.

A big part of what I do is developing and fostering our team’s culture. Culture is everything. It’s who we are, what we do, how we do it and why. We’re a close-knit team and it’s important that we have fun, collaborate and are challenged.

Design feels a lot like play and I think that’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do every day.

How did you get into design and what was your path into your current role?

Initially I wanted to study environmental design in school. I was really interested in way-finding and how we navigate our built environments. But I wasn’t excited about doing six years of school. I ended up studying New Media Production and Design. My plan was to go to school, take a break, work for a few years, and then go back and study environmental design. I ended up finding a job in web design, loved it and never looked back.

My first real job was with Shaw communications, a Canadian telecommunications company, as a web designer. I worked there for over four years on their customer-facing web sites and apps. Shaw was where I first experienced IA/UX and user research. At the time Shaw contracted their IA/UX work to a local company. The more I was exposed to IA/UX and learned about it, the more I realized that it was what I wanted to do. After a year or two Shaw ended up bringing those skills in-house and I transitioned into an IA/UX designer role.

From Shaw I landed a dream job at Getty Images as a UX designer working on iStock. I’m now the manager of our iStock UX and design team and I get to lead an amazing team.

What are some of the tools you use in the design process?

Some of the tools I use include:

  • InVision – InVision fits seamlessly into our entire end to end workflow. We use it to collaborate on our designs, create prototypes and share our work.
  • Post-it notes and Sharpie fine-point markers – I love Post-it notes! I use them for everything. There’s really nothing a designer can’t use a Post-It note for.Twitter Logo
  • Whiteboard – Nothing beats gathering around a whiteboard to sketch your way to a solution.
  • OmniGraffle – We use OmniGraffle mostly for mapping out user flows.
  • Fireworks – Fireworks is great for designing wireframes.
  • Photoshop and Illustrator – We use Photoshop and Illustrator primarily for visual design. Although, we’re considering some of the new design tools like Sketch and Macaw that are coming out. We’re looking for something that is lightweight, supports vectors, and is better suited for designing interactive experiences.
  • Join.me – We work with a lot of people in different offices, so we use Join.me for meetings and to share our screens.

InVision fits seamlessly into our entire end to end workflow. We use it to collaborate on our designs, create prototypes and share our work.

What separates a great designer from a good one?

  • Collaboration –  The best designers open up their design process and invite others in.Twitter Logo They engage people and teams directly early and often. You have to believe thatthe team, not the individual owns the design. Be more interested in the best idea, not their idea.Twitter Logo
  • Courage – It’s not easy to be in a room full of stakeholders and have to tell people what they don’t necessarily want to hear. The best designers know what details matter and are worth fighting for and when to say no.Twitter Logo
  • Curiosity – Great designers are curious. Ask a lot of questions and find out the why.Twitter Logo
  • Trial and errorThe best designers embrace trial and error in their design approach.Twitter Logo They don’t get embarrassed or defensive about failure.

What do you think are the wider industry trends that are changing the nature of your role?

Responsive design is definitely a big one. I think everyone’s struggling to some extent because some of our current tools aren’t really sufficient for designing responsively.

The biggest challenge is really how to stop thinking about websites and individual pages. How do we start thinking of sites more as dynamic apps, tools, and experiences?Twitter Logo When we design we need to be thinking about things like motion design, the in-between states, as well as things like gesture interactions.

Another aspect of this is that the line between designing and building is getting blurry.Twitter Logo Increasingly designers need to be multi-skilled. Static comps just aren’t enough anymore. We need to be able to get as close to the real experience as early as possible. That’s where prototyping and knowing HTML and CSS come in as design tools.

What are the three critical elements of an effective workspace?

  1. People –  I need people around to collaborate with, bounce ideas off of and get feedback from.Twitter Logo
  2. Collaboration/breakout spaces – Somewhere where you can have casual, spontaneous gatherings. A place where I can get together with others to work through a problem.
  3. Heat – I like to be warm. Our building is big and old and sometimes it can get really cold, especially with Calgary’s -40° winters. I’d rather be way too hot, than the tiniest bit cold.

What equipment are you using and how does it help you do your job effectively?

Some of the equipment I use includes:

  • MacBook Pro 15” – My main workhorse that I get everything done on.
  • Cinema Display 27” – It’s a beautiful display. The color, saturation and vibrancy makes everything look amazing.
  • iPhone 5S – It’s always with me for notes, email, whiteboard photos, a quick look-up on Google, everything.
  • iPad Mini Retina – I mostly use my iPad for capturing notes in Evernote and also for reading. I like the idea of using it more, but I still go to my MacBook for most things.

Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

I find a lot of inspiration in the software and tools that I use. Tools like:

I love companies that really get their users and show it in everything they doTwitter Logo, from how they behave to how they look, feel, and sound.

InVision is actually a great example of a company that really seems to get their users and add little moments of delight. I love how you replace empty states with design quotes for example.

HipChat is another one, they’re primarily a collaboration tool for developers and they built internet memes and animated gifs into their application to delight them.

Good design seeks to delight.Twitter Logo It’s details like these that elevate a product from being usable into to something that people relate to and love to use.

InVision is actually a great example of a company that really seems to get their users and add little moments of delight. I love how you replace empty states with design quotes for example.

Who do you follow on Twitter who you think is awesome?

I typically begin and end my day by looking through my Twitter Feed. Here’s some awesome people:

 What are your favorite books?

I love reading! I try to read a book a week. Right now I’m reading the book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Simon’s TED talk on the same idea was really inspiring so when I found out he had a book I picked it up. It’s a good book and I’m liking it so far. The basic idea is that successful leaders and companies are led first by a sense of why, a higher calling for how and what they do.

Some of my favorite design books are:

  • Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, by Lawrence Weschler – Ignore the pretentious title. This is the best book I’ve ever read on the creative pursuit. The book is a biography on Robert Irwin, an American installation artist, and it chronicles thirty years of friendship and discussions between the author and him.
  • Notes on the Synthesis of Form, by Christopher Alexander – The author, Chris Alexander, is better known as the architect who invented patterns and wrote “Pattern Language.” Notes on the Synthesis of Form is a book about the process of design. It discusses the relationship between form and context and how good design isn’t the creation of some perfect or ideal form, but is instead a result of identifying and removing bad design. While I love this book, I recommend only reading the first half and passing on the second. It gets a little too abstract and mathematical for me near the end.
  • Designing for people, by Henry Dreyfuss – A design classic.

Whats one piece of advice you’d give other designers who want to eventually get a position as awesome as Getty?

I have two pieces of advice and I can’t choose between them, so you get both:

  • Have fun – Super cheesy. But, I honestly believe that we have the most awesome, fun job in the world. Design feels a lot like play and I think that’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do every dayTwitter Logo.
  • Be humble – All too often designers have a sense of self-righteousness, this feeling that we know the right or “perfect” way to do something. There is no right or “perfect” way to do anything. Remember that you’re one perspective at the table and there’s a lot of people, teams and decisions that go into making a business and product successful. Design is sometimes about finding the best compromise.Twitter Logo

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