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Written by Jonathan Eicher and Michael Yonke

A few weeks ago Unfold was invited to participate in and attend the inaugural State of Flow 2022 Webflow event. Michael Yonke ( Webflow Developer) and Eicher ( Creative Director of Web ) were asked to speak on the “State of Design” panel that was considered to be the main event. Now that we’ve had some time to process our experience, we would like to go over everything that was discussed on the “State of Design” panel as well as some of the key takeaways from the event.

With this being the very first event we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. From the moment we got to the hotel and began meeting the attendees there was a resounding feeling of warmth and friendliness. Much like our experience from previous Creative Souths, there was an atmosphere of family. This was a relatively small conference that hosted roughly 100 people including staff. This actually turned out to be a good thing as it gave everyone a real chance to get to talk and get to know each other in a more intimate setting.

The discussions and talks were structured in a way that really made the audience feel as though they too were a part of the conversations happening on the main stage. With multiple microphones being passed around the audience, individuals were encouraged to ask questions or share anecdotes that related to the topics being discussed. It created a very robust atmosphere of dialogue that seemed to reach deeper than your traditional keynote presentation would.

State of Design

This panel consisted of designers sitting in the forefront of the Webflow community and was moderated by Raymmar Tirado (Organizer of the event). The speakers on the stage were: Johnnie Gomez (Webflow), Melissa Mendez (Eurecah / FlowParty), and the Unfold crew (Yonke & Eicher). 

This panel was conducted as a “fireside chat”, much like the other panels were. This allowed for open dialogue amongst the designers and created a great opportunity for the audience to ask questions.

The first topic of discussion was on the “Aspect of Process

    • Collection of data before starting the Design process.
    • Developing a relationship with your clients is a vital part of the process. Establishing your expertise.
    • The value of the team push that helps for rapid iteration of design concepts.
    • The importance of allowing design to push the boundaries of what is capable within front-end development. 

How do we get into our “flow”

    • Remove distractions.
    • Finding your most productive “sweet spot”.
    • Utilizing music to help foster a creative atmosphere.
    • Finding flow as a Creative Director. 

Managing the Design Team

    • Establishing a backbone for structure.
    • Process is in place to help remove the stressors of managing a project.
    • Creating timeline based on information gathered at the start of the project.
    • Process reduces friction so you can focus on designing for your clients’ users.

When does development get involved within the design

    • When questions arise during design process.
    • Asking the right questions for how things will translate to different device widths.
    • Early involvement in client meetings.

How many iterations and how do you evolve the design

    • How we present concepts
      • Figma allowed us to work with multiple designers and also allow clients to get a peek behind the curtain. Allows them to feel like they are a part of the process.
    • Removing traditional big reveals in exchange for smaller reveals to showcase process and education to sell concepts over time.
    • Subjective Vs. Objective design
      • Empathizing with clients but taking the time to educate them on who we are designing for if they are providing feedback that is subjective rather than objective.
    • Approvals of designs based on the collaborative approach opposed to the big reveal presentation.
      • Removes the stress and shock and awe that comes from big presentations for both parties.

Good Design vs. Bad Design

    • Team session with the full design team.
    • Team feedback is clear and concise.
    • Positive feedback helps guide design from the team as well.
    • Framing feedback based on the goal, if the feedback is pushing you away from the goal, it is your responsibility to push back or speak up to make sure that you are aimed at the goal. 
    • Our goal is to create frictionless experiences for the Clients’ users. 
    • Designers can impact lives by creating easy to use experiences.
    • Beautiful interactions may perform well on dribbble but may not convert leads on a Lawyers website.

How does AI impact the design industry and how the state of web design may evolve.

    • It impacts everything, but there are fundamental things to remember about ai.
      • You can use it as a tool.
      • You can leverage it to speed up your process to allow you to work smarter not harder.
      • Artificial intelligence doesn’t create things for other AI’s it is making things for Humans. It will always require a human decision to make it work.
      • How AI will eventually be able to craft in real time how content or websites will be structured based off user interactions.
      • History of computers, applications, no-code tools, and now ai taking over the simple tasks.

How do you balance designing for other designers vs designing for the end users.

    • Don’t design for other designers.

How do you involve the clients in the process?

    • Overcommunication.
    • Treat them like they are people, not a boss. Be empathetic and explain things in a way they can understand.
    • Daily Communication via slack and Loom.
    • End of day loom for a-synchronous communication.
    • Clients do not work a full time job to provide feedback for you.
    • They pick the time and place where they can get in that headspace to provide the clear feedback.

How do you pull in human elements in a data driven world and do it successfully?

    • Fail and try again.
    • Importance of failure in the insights you gather in the aftermath.
    • Using data to implement new changes.
    • Rarely do we nail it on the first time, the beauty of the web is that it allows us to be able to make changes quickly.

Does the size of the organization matter?

    • It comes down to your clients risk tolerance.

Are we seeing a resurgence of creativity in web design?

    • We’re getting away from what is expected in a website design.
    • Creating a website that is more of an interactive storytelling experience.
    • Being open to trying something weird and pushing the boundaries.
    • There is interaction overload happening on sites because they can.