Throughout my 14 years in the design industry, I’ve used countless tools to work on my design projects. One of the first tools I used was the venerable design workhorse Adobe Photoshop, and it became my favorite tool for web and print design back in 2004. In the early days of my career, I considered Photoshop to be the most complete tool in terms of web design and mobile application design. Challenging Adobe’s dominance, Sketch arrived in 2010 and in my opinion revolutionized the UI/UX design process for Mac users. I loved Sketch and used it whenever I could for my web projects, but its lack of compatibility with PCs proved to be an inconvenient limitation in mixed-platform environments.
There’s a better way to design, and it involves nuggets.
As you well know, gone are the days when companies only needed to have a website. Make it pretty and slap it up on the web.
Now, brands are expected to have an active social presence, fresh and relevant content, a mobile experience, display advertising, email marketing, shareable videos, and an overarching digital strategy to combine all of these things into one seamless goals-driven experience – what we at Liquid like to reference as ALL THE HAM.
Creating designs for the FULL HAM EXPERIENCE requires a lot of different sized graphics. This makes consistency a challenge. Consistent design ensures a strong brand message across all the varying sizes and channels in which they reside.
You need nuggets!
When I’m faced with a design challenge, I focus on creating flavorful elements that will drive the creative as a whole. For example, if I’m tasked with designing a landing page for an upcoming contest, I have to keep in mind that I may also have to apply the same design to display ads, Facebook graphics and maybe even an email template. For this reason, it’s crucial that all the individual elements created from the start are grounded in research and driven by the brand’s goals. Something I like to call the Golden Nugget Approach.
Golden nuggets are strategically driven design elements that make up a larger design, but can also stand alone as designs themselves. Typography treatments, photos, unique shapes, textures, illustrations, and iconography are all examples of common design elements that can be turned into valuable accolades.
Golden nuggets are similar in a way to the pieces that make up a puzzle – separate entities arranged together to fit according to the goals and expectations of the project.
Golden nuggets spotted in the wild.
If we look for a real life example of a brand using golden nuggets, Starbucks is perfect. They’re an example of a brand with outstanding designs and a seamless web presence. If we look closely into what makes their designs so great, we’ll see the individual and strategically designed elements that make up the design as a whole.
In the image above, I gathered what I found to be the key design pieces of Starbucks’ online experience. If you notice, all the individual elements are high quality and able to stand on their own. But you’ll also see how they’re able to be combined and rearranged in many alternate configurations to create a consistent and strong multichannel experience.
Dig in and discover the details.
The key to the gold nugget approach is what goes on before any design starts. It’s easy to get in the habit of jumping right into a design and skipping the research just to feel like you’re making progress. This is especially common for large projects with tight deadlines.
But it’s during the initial discovery stage where the most valuable information is uncovered, opening the door to new ideas. Many insights can be gained by simply listening to a client discuss their experiences, company history, and struggles. This lays the hidden foundation for a solid design.
It’s important to remember that progress isn’t always visible.
My best designs are consistently the ones where I’ve spent the most time prepping the foundation, despite it being an unseen step. Rushing into a design can box you into a direction that stifles creativity and leads to frustration down the road. In the case of a website design, I cook up ideas for possible nuggets rather than slap and loading a generic layout with a bunch of placeholder squares. This encourages me to be more creative because I’m not locked into a bunch of boxes.
When it comes to designing a multichannel online experience, the magic is in the golden details.
Did you like this article? If so, then check out these other blog posts!
Our expertise is only as good as our ability to share it with you. Here are the latest thoughts and ideas from our team.
When I tell people that I’m a user experience (UX) designer, most people nod politely as their eyes glaze over for a second, and they try to move the conversation along. Early in my career I thought they were completely uninterested, but over time, I came to realize that many people simply don’t know what UX is and might feel awkward about asking. On behalf of misunderstood UX designers everywhere, please allow me to introduce you to the wonders of quality UX and why you should care about it.
What is a visual brand identity, you ask? It’s only one of the most important things about your business. Branding is far more in depth than aesthetics. It delves into the core of why you exist as a business. It requires hours of research and analysis to ultimately cultivate something visually appealing that communicates your message: your visual identity. A visual identity is comprised of a system of external expressions such as a logo, color palette and texture, typography, iconography, illustration, photography, motion principles, and composition.
I went fishing the other day and all I caught was a good UX lesson for you. Here’s the deal: my daughter entered the neighborhood annual fishing derby. For a decent UX guy, I’m a terrible fisherman. But I do know how to bait a squirming worm and unhook the slimiest of fish.