Today, we are joined by Petar Stojakovic .he is a UI/UX Designer You can view his portfolio here.
Who are some of your biggest influences in web design?
I think a lot of designers have their role models and idols. Which, in hand is okay up to some extent, but we come to the point where you need to develop your own style or „brand“, something on what you will be recognized as on first sight without the need to exclaim it. I think this should be a goal for every designer. So because of that I cannot really answer the question, since I really didn’t have any role models, but I am self-taught designer who learned from his own mistakes and failures, and that is the way I developed myself and gotten to the point where I am now. But if I can twist the question a bit. From whom I would like to learn from? Well, that is an easy answer: The main designer from F-i (Fantasy Interactive) Anton Repponen, a designer and art director, if I would ever work with him in my life, I would consider my goal accomplished.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve started design relatively late, to be more precise it was in my third year of college. There I “discovered” graphic design and right after the first lesson I knew that this is the profession I want to be in. So we can say that I started doing design professionally in 2013. And because if that I don’t have many works behind me, but I can say that the project “Natasha Nixon”, which was my first web design project, is one of my favourites. The reason behind this is, even though it looks old and obsolete now, after finishing it I’ve decided I want to be in UX/UI design. But we all know that UX/UI design is just 1% of all the design branches out there. And of course my second favourite project is “Entrepreneur Abroad”, where I had a complete artistic freedom given from the client. The client allowed me to fully express my creative side, and we created one very interesting and unusual blog website, which really sticks out from the rest in its area.
What advice would you give to other web designers?
Be yourself, don’t allow failures to push you off your road to success. In the end it doesn’t matter how talented you are, only how hungry for success and learning you are. Never stop having goals, accomplish them and make new ones. Love what you do, create and inspire others.
Can you give us a summary of your process?
First and the most important thing in any business process in the communication with the client. Most of the time, the average client, doesn’t actually know what he/she wants. And it’s up to the designer to impose the vision which best suits the client’s needs.Quality communication start with a well written brief. For each project I write up a custom brief, which includes questions on which I need answers.
Usually the questions are tightly connected with the brand or the actual project, what is his vision, requirements, goals, deadlines, competition, etc. When I get all the needed info, and we have set the foundation of the project, we start building up slowly. The next step is to research the competition in the area the project is being done – if it exist at all. I check out the way the brand is presented by the competitors and lean on making it different and better. The second step in this is the good UX. Which I accomplish by sketching wireframes on a piece of paper or even using the tool moqups.com. The goal of every UX design is ease of use and a nice overview of everything. I like to say that the website needs to “breathe”. Everything needs to be in its proper place, that every pixel has its meaning and purpose why it is exactly there. And the most important thing is, that everything needs to be there to ease the use of the website or project. Third step, after the UX and wire framing is inspiration. Most of the time I get my inspiration from mood boards. In order to make a good and functional mood board it can take several hours. And I really don’t mind doing it that long, since it is my opinion, that a mood board is a very important factor in each project. I get my inspiration, the feeling, style and direction of the design of the project, all that is needed to start one project. After the third step, after we made the foundation, finished the UX, made the mood board, it’s time for UI. Here is where the fun starts. One of the parts of this process is, I take all the content that should be on the front end and just throw it in there. When you have all the puzzle pieces you start putting them together in their respective places according to the UX. When we finish that “rough processing”, I start with the tweaking of the look and feel, this is where the mood board comes in. Here we pick the colours/moods, will it be flat or skeuomorphic, we pick the typography – one or more font families, what kind of shape will the page elements be…etc. When all that is done, and we put in some life and sense into the project, then the polishing process comes. Here I tie up the design so it looks perfect, put in a few spices here and there, add detail and the finishing touches on the project. Once I have finished everything and I am happy with my work, I make a presentation of the work and send it over to the client for a review. If I get a lot of remarks, that means I’ve slipped on some part of the process, but that rarely happens if I followed my process correctly. That is why I consider a good preparation is half of the work. I all is okay, and there are some minor changes, I consider that as a UX/UI designer I have done my job and made the client(and myself) happy.
How do you differentiate between UI design & UX design?
I think this question was answered with the answer no. 4 But I will give a short description I consider that both of these areas are tightly connected but at the same time very different. Today’s trends, which follow the design industry, requires you to know both UI and UX, which is good up to a point, but later on it becomes a problem. Because, I think, you cannot bet the best in both fields at the same time. People who do only UX are always going to be better than a designer who does both UX and UI, also vice versa. I think that the industry which is forcing us to do both, is not looking it from the point most of us are, but from the point that you can do the most in the least amount of time. People who do just UX will do their job with more perfection, have the most attention to detail, human psychology and how the user is thinking. Where is a strategic place to put the CAT button, where the content should be so it would be the most visible and impacting, where and in what way should the elements be highlighted? All of that is done much better by a person who does only UX and not both UX and UI. I hope in the future every designer could make a decision to do only one of these areas and be the best in it.
Can crappy design still provide excellent UX?
As a young designer, I’ve seen a lot of things in this industry. A great design with crappy UX or great UI with bad UX. So, as far as I am concerned, a bad design can provide excellent UX. As I said previously, those two fields are very tightly connected but at the same time very different. A real example of bad design but great UX is Amazon.com. Well, we really cannot say it is a bad design, just outdated. That is one of the many examples where you gave a big website, where the UI is kind of left in the back seat, but the UX is just amazing.
What are some of your thoughts on the importance of web standards?
Today’s web and graphic industry is developing/changing at incredible speeds. Literally every year we have new styles and trends. It is very important to be in the middle of it and to fallow the development of it as much as possible, which can be quite challenging but fun at the same time, since like this you are doing new things every year. But of course, try not to follow the trends completely, because if you do so, everything will start to look very generic and similar to other peoples work. Try make your own mark on each project so it stands out in the sea of other more generic works. Don’t make elements like this and like that, just because the trend says so. Don’t design for designers but design for the people using the product. Of course the need of every project to be responsive is a web standards, that is due to the mobile industry growing more and more each day, and we are coming to a point where every human will own a smart phone or a tablet, and the design philosophy needs to adjust to that fact.
How do you convey the importance of web standards to your clients?
Very easy, as I answered in the previous question. There is a need to make a design which will last, not one season or two, but make it more lasting, or at least until there is a big change in the design trends and standards. Exactly that is why I say that you shouldn’t follow trends fully, you can take a detail or two here and there, but try to be a bit unique and your project will live on. Every client wants to be special, unique and better than the others – this is what I offer them. Some of the standards like responsiveness, animations, certain effects are, of course, always important in order to bring life to a design, but all of that loses its value if we disregard what I spoke about in the previous sentence.
Web design changes so quickly, how do you keep up?
Each designer uses different ways to stay in touch and up to date with the changes. My way is very simple, each day I dedicate and hour or two to read up and research. I like reading blogs on these topics, also (even though I am not a developer) I like checking out sites like codepen.io and tympanus.net, so I could follow up my design with the possibilities of developers. To check out what is new in their world. And maybe I find something there which I can implement in my own design. Also I have a group of designers I follow. They all are working in big agencies and have the means to do something revolutionary in the world of design. Of course there is a daily dose of behance and Dribble works. Behance and Dribble are fantastic communities, where you can see and learn how it’s done on a much higher level.When you mix all those things up, along with morning coffee, I think it’s more than enough in order to stay focused on the right path and to follow through all the changes in this very dynamic industry.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you see facing the web design industry today?
Constant learning and perfecting yourself. I think this is a real challenge, but you must do it in order to stay in the game. Every day, hour or minute brings us something new in the design world. Maybe one day I will be the one bringing new changes to the trends, but for now I just need to learn and perfect myself. But daily learning is needed in order to stay relevant in this world. You cannot expect that, if you are now the best in what you do, to stay that way forever if you don’t work on it. Someone might work twice as much as you and then you get left behind.But nothing can replace that feeling and that smile you get when you make something new that can inspire and teach someone else. That’s why we need to push the boundaries every day and to be open to learn something new, accept a criticism or just accept that we are just not up for this thing, and grab something else and head to the top.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’ve just finished my little About Me microsite, which you can check out at petarstojakovic.net. But I plan, by the end of the year, to make a complete website with all my projects and presentations. That all depends on my time and arrangements. There you will be able to see some more serious projects I have worked on. I also think I have reached that point that I can start picking clients more, and not accepting anything just because of getting paid. Also you can expect the season two of my podcast “Kung Fu dizajn”, which is hosted by my friend Djordje Vanjek and myself. The podcast is in Serbian. We are trying to bring the podcast to a much higher level, since the first season was more of a pilot season. In any case I have many new and interesting things in plan, but all that depends on many factors, outside and inside. But all in all, I will give it my best in order to complete my goals for this year.