Snowflakes on Screen: The Art of Great Web Design

Snowflakes on Screen: The Art of Great Web Design

You might have noticed that iFactory’s logo resembles a snowflake. Why did we choose this for our brand? We are based in Boston, and punishing winters are part of our DNA. But it goes far beyond that.

We chose it because snowflakes are the epitome of a delicate balance between structure and beauty, and it serves as a perfect metaphor for our approach to web design. Math determines how individual crystals form and connect to one another, and this logic produces a near infinite number of unique forms. The eye beholds a beautiful end result, but a predictable system made it.

Each of our projects is a snowflake. We accomplish this through two connected things: method + imagination. Wild creativity grounded in a rational process. To us, one can’t exist without the other. Through their combination, we can produce solutions as unique as each of our clients.

The secret to method + imagination is a series of careful balancing acts.

Surprise + the expected

Predictable or conventional may not sound like the best qualities to imbue in a web design, but people rely on conventions every day to get things done. They’re called “best practices” and they take advantage of psychological expectations to make things intuitive and easy to use. However, surprise is what encourages people to remember something, fall in love with something, and become loyal to something. We identify one or two areas where a genuinely surprising idea can have the most impact, and let best practices guide the rest.

Divergent + convergent thinking

At the outset of solving a problem, it’s best to embrace divergent thinking. We decide on a set of goals, and draw out as many ideas as possible, putting aside feasibility or appropriateness for the moment. Then we converge – group, combine, and edit them down into a few robust solutions that hit the sweet spot of meeting the project’s goals and being achievable.

Individual skill + group collaboration

We believe individuals with talent and passion can do incredible things, and generating excellence requires time and space to focus. But people have limits and get stuck. Frequent, well-timed collaboration ensures the best thinking rises to the top and obstacles are removed efficiently. That’s why we do regular check-ins and cross-discipline critiques – to get many eyes on each project while letting individuals steer their own work.

User needs + business objectives

All of our web design serves end users who arrive with tasks to accomplish and biases to be confirmed or dispelled. But at the same time, we are working for a client whose business thrives on getting users to understand the value of their brand and act on it. These concerns don’t always overlap, but we look for ways to creatively dovetail them in our personas, so that everyone wins.

Jeremy is iFactory’s Director of UX & Design. He works with a diverse group of clients in higher education, publishing, healthcare, and not-for-profit. Fluent with technology, he designs, writes code, & helps teams solve hard problems with great ideas.

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