Visit to Hootsuite

(guest post by Bella Du, DD38)

DD38 Group Shot Hootsuite

As part of an Industry IQ lesson, our DD38 class recently had the opportunity to visit the office of a world–renowned social media platform, Hootsuite. We have heard so many cool things about Hootsuite, and last Wednesday, we finally had the chance to meet them.

Hoot Life - Bootcamp Style

Hoot Life - Outdoor Space

Upon arrival, Husna Shalkh from the HR team welcomed and walked us to the greeting area where the space is spiced up with a mural painting of a giant owl. From the moment we walked in, we saw murals everywhere; some of them were even created by their talented employees. During the tour, we luckily stumbled onto their Show and Tell session held on every Wednesday where staff from the UI, Product, and Development team gather together to share and discuss ideas and project updates. Like this session, they mentioned that Hootsuite likes to keep thing open to encourage free communication between employees. As we were walking, we could barely find a wall or boundary that separated each team. Each employee is mobile on a laptop, so that they don’t have to be confined to one particular working spot. You may catch them taking a break in the “Cabin” fitted with cots, or working while eating in a common area on rows of picnic tables, or just like us, found one team having meeting in a tent – literally, a real tent.

Hootsuite Boardroom Meeting

During the second half of the tour, we were directed into a meeting room where we met Jon Maltby, Senior Creative Director, and Mark Stokoe, Art Director of Hootsuite for a Q&A session. They started off introducing themselves and talking a bit about their careers, and explaining their roles at Hootsuite. Both of them came to Hootsuite for more opportunities and a greater sense of ownership compared with their past experiences working in agencies. Jon and Mark found that working for Hootsuite has enabled more self-satisfaction in the way that they feel ownership of what they are doing and being part of the environment. They create their own briefs by really knowing the company well and thinking about the long term big picture. Later Jon shared with us one of their company values as knowledge sharing; they encourage employees to discover new sets of skills and to strengthen their roles. They also hold Lightning Talks, a series of 5 minute presentations from employees to express their interests or journeys, which promote engagement and friendship outside of the normal work routine. Finally, the Q&A session finished by Mark explaining their UX/UI design process, which often involves collaborations with the Product and Marketing team. The team tests everything when it comes to UX/UI design. They often utilize heat maps to conduct user testing on design variations and they also substantially rely on Sketch to prototype.

DD38 Group Shot Mural

The time spent at Hootsuite was fast but it was an exceptional opportunity for the class to experience how the work life in such a big tech company can look like. The tour was definitely informative and inspiring. We had a great insight into the company, learnt something related to what we are learning at VFS, and most importantly, left us with a motivation to keep challenging ourselves and with a more clear vision for our future careers.

Lastly, a big thank you to Louise Lee for organizing this tour, and Stephanie Wu and Jamie Moon for accompanying us. And, thanks Hootsuite again for having us.

 

Visit to Giant Ant studio

(guest post by Stuart Parker, DD38)

We arrived at Giant Ant around 2pm on a sunny Friday afternoon. The studio was tucked away into Chinatown, just off Keefer Street. We waited outside for one of the studio heads to be ready for our visit. From the outside, the studio’s open plan and simple design gave it a welcoming and approachable feel.

Jay Grandin, one of the founders of the studio, invited us inside to begin the visit. We were led to a meeting room where we all gathered around a long table with a screen to see a demonstration of all of the work the studio was involved in.

We began our visit by watching a demo reel of Giant Ant’s work from 2015. This was a great way to begin as Giant Ant is known as one of the best in Vancouver so it was exciting to see what they had made before. Their work not only impressed me but also intimidated me slightly. It showed their quality of work and it was absolutely incredible. I aim to be able to produce their standard as soon as I can.

Jay then proceeded to go through later projects that Giant Ant was involved in, as their reel was from 2015. These included a series of projects that they had been doing with a Florida-based sunglasses company that was focused on the conservation of our waterways. All of the artwork, direction and design were mind blowing in these 3 projects. Every follow up to each project improved in so many ways, as well as trying new techniques and styles to evolve their way of approaching things.

While Jay brought us through all of Giant Ant’s work, he was also answering any questions we had about the studio or about the life of a designer. He brought us through how he and his wife created the studio; he started off life designing furniture. It was interesting to see how far he had come from that. He talked about how he and his wife had to make sacrifices when running the studio. A couple of times they were forced to just pay their staff and leave nothing for themselves. This told me they were both really passionate about what they do and that it paid off for them in the long run.

The studio was beautiful, the work they produced matched and the whole work environment seemed more like a family than an actual studio. The thing that resonated with me the most though was when Jay was explaining how they chose what work the studio would take and what they would leave. He said “We ask ourselves: would our moms be proud? Would we use this product? Is it a financial opportunity? And can we be creative with it?” I think this sums up the perfect way to approach work as a designer, both ethically and logically.

I took a lot away from visiting Giant Ant. It has given me a standard to aim for when doing my graduate project, but also has given me a good message to live by when choosing work later on in life.

 

Blend Fest 2017

(guest post by Lizbeth Salazar, Marly Marquez Ordaz, and Tais Rosales Tenorio)

(Photo by Evan Parsons)

On May 26th & 27th, we (Liz, Marly and Tais) had the opportunity to attend Blend Fest, a motion design festival, as volunteers. Set in Vancouver, Blend has become one of the most anticipated events around the world for people in the motion design community. Due to the success in their first year, the event organizers decided to do it again but this time bigger and better, and for sure they did!

One of the things that makes Blend Fest stand out is their vision, so at the beginning, they showed a motion piece about their manifesto that says the following:

Wine after Coffee will Blend some of the best creatives.

For two days in Vancouver we’ll inspire each other, learn from the best, and have an awesome time.

We love good design and animation that blows our minds. When we see it, we just have to share it.

We share what we know and learn from each other and that’s the beauty of collaboration.

We collaborate to change perspectives, improve the industry, and better the community.

We love being part of this unique and endlessly surprising community, surrounded by our friends and heroes (and future friends and heroes), because when we get together amazing things happen…”

See the full video here.

https://vimeo.com/135561285

This celebration is carefully curated and created with much love by a small group of people: Jorge Canedo, Teresa Toews, Claudio Salas & Sander van Dijk. They wanted to create a place for their motion, design & animation family to call home; to make a festival for the community, by the community. Always trying to keep it small and hoping to create a festival that each one of them would love to attend.

Attending this event was such an amazing opportunity because we got to meet designers from all around the world that only flew out for this. Since designers who we know and admire their work until junior designers who are growing in their skills, both shared their knowledge, talked about their currents projects and shared a few minutes of their time to have a chat and made unique every second of this. Also we had the opportunity to network with people that may possibly be our employers or collaborators one day.

Some of the speakers where Bee Grandinetti, Oddfellows, Erica Gorochow, John Black, Robert Valley, Animade, Tuna Bora, Sander van Dijk, Patrick Osborne, Carson Ting, ILLO and Andrew Kramer who shared their working style, creative process, and current projects. Most importantly, they were a big inspiration and gave us an idea what we can do and what we can achieve if we work for what we really want.

(Photo by Evan Parsons)

We also had the opportunity to meet and talk with VFS alumni who also attended the event such as Ignacio, Kirsten, Nico, Yan, Saida, Kelly among others and see what they been up to.

We want to thank all Blend Family for allowing us to attend and to be part of this.

 

Blend Title Sequence:
https://vimeo.com/219563364

 

VFS Digital Design wins at the 2017 Salazar Awards!

On May 3rd, we had the pleasure of hosting the annual Salazar Awards at the VFS Digital Design campus. The Salazar Awards, presented by the GDC (Society of Graphic Design of Canada), awards prizes to talented and inspiring students currently enrolled in design programs in British Columbia. There are four award categories: Print Design, Interactive Design, Brand Identity, and Video and Motion, and there were over 150 submissions this year. A judging committee of top professionals of the GDC/BC reviewed the student work based on the strategy and rationale of the piece, as well as the level of visual execution.

GDC/BC President Johnathon Vaughn Strebly opened the night with an inspiring and thoughtful speech about the importance of design, and the importance of inspiring and recognizing the talented design students across the province. Then came the awards! First, all of the nominees for each of the four awards were recognized – amongst them were VFS Digital Design graduates Dylan Endicott, Kelly Kurtz, Melissa Choi, Nikki Yujin Ji, Ziwei Wang, and Brandon Kim. Now, time for the winners…

Out of the four awards, VFS Digital Design graduates took home two of them! Mihaela Kandeva won the Best Interactive Award with her graduate project Iona – an augmented reality app that teaches chemistry to school students through a fun and engaging experience. Lawrence Teng took the win for the Best Video + Motion Award with his graduate project “Mr. Owen Goes to Mars” – a 90-second animated motion graphic trailer for a fictitious film set in the 1800s told through animated letters and numbers.

The formal part of the evening concluded with a special presentation by guest speaker, Ale Paul. Ale Paul is one of the founders of Sudtipos, a project that has helped place Argentina firmly on the global map of Graphic Design. Ale’s career as an art director landed him in some of Argentina’s most prestigious studios and, with the founding of Sudtipos, he has shifted his efforts to typeface design, creating fonts and lettering for several agencies, medias and magazines along with commercial faces. He has received four Certificates of Excellence from the Type Directors Club NY, eight from the CommArts Type Competition, and several awards at the Tipos Latinos Biennial of Typography. His work has been featured in publications around the globe, he has been designated ATypi’s country delegate, and is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale – the first one for Argentina.

The event ended with a lots of bubbling and engaging conversation in the hallway where audience members, presenters, students, and industry folk all had the opportunity to mingle. We’re grateful to the GDC for giving Vancouver Film School the opportunity to host this year’s Salazar Awards, and congratulations to both the GDC for a great event, and to all of the nominees and winners!

 

Q&A with Maggie Wang

It is our pleasure to present to you another eye-opening interview we’ve had with one of our Digital Design alumni, Maggie Wang, UX/UI Designer at IUGO Care. Maggie gives us an insight in the creative process of her grad project BikeIt, including its challenges and results, and tips for current and future Digital Design students.

Can you briefly summarize what your project is about?
Bikeit is a mobile application that helps cyclists plan ideal cycling routes, find secure bike parking, and keep up with community events and news while being rewarded for helping to improve the urban cycling experience.

What inspired you to create your BikeIt?
I grew up in Taiwan and there were bikes everywhere. People there don’t just use bikes to commute, but also to shop, to meet friends, etc. So when I moved to Vancouver in 2004, I was surprised there were so few bikes around. Recently, however, there seem to be more; in fact, since 2010, the city has actively encouraged more people to cycle, as part of a commitment to a greener Vancouver. Most people can see the benefits of cycling, both for their health and for the environment. However, I’ve noticed that many people are still hesitant to ride a bike. For my grad project, I decided to find out why, and how to make things better.

What is your approach to solving a design problem?
My approach is to understand the problem through surveys and interviews. Many of the people I spoke with said riding a bike in Metro Vancouver is inconvenient, unsafe, and stressful, especially for beginner and recreational cyclists. My research also showed people wanted a convenient way to access cycling information, such as cycle routes, bike parking areas, and types of cycling gear.

How did you define success for the project and how did you measure it?
Within the timeframe I had, for me, success for this project meant seeing the focus groups testing a functional prototype, and receiving positive feedback from them (specifically, that they felt it would be a useful application that added value to their daily cycling routine).

Did you, at any point during the making of your BikeIt, felt lost and unsure on how to proceed? If so, what helped you get back on track?
Yes, there was time I felt lost and unsure, especially during the overlapping period of user testing and prototyping process. I had to analyze the user feedback and update the prototype accordingly, and at the same time I also needed to logically understand the differences between valid and invalid data and feedback. It was tough.  To help myself differentiate the usability of the data and define the core purpose of my application, I had to clearly understand my users’ daily cycling routine & behavior and speak to people who had several years of cycling experience or who worked in cycling-related industry.  Also, Keep one thing in mind: Creating a user centered design is not building a “Homer’s Car” (quote from my UX instructor: Krispian Emert)

What were the challenges that you needed to overcome when it came to designing?
My challenge was not only to create a user-friendly app that encouraged people to get on their bikes, but also to design it so that they would keep using the tool as they grew more confident about cycling. Using focus groups to try out my prototype, collecting their feedback, and making changes all along the process were all key to tackling this challenge.

To tackle the interface design challenge, I collected and analyzed information from city planners, local organizations, and bike-related businesses, as well as focus groups. I then came up with a variety of initial designs to test. After testing with my target audience and putting myself in their shoes, I kept the designs clean, simple and easy-to-navigate.

Where do you find inspiration for your creative design process?
Most of my creative design inspiration came from the process of understanding my users and researching cycling-friendly countries such as Norway, Germany and Spain.

What are some of the tools you used? Are there any tools you would recommend?
For me, the graduation project was an opportunity to try out different wireframing and prototyping tools. I used Proto.io, OmniGraffle and Axture for the overall interface flow. Pixate, and Principle for interaction effects. I found both OmniGraffle and Pixate intuitive to use. For wireframing and prototyping, I would recommend tools I discovered through work, after VFS: the combination of Sketch (w/ Craft Plug-in) + InVision.

Looking back, what would be one part of your project you would have done differently?
Exploring and learning new software within a tightly limited timeframe was an interesting challenge, but figuring out how to apply it correctly at different stages of the process requires practice time which I didn’t have. If I could go back again, I would have simplified the process by using Sketch (w/ Craft Plug-in) and InVision.

You mentioned that you were approached by the City Manager of Vancouver for Biko. What was the intent for the meeting?
Christopher, one of my VFS instructors, connected me with the City Manager of Biko (Molly E. M) through social media last year (Thank-you Chris). Molly had seen details of my BikeIt graduation project on my website, and was interested in finding out more about it. We emailed each other back and forth for a few months, then she asked if I might like to become a Brand Ambassador/City Coordinator with Biko.

However, I found out this role is focused on business development and sales, which are not really part of the career path I’m considering at the moment. So the position didn’t work out, but I’m still grateful to have met Molly, and to have discovered that there is a product similar to Bikeit already on the market. For me, this confirms concept approval for BikeIt. Interestingly enough, Biko and BikeIt were being developed at roughly the same time, which suggests there was a clear need for this kind of app.

What is Biko about and how is it different from Bikeit?
As I understand it, Biko is dedicated to creating a fun biking community and greener planet in various North and South American cities, including Vancouver, Mexico City, and Bogota, by rewarding people who ride their bikes. The main goal is to build a cycling network on a large scale.

In contrast, BikeIt was specifically designed for Metro Vancouver. Its main goal is to improve the urban cycling experience in our city by rewarding the cyclists who use this platform and helping them plan ideal cycling routes, find secure bike parking and keep up with local cycling news.

So, while both applications aim to create a greener environment, they are different in terms of scope. Also, BikeIt focuses more on safety and education while Biko is more about lifestyle – for example, the points you earn through Bikeit can only be spent on bike-related products and cycling lessons, but Biko points can be spent on anything, including drinks in the local pub.

What was your reaction when you found out that there was such interest following your grad project?
I was thrilled to hear people out in the “real world” were interested in my project. BikeIt was part of an academic program – the culmination of an intensive year at VFS – but throughout the development process I tried to be as practical as possible. The response outside the school really validated that I had succeeded in this goal.

Every so often, you get an opportunity to work on a project that can really make a difference – that has a positive impact on social causes and society at large. This kind of project is pure joy for me.  That is probably why I invested so much time and passion in BikeIt. BikeIt was much more than an assignment.

Do you have any advice for current students when it comes to choosing a topic for their grad project?
It always works better if you choose a topic that you are passionate about and feel connected to — ideally, you should have some previous experience with the “problem” that you want to solve.

Since you graduated, what sort of projects have you worked on?
I’ve worked on several native iOS mobile applications in the Real Estate, Custom Earphone, Health and Entertainment categories, as well as two responsive web design projects for BCCDC and City of Surrey. Also, a couple of digital media, data visualization and infographic projects for BCSTH, AWP and AIDA organizations.

How is it different to work on a project outside of VFS compared to the projects you have done in VFS?
The biggest difference between working at VFS and outside VFS is the motivation and intention. At VFS, you create things for your own interests; outside, you are working for clients. The strategies involved in understanding your hypothetical audience versus your client’s actual audiences are different.

Looking back at your year in the Digital Design program, what were the things that you appreciated the most?
The comprehensive program structure and the knowledgeable instructors.

What would be the one thing that you learned that you think helped you the most after you graduated?
Interface Design Principles and User Experience Design.

What is next for you?

To keep learning and creating meaningful products that have a positive impact on society.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I am constantly inspired by the world around me.  Colours, tastes, textures, perfumes – to me everything is alive with beauty and purpose.

What sort of things do you fill your head with?

Yoga and Meditation

What do you read?

I read mostly inspirational and spiritual books, ex. The Artist Way.  I’m currently reading: The Wave and The Light Between Oceans.

Do you subscribe to anything?

WIRED magazine, Flow magazine, Flipboard, TedTalks

What sites do you visit on the internet often?

Pinterest, Medium, Co.Design, UX Mastery, Kickstarter, Business News Daily

What music do you listen to?

It varies depending on my mood. Right now, I’m into Jazz, Indie pop and Folk.

What movies do you see?

Inspirational Stories, Dark Comedies, and Documentaries.

Do you look at art?

I like to visit local museums, art galleries, consignment stores and flea markets, especially when I’m traveling.

What do you collect?

I collect shells, stones, stamps, vintage posters and pens.

What’s inside your scrapbook?

Collages with Graffiti + random design ideas.

What do you pin to the cork board above your desk?

Postcards and sticky notes with inspiring quotations.

What do you stick on your refrigerator?

To Do list, and magnetic fridge poetry.

Who’s done work that you admire?

There are many people I admire. The top three would be Ansel Adams, Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali.

Who do you steal ideas from?

Bauhaus, Panda and Mother Nature 

Do you have any heroes?

Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo and Lao Tzu

Who are the practitioners you look up to (have inspired me) in your field?

I look up to people who are passionate and intelligent. At the moment, my best professional role models are Katherine Dodds (Founder of Hello Cool World), Chris Hobbs, David Hobbs (Co-founders of Two Tall Totems) and Brian Chesky (Co-founder, CEO of Airbnb).

Thanks, Maggie!


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