Closing the Gap Between Ideation and Production
We sat down with Kickstarter product designer Danny White to chat about design tools, accessibility and his upcoming talk at the Framer Loupe conference.
This interview is part of our ongoing Loupe Speaker Series, designed to give you insight into the people and themes that are central to our upcoming conference.
D anny White has spent a lot of time deciphering design systems and workflows. He’s worked at design studio ustwo and contracted at Facebook in the Interfaces, Design Tools, and Origami teams. Today, he splits his time between the the Native apps and Creator Tools teams at Kickstarter. As a more technically-minded designer, Danny was an early convert to Framer, even going on to found Framer Sessions NYC, an event that spurred similar meetups around the world.
On bringing design to the masses
In spite of his reverence for code, Danny is very much in favor of democratizing design. Though the more powerful design tools have historically been limited to more technical designers, Danny doesn’t believe it should be this way.
“As tools like Framer learn how to balance raw power with accessibility or a lower learning-curve, other designers (and non-designers) will be able to experiment and contribute.”
The more diverse the contributors, says Danny, the better the design outcome: “Outside of general product design, it would be especially exciting to see how storytellers of other mediums could benefit from accessible design tools.”
On the future of design tools
Having worked on a variety of projects (resulting in countless hours spent redrawing elements) Danny has come to the conclusion that design tools need to close the gap between ideation and production. “Right now, across design tools, the end deliverable is almost always a replica (or really nice painting) of what will actually be built by engineers. But that redrawing by engineering causes nuances to be lost,” says Danny. “More importantly, actual engineering implementation often uncovers problems that should have been tackled during the design phase.”
One solution, he thinks, is for design tools to become more aware of existing styles and components within a system. “The difference between a throw-away design sketch and a mature, iterative interface design will naturally give space to both sides (and hopefully allow for movement in between),” says Danny.
On finding inspiration in the workplace
As a company, Kickstarter fosters initiatives that highly encourage both cross-disciplinary collaboration and open lines of communication with their userbase.
“We’re lucky to have some amazing cross-pollination at Kickstarter. Lunch Roulettes, random coffee pairings or music recitals can help you feel more comfortable leaning on someone outside of your immediate circle. The result, at least from my own experiences, is more cross-disciplinary involvement in things than most places.”
In a similar vein, weekly design syncs provide the team with an opportunity to review, but more importantly, to borrow from one another, and slowly sanitize and add to their living design system. “About once every fortnight, at least one other designer and I will chat with a creator for an hour as part of an effort to regularly run ethnographic research,” says Danny, who also shares that Kickstarter is working on a number of features designed to support creators:
"Launching a creative project so publicly can take a lot of courage, so we're doing our best to help support creators where we can, and get out of the way where it makes sense."
On what to expect at Framer Loupe
As an early Framer community organizer, Danny has hosted his fair share of meetups. But Loupe promises to be a gathering of much grander proportions. “There are some fellow speakers I’ve admired for a long time, but never had the pleasure to meet,” he says. “Same goes for workshop hosts and conference-goers, some of whom I’ve only known online.”
Away from the stage, you’ll likely also catch Danny at the Designing with Hardware workshop, where fellow Framer luminaries Stephen Crowley and Jordan Dobson will be teaching attendees more about sensory prototyping for mobile and desktop.
“And without giving away too much, I can share that my talk will revolve around the interesting side-effects of closely-knit design systems and workflows,” says Danny.
Catch Danny White as a featured speaker at Framer Loupe, get your ticket today ›
Loupe, a conference by Framer on design, tools and beyond, will happen in Amsterdam this September 20 - 21 and feature inspiring speakers, hands-on workshops and networking events.
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