2017 - The year of a zillion tools

Today, I'm learning how to use Infusionsoft. It got me thinking about how I've grown professionally this year--what tools have I learned, where I'd like to grow in my career, and what will my priorities be in 2018?

Professionally Speaking...

It's been a year of huge growth! I started at 83bar a couple years ago as a general graphic designer with an unknown generalist role with holes to fill. I feel like I'm really refining my role and skillset towards a more technical, product development orientation and I really love it. Here's what I've learned and done in the last year:

I officially made the switch last year in March and it's been great. It really is lightweight, easy to document changes and versioning, and a game changer with all of its plug-ins! I feel more like a real UI/UX designer now with faster prototyping tools. I started using InVision to try and demonstrate function and interaction to help our dev team become more independent and I hope to make my first official handoff using it this year!

Email Development
I dabbled in email builders and HTML emails a bit out of necessity for some basic campaigns, but this year we really blew up our email campaigns for 83bar as a real staple for patient engagement. I made a full set of email modules and variables to quickly brand content for our various clients. I learned so much about HTML, CSS, and deliverability and I really wouldn't have thought twice about it without Litmus as a tool.

Wordpress Dev
I built my first Wordpress Dev site in 2016 and.. it was a mess. I didn't have much dev support aside from the hosting set up. I figured it wouldn't be too hard if I used a style template, but I quickly learned that every plug-in and template had its own, non-standard interface! It was brutal and took about two months to really get one static site done.
Since then, I've gotten much better at HTML, CSS, and have since created templates for re-use across multiple clients.

There are also quite a few programs I enjoyed, but couldn't find a place for it at 83bar based on our needs:
Campaign Monitor
I still love the content Campaign Monitor provides for email developers, but we ended up using an in-house solution with SendGrid
We didn't end up blogging as much as we thought, but it's a great way to repost content while continuing to keep users engaged with your company
Great engaging and fun forms! I came across Typeform when struggling with finding a good WordPress plugin for forms. We also had to use an in-house solution for our forms, just to keep our data safe within our own systems.
A super easy way to make quick videos. Pre-animated characters and a simple timing interface made for a great first sales video for our team. We struggled with the sound limitations and cookie-cutter content, so I ended up creating a branded set of animations using AfterEffects for our videos.
Although it's the easiest way to handoff mockups to our dev team, most of what we're working on are templated systems. Zeplin proved great for one-off designs, but we couldn't find a to

This year...

Since many of our marketing design processes are now streamlined in templates and modular, my world is pretty open to how we can expand our tools and refine what we've already made!

I'll probably be more engaged with some development work to fill in a hold for front-end development here. I've been using tons of diagnostic tools like BrowserStack, but as a small startup, we need more help with implementation and closing the design/dev gap. I'll be learning:

The big one. I've been doing lots of CSS transitions and animations to beef up interactivity with our content, but it's time to get into the real deal and learn some object-oriented programming. I'm starting on CodeAcademy, leaning heavily on the Mozilla Developer Network, and jumping in with the systems our dev team built! I'm still trying to get more comfortable navigating GitHub and other standard tools like Git.

CSS Animation
While I know basic CSS and intend on learning Javascript, I'm filling lots of gaps with CSS animations to engage users in the interim.

Here's to 2018!

Betty Huang

Designer in Austin, Texas. Creates ceramic work, skilled in industrial and graphic design, and loves visual storytelling.