My name is Colleen, and Sullivan Leh Designs is my freelancing business. I am a graphic designer, which means my work is about making information useful and aesthetically pleasing. The main focus of any design—print piece or web page—is directing viewers to the information that is important to them, quickly.
I’ve been working on my own for a while and wear many hats—designer, coder, writer, accountant, janitor. One hat I don’t wear often is marketer because I’ve been fortunate to work long-term with many clients and a network of talented marketing friends.
I’m also a front-end web developer writing html and css code, usually with a WordPress custom theme. I find it satisfying to learn and apply new skills to projects, which is good because building for the web is an ever-evolving process.
Projects that are a good fit are those with a lot of content or with content that needs to be easier to understand. I consider myself skilled in:
- logo design
- identity packages
- web site architecture, design, and content planning
- promotional materials
- landing pages
I don’t write content but can suggest changes to help make content easy to read, like breaking paragraphs into chunks or reorganizing the flow. My goal is to make sure your audience can quickly and clearly understand what you’re saying, and clients appreciate my holistic approach to a project.
If I’m not sketching designs or typing code, you can usually find me hiking, reading, or crafting. My current obsession is recreating small vintage paint-by-number scenes.
My creative process
The first step is to understand the problem and goals. I gather research before meeting with the marketing team and content providers so I can help make sure we’re focusing on the right problem. Then I write out a plan, which might be a formal design brief or a quick note, and this helps clarify the issues and describe the solution so we can easily evaluate designs. Next, I start sketching on paper then move to the computer. If I’m working on a web project, I put on my developer hat and test to make sure a design is something I can deliver.
It sometimes surprises people that I won’t design a cover without knowing what’s going on inside, or a web page without knowing what kind of content there will be. It’s important that the underlying structure is in place so that the finished project works as a whole. My preference is to start with the hardest bit—the page with the most or different types of content. I find it easier to simplify as the project progresses than to get more detailed later.
How to make sure a project goes smoothly
As a designer, I try very hard to make sure the project goes smoothly, meeting deadlines and giving you something you are proud to use and show off. There are a few things you as a client can do to help the process:
- Be very clear about goals. If I am aware of the end goal I can help make sure the result will meet your needs.
- Know what impression the project should give. A friendly neighborhood cafe has a different vibe than a swanky steakhouse. The right adjectives help steer design in the right direction.
- Make feedback descriptive. Help me understand what a problem is so I know how to improve it. Instead of asking for italics, tell me this part needs to stand out more.
- Be prompt with communication. Design hinges on knowing your thoughts and getting approvals. Let me know if there’s a delay and I will work around that. I’m usually working on a few projects at a time so scheduling is helpful.
If you are part of a small to mid-sized company looking for a designer, or if your design/development group is looking to add a member to your team, let’s chat!
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