Learn what Alaina has to say about designing dynamic user experiences, working at Idea Kraft and rock climbing as problem solving.
You’re Idea Kraft’s Head of UI/UX Development! What does that mean and what do you do?
I lead all of our web projects to ensure a strong strategy and best practices are applied to each project. Whether you’re a non-profit or a Fortune 500 company, you have target audiences that come to your website with specific needs. My job is to make sure we design strategically to support both your organizational goals and the needs of your target audiences.
The user experience is all about how your target audiences interact with your website. There is a lot of research that goes into designing and developing sites to support your high-level goals and engage your target audiences. This includes determining the best size and placement for user interface elements like buttons and other components, designing forms and integrations, analyzing page performance and so much more. I am involved in strategy, navigation design, ensuring an intuitive interface and making sure we offer the highest value solutions to solve unique and complex challenges.
Where were you before this?
Before Idea Kraft, I worked for Ithaca College Strategic Marketing and Communications as a Visual Designer and Developer. I was closely involved in overhauling the full website, including a major brand evolution. I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Graphic Design, with a focus on web and interaction design.
How can brands benefit from a stellar website?
These days, in so many ways! A professional website establishes credibility. Great websites create a positive lasting impression for your brand. They tell a story. They engage visitors and serve as a tool to advance your high-level goals, whether those goals are sales, donations, subscriptions or social and marketing. An effective website can scale and evolve with your brand to fulfill your future needs too.
Favorite part of your job?
We just finished developing a major upgrade to the accreditation process for the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. It’s currently an internal website for staff and accreditors, but it’s designed to scale as their needs evolve. I am very proud how we solved what was essentially a navigation and Information Architecture (IA) challenge. The accreditation process is lengthy and requires a lot of information to be input, and our goal was to simplify and streamline that process. We’ve been receiving wonderful feedback from all user types, and it makes me happy to see how happy the SU team is!
What’s your advice for someone who wants to work in web design and development?
Make sure that you enjoy learning because it’s a fast-paced field. Then get to it! Pursue what interests you, look at projects you find inspiring and study them, follow leaders in the field and listen to podcasts like Developer Tea. Try to always find the best way to solve a problem (hint: it might not necessarily be the fastest way). You are often building a foundation, and you want it to be clean and well-documented. It will save you and your team a lot of time in the future.
What makes working at Idea Kraft unique?
I love working at Idea Kraft because we have great clients and a variety of fulfilling projects. Everyone here is so talented and cares very much about the quality of work that we put out. I am constantly inspired and surrounded by exciting work.
Tell us something weird about you!
One of my favorite things to do is journey into the woods with what looks like a mattress strapped on my back to climb impossible boulders with friends. Climbing is another type of problem solving that I just love. Something can seem absolutely impossible to climb, and then you find just the right position and it clicks. Sometimes your feet are standing on a divot the size of a pebble and you’re holding your body in with just your fingertips. The experience forces you to be very present.