Thursday, 9 January 2014

An interview with freelance web designer Jennifer Maloney

Hello!
 How are you?

Today I'm going to be interviewing graphic designer Jennifer Maloney; the lovely lady behind my new gorgeous blog design!


Introductions from Jennifer:

Hello! I'm so happy to be doing this interview. Lizzie asked me to start by telling you all a little about myself and what I do. My name is Jennifer and I'm a graphic designer in Los Angeles, California. I just finished school for graphic design in June, so I'm still at the beginning stages of my career, but it's been super exciting so far!

I currently run my own freelance design business called J. Maloney Design, and I've mainly been working on blog and website designs so far. I've done a few business card and logo designs as well (okay let's be honest... they were for my mom!) but I am finding that I really enjoy designing for the web more than other types of design, so that's where I've been focusing my efforts. It's so fun to me to try to interpret the mood/personality of my clients and then to create a site for them that feels like something they didn't know they wanted to ask for. I don't always get it right on the first go around, but oftentimes the second try turns out even better than the first!

When I re-designed Lizzie's site (this blog!), I took a lot of inspiration from her Pinterest board and the color choices that she was drawn to. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where inspiration comes from really, but in the end I feel like I captured the essence of what she was wanting her blog to feel like!

You definitely did! I feel like my blog design finally describes me! 
So Jennifer, have you always wanted to have a career in design?

I'm one of those dreamy souls who never really has her feet on the ground. Consequently I've never really know what I "wanted to be when I grew up". I've dabbled in several things (theological studies, office work, library aid... I even studied family psychology at one point!). 


When I was nearing my 30's (I'm 34 now), I told myself that I really needed to just pick something and go for it, rather than continually trying a bunch of things but never really committing to anything. I asked myself the most important question I've ever asked myself... "What is your ideal work environment? Picture it. What is there? Where are you?" When I honestly thought about it, the answer surprised me, "At home, with my cat, working on projects near an bright window looking over New York City". At this point I'd never been to New York City (still haven't, actually), nor had I ever heard of graphic design, but that vision has sustained me as I started thinking about what it was that I could do that would help me get to that happy place.

What an inspirational story!
Can you tell us, how did you go about getting into freelance web design?

Shortly after I thought about what my ideal work environment would look like, I was browsing college catalogs (while at work at the most boring job ever) and ran across this thing called graphic design. The more I read about the classes required... web design, art history, illustration, page layout, digital photography... the more it sounded like playing in a toy store to me. I just KNEW that was it. That was what I wanted to do.

Being that I came of age just as the internet was taking off (mid to late 90's), I've always been fascinated by the web and making it do what I want it to do. I taught myself HTML coding when I was about 19 and started learning CSS a few years later. I never felt like I knew enough to actually offer a web design service, but once I learned the principles of design in school, I knew that I knew enough to be dangerous, as they say.

Although I have also been looking for "real" work in an agency, the draw of that studio in the city calls to me, so I continue to work hard to establish my own freelance business. As I said earlier, even though I have studied graphic design in general (which includes print work, illustration, photography, etc), I definitely seem to be drawn to web work. There's something so fascinating to me about how websites work and I love figuring out how to make them more beautiful and efficient at the same time. For me, web design is the merging of many of my interests and talents, so for that, I love it.

Wow! It's fantastic that you're getting to use all of your talents and doing something that interests you! How did you find the transition from school to web design?

Honestly I think I am finding it easier than my fellow students. I am a bit older than most of them are, so I had real-world work experience before I went to school. I know what it means to pay bills and worry about money so I am super motivated to make this work. Some of my former classmates are still hemming and hawing about what they want to do now, but I know that "in the real world" you can't slow down or you'll end up five years later wondering why you haven't gotten started yet. Believe me, I've been there.


One of the hardest things about working for myself, I must say, is getting the motivation to not watch TV all day. After being told what to do every day, all day (whether at a job or at school), there's a great temptation to just slack off and do nothing now that no one's looking over my shoulder. On the other hand, because I actually enjoy what I'm doing now, once I get going, it's very easy to work all day until the sun goes down without even realizing I've been sitting for that long! I'm finding that there needs to be a balance between slacking off and working hard - both are necessary, just in moderation.

It seems like you were made for the job! It sounds great to have the freedom to decide the hours that work best for you-balancing work and rest is definitely important! What would you say your favourite project has been so far?

Ooh that's a hard one! I really loved how this site, Head Full of Flowers, turned out. Honestly every site I do, I try to make it something that I'm proud of, so I'd have to say that most of them are my favourite, really. Lol. Occasionally I'll have a client who I can't quite figure out why they want what they want in their design, but for the most part, each of my projects has been unique and interesting, so they've all been pretty fun to work on.

I love how it turned out too! Can you tell those reading, what is unique about your web design services?

I feel like with a lot of the design services out there, it's more of an impersonal business deal, whereas I like to keep it real and human. I like to get a feel for what each client is like and then design to their personality. My own Myers-Briggs personality type is called INFJ, which means I find it pretty easy to pick up vibes of what people are like, what their unspoken feelings are, etc. I am finding that the ability to read-between-the-lines is super helpful in this job and I hope it helps make my clients feel like they are being listened to and heard.

I couldn't agree more, you made me feel so relaxed and comfortable with the re-design. I feel like you really got me and my personality and designed a blog that 100% suits me. Could you please tell us, what type of sites do you design for?

I design for the Blogger and Squarespace platforms. I have most of my experience so far with Blogger, as that is a free service that I've been playing at for years. I recently added Squarespace to my repertoire, which is a mobile-responsive, template-based system. It doesn't involve quite as much coding as I'm used to, but it's WAY more powerful as far as what I can add to each site to personalize it. Each platform has their place and are perfect for different types of clients, so it's nice to have some options at my disposal.

I know a lot of designers love Wordpress, but for me, Wordpress feels clunky and awkward to design for. I did try to learn it, and I may try again in the future, but for now I feel like my touchy-feely approach to designing lends itself better to Squarespace. Plus it gives me a niche market that not a lot of designers are even trying, so that's also a plus!

Ideally, my target clients are creative, intelligent, interesting people who may be too busy to figure out how to unclutter their online life themselves. I love working with bloggers and entrepreneurs, and especially people who are frustrated with how cumbersome or hard-to-navigate their current site is. I feel like I'm pretty good at seeing "the big picture", so try to design sites that will be easier to use and more focused on what my client's goals are.

It's great that you have the ability and creativity to adapt to individual bloggers and entrepreneurs to design unique, easy to navigate sites! Lastly, how can people contact you or find out more?

You can find me at jmaloneydesign.com - that's a good place to see what recent projects I've been working on and also to request a project quote if you've got something you need done. You can also find me on twitter @desertrose0601.

Great! Thank you Jennifer! If you're looking to have your blog re-vamped or site designed I highly recommend that you contact Jennifer via the above contact details and take a look at some of her most recent projects. 

I'd just like to say a very big thank you to Jennifer for my beautiful blog design. I've absolutely loved working with you, you're incredibly talented at what you do and I will definitely be in contact for future projects!!


Thanks so much for reading, 
Until next time,
L
xo

8 comments:

  1. Interesting and helpful post. All the information of this blog is really very attractive and helpful. Thank you for sharing this with us.
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  2. What a great interview! Really got me thinking about what I can do to my own blog, it's really boring at the moment!
    Your new layout looks great :D xx

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    1. It's not boring, I love it! But I'm glad you found this interview helpful-I hope you have fun designing your layout! Thank you so much-can't wait for your new shop line by the way! :) L xo

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  3. You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.
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  4. Thank you for sharing this information with us! Web designer

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  5. This is great, Lizzie! I think this is a very clever way of thanking Jennifer for the very nice design she did on your blog. Jennifer's story should serve as an inspiration to artists, and even non-artists, out there who are unsure of what career paths to take. It's very important to get a job that you feel passionate about and challenges you. Money can only go so far to motivate you.

    Oddball Marketing @ OddBallWebSolutions.com.au

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  6. Thanks for sharing Jennifer’s insights, Lizzie! She, being one of the successful website designer, can encourage some aspirants to use their talent for their benefits. And if I may add, in order to be successful in your field, you have to be open-minded about ideas that either you come up with or other people suggest.

    Ken @NHStrategicMarketing.com

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  7. I can relate to Jennifer’s story. It’s not easy to choose what path you’re going to take, especially if you don’t have any idea on what field you are comfortable working in.

    Lynda Frank

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