SPR Newsletter – Looped In – Fall 2016
By Brian Chorba
8:30AM on a Thursday
Like most mornings, I catch up on yesterday’s news via podcasts. Lately I’ve been listening to 99% Invisible, Revisionist History, and Radiolab – this morning on 99% Invisible a fascinating episode on the Salton Sea. I got a seat on the train, so today’s off to a good start. Once I get into the office, I make myself a Red Eye (coffee + espresso) and drop off my bag at my desk.
Lately we’ve been working on some IoT projects incorporating microprocessors (Raspberry Pi’s and Particle Photons) with custom 3D printed enclosures. I check the overnight print I started yesterday, and start the next section which should finish before I leave. The print from yesterday looks good, so hopefully everything will fit together as expected.
3D Hardware & Software
Tinkercad, Printerbot, Simplify 3D
Sit Down, Stand Up
After the print starts, I get ready for my morning stand ups. I review my timesheet from yesterday and the running task list for the day. No blockers, but during the standup, we decide to update the size and composition of some icons for a mobile app to increase their visual contrast. After the meetings I make the changes to the master file, generate the full asset sets, and share them with the developers. Easy come, easy go.
Design & Development Tools
Sketch, Zeplin, SourceTree
Like most days, I have a few ongoing projects I need to put some time in on, along with internal things that come in and need a quick turnaround. Client work makes up most of my day – primarily for the mobile practice. I typically am working on the UI and UX for iOS and Android apps, prototyping application interactions, and testing workflows. The nice thing about SPR is that I get to do design work with mostly all of the departments in the company. So, I set my overall goals for my client work then allocate about an hour for internal design work, research, or whatever else I may need to jump in on.
In order to get the creative juices flowing, I turn to Soundcloud to find a new mix for today. Lately I’ve been listening to disco and boogie sets from JKRIV, Dr Packer, and DJ Bruce, today it’s a Kon mix straight from Boston.
The first client project I’m working on today is part of the IoT project I am in the process of 3D printing. We are creating a monitoring system for a local brewery that tracks brewing temperature and creates alerts if they go out of range, something that is currently done manually. The developers are working on the backend of a dashboard which will display all of the tank temperatures on a 60” TV in their brewery. I have already worked up high definition comps, and most of the front-end HTML/CSS. Today I need to get the CSS3/JS animations working to hide the top navigation, and flip the tank tiles to any reduce screen burn.
Code & Test
After briefly consulting Stack Overflow for some jQuery refreshers, I have the fixed navbar hiding until the mouse moves, and silky smooth tiling animations that flip between content on the back and front of a card UI elements. I test these animations on a VM before pushing the changes to the repository, then test on the surface tablet we will be using. Everything looks good, so I’m ready to move on.
Design & Development Tools
Adobe InDesign, Visual Studio Code, Virtual Box
SPR has been helping setup and sponsor a tech-based charity ping pong tournament called T4Youth. We have been tasked to switch over their website and payment gateway from a pre-built web service to something they can manage on their own. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 2 weeks redesigning, coding, and importing content to a fresh WordPress install. This includes successfully implementing their new payment gateway. Not bad for a designer, right?
Design & Development Tools
Sketch, Visual Studio Code, WordPress, Braintree, MAMP
I love working in the Loop, especially when it comes to lunch. I am literally surrounded by dozens of amazing restaurants. One of my favorite places to go is Spotted Monkey on Franklin. It’s a small Latin and Asian fusion shop with rice dishes, bahn mis, soups, and baocos (bao tacos). I’ve learned to go before noon or after 1 to avoid the lunchtime rush, but I’ve still never learned to call ahead, smh.
Loaded Kimchi Fries, Picadillo Egg Roll, Sparkling Water
Now it’s SPR internal design request time. Throughout the week I receive internal requests for design help from various departments, mainly Marketing and Recruiting. Maintaining our brand image and outreach is an important way of attracting new business and new talent. Unless there is a tight deadline, I bunch these up and batch them together when I can. Today I need to update an evite for an executive networking dinner, change content to an infographic for a client presentation, and create a website header. I try to get these out midday in case there are revisions.
Once the two marketing proofs go out, it’s design time. Today has actually been a bit of a developer heavy day for me, which I enjoy every now and then; it keeps the rust off. I typically contribute to 2-3 client design projects at a time. Currently I am designing wireframes for BLE/Beacon supply chain management web application, high fidelity comps for a corporate directory mobile app, and a prototype for an internal document sharing application. For the rest of today I will be continuing this document sharing application. We are developing the app natively for both iOS and Android. We’ve been working on the design of this app since its inception. Now that the app is fully designed, we create an interactive prototype of the app using static content.
Design & Prototyping Tools
As the workday winds to an end, I grab a beer from our kegerator with a custom 3D printed tap handle, something I also designed and printed. Each tap handle honors an employee who was awarded “the consultant of the quarter”. The latest winner was Luis, an Android developer on our mobile team. We scanned his head with a hacked Kinect sensor and imposed it on the body of Google’s Droid character. As an added surprise, we added LED lights to his eyes which, using a tilt sensor, are turned on when the tap is pulled.
One of the things I enjoy about being a designer at SPR is the variety of projects, technologies, and people we get to work with. Every day is a learning experience and a chance to solve some very interesting problems with a unique set of requirements.