Thursday, October 20, 2016

Katie Rose LLC Crest

I did a logo/crest design a while back for Katie Rose LLC. She runs an awesome company and really knows her wines. Check out these customized wine labels she had made featuriong the logo/crest. Perfect for holidays or client gifts. Contact her learn more.#WineWednesday #KatieRoseEvents#KatieRoseWine

Monday, October 3, 2016

Castle Cross Section

Worked on a fun castle cross section illustration the other week. Figured I'd do something new and actually had a lot of fun doing it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Raptor Rider

Finished a new illustration, the "Raptor Rider". Featuring my sister-in-law Alicia atop an awesome velociraptor. This is another addition to my series of "Warriors Riding Giant Beasts". Hope you all enjoy it. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

GIS Banner Ads

My company (Timmons Group) wanted a few banner ads to help in advertising our GIS Roadmap Services. 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Common UX Mistakes

Whether you are practicing a user experience design strategy or not, the following list may be helpful in reflection over your current and future projects. It is a collection of common missed opportunities that I’ve seen within the GIS application development community:

1. Understand UX

User Experience Design isn’t just colors and text, but the factors that determine how a user will perform their tasks within your application.
Many companies in the past have made the mistake of thinking it was Ok if their website or application wasn’t particularly easy to use because they worked in a niche market. Well the truth is, times have changed. The increased popularity in mobile devices has made everyone a potential critique and it’s no longer acceptable to treat your customers poorly and deliver them a sloppy product. It’s a competitive world out there and other, more innovative players are looking for opportunities where other companies are dropping the ball by creating a second-rate experience. No matter what your role is, every interaction with your customer can pitch a better user experience goal. The fact is that smart companies are now putting user value at the core of their organization and it’s important to get with the times and implement a strategy.
To learn a few tips On How To Implement An Effective User Experience Strategy, read my article on GIS Lounge: link

2. Burying Features

Having an important feature buried deep in navigation, requiring multiple clicks to access something that could have been made available easier.

3. Appeasing The Business

Letting forms and technical requirements dictate your workflows rather than addressing those alongside user stories.

4. “Hand Holding”

Your applications should not require large help documents or heavy handed microcopy. A well thought out user experience should not require “hand holding”.

5. “Speaking To Users”

Making microcopy clear and simple to the user.

6. “Just Get It Done”

Tight budgets and deadlines causing a “just get it done” attitude and abandoned user centered design. Time restraints are unavoidable but should not be an excuse to abandon intelligent design decisions.

7. Design Crutch

Avoiding opportunity to customize an app out of convenience of Material/Flat Design Standards. Branding is important but can be overlooked when creating native applications or using frameworks.

8. Boring Content

Presenting content poorly can confuse and boar users. A page of text is underwhelming, but adding in some additional styling or custom icons and images can make it more consumable.

9. Agile Does Not Mean Indecisive

You should be creating personas and user stories at the start of a projects that should not be abandoned without reason. Any time a change is made, there should be consideration to WHY it would benefit the user.

10. You Are Not The Target User

Designing for yourself or your client instead of the user is most likely a mistake. Be sure to use personas and user stories to back up design decisions.

11. Test, test, test!

There is never enough testing in the wild. Usability testing is something that we all should do more of but never quite get round to doing it. When was the last time you tested your product with users? Surveys, focus groups and customer interviews are all useful in their own right but not a substitute for one-to-one observation. You’ll gain valuable insight that you may never have otherwise uncovered. Don’t assume that your product is easy to use and intuitive just because you think it is. You’re probably too familiar with it to be able to make that judgement. It’s time to start testing.

12. Document The “Why”

As pushback can come from clients and team members when it comes to planned functionality, documenting the why will defend the decision or allow a dialogue to be within context.

13. Building Everything

By trying to appeal to everyone and adding features left, right and center, you actually dilute your message and could end up with a complex, bloated product.

14. Standalone Applications

A bloated app is a bad app. Multiple focused applications will be more successful.

15. Ignoring Design Trends

So trends come and go but trying to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in sexy user interfaces will help you in creating a competitive product. Choosing the right design elements can make your application stand out and look modern. An outdated UI will not be trusted by many public users.

    Popular Design Trends:

    Navicons/Hamburger Menu:

      This ui is better avoided but can be acceptable in some scenarios.

    Full screen navigation:

      A popular trend is letting your hidden navigation go fullscreen when accessed. This even allows for content to be within the menu.

    Ghost Buttons:

      A button consisting of a light stroke, no fill, and slightly larger than traditional buttons.

    Long Scroll:

      Letting a site be one scrollable page of content, while harnessing the power of javascript and css.

    Card Layout:

      This way of displaying content has grown in popularity and necessity due to the wide range of screen size and mobile uses. A move away from “search” to “presenting” specific data to a user based off of activity, location, and more.

    Hero Images/Videos:

      Putting a sexy highres photo or video front and center is good for building excitement on a landing page.


      Using tasteful animations can contribute to user feedback, such as a loading animation, or it can simply make a page less static, as doing subtle parallaxing during page scroll.

    Material Design:

      UI that layers elements on the z-axis with drop shadows and animations.
      If you want to build a fancy site with animations, definitely opt for material design. There are some pros and cons.

    Flat Design:

      UI with lack of skeuomorphism, with hard edges and flat shapes.
      If you’re not interested in having any animations or motion graphics on your site, and are primarily interested in raw simplicity and usability, I’d definitely suggest you opt for flat design. There are some pros and cons.

I'm sure you have encountered many additional User Experience issues so please be sure to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Poster Designs For Puzzle Room

Photos of two of the posters that I designed for a Seattle based Puzzle Room company. 

Elevation Charts - Capital Trails RVA

Created a bunch of elevation charts for Capital Trails web map (Richmond Va).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Wolf Rider

Finished a new illustration, the "The Wolf Rider". Featuring my friend Harris atop a ravenous wolf. This is another addition to my series of "Warriors Riding Giant Beasts". Hope you all enjoy it. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Custom Icons

We often have to create custom iconography to help represent very specific map features and ui elements. These are a few recent sets that I've been working on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Leopard Warrior

Finally finished my latest illustration, the "The Leopard Warrior". Featuring my friend Thorne and his dog Winters. This is another addition to my series of "Warriors Riding Giant Beasts". Hope you all dig it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Introducing Gamification Into Your Mobile Strategy

You may have heard the term Gamification being thrown around a great deal in recent years. I would consider the Gamification of an application a key component of the overall User Experience in that good gaming mechanics lead to a pleasant experience and continued application use. If your application features repetitive functionality, Gamification may assist in keeping the user engaged and coming back for more. It may also contribute to a more competitive/active social environment within your application’s community. Any company wanting to create a public facing application with hopes of engaging it's audience should consider moving in this direction.

App Audience – Every application has a target audience and identifying and catering to this audience is key to a successful User Experience and Gamification. Your audience may be diverse or it may be a specific target demographic. It is important to evaluate your target audience’s expectations and preferences and reflect those within your design.

Core Functionality – Whether it’s the ability to search for locations or share activities, your application should have core functionality that is attracting your user base. Adding a game mechanic should not hinder the core functionality in any way, and this cannot be emphasized enough. Once you’ve identified your apps specific features, you can define goals that will then drive a reward system.

Goals & Rewards – What are you wanting to encourage within your application? If you are wanting a function to be done multiple times, you may want to set a reward for every few times that action is completed. If you want to encourage app users to be social, you may offer rewards when they share something. The difficulty with setting goals and rewards is identifying the tiers at which the rewards will be given. Does the user receive a reward for doing that function once or do they have to perform it multiple times?

The example below shows how the application may have three specific features (desired actions) that we’re wanting to encourage the users to perform. The feature that has the highest repeatability also has the largest number of badges and the feature that has the lowest estimated repeatability has the smaller number of badges.

Go through the exercise of listing out features (ex: login, check-in at location, report activity, share photo…) and predict the repeatability of those features to determine the number of rewards needed. This exercise may also help determine what reward type(s) to use.

A high value reward may be more appealing than a larger number of badges, so Action#3 may reward the user with a discount/prize as to encourage more users to perform that feature.

Reward Types – However you implement the rewards, they should be appealing to your audience and not hinder the use of the core functionality. Multiple combinations of the following reward strategies allow you to cater your application to your audience.
  • Badging- A very common reward system for mobile apps where users are awarded custom badges (images) that represent the goals they achieved (ex: I check-in at a gas station and am awarded a “Lvl 1 Visitor Badge”, I check into the same gas station a few days later and am awarded a “Lvl 2 Visitor Badge”)
  • Leveling- Another common reward system where users achieve a status based off of progress towards a goal. A user would start at a beginner level, and through accruing points, they would unlock the next level. (ex. A first time user is “Beginner”. They can level up by performing set functionality and accruing points.)
  •  New Features/Privileges- Unlock an app feature or privilege based off of reaching a goal. (ex. A user may be able to share more content after they have shared 20 basic posts)
  • Prizes & Discounts- This reward would probably be hidden from the user. They could be awarded a prize or discount based off of unlocking a badge, new level, or at random. (ex. The app company can award discounts or prizes to encourage users to try and achieve particular badges, levels, or overall activity.)

Effective integration of Gamification should add a degree of fun, competitiveness, and achievement to your mobile application while maintaining the integrity of the core functionality. I hope these tips help in your future application endeavors. 

The 10 Commandments of Design

1. Hick’s Law
Every additional choice increases the time to complete an action. This means that the more options a user has when using your website or web application the more difficult it will be to use. This law really speaks the importance of simplicity.

2. The Pareto Principal, or the 80/20 Rule
A high percentage of users will perform a low percentage of actions. In terms of web applications, most of your users will perform a small percentage of tasks. Using the 80/20 rule can help prioritize features or remove unnecessary functionality that may only cater to 20% of users.

3. Proximity
Elements that are near each other will appear related. Space around elements are key.
4. Feedback
Giving a user a clear indication that something has happened, is happening, or could happen.

5. Fitt’s Law
The larger we can make the clickable areas the easier it will be to interact with.
6. Occam’s Razor
Simplicity over complexity. Less is more. “A design isn’t finished when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (look at 80/20 rule)
7. Mental Models
It is easier for users to understand and learn from something new if it has been modeled off of something they already understand. (ex. iOS Human Interface Guidelines, traffic lights)
8. The Rule Of Thirds
Breaking up a rectangle into thirds both vertically and horizontally to achieve balance. Using a grid can assist with spacing elements and identifying focal points.
9. The Golden Ratio
Breaking up a rectangle into a square and smaller rectangle and the continuing that process. This can help in achieving a balanced composition.

10. Fibonacci Sequence
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8… Designing using sequence. (ex. Sequence in spacing or font sizes)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Escape Room Posters

I completed three posters commissioned by an Escape Room Company on the west coast. They provided photos of there actor for the photo manipulations. These were used for hints in solving puzzles so the text and imagery was very specific.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Playing With Pixels

I've never done pixel art before and figured I'd take a stab at it. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Dog Warrior!

Finally finished my latest illustration, the "The Dog Warrior". It's a self portrait of me riding my Boston Terrier with my Parrot and a beer stein. This is another addition to my series of "Warriors Riding Giant Beasts". Hope you all dig it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Implement an Effective UX Design Strategy

Had an article published in GIS Lounge concerning User Experience Design, check it out:

A little sample:
"A designer’s voice on the relevance of User Experience (UX) design in modern GIS application development from Aaron Woodard,Timmons Group.  
There are many examples of elements in everyday life that are perfectly constructed but fail when it comes to usability. Have you ever tried to put together a piece of furniture and found the directions to be overly confusing? Or have you ever been driving around town and found an intersection particularly awkward? Those are examples of bad User Experience Design.  Just like a printed document or road sign may lead to a bad experience, so can a web or mobile application. Applications can be great functionally with all the necessary tools, but can provide a horrible overall user experience...."