The Pull and Pulse of Digital Design: How ArtVersion is Reconceptualizing the Online World
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The shelves are filled to the brim with golden and silver statuettes and awards commemorating the years of achievements for the Chicago-based digital design agency, ArtVersion. These accolades are on windowsills, side tables, and just about every room in their Chicagoland office. Yet, for the adept agency, these triumphs and trophies aren't the reason behind their 25 years in the industry, rather, it's about the human-centric process, or as their company tagline goes, it's about Creating Experiences.
For Goran Paun, ArtVersion Principle and Creative Director, and long-time UI/UX aficionado, these awards are always taken with appreciation and although it is a reminder that valorizes the dedication the team pours into their work, it's also a great reminder of how much the industry itself has changed.
"We never take any of these achievements for granted, especially as the industry is continuously changing. It inspires and pushes us as a company to keep innovating and keep finding that next big idea waiting to happen," Paun states.
With that next great idea sitting ready at the cusp of the digital design realm, a comfortable stasis just won't do. Where many industries find themselves at odds with the ever-changing kaleidoscope of changes, ArtVersion has idealized industry adaptation as advantage.
The distance between where the industry started, and where it is now, is quite jarring looking back on the way design and UI/UX trends advance, eb, flow, sometimes circle back, and other times, completely become obsolete.
"Like any industry, if you don't find new ways of incorporating user preferences that consider all facets of specific target audiences in a user-centric way, you're limiting innovation, and the client or brand you are meant to be innovating for."
Paun and his team, however, are highly attuned to the way the digital design and UI/UX industry is constantly advancing, since 1999, the team has met and embraced technology advancements. Their work ethic is choreography—a two-step of expertise and intuition. Working with diverse industries—from SaaS, healthcare, architecture, non-profits, and technology—to only name a few, ArtVersion applies its human-centric, and iterative methodologies to ensure brands stand out against the clamor and competition. Although their years of strategies have worked wonders for the team, it is their finger on the pulse of industry changes that have made their practice all the more successful.
In 2010, when web design was placing a heavy emphasis on "above the fold" headers, and horizontalism, a new design trend was biting at the heels of these design standards: responsive design. With the rise of different screen sizes and resolutions, web designers had to alter with the changes so as to not lose any detail from their canvas. Particularly so with the meteoric rise of smartphones, websites had to become flexible and made for mobile. ArtVersion pulled adaptive design into full focus before responsive design was invented in 2010, ensuring all the designs they created upheld the ultimate experience no matter the device, or screen size in use.
"Web design should always be cohesive," says Erin Lentz, the Firm's Executive Director of Design. "You always have to give your users a lot of credit, as they are more aware of the finer details than you may think. That's why we knew being the first few agencies to advocate for responsive design was so important. If there are disparities between screens or devices, your users will know. Every detail counts."
Since then, the digital design agency has developed highly responsive designs for clients all over the world, ensuring that their set best practices are designed and developed for the multitude of screen resolutions, and a seamless transition to mobile. The team's collaborative nature, in conjunction with industry best practices, has formed a creative, and practical lifecycle of projects. From conceptual to contextual, iterative to experiential, ArtVersion's methodologies have remained a highly fluid process, that not only allows them to see the latest design standards on the horizon but to confidently claim them into their work.
Changes to user preferences are always bound to vary, but one thing that always stays the same is that those preferences are guaranteed to shift and mold. The expectation in which users consume information and online digital products recurs dynamically, and the capacity to how they consume information has also greatly shifted. In the battle for users' attention in the insatiable belly of the online world, tackling user preferences can be a tall task to dissect, but for ArtVersion, it's a matter of paying attention. Their data-driven strategies and focus on analytics have allowed them a sturdy rooting in their expertise, but it is mastering the intuition based on that expertise that has endorsed a clear understanding of what users need and want.
For one, the rush of information that continuously whirlpools online mean grasping user attention has become a fleeting force. For ArtVersion, their designs have become modified that tunes to the rhythm of this user preferences. Evidenced by their attention to visual design hierarchy that will quickly guide users down a clear journey to what they are seeking, or visual appeal right at first glance, the team's awareness epitomizes the strategies.
"Modernly, information needs to be provided in quite snippets, but the design needs to be alluring. It's two-fold—make messaging short and to the point but make the design intriguing enough to make users want to stick around. That balance is really what we strive for," says Petra Tomekova, Art Director.
Through their use of purposeful animations and movement, the design team achieves just that.
Their collaborative nature isn't simply reserved for clients, but internally as well. The agency has a healthy mix of sectors on their roster, from graphic designers to a development team, and content strategists, the gears of their internal strategies are composed of bouncing ideas off each other that keep the team all on the same page with usability standards, accessibility perspectives, messaging elevation, and of course, future-proof design language strategies.
"Working together really helps put a project in full view. So, it's always great to work with a team that will offer different perspectives you may have not even considered," Cristina adds.
"At the heart of what we do, it's about giving brands an online presence they can be proud to claim as their own and share their mission with the world."
ArtVersion is in a constant state of innovation—experts that have an immense backlog of industry know-how but attain a willingness to continuously learn from the industry that just can't sit still.