Briana Hokanson

Briana Hokanson

Experience Designer at Adobe

My internet friends are better than your internet friends

13 action items

Know the signs of burnout

    • You become cynical about the work, the project outcomes, the clients and your own team. Your fear of failure has been replaced with the dull ache of apathy. You are unable to find meaning in the work you do. You put off work until the last minute. You have several crying spots in strategic places such as stairwells, bathroom stalls and in your car after work.

    • Research the signs of depression and anxiety

      Not only are the symptoms similar in burnout, but you may also be experiencing legitimate imbalance in your mental health and should try to figure out if the source of your burnout is bigger than just your job.

    • Prioritize your health and well-being.

      Without your health, you have nothing. Identify the source of toxicity and then explore the various options, including reexamining if you are in the right environment to begin with. Freelancing in particular can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle where all structure and safety nets are out the window.... See more

    • Give yourself a break, take some time away from the source of toxicity

      If possible, see what kind of time off you can arrange as soon as possible. This could mean a mental health day, spending a long weekend camping without access to the internet, or A Real Vacation.

    • Go back to your roots

      Remind yourself why you went down the path of XYZ in the first place. Look at your old drawings from high school (Yes, your DeviantArt account is still out there on the internet, I promise), revisit a record you haven't heard in 10 years and let it transport you back to a time when all you had was the drive and a dream to get to where you are now. Volunteer or mentor young people who are just starting out, and let their infectious passion and curiosity override your cynicism.... See more

Make moodboards and know what to include in them

    • Depending on the type of media, if it is collaborative and if I want to share it: I start with Pinterest, or a blank artboard in XD.

    • Pinterest: Easy way to get started collecting images and videos.

      Pros: Easy to collaborate and share pictures/videos. Cons: It is frustrating if you want to organize into subcategories, you can't merge boards, and the tagging/search UX is a mess. Honestly who writes the descriptions for these things?

    • Great for in-depth research.

      Pros: has the ability to collect all types of media for inspiration (including website captures). Cons: It might be overkill and a time-suck if you just want to create a simple visual moodboard.

    • Artboards in XD, Sketch or Keynote.

      Pros: No fussing with UI, no broken links, no ads, no need for an internet connection. Best for quick and dirty moodboarding, which I honestly find to be useful for capturing the essence of a vision. It's also easy to subdivide different aesthetic directions. It's easy to create your own templates using clipping masks. Cons: You can only blame yourself for this mess.... See more

    • Magazines, printouts and foam-core boards.

      Pros: This can be fun and inspiring if you have relevant resources (but do you really want to sacrifice your precious copies of Apartamento to the analog Gods?) Cons: Limitations, glue sticks and storage problems. This can be an emotionally stunting disaster where you end up crying on the floor surrounded by shredded bits of paper and bitter memories of middle school. Nostalgia can be a double-edged sword.... See more

Standardize the use of design tools across your team

    • If you are collaborating with other designers closely you should be using the same tools and formats to save time and headaches down the road. This isn't always easy to implement, but it is worth it. Bonus points if the tools can be utilized easily by your dev team such as Sketch, Adobe XD or prototyping tools.

    • What is your budget? Will the cost of your tool bundle pay off?

      Can you afford to buy licenses or subscriptions for your entire design team? What about the developers? On the other hand, if you put together an ideal list of tools your team wants to use, are you wasting money on duplicative feature sets? If there's an expensive piece of software that only one person will use for advanced prototyping, such as a lead designer, will anyone else need to access that file on a regular basis? In my mind it is worth just springing for the license if it means that the work will come out faster and free up your lead designer to move on to the next project.... See more

    • Windows vs Mac, Android vs iOS, etc.

      Some design tools aren't cross-platform compatible. (Looking at you, Sketch!) Beyond the scope of your own design team or company, keep in mind that most of the world still uses Windows. I had a series of international clients last year who requested the working files as part of the deliverables. Their internal design team all used Windows and assumed we were working in Photoshop. It took a lot of time and energy at the very end to convert all of the files from Sketch to PSD for the handoff session.... See more

    • Not exactly a design tool, but let's talk about file storage, organization and naming standards.

      Whatever your preferred product, you should absolutely have a system that is outlined very specifically when it comes to where your files and assets are living. If your team uses dropbox, there should be a strict expectation that everyone is putting their files in the team dropbox every single day. It is no fun trying to guess where something might be when you need it urgently, and it's even less fun to have to call every number on file to try and contact your junior designer who is out sick just to ask where her files are. Getting people to adhere to organizing their files and follow a coherent naming standard is a challenge, but well worth it. Think of your project folders as you would a shared house. Clean up your mess, fold your laundry and use actual version numbers instead of "Final1, Website V2, FinalDraft_3.0", you filthy animals.... See more

    • Asset cross-compatibility

      Currently in-market we have a variety of tools available at our fingertips, but they don't all play nicely together, even during an export process. You can pull vector elements into Sketch from Illustrator, but your Sketch symbols can't be exported and plugged into Illustrator (functionally, that is). If I have a VSCO mobile preset I apply to our product photos, the DNG files being processed in Lightroom can't use those same presets. Should you keep all of your branding assets in Lingo, a folder on dropbox, or in a Creative Cloud library? These are all things to consider. Choose wisely.... See more

Setup user testing for unbiased feedback

    • Answer questions with another question

      If the user gets stuck, asks what X does, where Y goes, why Z is grouped the way it is... ask the user, "Why do you think X does when you click on it? What would you expect to happen?"