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Siobhan Kennedy

Siobhan Kennedy

Design Director

The Art of Getting Started

Diving into a new project takes a different trajectory for everyone but for this visual designer it often begins with a healthy dose of fear. It has taken time, experience, and the influence of supportive colleagues to become friends with this fear and change its debilitating effects into a force that instead catapults the project into new and unexplored territories.

Here are a few steps I’ve learned to follow when faced with the blank page:

Be Brave

Good design is not something that can be pulled out of thin air so remind yourself that a process lies ahead and it will take some time. Although the possibilities seem endless there will be many micro decisions that will guide you in the right direction.

Use Words

Sink your teeth into the creative brief as well as the notes from the stakeholder workshop and highlight the specific goals, messages and brand values that should be reflected in the design. Grab a sketchbook and start writing the key words down on one page. Review and begin to group the words to see if any patterns arise. This exercise can often lead to high level concept ideas that will help to mould your design.

Be Bold

Now is the time to take risks and push boundaries. Take advantage of this freedom. Draw and investigate ideas that might seem unrealistic. Removing logistical constraints can help to think outside the box. You can always reel it back in later.

Think of the User

Putting yourself in the shoes of the end user helps to shift your thinking from pixels to people. If personas were created, review them once again and consider the mindset of the people using the product. This will alter your perspective and give shape to how you might approach the layout and general style.

Become an Explorer

Gather as much visual reference material as you can and don’t limit yourself to industry-related or platform-related references. Sometimes a photograph or illustration style will capture a mood that can become a great jumping off point. A folder filled with reference material will always help to clear the cobwebs and ignite inspiration, not only at the onset, but also midway through a project.

So next time you are faced with a new project and it feels like you are standing at the base of a huge mountain, take stock of these simple steps and forge ahead with confidence.

Siobhan Kennedy

Siobhan Kennedy

Design Director

Siobhan is a passionate advocate for clean, effective designs that speak clearly and with gusto. Through the Akendi blog, Siobhan shares inspirations, tips, and resources for developing clean, harmonious design systems that are a joy to use.


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.