Frank Melendez applied his talents exclusively to print design for seven years, working on logos, brochures and collateral for such brands as Applebees, Cheer and National City Bank. But in 2002, he noticed an increasing demand for interactive design while working for a small studio. So he started frequenting web design sites, such as FWA, and teaching himself interactive design after work. Today’s he’s fully immersed in the digital realm as art director, interaction design at Possible Worldwide in Cincinnati.
I don’t think you ever feel 100 percent comfortable because technology is constantly evolving and you must learn new things everyday to stay relevant. In fact, one of our mottos at Possible Worldwide is “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I’m always exploring and experimenting with my craft which forces me to step outside my comfort zone and produce the best possible results.
What do you think is the hardest thing for long-time print designers to grasp about interactive design?
Fluidity. One of the most challenging things is to separate your mind from static design and imagine design in motion and content in flux. Understanding how to elicit the appropriate user behaviors is also a challenge. When and what do they click for? How can I get them to take the next step? Which features and information are of higher importance? It’s not all about the visual appeal, but the path that the user takes and keeping them on that path while maintaining consistency throughout. There is an art of storytelling involved as well to help them through the content. Over time these things become second nature, but it takes a little time to train your mind.
On the flip side, what do print designers know that’s an advantage in the interactive space?
This is the time where content is king. Print designers have a lot of editorial principles like the right use of typography, how to make the content clear and readable. These same principals need to be applied to interactive design where content needs to be clear on every screen we access it. So there is definitely an advantage of having a print design background because we need to be able to bring this knowledge inside the screen.
Any advice for print designers who want to make the switch?
Your print skills will inevitably help you in interactive design and make you a well-rounded designer. As a first step, make an inventory of the skills you have. Understand how websites are being built, and make a list of the things you need to learn. A List Apart is a great resource. Another great site that I used and I still reference is Lynda.com. Never stop learning. Remember that everything ties back to the principals of design and you will do just fine.
As an art director at Possible Worldwide, Melendez worked on the design for the Pringles Can Creator. It allows people to create custom can designs and share with friends.
Melendez designed for the Vicks global portal. The homepage is dynamically generated based on keywords from incoming search traffic.
In his print life, Melendez worked on these promotional materials for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.