Kim Robak wouldn’t exactly tell you that she switched to interactive design. Instead, the associate creative director at White & Case LLP in New York expanded her skill set to match the changing needs of her in-house design job. In 2000, she kicked off this process by collaborating with a web developer to re-design Lehman Brothers’ recruiting site. Now she works on a range of projects that include both print and interactive components, and, as she puts it, “a strong designer can work in any medium.”
Were you intimidated when you first started to learn about web design?
I can easily say that the first time I looked at a page of code I had absolutely no desire to learn HTML. Being a visual person, I really resisted working in a format that had no white space! All of the technical terms were overwhelming. I was happy to stay out of the code and just focus on the look in Photoshop.
How long did it take before you felt comfortable working in web design?
In the past five years, I have gained a better understanding of the technical side and a basic knowledge of HTML. There is still so much to learn and so much is changing. I am finally learning how to write my own code, and I am really excited because I know it will improve my designs.
What do you think is the hardest thing for long-time print designers to grasp about interactive design?
I think for print designers the biggest struggle is making the typography look elegant. You are working with limited fonts and you cannot achieve the refinement you are used to with kerning and spacing. When I first started, my impulse was just to replace live text with graphics, but I have come to accept the limitations. I am really excited about where web design is going now and I look forward to learning more.
Any advice for print designers who want to make the switch?
Get your feet wet and start out however you can. I have learned the most by collaborating with other designers, developers and programmers. The most important thing they have stressed to me is to learn how to write code. Don’t rely on programs to write it for you, because if something breaks down, you won’t know how to fix it. I have to say that I am finally ready to embrace it.
Robak worked to make sure White & Case’s annual review and accompanying microsite present a consistent look and feel.
Like many of the projects Robak works on, this social responsibility review includes elements in both print and interactive formats.
Robak worked on both this recruiting website and brochure in her role as associate creative director at White & Case LLP.