ITW | Jason Briscoe

A fearless mind focused on design, impact & technology

We met Jason Briscoe during the FashTech London Summit last month, where he was giving a keynote on how to Silence the Noise Through Simple Design. Throughout his talk, he gave us key principles to keep design simple in the age of more. We sat down with him asking what are his does and don’ts in web-design.

Jason is a graphic designer with over a decade of experience spanning identity, print, packaging, web & product. He founded The Workshop in 2012 – a collective of designers, engineers and entrepreneurs helping companies create new brands and products for mobile and beyond. His creative heart also serves him well as co-founder of The Give, a free workshop series that accelerates positive change for social enterprises. Jason is also an accomplished musician and recognised on the world stage as a top-notch bagpiper.


Interview What are the best homepage’s for magazines/media? Do you think they are the inspirational ones (video/beautiful imagery) or the functional ones (explicit menu, many articles presented at first sight)?

Jason Briscoe: 99U has always been an inspiring source for me — and even more so today. They recently redesigned the site and did a fantastic job marrying gorgeous typography with imagery while keeping the experience uncluttered and impactful. I like the fact everything I need to capture is cleanly displayed and easily digestible without my eyes wandering to other bits of content on the page. Big, beautiful images resonate more with me than long, drawn-out paragraphs of text.
Another site I’ve found myself enjoying lately is Disruption Mag — I like the way they use colour to counterbalance their photography. The site has an editorial-like presentation and features some lovely animations and transitions.

C.: What are the unmissable UX do’s and don’ts that bring traffic for an e-commerce website?

J. B.: The first and most powerful value is simplicity. The idea of less is more has never been more appropriate. We’re constantly bombarded with visual noise and clutter — removing the guess work will help manufacture easier decisions for the consumer.
A good search tool is imperative — most people are coming to your site because they know exactly what they’re looking for, so help get them there as efficiently as possible. A focused and user-friendly navigation is also critical. It’s quite easy to get carried away and continue adding more stuff to your site, but the challenge comes in keeping that experience clear and concise. Large, beautiful images mixed with snappy messaging and an clear call-to-action will help drive engagement. Don’t reinvent too many wheels — avoid over-designing the obvious.
C.: RAD or BAD?
  • Hamburger menu?
J. B.: Rad, however feel they have an expiry date. As users we finally understand what these three thin lines on a website represent, but the action still requires a click or tap to unveil something more. It’s good practice to challenge whether you need something on your site or if you can craft a cleaner more efficient solution.
  • Parallax scrolling?
J. B.: Bad — I feel like the trend came and went fairly quickly, and for good reason. If crafted well, a parallax site can provide an incredibly smooth scrolling experience, however uses Javascript/jQuery which can make a page load sluggish – especially on a slow connection. Unfortunately parallax can also incur some major technical SEO issues and isn’t always mobile-friendly.
  • Vertical menu?
J. B.: Rad – if executed properly I can’t see why it would be a bad thing. Vertical nav’s feel more editorial to me, which I like.
  • Material Design?
J. B.: Rad – big time. I personally love the approach and simplicity of the visual language – it’s graphic, colourful, bold, intentional and removes the guess work. I’m continually inspired and drawn to material designed interfaces.
  • Carousels?
J. B.: Bad. There’s plenty of other creative and interesting ways you can tell a visual story.
  • Long text article (+ 1000 words)?
J. B.: Bad. I read an article last year – according to new data from Chartbeat, articles online rarely get read in full. Most people don’t have the time, patience or attention span to digest 1000+ words – I sure as hell don’t.
  • Infinite scrolling?
J. B.: Bad – I like sites to have a finish line. I don’t mind a good, long scroll if the page highlights content I’m generally interested in, but anything beyond 10,000px and you’ve most likely lost me.

C.: Can you give us an example of a complex website (integrating blog, description & e-commerce for example) that succeeded in being really simple?

J. B.: There are two that leap out to me — Saturdays Surf & Best Made Co. They’re both incredibly designed websites and extremely visual. They do a great job selling a lifestyle by effectively communicating their brand through imagery, stories and narratives. Everything is carefully treated and considered – from photo transitions upon hover on Saturdays Surf to uniquely designed shop filters on Made Co. I’m here to shop, but I’m also here to learn, see and feel inspired.

C.: Finally, if we are to remember ONE single thing about web UX and UI what should it be? 

J. B.: Keep it simple. The last thing we need is more visual noise and clutter. Focus on less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects and the user experience isn’t burdened with non-essentials. An efficient design makes the user journey much more enjoyable and rewarding…and most importantly, it’s good marketing.

Want more? You can follow Jason on Twitter & Instagram to get his latest updates!


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