People sometimes think design is magic. That I can wave a wand to make something look beautiful, and they don't have the "eye" it takes to do something themselves. But understanding user needs and knowing the right questions to ask, the basic principles of layout, and a few tricks for how to use the tools can go a long way.
At Code for America, I taught weekly design workshops for staff who didn't consider themselves designers, and quickly saw increased enthusiasm across the organization for making things. We covered slide deck storytelling basics, icon design and how to use icons, creating process graphics, and GIF making (my most popular workshop).
I've taught design workshops at conferences and events in San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and Tokyo. My trainings are always interactive, participatory, and fun!
Are you hosting an event or conference where you'd like me to speak or lead a workshop? Email me!
Simple Style Guides
When I started at Code for America (CfA), there were many resources for communications and design, but they were rarely used because they were so hard to find. With my teammates on the Marketing team, I created and regularly updated the Maker Market, a tool and resource index.
Most staff and fellows have to create documents and deliverables themselves, and the design was often inconsistent. CfA previously created various design style guides that were very thorough and helpful for designers, but too complicated and nuanced for anyone else to use.
My goal was to get make sure our brand fonts, colors, and logos were consistent across all materials. I created instructions for people to easily change their default fonts in Google docs, a list of our color values that could be easily copied and pasted, and other templates and instructions.
Since these resources have been in place, the CfA brand has been far more consistent in external communications.
Slide Deck Templates
Pretty much everyone at CfA has to make slide decks for everything all the time — conference presentations, funder meetings, stakeholder updates, staff meeting reports, and more. I created a slide deck template that not only has default layouts, but includes guidelines for how to make an effective presentation, and tips for how to design layouts in Google Slides. The slide template took off like wildfire!
Based on that internal success, we developed a similar approach for our annual Summit. Nearly all of the 200 speakers at the Code for America Summit used the slide template I provided, and everyone’s slides looked clean, consistent, readable, and awesome.
"This slide deck template is AMAZING!"
– Senior White House Official, on the Code for America Summit slide template