It’s no wonder that St. John & Partners (SJ&P) has been a staple of the Southeast advertising world since 1984. Their commitment to growth, inspiration, and the Jacksonville community for over 30 years has cemented their longevity and stature, not only to the clients in need of a kick-ass AOR but also to the creatives and design-heads of Duval.
This year, SJ&P is a sponsor of AIGA’s Let’s Get Digital, a two-day UX/UI workshop where attendees can advance their skill set in digital design. Today we interview Julian Bravard, a Technologist at the agency, to get a sense of how SJ&P tackles the prototyping, coding, and problem-solving process.
Let’s start with the basics, what does a day in the life of an SJ&P Technologist look like?
Things start with a department-wide Slack check-in first thing in the morning, where each of us talks about our completed tasks from the previous day, any tasks we still have active, and any risks we have for those tasks. After that, I’ll usually have a list of tasks in our project management software or issues on GitHub to start working through. There’s also usually a few meetings to go to throughout the day, which can range from project planning and estimation to brainstorming or technical discussions.
Building a website or application is more than just aesthetics. What does UX/UI mean to SJ&P?
User experience is core to the way the digital team here at SJ&P approaches problems and is woven into every step of our process. We believe that good UX is essential for the success of our clients, and our new UX Director and Lead Digital Strategist Ian Latchmansingh oversees that everything we produce is well thought out and thoroughly tested. On the development side, UX is driven by page load times, frame rate, responsiveness, screen reader compatibility, internationalization, and many other factors. At the beginning of a project we set goals, or a performance budget, with the factors that apply, and iterate until those are met.
You guys are award-winning digital designers, and it’s easy to see why. What was one of the more complicated UX/UI problems you’ve helped solved for a client?
The Association of Boarding Schools came to us last year and challenged us to build a website that made it easy and exciting for parents and children to find the perfect boarding school for them. Of course, there are as many unique school traits as there are unique hobbies, so helping those kids find something that’s a good fit is a complicated endeavor UX wise. With 40+ ways to narrow down your search, the development team was confronted with the challenge of creating a tool that could display a lot of information in a lot of different ways while remaining responsive and easy to use. We also needed to build an API that was robust enough to handle many different shapes of requests and responses.
For the tool nerds out there, what tools, resources, and software do you and your team use for designing and coding?
Software-wise, the Adobe suite is as popular as ever in the advertising world, though we’re beginning to use Sketch for some things. We use Invision and UXPin for design prototypes and wireframes. For development, I mainly just use Visual Studio Code and Terminal.app. GitHub is a big part of the workflow for the development team; I’d encourage all aspiring developers or designers to open an account and take a look around.
You’ve worked at SJ&P for over five years. In a technical sense, how have you seen the agency grow and what new languages, tools, techniques have been adapted over the years?