is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
If you saw the Subtraction.com Design Tools Survey that I released several weeks ago, then you may have noticed the wonderful information and visual design produced by my friends at Hyperakt, an exceedingly smart and talented studio based in Brooklyn, NY. As I mentioned, I personally did zero percent of the design; I merely handed the survey results to the Hyperakt team and they had at it, turning out a terrifically lucid, visually engrossing presentation of the findings that makes the data so much more meaningful than it would have been otherwise.
Founded by Julia Zeltser and Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt prides itself on being more than “just” expert visual communicators; they also aim to make design a force for positive change. As it happens, the studio is hiring a new Senior UI and UX Designer—the first time they’re going outside of their own ranks to fill such a role. I took the opportunity to ask Zeltser about the position and about how the company distinguishes itself from other studios.
What’s unique about Hyperakt’s mission?
Hyperakt is built on the idea of creating meaningful design for the common good. We concentrate on helping change-makers tell their stories through compelling narratives and making complex information more accessible on and offline. We hope to attract people who share our belief that, through well-crafted design and communications, we can bring awareness to issues and help organizations to improve people’s lives.
Can you talk about an example of that kind of “meaningful design for the common good”?
Sure. We recently worked with BRIGHT, a brand new non-profit organization that trains and places leaders to head high-poverty schools across Ohio. They were looking to recruit aspiring school principals from education and nontraditional backgrounds—business, military, philanthropy, and nonprofits.
We developed an inspirational brand identity and extended it to an accessible web site focused on attracting new applicants. The outcome was that BRIGHT was able to fully secure their necessary funding, and they received 300% more highly qualified applicants than they originally expected. We like hearing from clients when they say, “We surpassed our own expectations!”
What part will the senior designer you’re hiring play in the company?
In the past, this role was filled with members who grew into the position as the company evolved. That meant that our senior UX/UI staff were interdisciplinary designers, trained in communication design, branding, print, and data visualizations.
Today, we’re looking for someone who is not only a seasoned design ninja but also a systems thinker, compassionate leader, inspiring mentor and a cheerleader for the team. This is a leadership role. The projects we work on are more robust and require more systems-oriented design and management. As the design team grows, we need better systems and structures while pushing the boundaries of design.
How closely will this person work with you and your co-founder, Deroy Peraza?
Deroy and I are actively involved with all projects at Hyperakt. We provide creative direction very much in collaboration with our team and ensure consistent, high-quality output. We’re more involved at the beginning of the project, and then step back to let our designers have a bit more freedom to create and take ownership over the work.
It sounds like you need someone who has already had lots of valuable working experience. How would you expect this person can grow at Hyperakt?
We ask the applicants for this position come to us with three to five years of experience creating digital experiences. He/she will be entering the agency at a senior position. They might not have been leading a team elsewhere, but they need to have the qualities of a natural born leader. After a few years, this role can evolve into a UX/UI director. But that maxes out the vertical growth at Hyperakt.
There are lots of other opportunities for personal growth that go beyond client projects though. Hyperakt Labs is our vehicle for self-initiated projects and it lets us expand the boundaries of design and push our UX/UI craft. Many of the Labs projects require learning new skills, far beyond design: various business models, topics, and technologies. The Design Tools Survey that we did with you, for instance, was a great opportunity for our team to really stretch ourselves creatively. And our On the Grid project, a neighborhood guide curated by designers around the world, is loads of fun. So we think there’s lots of room for individual ingenuity and collective creativity, whether it’s for client work or our Labs projects.
If you’re interested in this opportunity, read more at Authentic Jobs.+