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Life in AdTech: Capturing Attention Through Beautiful Design

In our blog series “Life in AdTech” we showcase incredible StackAdapters. From client-facing Account Executives, behind-the-scenes Data Scientists, or our Product team at the forefront of innovation, everyone plays a vital role in providing the best product and service to our clients.

This month features Nicole Hall, a Visual Designer at StackAdapt. In this post, we will get an inside look at her journey into adtech, how design is an integral aspect of her role, and what trends she’s seeing in the industry.

How did your journey into visual design begin?

I’ve always been artistically driven. There aren’t really any art mediums that I haven’t dipped my toes into. From a young age I knew I wanted to build a career that fit into the creative industry. I fell in love with design once I started to learn about the different elements, principles, and creative problem solving that goes into it. After studying multiple disciplines, visual design felt like the right fit because it aligns with my original love for fine art. 

Before joining StackAdapt, I worked at smaller design firms where the projects and skill sets were very broad. I built websites, worked through rebrands, and everything in between. These experiences were just the beginning for me!

What is the main focus of your role as a Visual Designer?

Much of the focus in my role is on overall aesthetics and visual appeal. There is also a lot of creative problem solving and design thinking that goes into bringing the visual assets that I create to life. 

Most of my creative work at StackAdapt is outward facing, meaning it’s for public places like the blog, which factors into how I design. We’re now in the day and age of ever shortening attention spans, which means my visual assets should capture people’s attention right away. Since most people will look first at the visuals of a piece of content, it’s an important part of getting them interested in the content itself.

My goal is always to strike the right balance between creating something that is playful and inviting, and representing the StackAdapt brand. Designing in the fast-paced tech industry is a lot of fun—I never run out of fresh ideas of what I want to illustrate!

Can you describe what type of design you do and why it’s critical to the StackAdapt brand?

Much of the design work I do is accompanying imagery for any content that needs visuals. For example, I illustrate header images for our blogs, and I create the illustrations for our eBooks and webinars. I’ve also been working on polishing and experimenting with the illustration section of StackAdapt’s brand guidelines, which has been really influential to elevating the brand.

Everyone on the StackAdapt design team is dedicated to making sure all our design assets are beautiful and capture attention, while being functional and user friendly. I think this is so important in adtech because the technology behind programmatic advertising, digital advertising strategies, and programmatic tactics can be very complex. Our visual designs help to communicate to people these concepts in a more accessible and digestible way. 

Can you tell us about your process when it comes to visual design? 

Generally, I find myself looking at aspects of everyday life through the lens of design. I find myself being inspired by everything—from a simple soup can label, to beautiful and intricate Roman architecture. I admire the niche details that go into incredibly well designed products—great design often goes unnoticed, and that’s actually what makes it great!

In my approach to design, I start by collecting a quick mood board of pieces that I think emulate a shared feeling or design style. This helps me to solidify an overall feel—the actual subject matter is irrelevant at this stage. Then, I pull the main themes from the copy that the design will be accompanying. I decide what themes should be included or excluded, and create a hierarchy of importance for those themes. 

Once I know which themes make the most sense to influence the piece, the rest of the process is hands-on. I try to do lots of illustrating and variations of arrangement and style. This part usually takes me the longest, but I would say it’s the most fun. After my layout is complete in greyscale I will play around with the colours until the ratio feels just right—and voila!

What trends in design do you think we’ll see take off this year?

The 60s and 70s are totally back! I’ve been seeing this in fashion, home decor, graphic design—the retro look is everywhere. I’m also noticing that bright colour, funky typography and bold designs are having a moment.

It’s interesting to see this change because last year, the Swiss style of clean lines and neutral colours was very popular. Personally, I’m glad bold design is trending again, because I’m a proud maximalist. The more colours, shapes, and funky patterns, the better! 

What are the most rewarding parts of being a Visual Designer at StackAdapt?

Being part of the StackAdapt design team is super rewarding because everyone is extremely specialized. Every member of the team has areas of design where they really excel. We are all really strong in our individual roles, which makes for a well rounded and talented design team, and creates opportunities for us to learn from each other!

My day to day work at StackAdapt varies a lot, which creates opportunities for me to try new things, experiment, and learn. I find this so rewarding because I’m able to have fun working on a variety of design projects, while also growing as a designer. I’m never bored! I think this is reflective of the discipline itself. Design is always evolving with new trends that come and go, which keeps it exciting. 

In each new addition, we will be highlighting our teams and employees in our “Life In AdTech” series—stay tuned for more!

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