• Design yourself ♥ you are your prototype

    Personal • 09 May 2019

    Creating your own website is not easy. Keeping it simple, being simple is not easy. Simple is the most difficult thing.


    If you are your prototype what you have to do is not data research but personal reflection. You have to analyze who you are, what you’ve done, the things and the people you can count on, the one you should better avoid. My last few years were full of big changes and I felt lots of insecurity, vertigo and fear of failing. On the other hand, I discovered a great awareness of myself, of who I am and what I like to do.

    This website, however, is not about my past, about my career. It’s rather focused on the present, on who I am now and who/what I want to surround myself with.

    One thing I’ve learned: you should absorb as much as you can at work, be grateful for the smart people you’ve surrounded yourself with, understand processes and concepts and apply them to your daily life, to yourself.

    That’s why I set myself a challenge:

    apply the principles of design and define my brand, create my website.


    I started by identifying my problem, my challenge. So I defined the POV – Point Of View:

    [User . . . (descriptive)] needs [Need . . . (verb)] because [Insight . . . (compelling)]

    “Serena needs to create her own website because she’ll be publishing a book about UX Writing”

    A POV is helpful to create a vision.


    Following that I brainstormed about possible ideas of solutions, framed as HMW:

    • How can I describe my personality through a website?
    • How can I show my work in a concrete way?
    • How can I communicate the process that led me here?
    • How can I promote my book to readers?
    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2019-05-10-at-2.57.06-PM.png


    put (something) into someone’s care.

    I decided to delegate, as much as I could (within my budget) to people who works better than me, from whom I can learn. That’s why I started the collaboration with Giada for this website site. Same reason why I chose Daniela for the photo-shooting. I did the same with Tinta, who redesigned the rooms in my house (I will tell you about that later on, in another post). Not because I am not able to open a blog, take photos or buy furniture online… but because I am aware of my limits and I know that the price I pay is justified by the immense added value these people can give me. I chose them for their personality and style, similar to mine.


    I started almost one year ago to work on it with Giada. First I filled in a survey with lots of personal questions and afterwards we’ve created a shared board on Pinterest for inspiration:

    Right now it seems to be a very long and unrealistic amount of time, yet I do not know if I could have completed the project in a shorter period. We have given ourselves space and time, without hurry. She has been able to read my personality and design a wonderful project, made of several different components:


    • How would you describe yourself? Which adjectives distinguish you? How should your website speak?

    Empathetic, simple,
      natural, functional,
      minimal, warm, authentic,
      human, open, friend,
      energetic, creative,
      passionate, proactive,
      technological, futuristic,
      inventive, curious

    Some online tests I did to help me understand: 16personalities (free), mycreativetype (free), StrengthsFinder (paid).


    • What color that suits your brand?

    Color holds power, increase brand recognition. We started with a Pinterest board and then created a proper real Moodboard, visual translation of what the brand looks like, with colors, textures, styles, images and much more.

    Because it’s an individual brand, I wanted to use color that reflect my personality. So we’ve created a neutral, nude palette. Minimal and with warm and welcoming tones. Simple and a little Nordic – like the place where I live now (Amsterdam). The accent color is sage: green means rebirth but also clarity and balance. The sage variant is perfect in combination with the neutral palette, adding meaning of guidance. The color sorrell is based on yellow and it brings with it some values like awareness, self-esteem and positivity.

    You might have noticed that this color palette has influenced a lot of stuff in my life lately: from the color of my walls at home, to the car I bought and even my nail polish! It might seem extreme but the truth is that I love it and I feel very good when I see and wear these colors.


    • Does your brand need a logo or icon?

    Logos help people remember who you are. Mine means several things: one of my million curls, a doodle that identifies writing, but also… a creative process, the idea of teaching and learning new method. To some people it may seem like an S in lowercase letter, maybe it is. The line is firm and thick, but also light and harmonious. Handmade, like all the things that I like.

    Francesco also saw a spermatozoon (…do you say it like this in English? haha, no clue) I take it as a good sign! It’s a symbol of fertility and new life.


    • Which font combinations best suits your brand?

    For the name of the brand we selected a sans serif but with sophisticated, clean but particular characters where Giada played with the thickness of the letters and details to create an almost-personalized font for me.

    For all the other texts we have chosen a simple, modern and linear font, easy to read. For the titles we have chosen an equally clean and essential font.


    • Do you know your values?

    I really wanted to include this section on the site. Values are what characterizes us and connect us with other people, companies and collaborators. We started with a drawing, fast and imperfect, which was then redesigned with the colors and styles of the brand by Giada.

    Empathy is a ball of wool. Simplicity is a feather, soft and light. Curiosity is an open window, from the quiet of your home to the chaos of the world. Positivity is a vase of sunflowers, which looks to the light.


    • If you could describe yourself with an object, what would it be and why?

    Once I received the brand board from Giada, I contacted Daniela to set a date and take pictures. What I decided to bring with me:

    • the suitcase grandfather Mario used when he moved to Africa for work, in 1960;
    • Cristian’s beloved typewriter;
    • the carpet of my bedroom and the globe of my living room (I took them by plane from Holland!);
    • some greenery: eucalyptus and a pilea;
    • pens and the diaries, stuff I use to write notes.


    • How can you add value to people?

    I decided to include a small gift on my website, a free downloadable pdf: simple, clean, that can be printed easily (no colored background).


    • How should I structure the perfect homepage?

    Fresh, bright, simple and modern design. We have tried to infuse the brand’s personality by repeatedly proposing curls and doodles on backgrounds or as decorative elements.

    The full screen image with the overlapping logo disappears after the scroll and the logo moves with the page until it is positioned in the center of the menu. The menu remains always accessible during the scroll at the top of the window.

    If you want to know more about the anatomy of a perfect homepage, read here some good tips from Giada.


    The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the “extra.” 

    This was not planned, but I liked the work we were doing so much that I asked Giada also to design the cover of the book.

    In the illustration we have included the various windows of a smartphone, to create three-dimensionality and show a different perspective. The main character (a woman in jeans and simple clothes) guides the pencil to create scribbles that are the texts of buttons, menus, popups and so on.

    One of the scribbles takes the shape of a heart, to remember the role of emotions. On the background more scribbles, in the same light color of the palette, to give further three-dimensionality to the illustration.


    • How can you show others exactly what the idea behind your brand is?

    We worked also on a template in Google Slides, which can be used for all my future presentations. I find it awesome and professional when other people have an well designed presentation, so I said to myself … why not you?


    This is me, today, this is the path that brought me here. It won’t be perfect, but it’s ok, neither am I. It’s just a prototype – there’s still a lot to optimize!

    Please send me your feedback, they are always welcome. Also: you probably noticed I am not a native english speaker and not used to long form either so if you see typos, mistakes, horrible sentences… just text me! Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

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    Design yourself ♥ you are your prototype


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