Danielle McLean

Pugs, User-Centered Design, and Chocolate.


I am a bold designer with a rich passion in creating unique and extravagant visuals for both web and print based projects—where I approach my design process in new and creative ways.

What is the most useful piece of design advice that you have received?

Let your work breathe.

Other than design, what creative fields interest you most?

I have always loved sculpting my own figurines out of clay. Last summer I took a few clay classes in Eugene, Oregon where I fell in love with the whole process of making my own cups, plates, tea pots, and even a pug piggy bank. The most crucial thing I learned during my classes was that—you never realize how itchy your nose is until your hands are covered in clay.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I “screw around in Photoshop all day”… They’re only partially correct 😉 

If you could learn any new skill or talent, what would it be?

The Harp! Come May I will finally have some time to myself to purchase a Harp and begin my journey as a musician. My goal is to start writing / recording my own music in the next 5 years 🙂

Design Interests

Web Design
UI/UX Design
Branding and Identity Design

Find me


My Iceberg


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (often referred to as PTSD) is a mental condition, which gradually develops within an individual due to a harsh psychologically distressing event – such as military combat, natural disasters, intense vehicle accidents, or sexual assault. These events are considered to be outside of the range of usual human experiences, which causes intense fear, terror and feelings of vulnerability. A large majority of trauma survivors fail to seek proper treatment given the fact that they are unable to correctly identify their symptoms as trauma-related.

Many individuals who suffer from PTSD possess stressful reactions that will not go away on their own without proper treatment, resulting in even more painful and overwhelming emotions. Typically those who suffer from PTSD relive the traumatic experience over and over again through nightmares, flashbacks, and feel detached from life. These symptoms are often severe enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.


Scroll-Based Journey / Online Community

  • A “day in the life” of a PTSD survivor’s thoughts / emotions
  • Focusing on Flashbacks “reliving the trauma over & over”
  • Includes PTSD survivor stories at bottom of page that encourages users to share their story ”Their Iceberg” (instead of share your story)

A walk through of the Website

My thesis project is intended to aid individuals who are suffering from PTSD, and serve as a platform to help their loved ones understand symptoms that stem from experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD can affect anyone at any point their life. “My Iceberg” Is a light-hearted approach, which allows users to express themselves via an online community without unmasking their true identity. This platform shares similarities to “Group Therapy” where survivors can reply to other users stories, or simply tell their own story to develop a sense of healing.

Concept / Layout Development

These are several concepts I came up with while trying to figure out how the layout of my scroll-based website would look. Initially I started off with a very simple “geometric” iceberg shape. From there, I was able to figure out the size my page needed to be and where content would go.

Icon Designs

These are the icons I created for the website. The icons were created to aid the user’s imagination as they read through the story.

Colour / Image Inspiration

Below are the various different colour combinations I was looking at for my website. I wanted colours that were both warm and cold considering I wanted to make a piece that started off “happy / fine” at the top, and got “darker / scary” as you scrolled down. Though, I opted for a cooler colour scheme considering it is an “iceberg”.

Why an Iceberg?

I decided to go with the concept of an Iceberg given that in my opinion it is one of the best metaphors for representing PTSD as a whole. How might you ask? – Those who suffer from PTSD may seem like they are stable and functioning above the surface (at first glance) but deep down, “below the surface” there is so much pain and hurt that the survivors often have to deal with in secrecy. Therefore, by using the Iceberg metaphor, I came up with the concept of making a “Scroll-Based Website / Online Form”.

User Journey

The website consists of rather emotionally written text, that appears as you scroll deeper and deeper into the water. The water starts of a lighter colour, but it darkens as you scroll, which is where the “pain and hurt” exists below. As you continue to scroll, the user will see that they have hit the bottom of the ocean, which is where the “relief” part of the story exists. Users can see that there is an anchor planted in the ocean floor, which is meant to represent the concept of being “Grounded”. Followed by the painful story is a form that users can fill out to send in their story “their Iceberg” which is where I will ask the user “What’s your Iceberg?”

Research Methods

Questions I researched were:

  • What is Trauma?
  • What are the symptoms of Trauma?
  • What is the difference between Stress and Post Traumatic Stress?
  • Is PTSD curable?
  • What are successful forms of therapy for those who suffer from PTSD?

And with those questions, I found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was a condition that stemmed from the aftermath of a psychologically distressing event, though it does not appear in every victim. Not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event develops PTSD. After an individual experiences a traumatic event, they typically don’t develop any symptoms of PTSD after about 3 months of their brain trying to process the event.

See more of my work at the graduate showcase