Janine Thomas

I treat typography and motion graphics the way Kanye treats Kanye. Also, I have an excellent Uber rating.

About

I love to design, especially for brand strategies, motion graphics, and editorial projects. Experimental typography and design thinking are my jams. Send me an email so I can show you pictures of my dogs.

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

The most important piece of design advice I received is from Paula Scher’s quote “It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” This quote influenced my design education because I stopped being afraid to make mistakes. I learned that I had the freedom to pursue wacky ideas, experiment with unconventional materials, and ask hundreds of questions. This fueled my curiosity and inspired me to push the boundaries of design.

What is your favourite typeface?

My favorite typeface is Avenir Next because it has a friendly and professional quality. It comes in a crap ton of weights, too. I would die for Avenir Next.

Other than design, what creative fields interest you most?

Other than design, I am a musician. I’ve been playing classical piano for most of my life, and enjoy listening to all types of music.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?

If I were a new addition to the crayon box, I would be a sparkly chartreuse. I have always believed this colour has not be utilized enough in the design of everyday life. It is bold, unique, and unconventional. It is also quite universal, as it can be legible on both black and white backgrounds. This crayon would be extra sparkly because I like to stand out. Also, because sparkles have quite a lot of pizzazz and can spice up everyday life.

Design Interests

Typography
Motion Design
Editorial and Book Design
Branding and Identity Design

Flourish

Flourish is a fun desktop application that increases the work productivity of its users.

The Subject

This project explores user productivity at a computer. Its goal is to increase the amount of tasks users complete during their work session. Primary research via a survey and productivity measurement revealed that high comfort, neutral sound, and taking frequent breaks increases efficiency. The solution to improving productivity takes the form of a computer application called Flourish. This app includes exercises that help decrease pain by increasing comfort, a sound monitor to ensure the user is working in neutral conditions, and a timer to encourage breaks. Flourish is a quirky application that uses the element of joy to encourage frequent use.

The problem of increasing productivity at a computer is worth solving because many people rely on computers everyday to complete work. Flourish’s goal is to maximize the efficiency of its users while keeping them engaged in safe working habits.

Functionality

Flourish has four main functions. The first function demonstrates exercises to combat pain in order to increase comfort. Another component measures audio levels via the computer’s microphone to ensure quiet levels. The third function is a timer that encourages breaks. Lastly, the final component brings whimsy to the average workday.  

The Process

The process for designing the Flourish application started with a site map. Originally, I had two additional sections to this program. The first was a data visualization that displayed the user’s computer habits (such as the amount of time spent on applications and websites), which would help him or her make connections between time and program use. The second section was a simple “tips” component that would share information with the user on how to improve their work habits in order to be more productive. As these sections were quite substantial, I only wanted to focus my time and energy into the areas that reflected my research: exercises, breaks, and sound.

I wanted to make my app stand out from others by including a sense of joy and whimsy into its aesthetics. This was the most difficult challenge to overcome, as I had been trained in designing neutral and sleek applications. I experimented with different aesthetic treatments such as gradients and pastel colours, but everything I created looked sterile and ordinary. I relied on critiques from fellow designers in order to guide me in developing a fun application.

Solution

Solving the issue of making my application different and fun to use took a few weeks. Surprisingly, what inspired me to push the boundaries of conventional aesthetics was as simple as changing the colour palette. I realized that yellow was rarely used in application design, so I wanted to feature this colour as a way to differentiate it from other apps. Yellow is also a positive colour and can bring a sense of joy to a typical workday. I matched this hue to other bold colours and developed a childlike aesthetic that features stars, hearts, and flowers. This style becomes ironic when paired with profanity and sass featured in the application’s language. The language was chosen to shock and humour the user. It is very different from the gentle encouragements used in other productivity apps.

This bold design treatment applies to the three main functionalities of Flourish. A window sill houses plants that are grown by completing exercises and taking breaks. The plants are fun motivations in developing productive work habits. The sill also alerts the user when it is time to start and stop working, and is permanently fixed in the corner of the screen during the session. A balloon will appear to remind users if their audio is too loud, and will occasionally remind them about healthy posture.

Conclusion

Creating a productivity app that included beneficial functions while being different than other applications was a fun challenge to solve. I learned many valuable lessons from this process, such as the importance of peer critique as others can present new perspectives to my project. The most influential lesson, however, was learning the importance of not only satisfying the target audience, but myself. I struggled with making something that others would like and forgot that I was also an important client. I am excited by the quirkiness of Flourish as it is a true reflection of myself. I hope to develop this further in the future.

See more of my work at the graduate showcase