From time to time we like to give the community some insight into the people at Wikia who you don't see posting on the staff blog regularly (such as Trella's 'A Day in the Life' series). Today I’ll be talking with the visual designers who worked on the My Wikia app, and finding out more about the process of creating the newest way to experience Wikia communities. We have Elsa Kawai, Wikia’s Creative Director, Mika Kozma, Lead Interaction Designer, and Danny Chung, Art Director.
How did the three of you collaborate while working on the My Wikia project?
It took more than just 3 of us to create this product. Stanley Tran and [former designer] Deb Lin were also a part of this process, and of course there was the engineering team involved that actually made it all happen. We were in charge of the concept and design vision. Elsa is our Creative Director, and she was leading the vision, Danny was in charge of branding, and Mika’s focus was on user experience and interaction. Mika ensured that we touched on each goal, translated it into a simple and clear interaction that would help users to explore and experience Wikia in a whole new way. Danny approached the My Wikia app identity as a natural extension of our brand story.
What were the design goals that you wanted to achieve with this mobile app?
The goal was to create a new reading experience for our Wikia users that presents their content, and the extremely hard work done by contributors, in the most clear and honest way. We wanted to create a product where each user can create their own version of Wikia, based on their personal interests. Empowering readers as curators, to create their own private experience with ongoing updates from communities about things they love. In the app itself, the design esthetic is monochrome icon, clean line and shadow with simple sliding experience to reflect to the simplicity of this app, letting the content shine.
What were some of the challenges that you faced?
The main challenge was to make this app feel seamless and easy to use, but at the same time present the depth of it. After all, we are talking about more than 300,000 communities that create amazing amounts of rich content. Everybody is different, and has different needs. We were trying to make an app that, because of its simplicity in use, speaks to all communities and personalities. Another challenge we face is that Wikia is still a growing brand. The unique passion of our incredible communities is something that will fuel further iterations of the the app, and our platform at large.
I’m sure our users would like to know more about each of you. Where do you look for inspiration when you’re creating designs for Wikia?
Elsa: I was mostly inspired by people, the unique individuality of our users and everyone around me. The vision each person has and the things they like or behavior they enjoy. Studying that, and understanding those basic elements helps me. Also being with the talented team and collaborating and brainstorming is one of the keys to excitement and inspiration for me.
Danny: I tend to think about emotions and stories. I always say that I am an emotional storyteller, with a mean streak of geek. To me, it doesn’t matter where you are telling a story, around a campfire to a Superbowl spot, it’s what that story is and how you tell it that really matters. You want to feel something when you watch, read, tap, swip, listen, click, hover, and buy, right? I certainly do.
Mika: That’s a good question. I always get inspired by people I work with, and ideas that come up in conversations. I get excited in brainstorm sessions, and I love playing with ideas, and hearing different perspectives on the same subject. I also think about design each morning I bike to work. Sometimes it’s dangerous :)
What do you like about working for Wikia and what are your favorite wikis?
Elsa: The open environment experience in the office, the healthy snacks, when I see my team get excited about a challenging project and seeking out each other for better ideas, knowing others' talents and collaborating together. My favorite wiki.. urmm. Probably Simpsons wiki, because I love this cartoon :)
Danny: I love that I get to do what I love for a living. I consider myself very lucky. My favorite Wiki is the Slender Man Wiki. It was TERRIFYING, and I loved it. I actually need to stop writing about it now. >_<
Mika: Wikia is a great place to be. The whole platform is based on people passion, and love of collaboration. You can definitely feel it in the office every day, and that’s very inspiring to me. My favorite wiki? Oh boy... that’s a tough one. They’re all great in a different way. I would say Narutopedia... I like the show, and also their photos look amazing on the My Wikia app :)
What creative work do you do outside of Wikia, and where can users see more of your work?
Elsa: Outside of work, I am a Fashion Photographer. It is totally different but similar in many ways to what I do conceptually at Wikia. In photography, you are executing a look and a story in one picture, to convey the message you try to tell in a very abstract art form. Similar to being a creative director designing a vision of a product, how can you conceptualize an experience that users can find enjoyable? You can find my website at http://www.elsakawai.com and my fashion blog at http://www.sayhellomax.com
Danny: You can see some of my work at http://dannymade.com. Outside of work-related creative, I tend to do a lot of cooking and I love to show you, but there are NEVER LEFTOVERS YA’LL. I grew up around a lot of good food (thanks mom) and I’ve always been fascinated by the history and stories behind cuisines from the world over, so that’s another creative outlet for me. Also, I sing :- O
Mika: You can see my work at http://mkozma.com. Outside of work, I’m a ballroom, and modern ballet dancer. I don’t do this as much as I’d like lately, but that’s where my passion is. I also love film, and watch crazy amounts of movies.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that will spotlight the designers behind what you see every day on Wikia.