We sometimes tend to think of design as what the project ultimately ends up looking like—the finished piece with all of the art and polish. But good design must begin from the very start of a project, during the early discussions and ideation. It’s even more important when it comes to web design because someone must be the constant champion of how those branding images are translated by the web developers in the programming.
That’s why it’s so great to have someone like Cara Bow on your team. And we know you’ll agree once you get a chance to know a little bit more about her. She’s a brilliant designer, an excellent communicator, and the focus of this month’s Willow Employee Spotlight.
Cara started at Willow as an intern in 2013 and quickly proved to all of us that she was a valuable asset to our team. She’s now a full-time graphic designer and has been rocking it ever since. Her background is as colorful and creative as her art, including time as donut specialist at Concannon’s in Muncie and a role in helping to launch Pattern Magazine. She’s also a talented fine artist who paints beautiful watercolors. She even created a piece for Willow when we launched our new brand.
Cara excels at bringing designs to life that genuinely capture who our clients are. Sure, she lends plenty of expertise in her craft, but she also doesn’t impose a particular style just because it personally suits her. She really listens and understands what a brand is all about, who the audiences are and the journey they’re on, and then chooses the appropriate elements and arranges them in a way that is both compelling and truly captures a product, a company, and their unique qualities. And because she’s such a good listener, she frequently bridges the gap between different departments and competing goals of an organization.
This is when Cara steps in with marker in hand. Perhaps the only person in the room who thinks visually first, she heads right for the dry erase board and immediately starts putting ideas into images. And just like that, everyone is staring at a concept that they can agree on. That’s because they all finally see what Cara had in her head all along. This ability to visualize solutions and communicate them to a large group that’s working to find common ground is amazing. If you haven’t been in a meeting when Cara works her magic, you’re in for a real treat the next time you think you’ve reached a creative impasse.
This is an especially useful skill when it comes to web design and Cara has taken a leadership role in this area at Willow. She heads up our team on UX for the websites we design and develop. She’s used her skill and intuition to refine the way we approach each project and results speak for themselves: better websites for our clients. Cara understands the user experience and how content plays a role in determining online success. A big part of that is working closely with our developers to ensure that the designs she creates are reflected in the work that is programmed. She truly is the owner of the continuous improvement in our website development process and that helps us to keep getting better at what we do.
As Cara describes it, “The goal is to find what comes naturally so that the user doesn’t even have to think about how to navigate toward the information they are seeking.” In this way, UX is a bit like officiating a sporting event: there are usually not many accolades for a job well done. In fact, the work tends only to be recognized if there is a problem that interferes with the flow of the process.
For Cara, it all starts by getting involved early to really understand the client and hear what their needs are. And that brings us full circle: good design must begin early. That requires motivation, listening skills, creativity, and a keen ability to visualize solutions. Cara has it all.