July 25-27, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

An Interview with Val Head

May 2, 2016

Steve Fisher talks with designer and web animation consultant, Val Head. Val shares a bit about her DCC workshop and her talk. We also get a surprise peek at Steve's fancy detective skills.

Register for Val's workshop!

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Video Transcript

Steve: Hi. We are here today with Val Head who is doing a talk and giving a workshop at the Conference. Val, why don’t you introduce yourself to the DCC crowd?

Val: Hi I’m Val. I do a lot of work with web animation. I do lot of actually doing it and then also teaching people how to use animation in their work in a way that’s of meaningful and useful as opposed to decoration. So, that tends to be what I do these days.

Steve: That sounds really great and I think you must have been doing some of that in Canada because I kept seeing pictures of Ottawa, is that right?

Val: Yeah. I was up working with Shopify on an Emotion Style Guide for them for about a month, actually. So I have been in Ottawa for the very nice warm February weather. [laughter] It was super fun though—except for the weather—it was great.

Steve: Yeah it can get cold there in the winter, but you are originally from Canada so you know that.

Val: Yeah. I just had forgotten what was like those winters were like. It’s cold.

Steve: Yes. Yeah. But it is, you are right, it is beautiful there in Ottawa. Hopefully you got to do some skating or see people skating or something.

Val: Yeah. A little bit but it was nice time for wintery stuff, so worked that all that way. I was just like wow, it’s really cold!

Steve: So doing that style guide, now you giving a talk essentially on that type of work on Emotion and Design Systems. Maybe tell us a little bit about that.

Val: Yes. So my talk is going to be a lot about you know how to accomplish that for yourself. How to use animation as part of your design system on both on the effort of actually designing and as well as documenting it so that way you don’t have to remake the same decisions over and over. Like if you made some good decisions about animation on one part of the project, documenting that and leaving it for everyone else on your team so they can pull from that same knowledge that you already have, those same decisions you already made. And then the next time around it becomes easier and faster.

So, that’s what we would be talking about, is how to get those efficiencies and how to get animation as part of your design process which is kind of like the first half of that. Like if it’s not already something you are thinking about when you think about design, it’s pretty hard to document it. We’re covering that whole life cycle of animation and process.

Steve: That sounds really great! You are also doing a workshop called Animating the User Experience. Maybe tell people what they can expect from that.

Val: Yeah. That’s going to be really fun. It’s going to be a whole day. I am focusing a little bit more on actually creating the animation and making the animation, designing it, coding it. You know as opposed to the talk which is more about using it. So we’ll spend a day learning some CSS animation, just the basics of that. It’s not going to be super heavy on coding. The code part is mostly to help folks get a little comfortable prototyping some of their ideas. I think that even if you are never going to actually code for your real job, it’s nice to spend like one day just kind of dabbling in it to see how it works and what’s possible. It makes it easier for you to design things later that you know can work.

It makes it easier to talk to the rest of your team about it to you. So we are making some things, little bit of CSS work and will be talking a lot about the UX benefits of animation. Where these things can actually be helpful once you know learn how to do it and where it’s helpful and also talking a bit about how to bring classic motion design principles and those tricks of the trade to the web.

Steve: That’s sounds really great and I like that you are making it accessible to the people that may be aren’t terribly familiar with code, too.

Val: Yeah. There was no need to know how to code already. We started from the beginning and then people who do know get a little easier start, but that’s going to be challenged, too.

Steve: Right, excellent. Now you also have a book coming up this year: Designing Interface Animations through Rosenfeld Media. Anything you want to tell us about that?

Val: Yeah, it is also about interface animation, shocking I’m sure. Never would have guessed that based on the rest of this conversation. It’s called Designing Interface Animations and we’re just wrapping up the review and editing process right now.

So, it should be out hopefully this summer depending on how things go. I may actually have it with me in Vancouver, which will be awesome, but not promising that yet. So it’s all about a lot of the same things that are in the workshop and the talk. Things about how to design with animation as you a part of your design solution as opposed to just some extra thing on top. I’m talking about it about the UX behind it, a bit about motion design principles and how to use them on the web with what we do, and a little bit about systems as well, so kind of covering all of those things in book form.

Steve: That’s great and I really hope it is out by this July. It will be fantastic for the workshoppers.

Val: I hope so too. It depends a lot on printer schedules and stuff. But if I have it, I will bring some with me.

Steve: Awesome. And so you’re coming back to Vancouver. I know you have been here before because I was at event with you here.

Val: Because you saw me there. [laughter]

Steve: Because I saw you here. Sorry. I’m the best interviewer ever.

Val: No – I like it. You’re like “I know because I was there!” [laughter]

Steve: So what are some things or a thing that you are excited about for coming back to Vancouver this summer?

Val: I was looking at that question and I’m like I can’t pick just one thing. I just really like Vancouver. It’s one of my favourite cities and I don’t get out there very often. I mean, you know being on the east coast, you don’t get to the west coast all that much often, but Vancouver is one of my favourite west coast places. I really prefer the north west coast versus like California. So, I am just excited to come out there for a few days, especially in July when it should be nice and warm. I think last time I was there it was winter, so it was a little bit cold, but like you know Vancouver winter is not really that cold.

Steve: Yeah. It’s not quite like Ottawa! But we are happy to bring you back to Canada for the summer. And you’re right, in July, Vancouver is spectacular. It will be beautiful out every day.

Val: Yeah. Perfect.

Steve: Well thanks Val for taking time to talk with us today. We are really looking forward to having you out this summer.

Val: Yeah, thanks for having me on, I am looking forward to it, too. I am excited to get there and meet all the Design and Content Conference folks.