More than a “PR & Marketing Agency” (#yawn), Zebu Digital is a design studio, a marketing collective, a community builder, an unconventional events company, and more. We don’t really fit into any rigid boring box because we burst out of the seams with disruption, innovation, and big crazy ideas. That’s especially true of Charlotte Payne, our Head of Design. We snagged her from Snickers and she’s been an absolute dream to work with ever since. Let’s give Char a warm welcome and find out how she became a Zebull.
“My background is predominantly in innovation and I was innovating consumer goods. This is a very established industry, where innovation is hard because the category is supersaturated. In consumer goods, great innovations are hard to come by and typically fail to create growth or meet some kind of goal or objective.”
“Innovation is my passion and by using my ‘design thinking’ approach, I love unlocking good ideas. However, back then, I was a bit frustrated, working on the same projects, in a limited space for creativity. Everything has already been done, especially in the confectionary industry where I was working.”
“I started working remotely during the pandemic and lived in different places and started to be inspired by new cultures and communities. I love that. I was really inspired. It repositioned how I looked for my next role, as I started looking at industries embracing remote work. One of those was Web3. When I talk about innovation in my old job, it was perhaps 3-5 years for change, but here it was fast. It was exciting, and almost the opposite, with very little competition, everything is about innovation. There are no rules, guidelines or expectations. Creativity is unlimited. That scared me but excited me because I saw the opportunities there. So I reached out to contacts to help me get started.”
With so much talent and experience to share, we asked Charlotte some high-level questions about design to inspire and inform our readers. We’ve included the TLDR;s too, as we know how busy Web3 professionals are.
What three design principles do you use to create meaningful user experiences?
- Putting the user or audience first by looking through their eyes to achieve true user-centricity
- Knowing your goal and what you’re trying to achieve before you start making the asset
- Lean on your community to help make design decisions and validate the creative direction
What strategies do you use to ensure design decisions are in line with product goals?
What’s crucial for me when working on a project, regardless of technicality, is a why or core purpose. This shouldn’t be technical, but a real human truth that anyone can get behind, regardless of the audience. This gives you a benchmark to measure your design against, which is vital for self-analysis. You should start by thinking about the creative principles or creative goals you set for yourself, in order to evaluate your own work, as you can always refer back to them as a guide.
TLDR; Start with a ‘why’, create a benchmark, and measure your progress.
What methods do you use to keep up to date with the latest trends in web3 design?
This is really, really hard in Web3. Design covers so many aspects - web, product, and user-centric. In Web3, product design is the main one because it’s a new industry building a lot of new products. I often see an article title on Reddit or Twitter, like “Top Trends in Web3 Design” and it’s almost always product-centric. There’s not too much out there on brand and web design.
So, right now, there isn’t a big source of inspiration online. Instead, I often look at art and artists doing cool things. I go to see physical art, exhibitions, light displays, and workshops on how to bring a brand to life. Art inspires me, and Web3 is not just digital, so inspiration shouldn’t only come from digital sources, especially when there’s so much going on in the art scene.
TLDR; Not much info online about Web3 design. Going out to see art and creative performances serves as great inspiration.
How do you ensure the design team is working together collaboratively?
It’s challenging as a remote team, which is a new setting for me, as my previous roles have been in-house. It is often helpful for creative thinking to be in the same place. But what I do is create a good environment for collaboration. We save time for agendaless meetings in the week to have fluid conversations and inspire each other. Rather than focusing on outcomes, we focus on creativity and opening our potential, rather than feeling alone at home working on your computer from your bedroom.
TLDR; Organising the right type of online meetings to build rapport, creativity, and have fluid conversations.
What processes do you use to ensure that designs are tested and iterated upon?
This spans from very small to much bigger and larger ways of doing things. A small thing I encourage the designers to do is “don’t design and not test in context”. So if you’re designing for mobile, are you reviewing it in the context it’s going to be used in? Are you building with the use cases in mind? A chef tastes his food as he’s designing the dishes before putting them on the menu.
On one project we created a small community of the top users and made a nice group where we shared assets and got their feedback in real-time, like a little focus group. This doesn’t happen enough in Web3, but it should, purely because of how many enthusiasts and dedicated people there are. Brands need to do this at the top level to make a bigger impact in Web3.
TLDR; Design in context. Create focus groups using enthusiasts.
A long-lost relative leaves you a mystery box in their will. What do you hope is inside? And, what’s the worst possible thing that could be inside?
Best: I’d like their written journal from various points in their lives so I could learn about them.
Worst: Teeth! Nobody needs to keep old gross objects like teeth. I don’t want them!
If your life were a tv show, what would be your theme song?
A song from a musical. West end vibes… Something dramatic but light-hearted, and not too silly, very inspirational. The Greatest Showman. That’s me! I love the spectacular and the romantic.
As a master of Design, how would you design a spice rack for a blind person?
This would be a dream project! It would have to be like a cereal dispenser in a continental breakfast, a big row of mini taps, like a beer distillery and you’d have to find the braille and it would have nice buttons and it would dispense the perfect amount. Push lightly for half a measure and push hard for a full measure! That’s a neat spice dispenser!
We asked AI to design Charlotte’s spice rack, and here’s what it came up with: