I’m Gail. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years and up to now I’ve worked predominantly in pedestrian signage systems, exhibition and information design projects.
These projects have mostly involved the ordering and arrangement of words (typography) and mapping systems on physical products to help orientate and direct people around cities and spaces.
But at the Co-op in the digital team I’m developing typographic guidance for designers and helping them create clear typographic hierarchies without using lots of different sizes and weights (which creates visual noise and makes things harder to read and understand).
In past projects this is what I’ve done in the context of displaying information on physical products in physical environments. Now I’m applying it to information on-screen.
Why am I now working in digital?
Just over 2 years ago I moved from London to Manchester with my partner and daughter. After looking at the design industry in Manchester, I wondered where I fitted into this young, predominantly male, techie and advertising-led industry in which I had few established professional relationships.
I decided to explore other ways of applying what I’d spent years doing
I came across the Ladies that UX group. The first meet-up I went to happened to be at the Co-op in Angel Square. A number of women from the digital team at the Co-op were speaking about their roles and how they had come to be there.
The panel were really encouraging about trying new things career-wise and taking a chance. Ben Terrett was also there and described the principles behind the development of Co-op digital products and services.
There were lots of parallels with my approach and ethos. At the end of the event, feeling pretty nervous, I approached Andrew Travers to talk to him about what I’d been doing.
I’ve now been at Co-op Digital for 2 months
I started by looking at how typography is being used across various products and services and using this information to develop specific typographic guidance for the use of Co-op’s new typeface, Avenir Next. The size, position, colour, juxtaposition, vertical and horizontal spacing of type has a very practical job to do as well as fundamentally conveying the character of Co-op.
For the team that work on our brand I’ve been developing ways of sharing information and best practice for using type, imagery and colour across digital and non-digital applications.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work on the Wills digital service.
It’s a steep learning curve for me
I spend a lot of my time moving bits of type up and down so that they look good as well as make sense as content (familiar ground) and wrestling with things like ‘the fold’, ‘screen real estate’ and CSS modules (unfamiliar ground).
I like the fact that the Digital team at the Co-op is actively encouraging women to work with them and offers flexibility around work and family commitments.
There’s been an open and positive reaction to me bringing my non-digital experience into the digital team. It’s seen as being an advantage.