Abhishek Jha may only have a few years experience in graphic design, but his portfolio and engaging dynamic sites speak for themselves.
Jha, a New Delhi-based designer and developer, started coding at 16, but couldn’t figure out what was missing in his professional life until he stumbled on Awwwards, a website featuring web designs that are rated by top creatives in the industry.
“My mind was blown by seeing such amazing websites and seeing the possibilities of what can be achieved with code,” he says. “That was the day I wanted to seriously become a designer and learn how to bring design to life with code as well.”
Though he had no background in graphic design, Abhishek threw himself into his new passion, analyzing websites and apps in an attempt to understand the mechanics behind them.
He practiced designing sites using elements inspired by the ones he would see in the designs he admired. Though these designs were only for his eyes (and according to him will die with his hard drive), they helped him begin to understand how to use elements in order to create a visual narrative.
Like any challenge Abhishek faces, he approached learning graphic design as a puzzle. “You don't know which piece will go where,” he tells Shaping Design. “But as you dig deeper, you start to find more and more resources to help you learn.”
Even as a professional designer, Jha still frequents Awwwards for inspiration, along with other resources for web design inspiration, such as Dribbble, Behance and more. But stumbling upon live sites is still what he loves most. “Seeing websites in action is always better than looking at concepts.”
Designing engaging web experiences
While Abhishek’s aesthetic changes to match the project he’s working on, there’s an overarching cleanliness and engaging simplicity to his work. His coding skills come in handy, too, in implementing smooth website animations and exciting, dynamic content. By simply following his passions, he has inadvertently turned himself into a one-stop-shop for website design and development.
Approaching any new project, Abhishek has a simple rule he follows in order to create a clear narrative - identifying the most important thing that users need to know straight off the bat. To get there, he asks himself two guiding questions:
“How would a person introduce themselves without big blocks of text?”
“What should we tell users first, and how can we keep their interest on the page?”
Focusing on only the information the user absolutely needs to know and framing the interface as a conversation allows for a user experience that’s intuitive, succinct, and engaging.
With new clients, Abhishek wants to make sure he knows the company well enough before getting started. “The most important thing is to understand how their customers see their brand and the needs the product is solving,” he comments.
“Sometimes, I get a little personal and ask what their business means for them and what inspired them to start it in the first place. I try to give it a personal touch by finding a way to reflect that into the designs as well.”
Dynamic elements are Abhishek’s specialty, but he acknowledges they can be distracting or overwhelming if not implemented thoughtfully. “Animations are warranted when you absolutely want your users to notice something,” he states. “I use them on elements that need a user’s attention and are important for a user to understand the website's context.”
Abhishek explains that an animation’s duration should be just long enough to catch the user’s eye. If an animation is too long, it will cause a delay in displaying information. As a rule, he tries to keep them just under a second.
Bringing print design to the web
Abhishek might not have a singular design aesthetic, but he finds himself gravitating towards elements that draw on his fondness for print design. “I love big and clean typography, and over time, I found myself gravitated towards serif fonts,” he reveals.
“One thing that I absolutely love is creative and custom photography. Often, a large portion of a website is made up of images, and they better be good. I follow a lot of amazing photographers from all over the world, and I have noticed the impact good images have on design.”
In true autodidactic form, Abhishek is a multi-instrumentalist, speaks several languages, and has memorized the world map. And while he’s already mastered several design and development skills, he’s still looking to keep learning as a web designer and has expressed interest in learning WebGL.
As for future projects, Abhishek wants to make the design skills he’s learned more accessible. “I’m trying to create a resource for designers where they can explore the world of creative front-end and not go through the troubles that I had to. It's still in its infant phase, but I am working on it.”