See all Insights

Creative Questionnaire: Luke Wroblewski


Luke Wroblewski is an internationally recognized Web thought leader who has designed or contributed to software used by more than 600 million people. He is currently Senior Director of Product Ideation & Design at Yahoo! Inc.

Luke is the author of two popular Web design books: Web Form Design (2008) and Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability (2002). He also publishes Functioning Form, a leading online publication for interaction designers.

A co-founder and former Board member of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), Luke previously worked as a Senior Interface Designer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the birthplace of the first popular graphical Web browser, NCSA Mosaic.

Current Project:
At any point in time, I’m juggling lots of projects. We recently released a brand new Yahoo! toolbar, some new enhancements to My Yahoo!, began testing a new Yahoo! front page, and the list goes on.

First step in my design process:
Understand the factors that will influence the design decisions we make. In my world of digital consumer products, these are:

  • Technology opportunity: what technologies do we have to utilize to make something happen?
  • Market factors: what’s happening in the space we are targeting? (trends, issues, opportunities)
  • Customer insights: existing feedback, pain points, observations, ethnography, behavioral data, metrics, analytics, etc.
  • Resource alignment: what kinds of people, assets, do we have to utilize?
  • Company strategy: what is the direction for the organization?
  • And more…

Dive deep into any data you can find to help frame your project. Saturate yourself with context.

Aspect of design I give the highest priority:
The concept or idea that we are aiming for. Getting the right level of buy-in and understanding for the big picture for a product, allows you to bring it to life. I recently gave a talk about this topic, “Parti & The Design Sandwich.”

Method for overcoming creative block:
Be a continuous feedback loop. That means continuous input: reading books and blogs, attending talks and conferences, using the medium you design for. It also means continuous output: writing books and blogs, speaking at conferences, designing.

One typical myth about design:
There’s a point when you are done designing. Because we are designing for people and people are “time bound entities moving from cradle to grave” (to quote Bruce Sterling) people’s problems are always changing. So really, design is never done.

Most challenging aspect about design:
Bringing a 1.0 product to life.

Most underrated aspect of design:
Visual organization. Visual organization utilizes the principles of perception (how we make sense of what we see) to construct a narrative. Through applications of contrast, visual designers can communicate the steps required to complete a task, the relationships between information, or the hierarchy between interface elements. So clearly visual organization is a key component for successful interface designs.

Unfortunately, the bulk of discussions about the effectiveness of Web design don’t focus on visual organization systems. Instead, they are limited to a subjective analysis of the personality (look and feel) of an interface. Personality is achieved through a judicious selection of colors, fonts, patterns, images, and visual elements designed to communicate a particular message to an audience. But just about everyone has a color or font preference, so when asked to evaluate visual design that’s were they turn first.

When I first knew I wanted to be a designer:
After too many late nights working on Computer Science homework

Favorite tool:
The Web

Favorite design resource:
Attending presentations at design conferences

The one typeface for a deserted island stay:

Design-related book I highly recommend:
Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

Currently reading:
Not enough!

If I weren’t a designer, I’d be…
Struggling with a lot more hard to use Web sites

Favorite (non-design) past time:
Mountain biking

Related Posts