The online portfolio and writings of Ren Walker, an art director & web designer from Portland.


The New Virgin America Site

Virgin America's new site is what everything a redesign should be. Yes, it's big and beautiful and flat and colorful and responsive and uses SVG animations and and and, but the improved user experience doesn't just come from the new aesthetic. Virgin took a chance and released a truly disruptive design for the travel industry.

What was once a clusterfuck of marketing gimmicks and fare charts, epilepsy-inducing auto sliders and a company news feed no one really cared, is now a bold step toward revolutionizing the airfare booking experience. I can't remember a time in my life where I went...


A UX Challenge: The Mobile Password

Passwords on mobile phones: How I loathe thee.

Even prior to the emergence of the mobile web, password fields had their own set of User Experience flaws.  From complex and confusing requirements (password length, special characters, etc) to poor instructions, difficult input fields to delays for recovering passwords, it’s not uncommon for users to abandon log-in and sign-up forms resulting in lost business and unhappy customers. 

Now with rise in popularity of mobile usage, a whole new batch of pain points has emerged: complications arising from large fingers, limited screen space, and...


2014 Predictions for Web Design

I have no data to support these claims, although I'm sure I could possibly wrangle up some sort of support with Google Trend graphs or quotes from other people.  I'm just looking into my magic 8-ball and giving you these 5 predictions for web design in 2014.
  1. We'll design for bigger screens, not smaller.  Wearable technology will slowly ramp up this year, but not as much as the rise of more smart TVs.  Responsive designers will increasingly explore and talk about optimizing for the large screen since wearable tech won't be evolved enough to allow for much variation in design.
  2. Nitty,...

What’s Your Web Industry Job Title?

Whipped this up today after being inspired by Chris Coyier's article on Job Titles in the Web Industry.


The Client As a User

"The client is not the user."

It's one of those incendiary sentences that come up often in discussions and articles about user-centered design.  Sometimes phrased as "You are not the user" or the "The company is not the user."  A simple declaration that encompasses a larger idea where we acknowledge that business goals are not the same as user goals and "good" designs aim to improve the experience of the public user.

From the early research and planning stages, user-centered design (UCD) focuses on the users and their tasks.  Design and implementation generally comes in iterative...


My Top 5 Resources for Learning More About UX Design

I was asked today by a new connection I made at last week's WhichTestWon's Live Event what five pieces of content/sources I would recommend for learning more about usability and user experience design.  Here's the answer I gave:

#1. David Travis' online Udemy course: The Ultimate Guide to Usability

Admittedly, I'm not the best online course attendee: I'll participate actively the first few weeks and then fail to finish.  David / the Udemy structure kept me engaged.  BONUS: There's a special buddy discount that will get you 75% off!  Enter in "BUDDYPASS-UX" during May to get the course...


The Problem with Large Homepage Sliders

Somewhere in the purge of homepage clutter and the love affair for full-page elements, designers thought they could take a page from successful photography and design studios and create visual appeal with a giant slider featured prominently on the home page of corporate and ecommerce sites.

People oohed and awed over the mocks featuring beautiful photography and carefully-selected typography.  Each slide had meaning and conveyed a powerful message.   The client was happy, the designer happy.

But then the site went live and the client started uploading or creating their own slides.  The...


5 Reasons I Hate Pop-Up Newsletter Sign-Up Boxes


Too many times lately I come to what I am told is a great UX blog––or let's face it; I'm really on a clothing site––and BAM!  Before any interaction happens, one of these pop-up boxes asking for my email to sign up to a newsletter covers my browser screen.

Conversion optimization studies have revealed these pop-up boxes, also known as modals or lightboxes, can result in higher conversions.  I am going to take an unchacteristic stance and say this: Screw the numbers.  I bet any decent usability test that surveyed users and asked about the experience––the emotional effect––of seeing...


A Pledge for 2013

I hereby swear to abandon all fear; to question everything; to trust in myself; to honor those before me as I excel, and to support those who follow as they ascend. I swear that I will never accept another’s standard for success, as I set mine one measure higher. When I am finished, no one will ever fucking look at me the same way again.



Predictions for 2013

We are progressing, moving forward with responsive design and user-centric planning. We have survived pop-up ads, splash pages, flash designs, animated gifs and yes...even Geocities.   We have moved past buzzwords like Web 2.0, synergy, and things that "pop"*. 

My predictions for hot topics in 2013 focus on improving patterns and UX to discover better, bigger worlds of engaging our users.

  1. Responsive sites get better. It's no longer good enough that a site scales to fit a multitude of devices. The possibilites available for touch and other mobile functionality and the challenges...