Ruby Central hired me in early 2018 in an attempt to use a common designer for RubyConf and RailsConf on an ongoing basis. After years of having a different design shop for every conference, they were looking for a more permanent and personal relationship. I was excited at the thought of being a part of the Ruby Central team and jumped at the opportunity.
Since this is a large project compared to my usual engagements, I did more planning up front than normal. My first step was to present a few options for the RubyConf 2018 theme. The decisions we made as a team at this stage would inform the brand aesthetic, website style, and other conference assets for the rest of the project so it was important to be thorough and nail it from the start.
Below you can see the entire PDF I presented in our first stakeholders meeting. A few things I discovered early on was that it would be themed around the Los Angeles location, it must be friendly, and it shouldn't feel overly techy. In my first presentation I discuss options for Colors, Brands, Typography, and thoughts on our web presence. We decided to try a soft pastel theme based around Los Angeles sunsets and an illustrated brand with simple shapes.RubyConf Moodboard.pdf
Take a peek at how I work. You’ll see the first steps we took in the RubyConf design process.Starting on the brand
Once we decided on the pastel sunset theme, I got to work on the brand. The first real deliverable was a splash page announcing RubyConf, and a pre-req for that was to have a brand to showcase on the announcement page. This went through many iterations with a lot of feedback from people I interviewd and the Ruby Central team. You can see a slice of the numerous iterations I tried, with many different styles and subject matter.
I spent a week gathering inspiration, putting together some rough ideas, and showing them to about a dozen people. I learned a lot from these casual interviews, most surprising was that no one recognized any Los Angeles landmarks. The overwhelming consensus in my search for the LA vibe was palm trees and sunsets so it goes without saying, that's where my design shifted. At the end of this week of work, I presented the team with an update of where I was at. There wasn't much to talk about at this point so I continued on to ironing out the kinks.RubyConf Brand Progress.pdf
I shared this progress update with the team to let them know where I was at. I'm a big proponent of overcommunicating, it keeps surprises to a minimum.He shoots, he scores!
I knew I was getting close at this point. I was down to a few relatively polished examples and they were all met with great responses from people I was asking for feedback. It became clear that the palm tree was a winner, the skyline was non descript but made sense as LA is a major metropolitan area, and the gem shape resonated immediately with people. I added some signal lights that you might see at a movie premiere and spent a while fine tuning specific pixels that no one would probably ever notice but me, but it felt great to get it in a very polished state.
There's always a nervous excitment a designer experiences when they've been working on something for a while and they're really happy with where it's at. That time between showing the client and hearing their thoughts on it is agonizing but it's also something I thrive on. I'll admit this is the first time in a long time that I felt that nervousness and the sense of satisfaction I got when the team liked my work was such a rush.RubyConf Brand Final.pdf
This was the first finalized concept I delivered and it was met with unanimous approval. With only a few minor adjustments needed, the process felt like a great success.Splash page
Immediately after getting the brand sign off, I jumped back to some UI work. The team was at RailsConf and wanted to announce RubyConf during the closing comments a few days away. To do this, they needed the announcement page up and runnin so I got to cranking on the design.
Splash pages have a special place in my heart because they're so simple, usually with very little restriction. I had been engrossed in Los Angeles vibes for the last 3 weeks so I had a very good idea of what the page would feel like. I wanted to showcase the color palette I had been working on, especially the gradient, and some general LA imagery, plus of course the brand we just completed! I put all of these things, with the relevant info together on a single screen page, got it approved, and coded it up. After a day of design and a few hours of front end development, we had it live and RubyConf was announced at the end of RailsConf weekend.
Check out the live RubyConf 2018 splash page (unless I forgot to update this link when we released the full version 😛).