Kenneth Jansson: Designing a brand two weeks at a time

Former dancer, wannabe photographer, reluctant runner and these days UX/UI designer. This is one man’s story about a few things he learnt going from dancer to designer. Curtain call Kenneth Jansson.

For ten years as a professional dancer, it was all about hard work, long nights and the strive for perfection. Alignment, movement, balance, repetition, rhythm and white space. Be agile. Sprint. This is a dancer’s world. Or is it?

When Jansson took an elsewhere leap into a career in an ad agency he found many principles shared between dance and design. The list above as well as the reluctancy to show progress before things are ready and getting it right, was all too familiar, although “no one will kick or slap you if you are a designer …”. He also “learnt to be agreeable” but often wondered whether or not this obsession with perfection and getting it right alongside agreeability was helpful or counter productive.

© Sebastian Weiß (Monotype)© Sebastian Weiß (Monotype)
Along came Shutterstock. Enlisted as a Senior UX Designer, he jumped onboard to help brand and create a web image library service, that introduces highly curated collections of royalty free images and make it “look like a million bucks”. Having to battle the cheap stock stigmas associated with image libraries and the challenge to develop new pricing and licensing schemes to improve the buying process is already a tough ask, but it proved all the more difficult, when Jansson had to adapt to a new way of working— the lean startup and agile way. This new workflow of continuous deployments, engaging in instant and constant feedback, AB testing, minimising the amount of effort and risk when going into a new venture and of course the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is not suited to people who want perfection. It was terrifying.

And so Offset was born. Designed, coded, tested and shipped — all within a two weeks sprint. For Jansson it was a steep learning curve and these three principles were fundamental in contributing to the success of Offset:

1. Be realistic. Not perfect.

Iterate as required and plan future iterations. Work towards delivering a good and complete user experience and resist urges to impress. You got the job because you’re good.

2. Be responsible. Not agreeable.

Although the small effort/maximum impact ideology is one of the key aspects to the lean and agile method of learning, it is not just about the MVP and going with the simplest implementation and implication. The ability to decipher effort versus importance will assist in enabling the team to work and communicate collaboratively to make sure things don’t get in the way of delivering something functional, delightful and on time.

3. Share the responsibility. Negotiate upfront.

Create user centric teams and be open to ideas. It is a common mistake to only have the Product Owner and User Experience present at work in progress meetings. The entire team should be invited and involved. Designers are not the only one with ideas and everyone is part of the decision making. Do not hold back from any knowledge of the users and share the knowledge. Input and feedback is essential.

Kenneth Jansson

Kenneth Jansson

Senior UX Designer (New York)

Kenneth Jansson is a Swedish designer living in New York. He is the Senior UX Designer for, a high-end image collection startup by Shutterstock. In his role, Kenneth is responsible for branding, visual identity, user experience, and curation. Prior to joining Offset, Kenneth worked at Hanft Raboy & Partners agency and at The Huffington Post. He is also a hobby photographer and reluctant runner.

Yes, there may be a few wishlist features that could not be implemented on time, but Jansson is proud as punch of what he and the team have achieved. Offset does not call the images ‘stock’ and their photographers are artists, who are the best in their class. They will continue evolving their brand and building on what is already an authentic and meaningful user experience, one sprint at a time.