is a Senior User Experience Designer and Art Director
“I believe that having an investigative spirit means being unafraid to try new things, to iterate, and to find the right solutions for even the most challenging problems. As a design professional of thirteen years, I’m an explorer unafraid of the dark: a problem solver, a maker, a creator, a product designer, a writer, and a restless spirit. My life and my work are inseparable, though I seek to leave only resonant work behind.”
“I’ve always felt that it was my obligation to look at things from a different angle, to present solutions that set products apart; to create proverbial jackalopes from ordinary bunny rabbits. It’s my mission to create memorable designs for my clients, even if that means keeping a flashlight packed into my toolkit.”
As a professional in the design industry for thirteen years, I’ve grown into my role as a senior user experience designer and art director by remaining curious, inquisitive, and explorative. I am a champion for the end user, and I believe in research, testing, and iteration to ensure the best possible design solutions for web and app products.
A Brief Biography
a strange woman
To me, good design solves problems in innovative ways. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a preoccupation with hidden things: ideas that stand apart from the everyday. Sometimes, that leads my investigation to places others won’t readily consider — often under the bed and into dark closets.
You need to look at things a little differently to create jackalopes from ordinary bunny rabbits. As a horror novelist, adventurer, explorer, and Fortean, I prefer going off the beaten path, as long as I’ve remembered to pack a good book, my favourite fountain pen, and my journal.
proficiencies and skills
My experience providing design solutions to a variety of clients balances technical proficiency, accountability, creative process, and a desire to establish resonant products in print and on the web. An aggressive creative professional with uncompromising standards for execution, I am committed to producing work that is beautiful, user-friendly, and competitive with the competition.
A Few Things You May Want to Know
frequently asked questions
I treat user experience work with an approach that incorporates five steps: User Research, Proposed solutions explorations, Wireframing, Prototyping, Testing. It’s a process that incorporates three basic tenets of UX: execution, evaluation, and iteration based on data-driven decisions.
I’m fairly structured in this approach, largely because big UX projects are like elephants: if you want to eat an entire elephant, you still need to tackle it one bite at a time. I find it overwhelmingly helpful to understand the whole of it for what it is and where it can be improved (i.e. where it’s weakest so you can start nomming on those parts first.)
I generally conduct user research for new products to see what kind of problems might be solved with a new design. Metrics are helpful in determining where there’s room for improvement. Sometimes, I’ll dig deeper and look at how the flow fits within the gestalt of the user journey so I can understand the context of where the new product will live.
Proposed Solutions Explorations
Through discussion and design writing, I often come up with one or two scenarios that might solve the existing design problem. Weighed against the gathered data, I validate with the stakeholders which approach we should test, make adjustments, or try something wholly new.
I wireframe after ensuring the business requirements are met. These are the bare bones of what the user flow, user interface, and user interaction should look and behave like. Oftentimes, this involves mapping out a user flow as well so we can understand interaction points.
After a quick prototype is built, we test the design to see if it works: putting it in the hands of the people who will use it. From there we iterate, evaluate the results, and apply the visual design.
A final prototype is built, the design files are cleaned up, and then handed to development to build the product.
I like to monitor the success of the product through collaboration with analytics. We set KPIs at the onset of any project to measure its success before designing begins, but it’s in the testing phase that we really get to see if it flies.
I should add another point at the end of this list, in that when our gains do not match our KPIs, it’s expected that we will iterate on existing designs to make incremental improvements. I typically work in collaboration with the analytics team to flag issues early, but I also like to establish touchpoints for review after a design is launched to see what performs well, and what can be improved.
I am fluent with the Adobe Creative Suite’s Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for graphic design projects, and I like to dabble with AfterEffects for motion design.
I use Sketch for most types of product design where multiple screens are necessary: for designing user flows, wireframes, or mockups to be prototyped, I’ve found Sketch allows me to be much more efficient. I use Zeplin when working with developers, and I’m familiar with InVision and Flynto for prototyping.
I’ve used Google Drive to collaborate remotely with others, but I’m also well-versed with Apple’s iWork suite.
Since I usually only receive graphic design requests from clients, I often try to establish a structure as to how I determine the parameters for a project. That often incorporates the following:
Determine the value proposition
I generally determine the value proposition for a work with the client through interview. The question we seek to answer is, “What is the offer?”
Take a brief
I request specs from the client pertaining to their likes, dislikes, influences, preferences, etc. The brief is the benchmark by which decisions are made regarding the project, so that later on it might be referred to as the outline to the visual story we’re trying to tell. It’s pretty important, and fairly detailed. The client must greenlight this aspect of the project before any work is done.
Develop a moodboard
I like to test the strength of the brief by building quick mood board that relates the various aesthetic impressions of the project to ensure accuracy of the deliverables: these involve colours, type styles, photo snippets — anything visual that conveys the spirit of the work as it will be executed. Here, adjustments can be made so that if a client has neglected to mention that they cannot use sunshine yellow as a colour (for example, because their competition uses it with abundance and they don’t want their customers to mistake them), we won’t move forwards into design exploration with those things unaccounted for.
Perform design explorations
Usually, I will produce and refine mockups during this phase based on a set number of revisions agreed upon with the client and to their satisfaction. With client approval, we determine the best possible design solution for the project, and I will move the work into finalization where the art is prepared for deployment (i.e. print, ad submission, press release, social media sharing, etc.)
Perform final checks
I make sure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted: all art is prepared for final deployment, the client signs off, and we’re off to the races! If there are quality assurance checks stipulated in the agreement, those are performed as soon as final art is returned by the third party supplier (like, for example, a print run of brochures to ensure that colours are accurate and nothing is mis-aligned.)
Collecting comic books, book blogging, visiting museums, traveling to far-flung places, conventions, hot yoga, and cooking exotic food. I write long and short format horror fiction and dark fantasy for teens, and I’m querying my first novel for publication. I’m also a huge fan of classic horror movies.
Detail-oriented and meticulous, enthusiastic when presented with challenges, I love experimenting with various styles and methodologies. I work well under pressure and respect deadlines, and I often create my own work tools. With a solid knowledge of applied design theory, usability best practices, and brand requirements, I respect industry standards, but I delight in bringing new vision to traditional forms efficiently and with precision.
Honest and courteous, with a clear sense of strategy to meet objectives, I am a disciplined and diligent designer with a strong sense of responsibility. My communication skills, written, spoken, and visual are excellent, as are my organizational and listening skills. I endeavour to bring integrity to everything I do, and I approach new projects with fervour.
I spent an awfully long time in school over the course of my post-secondary education. After graduating high school, I obtained my DEC from John Abbott College in Liberal Arts.
I quickly learned that where I would excel would be in the digital demesne, and I followed with an AEC in Multimedia Design (with honours) from International Academy of Design and Technology, and then a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from Concordia University (with distinction).
I didn’t stop there, however, because I spent a further year preparing an Art History specialization at McGill University for the Masters Program, before deciding that the temptation of the tech industry was too great and I accepted my first full-time position.
I have have obtained both an Essential Management Skills Certificate from McGill University, and a Business Writing Certificate from McGill’s Executive Institute.
Kira Butler far exceeded my expectations on many levels. She is an amazingly talented web designer who knows how to execute her vision from beginning to end, as well as interpret my own into a design that can work. And what also impresses me is the way she conducts herself with such a high level of professionalism and integrity. I have hired her for other projects besides my web site design, and would not hesitate to do so again, I also recommend her every chance I get to others in need of similar services.
Kira is very systematic in her approach to design. In my experience, she is the designer that managed to make her art the most objective -- by that I mean that all of her choice are reasoned and justified and don't come under the umbrella of simple taste. Hard working and serious, Kira is also fun [and] got along very well with her colleagues. Finally, she doubles her UI/UX skills with that of an independent writer. This is simply further proof of how hard-working, disciplined and dedicated Kira can be. Not to mention creative. I would work with Kira again in a heartbeat.
Kira is an extremely talented, detailed-oriented designer who has contributed greatly to Lightspeed's branding and communications. Her specialization is in web but also has strong talent in writing and print design. Dedicated, insightful and hard-working, Kira has been a very welcome addition to our creative team.
Kira is the total package. She has an excellent work methodology, is data-driven and understands the business vision which she translates flawlessly in great user experience. She is also a great UI designer that understands her audience. She has great rationale and can easily explain her design decisions. On top of it all she has the most charming personality! I recommend her 100%.
Her understanding of the project at hand, her eye for design and thorough understanding of the content that she worked with as well as her respect for critical timelines were magical attributes that brought not only products to help the community clients of the CRC but identifiable professional marketing tools. Kira's contribution to the CRC operation was key in raising our visibility. I would not hesitate to include Kira as a member of my team again, if the opportunity would be presented!
As a design client, I have been thrilled to work with someone who can translate my vague ideas into a viable format, but I have been even more impressed by Kira's professionalism. From the initial project contract and timeline, to the detailed invoices and realistic deadlines, I always know exactly where we stand in terms of project completion - an invaluable assurance. Working with someone this reliable and talented has been a pleasure I hope to repeat.
Contact Kira Butler
get in touch
Request a quote, inquire about a project, ask about my availability, tell me you love something I’ve done, offer me a job, tell me about an opportunity, send me a cute ghost gif, ask about scheduling a skype call, or just say hi. This is the best place to do any of the above.
Come and play with me.
The spirit of design that remains curious, inquisitive, and explorative never dies. The Noisy Ghost is an intangible concept that seeks to be real, to be believed in, and to be closer to life even though it continues knocking over the furniture and shoving things off the shelving when you're not looking. Honestly, though, it really just wants to be your friend. This house is getting haunted in June 2018. Subscribe to get the first look.