Tap Milwaukee

May 3rd, 2011

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I was brought on board a brain-storming team as the lead designer for the next big thing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was working on. The idea at the time was very nebulous, but the basic premise was completely overhauling JSOnline’s entertainment section and launching it as a new site. I was eager to work on the project, excited for the opportunity, and had no idea what I was in for.

Tap Milwaukee - Design by Kent Heberling
Typically, my role as a designer finds me organizing mostly finished ideas, arranging them into wireframes, providing full color comps for review, slicing the images into HTML/CSS/JavaScript, and passing everything off to our developers. It was clear from the beginning, things were different in this project.

To begin, I was brought in when ideas were still completely up in the air. Rather than reacting to what others had already mostly hashed out, I actually was able to provide my own voice and participate in shaping the features and content. This was followed by a much more intense and drawn out design process than any other project I’ve worked on. Every pixel of the site went under the microscope, was shown to nearly a hundred people, and was second-guessed constantly. In the end, almost all of my original design decisions made it into the project, though it often took two months of debates and alternate designs to get there. Rather than relaxing and handing the project off at this point, I participated heavily in the development and site administration through our CMS. At this point, I had invested so much time and was so familiar with every aspect of the project that I could not contently pass work on and sit back. I felt compelled to stay involved as the project felt more and more like my own personal statement.

The results of all of this are a thousand new tricks in my bag, a great sense of accomplishment, and something I can be proud to have my name on. The lessons learned can be a post (or a book, really) on its own, so for now, please just enjoy all of my hard work over the last 6 months: tapmilwaukee.com