Hello there.

My name is Pablo Defendini, and I’m a designer.

I’m also a printmaker, and I really dig comics and science fiction.

I live in New York City.

Recent Work

Safari

Safari is an online library of more than 30,000 books and videos on a broad range of technology, business, and design topics, from the world’s top publishers — it's like Netflix, but for books.

Safari Queue for iOS & Android (2015)

While the initial vision for new Safari was to be a platform-agnostic, fully browser based product, we soon found out what other product teams have discovered over the past few years: trying to make a web app feel like a first-class citizen on mobile platforms is a dicey proposition. From our initial experiments with browser caches to enable offline reading, to the lack of access to hardware capabilities or stock OS features, it soon became apparent that we had to invest in native apps for both iOS and Android.

We set about creating an iOS app first. We Spend some time trying to figure out what the app should be, and in the process created many interactive prototypes, from simple keynote animations to full-fledged Xcode projects.

We decided to focus on one particular feature of the new Safari service: the user’s queue.

The Safari Queue iOS app provides a fast way for users to download their queued items for offline reading and watching, as well as a foundation for building out additional functionality in order to eventually reach feature parity with the web-based service.

Like its web-based counterpart, the Queue app provides a beautiful, distraction-free reading interface, which has been further refined from the one on the web, including the same features found on the web, like notes and highlights, as well as additional features like a night mode.

Once we shipped the iOS app, we turned our attention to Safari Queue for Android. Building on some of the lessons we learned while designing the iOS app, we decided to follow Google’s Material Design guidelines very closely when thinking up what Safari Queue would look like on Android. We also took advantage of Googles integration of their App Store with the Google+ social network to develop the app as an open beta, bringing in users early into the process, and letting their feedback and feature requests influence our product roadmap like never before.

My role on both apps consisted of product design, in collaboration with other members of the product team. I also served as lead visual and interaction designer on the projects, putting together not just visual interface designs and interactive prototypes to illustrate interaction patterns, but collaborating with our developers to generate assets, facilitate development, a make the designer/developer communication loop as tight as possible.

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New Safari Rebrand and Product Growth (2014)

After successfully bringing Safari Flow to market as a beta product, and proving that it was a service that we could grow into our flagship offering, it was time to pull the trigger. Along with the transition from the old Safari Books Online to the new Safari Flow — now renamed to just 'Safari' — we decided that it was a good time to also reassess the overall Safari brand.

Working with a branding consultant and an external design studio, we went about articulating the company values and the brand promise, developing and deploying a new visual identity, and launching a new corporate site.

Starting with the deliverables from our design studio, we developed an internal style guide and pattern library, and rolled out and evangelized the new brand across the company.

After the launch, we focused on expanding the feature set on the new Safari flagship product in order to make it more appealing to enterprise users. We also went about refining existing features through user research, testing, and optimization.

Among the parts of the product that we rethought included the main dashboard. Based on user feedback we’d been receiving over the course of a few months, we determined that in order to better communicate Safari’s full offering to the user, the dashboard needed to be much more information-dense than we’d originally assumed it should be.

We designed a smaller, tighter, more contained version of the cards we’d been using before, and put the design through some iterations based on rounds of a/b testing on.

One of the new features that we brought to the product was a set of more robust search capabilities, and the user interface to go with them.

We did lots of exploring to figure out what the best interface solution was, given the nonhierarchical nature of the categories that we were going to allow the user to sort by.

The pattern we ended up using worked so well for us, that we decided to deploy it again on our individual topics pages.

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Safari Flow (2013)

We treated Safari Flow as a startup within Safari Books Online, in order to test the viability of our idea. We focused on a small segment of the market (web professionals), and we refined the product over the course of about 18 months in order to build it up into a viable alternative to our older service.

Centered around a beautiful, clean and simple reading interface, Safari Flow gave its users a never-ending stream of recommended books and videos, based on a user’s stated topics of interest, as well as their reading and watching habits.

The dashboard is composed of cards, each representing a chunk of content — either chapters of a book or clips from a video — that was shown to the user as a recommendation based on their interests or their past reading habits within Safari Flow.

We focused on providing the user with a clean, beautiful, and distraction-free reading interface. We also designed Safari Flow with mobile usage at top of mind, and generally worked from small viewports out. This allowed us to focus on the things that really needed to be there, and gave us permission to be very stingy when considering additional UI elements or features.

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Creative Edge Classroom (2012)

Creative Edge Classroom was Safari's first foray into building their own service, after years of outsourcing software development. I was tasked with taking a look at the existing Creative Edge product (essentially a re-skinned version of the main Safari Books Online site, but with a limited selection of books and videos tailored toward Photography, graphics, and other visual/creative content), and creating a brand new product built on a newly acquired technology platform, that catered exclusively to the creative educational market at a college level.

My role within this project encompassed development of the initial product concept based on existing research and requirements, project management of a small group of engineers and front end developers, product and UX design, visual and interactive design, and coming up with a marketing strategy and activities.

We built a minimum viable product that focused on a few key areas of functionality, and treated it as a pilot for what was to come afterward.

We built a user system that allowed one user account to fulfill many roles over the lifespan of their membership: users could move fluidly between being a student, a faculty member, even an administrator, and back to just a regular user—all without having to create separate accounts with different email addresses, or losing their user-generated content such as notes and highlights.

Using CEC, school Administrators and Faculty members could build 'Courses,' or custom groups of content, from the Safari Books Online library.

Offline reading directly in the browser. Eventually we realized that this was a bad idea, but the experience of building the functionality gave us a deep unrest adding about the pros and cons of browser cache.

Native EPUB support and a clean, uncluttered reading interface, notes and highlights.

Users could also upload their own PDFs and EPUB files to supplement our content with their notes and syllabi.

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Fireside Fiction Company

Fireside Fiction Company is a publishing company with two goals: to find and publish great stories regardless of genre, and to pay writers and artists well for their work.

Fireside Fiction Branding (2013)

Fireside's principal publication is a short fiction magazine that has been successfully crowdfunded for the past three years. It started as a print magazine, and I was initially contracted by their publisher to create ebook versions of each issue.

After a few issues, they decided to move the magazine online, and I was charged with refreshing the publisher's visual brand to match the new, online focus. This called for a streamlining of the existing logo, as well as a simplification of the color and typographic styles used throughout the magazine.

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Fireside Fiction Magazine (2014)

In addition, I was asked to spearhead the design and development the new magazine site. I collaborated with a Wordpress developer to build a new CMS for the magazine, which would automate ebook production.

The design of the magazine site is meant to be minimal and simple. It focuses the reader’s attention entirely on the stories and artwork, and provides a clean, simple, and responsive reading interface.

As Fireside Fiction starts to move into books and other publishing activities in addition to the short story magazine, I've taken on the role of design and art director for the publisher.

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Open Road Integrated Media

Open Road publishes thousands of books, providing unparalleled digital marketing and sales support.

Openroadmedia.com redesign (2011)

In 2010, I helped product manage and project manage the development of the custom, behind-the-scenes CMS that powers Open Road's publishing and marketing platform.

In 2011, after building out the initial phase of the marketing platform, we wanted to rework the public-facing Open a Road website to take advantage of the content we were managing behind the scenes. This meant creating a new site which would display title metadata, certainly, but also all of the additional content that the marketers at Open Road were generating: author bios, social media posts, video mini-documentaries, and more. We also wanted to have a site that would be easy to update and expand, as we started creating small, one-off websites for flash or seasonal sales, newsletters, and more community-and-social-media-focused marketing.

I was charged with developing the information architecture for the site, as well as with transitioning the visual language of the existing site into a coherent design system that could be deployed across the new site. Focusing on a responsive approach, I developed visual patterns and interaction modules for the site which were implemented by our external development team.

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Contact

If you have a project you think might be right up my alley, I’d be happy to chat about it with you.

I’m currently taking on projects
starting in December 2015.

The very best way to reach me is via email, at pablo@defendini.com.

You can also often find me on Twitter.