I redesigned the public-facing interface for Screendoor, which lets governments and nonprofits create online forms and review responses as a team. By the time we shipped, I ended up rethinking the design of every page that respondents to a Screendoor form might see.

Screendoor was originally conceived of as a kind of social network for government forms. For example, businesses responding to RFPs could create an account to browse opportunities across multiple government agencies. As we expanded to new verticals like fellowships and innovation challenges, we decided to revisit those assumptions and redesign the core respondent experience. Based on our insights from customer feedback and our analytics, we knew that we needed to de-emphasize our own branding, instead placing our customers’ identity front and center.

To understand how agencies were currently designing their own visual identities, we conducted an audit of design trends in highly- trafficked government websites. We noticed common misuses of photography: from lossy and overly enlarged images to poor contrast against foreground text. This led us to de-emphasize raster images in favor of bold typography and clear visual hierarchy.

We wanted to empower customers to brand their forms as their own, while helping them avoid violating best practices for legibility and accessibility. I developed a simple algorithm that automatically generates an aesthetically pleasing, WCAG-compliant theme from a single background color, which we used to let customers create a theme for their public-facing forms. We later released this algorithm as Palat, an open source Ruby gem.

A sample homepage.


Website for Palat, an open source theme generator.

Subscribe to the mailing list.

Every once in a while, I'll write to you with something I've been thinking about, alongside some cultural recommendations.