Pablo Defendini is a designer. Mostly websites and apps, but also books and magazines.

He’s also printmaker, he really digs science-fiction and comics, and lives in New York City.

Recent Work

Safari

Safari provides subscriptions to a library of more than 30,000 books and videos on a broad range of work-related topics, from the world’s top publishers.

Safari Queue for iOS & Android (2015)

When outlining the initial vision for Safari Flow in 2013, the goal was to build a platform-agnostic, fully browser-based web app. By the time Safari Flow became the new Safari, we knew what other product teams had discovered around the same time: trying to make a web app feel like a first-class citizen on mobile platforms can be challenging. From our initial experiments with browser caching 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 the iOS app first. We spent some months trying to figure out what the app should be, investigating how the features of the existing web service could be rethought inside a native app. In the process we created many interactive prototypes, from simple Keynote animations, to HTML prototypes, to full-fledged Xcode projects.

We ultimately decided to focus on one particular feature of the new Safari service: the user’s queue. On the new Safari web app, the queue is the place where a user saves items that they want to read later. This seemed like a good feature from which to work outward. We could build toward feature parity with the web app after we launched the 1.0.

The Safari Queue iOS app provides a way for users to download their queued items for offline reading and watching.

Like the web app, the Queue app provides a beautiful, distraction-free reading interface. The reading interface includes the same functionality found on the web, as well as improvements that we identified and developed as we designed the first version of the app.

In the months after the initial 1.0 launch, we supplemented the core queuing and reading functionality with the ability to search the entire Safari library, as well as discover newly added books and videos.

Once we launched the 1.0 of the iOS app, we turned our attention to Safari Queue for Android. In terms of features we established a core goal of parity with the iOS app, we applied some of the lessons we learned while designing the iOS app. But we decided to follow Google’s Material Design guidelines very closely when designing what Safari Queue would look like on Android.

We also took advantage of Google's 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.

    Roles on this project

  • product ideation
  • product design
  • user research
  • interface design
  • interaction design
  • design management
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New Safari Rebrand and Product Growth (2014)

After successfully bringing the Safari Flow service to market as a beta product, and proving that it was a service that we could grow into Safari Books Online's 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 the right time to rethink 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 a new visual identity, and designing, developing, and launching a new corporate site.

Using the deliverables from our design studio as a starting point, we developed an internal style guide and pattern library. We used these resources to help us introduce 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.

One of the parts of the new Safari product that we rethought after we transitioned from Safari Flow to new Safari was the main dashboard. Based on user feedback we’d been receiving over the course of several 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 work through some iterations based on rounds of a/b testing on a small subset of live users. The final product increased users' engagement with our books and videos, and provided a path forward for future optimization.

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 non-hierarchical 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.

    Roles on this project

  • product design
  • user research
  • interface design
  • interaction design
  • art direction
  • front end development
  • design management
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Safari Flow (2013)

After a short period of experimentation and ramping up of our engineering capacity, we set out to build a brand new product to eventually replace the 13-year-old Safari Books Online subscription service. A small team of developers, product, and project managers, along with outside design consultants, treated Safari Flow as a startup within the larger company, in order to test the viability of our idea. We focused on a small segment of the market (web professionals), and we refined the Safari Flow service 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 small chunk of content — either chapters of a book or clips from a video — that was presented to the user as part of a 'stream' of books and videos to consume.

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.

    Roles on this project

  • product ideation
  • product design
  • interface design
  • design management
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Creative Edge Classroom (2012)

Creative Edge Classroom was one of Safari Books Online's first forays into building a software service in-house, after years of outsourcing software development. A small group of us were 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, graphic design, and other visual/creative content), and creating a brand new product that catered to the educational market at a college level.

A small group of us built a product that focused on a few key areas of functionality, as a pilot for future software development inside the company. Creative Edge Classroom provided a way for school administrators to gather custom collections of books and video, organized by course. They would then allow students to access this content, within the context of their assigned courses.

We built a system that allowed one person 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.

Users could read directly in the browser, even when offline. Eventually we realized that this was problematic on a number of levels, but the experience of building the functionality gave us a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of browser caching on mobile devices, which we brought to bear when deciding to develop native apps for mobile operating systems.

Creative Edge Classroom was a pioneer in native EPUB support and scented the user with a clean, uncluttered reading interface, as well as the ability to add notes and highlights to their books.

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

    Roles on this project

  • product ideation
  • product design
  • user research
  • interface design
  • interaction design
  • art direction
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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.

    Role on this project

  • identity design
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Fireside Fiction Magazine (2014)

We designed and developed the new magazine site. We worked with Wordpress developers 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.

    Roles on this project

  • interface design
  • interaction design
  • editorial design
  • art direction
  • front end development
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Open Road Integrated Media

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

Openroadmedia.com redesign (2011)

Open Road built a custom, behind-the-scenes CMS that powers their publishing and marketing platform.

In 2011, after building out the initial phase of the marketing platform, we wanted to rework the public-facing Open Road website to take advantage of the content we were generating 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, single-serve websites for seasonal sales, newsletters, and marketing campaigns.

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.

Roles in this project

  • product design
  • interface design
  • interaction design
  • design management
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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.