Inside the mind of Squarespace’s visionary director of brand design, Satu Pelkonen

Inside the mind of Squarespace’s visionary director of brand design, Satu Pelkonen

Creative Moment caught up with Squarespace’s Director of Brand Design, Satu Pelkonen to discuss the company’s unique creative slant.

Creative Moment (CM): How have websites been evolving in terms of their use (we read that websites are now viewed as a central hub for all a brand's assets - Telegrams, X, etc etc), and does this have an impact on web designer's creative visions?

Satu Pelkonen (SP): I think the evolution of website usage mirrors changes in consumer behaviour and technology. Initially, having an online presence meant merely providing contact information and a brief overview of products or services. Now, it involves creating a digital ecosystem that enhances customer engagement across multiple platforms.

This transformation has profoundly influenced web designers' creativity and workflow. 

As brands aim to stand out in a saturated market, they require web designers to not just follow design trends but also anticipate and create them. 

Designers must balance innovation, creativity, and usability to craft engaging experiences while prioritizing website objectives like usability, accessibility, and conversion rates. It’s an exciting time for the industry, with more opportunities for innovation and creativity than ever before. And as technology continues to advance, so will the shape, form, and function of websites.

CM: What website themes and designs are popular now, and why?

SP: The website themes and designs trending right now are an interesting mix of tech innovation and timeless design principles. They balance eye-catching designs and user-friendly simplicity that people love, making sure user experiences are both memorable and efficient.

One trend I think no one can miss this year is using AI-generated content and Imagery in design. AI streamlines content and imagery creation, empowering designers to concentrate on core elements instead of hunting for the ideal header image or crafting copy. By tweaking colours, fonts, and layouts, AI can help boost how websites look and work.

Another big thing is Interactivity and Motion Effects. While parallax scrolling has been around for a while, it's making a comeback, adding depth and movement to websites. Now, we're seeing more micro-interactions and animations that guide users in a fun way. These designs are lively and engaging, a big change from plain old static pages.

We're also seeing a comeback of Minimalism, my personal favourite, where "less is more" rules. This trend simplifies designs to the basics — lots of white space, clean lines, and easy-to-read fonts. It's all about giving users clutter-free digital spaces and focusing on content over frills.

Last but not least, I think Typography is continuing to evolve big time, as it has for a while in web design. Typography isn't just for words or content anymore; it shapes a website's vibe and personality. Designers are playing with dynamic, interactive typography elements to make sites look even better. Yoga instructor and ceramicist Maizu uses clear typography and no more than two colours on her Squarespace website.

CM: How have websites evolved creatively?

SP: The history of web design reveals an interesting blend of tech advancements and changing user needs that have impacted the evolution of web design creatively. From basic text pages to today's intricate platforms, websites have gone through a remarkable transformation, really showcasing human creativity.

Transitioning from simple text-based HTML sites to the immersive and beautifully designed websites we enjoy today marked a significant evolution. The era of Flash introduced engaging animations and interactive features, while the rise of mobile devices prompted the development of responsive design to ensure seamless browsing across all devices.

Today, modern web design prioritizes the user experience, with a focus on intuitive navigation, engaging interfaces, and beautifully designed layouts. Designers are consciously weaving the narrative of a brand into their sites, creating compelling and memorable interactions that delight users while providing them with the information they seek.

Looking ahead, I think that AI will play a role in shaping the landscape of web design and how we craft digital experiences. It will take web design to new heights, enabling designers to create incredibly engaging and captivating interactive experiences that truly connect with users.

CM: What does your role involve and what are the challenges?

SP: As a brand design director at Squarespace, my job is pretty multifaceted and dynamic, blending creativity and design with strategy and people management, bringing a mix of tasks and challenges every day. At the heart of it, I get to set and guide the creative vision for different projects, making sure they all reflect and communicate Squarespace’s values and goals effectively.

One of the main things I focus on is maintaining our top-notch design standards throughout different projects. That means going through design reviews to ensure that what we deliver isn't just good, but truly amazing. It's about constantly pushing boundaries, keeping up with design trends, and infusing each piece of work with innovation and creativity.

Our work covers a wide range of different outputs, from crafting brand identities to launching Super Bowl campaigns, building brand partnerships, and creating engaging content. Every project requires a mix of strategic planning and creativity.

Sure, the role comes with its challenges. Balancing the creative and management sides, and ensuring projects are innovative, on-brand, and well-executed, all while handling timelines, and team dynamics can be quite the juggle. Yet, these challenges are what make the role exciting and incredibly fulfilling. Seeing a project come to life and achieve its goals is really satisfying. It's a role that keeps me growing as a leader and designer, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

CM: How does Squarespace approach its creative?

SP: Our approach to creativity is at the heart of Squarespace and everything we do. We prioritize design, creativity and craftsmanship to shape our brand and product. The emphasis is on being agile, staying in tune with the constantly evolving landscape, and delivering exceptional work. Our nimble and DIY spirit, combined with top-notch craftsmanship, drives us to create impactful work that helps everyone shine online with a unique voice.

CM: What creative trends inspire you?

SP: Minimalism and expressive typography ignite my creativity and really get me excited. Being Scandinavian myself, minimalism has always resonated deeply with me, showcasing the beauty of simplicity through clean lines, purposeful white space, and elegant typography that emphasises the message's core.

At the heart of minimalism is a love for functional beauty, offering users a serene escape from the everyday information overload. The fusion of this approach with creative typography truly intrigues me, evoking memories of my early days in print design. It's fascinating to witness websites gradually reflect the aesthetics and visual richness of print magazines and I can't wait to see how the field continues to evolve in the future.

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our weekly email alert and receive a regular curation of the best creative campaigns by creatives themselves.

Published on: