Jonas Verheijden: Just Do the Work

Founder and Design Lead of Born Digital

by Elizabeth Lavis


08 Nov 2023

Gold Winner in Branding for Energy 2023
"I always strive for unique digital products and brands that perfectly balance beauty and functionality"

Jonas Verheijden's official role at Born Digital is Design Lead, and Co-Founder sees his role as hitting that ideal sweet spot between product usefulness and sensational design. "I lead a dedicated team of like-minded designers and developers who love turning complex concepts into meaningful experiences," he says. "I always strive for unique digital products and brands that perfectly balance beauty and functionality."

Although the end product might seem effortless and intuitive, Verheijden knows there are no shortcuts or magic bullets for excelling in the field. "My top advice for aspiring designers is to just do the work," he says. "Start creating constantly and consistently. You can only become a better designer if you get your hands dirty and learn from your own mistakes. Standing on the sidelines, hoping to get some playing time, never works."

Leaping in headfirst and learning on the fly are two lessons Verheijden experienced in his own life when he discovered a glaring hole in his education after obtaining a master's degree in graphic design. "I finished my master's when web design had just become a 'thing,'" he says. "I didn't get any interface design, coding, or animation courses. So, I started reading, researching, and combining those new technical skills with my graphical knowledge of layout and typography." 

Verheijden's formal learning and self-taught web skills paid off when he landed his first job a few months after graduation. "Since then, I have constantly stayed up-to-date with the latest software and design trends through research, reading, attending events, and doing extra classes on specific topics," he says.

"Rebranding", Born Digital

He also has a deliberate and effective design strategy that helps him and his team drill into the client's needs and the most effective method of getting them there. "Before starting any project, we begin with a 'think it through' phase," Verheijden says. "This phase includes sharing your domain experience with the team, consolidating knowledge, and achieving a comprehensive analysis and shared understanding of the project." 

Then, the team moves to the design phase, where their objectives include cementing an overall visual style, defining that style, and creating the framework and page templates for executing it properly. "Design must prioritize clarity," Verheijden says. "If the message isn't immediately understood, it's failed."

It's this fusion of strategy and creativity that allows the team to explore all possible facets of the design while staying within the detailed boundaries of the project's limitations and goals. It also creates ample flexibility if something needs to be adjusted. Verheijden establishes rapport through transparency, communication, and soliciting feedback during the initial stages.

As for Verheijden's future goals, he sees himself still leading a team of designers and producing creative work himself. "Additionally, my three goals moving forward are to engage in more long-term partnerships with clients, move away from the day-to-day hassle of getting new projects, and have more time to work on, and not for, our company," he says.

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