Our customers are changing the world with inspiring ideas and impactful projects. Here is an#nbsp story of the designer and Awwwards jury member on how she makes award-winning websites on Tilda.
TILDA SUCCESS STORIES
Winner of 10+ top design awards, Valeria Francis shares her way from graphic to web design, speaks on how she evaluates the Awwwards submissions, why no-code website builder is a great way to get rid of intermidiaries and enjoy freedom in design, and gives pro tips for creating unforgettable portfolios.
— Hey Valeria, can you introduce yourself?
— Hi, I'm Valeria, I'm a digital designer. For the last two years I'm a member of the Awwwards jury it's been an amazing journey so far!
I started as a graphic designer and I worked as one for five years. And then for the last two years, I switched to web design because I wanted to change something and I think it's great that you can discover different sides of design, and web design is very rich in terms of what you can do and how you can express yourself.
I was an in-house designer in the agency but a couple of weeks ago I left the agency to dedicate my time to freelancing and making websites for clients on Tilda and to my personal projects.
— As an Awwwards jury member, how do you select and evaluate submitted websites?What are your criteria?
— There are no strict criteria for Awwwards judges, I guess every jury member decides for themselves. As for me, I hate boring websites and so I'm looking for a story, for the mood, atmosphere, and for some effects which I will remember, some wow effects on the website.
And it's not only about the animation, it can be a color combination or typography, or in general the feeling and the textures. You never know what makes a wow website. It's like you're watching a movie or you're looking at the photograph or you're in the book, you feel like you're in a different world.
— How and why did you start using website builders?
— During my work in the design agency, we mostly used code to make custom websites. So my part was to make the design and then transfer it to the developer team. But that's been a bit of a challenge because sometimes my design ideas were going far beyond what developers can do or what they want to do or have time to do. A lot of things came in the way between my ideas and the final result.
And that's how I started thinking that I need a solution for myself, how I can develop my websites without any other people, without any stop signs. And that's how I discovered Tilda—it was actually a life‑changing experience for me in a way, because I can now explore my creativity, I can do things much more freely and I can test my limits, my design, and what I want to do for my clients.
Sometimes my design ideas were going far beyond what developers can do or have time to do—a lot of thigs came in the way between my ideas and the final result
— What does your design workflow look like?
— I start with Figma and then I transfer everything to Tilda, and then I do step by step. First, I make the desktop and animation. And then I show it to the client and if everything is okay, I move to the mobile and all the responsive versions.
I often record short tutorials for my clients on how to change images if they want to replace something or how edit text. Tilda has Zero Blocks and standard blocks and Zero Blocks are a bit more creative because you can really customize all your ideas.
I use standard blocks mostly for the basic parts of the website that I know will be updated regularly like galleries or pricing. Things like that need to be adjusted quickly and easily. In my design work, I use 80% of Zero Blocks and 20% of standard blocks just for the clients' benefit, so that they can go and replace things much quicker.
The benefit of Tilda is that it takes very little time to create a wesbite: I can start and finish the project within two weeks.
And you know how it goes with the clients, they come and say, "We needed it yesterday, please." And that's when Tilda is very helpful because you can do it very fast. And if you have any changes in the process, you can adjust them very easily as well.
The benefit of Tilda is that it takes very little time to create a website: I can start and finish the project within 2 weeks
— Your portfolio website has the Awwwards Honorable mention and other prestigious awards, and is created on Tilda. Can you talk on why you decided to use a no-code website builder for your portfolio?
— Tilda was the only choice for me, I guess, because I showed my Figma file to some of the developers and they said, "Oh my there's so many elements and so many details and everything moves..." They said, "No way, it's going to take you ages to do it right!"
So I understood that it would be much easier if I'm going to do it by myself. This way I can try and then if I don't like something, I change it much easier and much quicker. So Tilda was the only option for me.
— Can you share best tips on creating a design portfolio website?
— The most important part, I would say, don't go to the standard structure and don't try to fit into the things like everyone tells you, "It has to be this way!" The most important part to show who you are. I hate selling because I think your client has chosen you not for the advertising. If you stay true to yourself, people feel it and I guess they want to be part of it somehow. At least it works for me all the time.
When I was doing my portfolio, I had a mentor, a design mentor, and he was telling me, "Well, maybe we should go this structure and this way." And I said, "Well, it just doesn't feel me." I think it's very important to show in your portfolio who you are.
— How many projects should designers have in their design portfolio? And is it okay to add fake projects (if you don't have real ones yet)?
— You should choose 3, 4, or maximum 5 your best projects and tell the story behind it, how it helped your client. And if it was a fake case, if it wasn't a real project, I think it's still a case and it's okay to add it to your portfolio. Tell your idea, why you created it and what inspired you and why you think it's important to tell this story to the world.
I can say that the cases I made as my personal creative projects brought the biggest number of clients because people can see your passion, they can see what you like, and what's important for you.
The best designers out there are people who just follow their passion
— Web animation can be seen in almost every website you've created. According to you, has animation become an essential part of web design nowadays?
— I use quite a lot of animation because my clients usually come from creative industries or they want to tell some type of story to illustrate their business. And animation is important for storytelling, I guess because you can illustrate your idea, some metaphors, and show what's underneath that brand. So I use it quite a lot.
None of my clients came to me and said, "I don't want to use any animation!" Perhaps it has to do with the industries I'm working with because some websites don't need as much animation—corporate websites or more serious industries—but my clients use it a lot.
And actually, I use some animation on Tilda even when I work with the code, with developers: I use animation when I'm trying to explain what I want to have on the website as a result. So it's much easier for me to do it quickly and then show it to the developer. It makes it easier for them to replicate the idea. Sometimes it can be hard to explain and understand what you want, and when you can show it, it's a great option!
— What movies would you recommend for designers to watch?
— I think every designer should be watching movies in general because there are a lot of great directors out there and a lot of inspiration for color and composition.
And I always watch the titles before and after the movies, because in some movies, they're just amazingly great, very inspirational.
I'm thinking about the "True Detective," I think they had one of the best opening titles, it was very mysterious and had great visual effects and music, very nice!
— How do you percieve your mission as a designer?
— I'm telling stories of people, and I'm some type of translator between the brand and the customers. I believe it's very important for designers not to just create layouts but to go deeper, go into the semantics, and meaning of the brand and help translate this feeling.
And of course, I hope I'm making the world slightly more beautiful and creating some nice experiences for people.