Ryan Carl Studio
Branding and Graphic Design Practice

2016 Year in Review

2016 — Year in Review

Oh hello there, 2017

Notable clients/projects

and other tid-bits from 2016

Client: West Elm

Design and UX lead for a new mobile shopping experience.


Responsive web design is important but doesn't always translate to the best UX for shopping and buying products on a mobile device. With this project we were asked to concept, design and execute a custom UX that is highly-visual and tailored specifically for shopping on your phone.

We used simple interactions, animations and fixed elements strategically to create a fully customized experience for mobile. There is a fixed navigation slider at the top of the homepage and category feeds to help orient the user at all times (instead of hidden navigation behind a menu icon). West Elm has some items that are rather complex (lots of different sizes, colors and other options), so the product detail pages were of particular importance. We came up with a simplified and intuitive flow that allows the user to get feedback and see the product thumbnail (and price) update in real-time based on their selections. The 'Add to Cart' button is also fixed and becomes active when the user has made all necessary selections.

While the goal was for an immersive, editorial 'look book' experience, it was also important to achieve lightning-fast load times, which was accomplished by using Google's Progressive Web App (PWA) technology. Essentially, you could have a nice, snappy shopping experience even on a 3G network.

An early beta version was presented by Google at the 2016 Chrome Dev Summit as an example of what can be done with PWA technology.

Thank you to Bree and Luke and the rest of the team at West Elm. And a big shout out to the dev team. Amazing work all around.

Project/product lead:  Luke Chatelain
Development:  SF AppWorks
Design and UX:  Ryan Carl . Studio


Running swiftly through the forest

Discovering new music and creating (and naming) playlists is one of my favorite things. Here's a Spotify playlist of some of my finds and most-played songs from 2016. 

I found myself playing the last three songs on Bon Iver's 22, A Million, over and over, as a sort of mini-album. I've included them at end of this playlist. Highly recommend it. Close your eyes. Turn it up loud. Potentially life-changing.

Editor's Note: While hip hop and punk rock are dear to my heart, this playlist is mostly mellow, safe for work (and kids).


CLIENT: Tantris

Design and UX lead for homepage and commerce pages.


Super-clean and organized site design for Tantris, a yoga studio and fashion brand founded by Russell Simmons. Thank you to the Matchpoint team for the collaboration.

Project lead:  Matchpoint Design
Design and UX:  Ryan Carl . Studio


Most-used design phrase/approach

"Simple on purpose."


CLIENT: West Coast Shaving

Branding and art direction. Full site redesign. Packaging and product design.
New site launching early 2017.


Ongoing partnership with West Coast Shaving to rebrand and create a new visual style guide for all creative and marketing assets. One of my favorite projects of the year was designing (and copywriting) the packaging for a collection of shaving soaps (shown above). "Quite possibly the world's greatest shaving soap." Pick some up here to validate that statement.

Thank you to WCS for the partnership.


Most-used tools, resources, inspiration

Invision App
Design presentation and UX protoyping

It's Nice That
Articles on design and creativity

Typography resource and inspiration

Articles on design and creativity

Design inspiration / mood boards

Invision Blog
Articles on design and UX

Best free, high-res image resource

Best paid stock image service

Other essentials
Evernote (my go-to for jotting rough ideas and checklists)
JIRA (gotta love it) and Trello
Adobe Creative Suite
Paper & pencil


CLIENT: Life Reimagined

Branding and art direction, UX design and visual style guide.
Art Direction for Superpower national ad campaign.

See more of the Superpower campaign here.


My time working with Life Reimagined pushed me into new areas of UX design and innovation. It was also my first time being on a design sprints / agile production schedule. While the sometimes frenetic pace was challenging at times, it expanded my workflow toolkit and made me a better designer. From designing a new article / content template (optimized for Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles), to art directing and designing a 'super' interesting national ad campaign, to exploring visual redesign ideas, to designing a custom digital product for Dr. Phil — there was never a dull moment.

Thankful to have worked with such a smart and talented group. 


Most cuddly studio mates


There's something about a beagle – Frannie and Gertie (rescues from Beagle Freedom Project) relaxing in the studio.


State of the Studio



The Think Believe Create name I had used for many years has been replaced by Ryan Carl Studio. The TBC name gave me a framework for thinking about the branding and design process and also provided a link between my "early work" studying religion/philosophy and the design world. But it's time to retire the name for something more straightforward. The Ryan Carl Studio name will also provide a structure for new projects/ventures that can slot-in under the RCS umbrella.


The studio is looking busy for 2017 with the goal of scaling up-up-up and away through a network of longtime partners and colleagues. Please reach out to discuss projects or ongoing partnerships for art direction, branding, design/UX — or all of the above. Or just to say hello — would love to connect.

Let's get to work.
(646) 761-1569


On a personal note...


The Carl family increased by one in 2016. We adopted our second child in May, a seven-year-old boy from China. He is amazing. We love our crazy little crew and the adventure of building a family.

Happy New Year from our family to yours!