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Perspective is everything. The return to in-office life requires adjustments but also provides surprising opportunities to create, especially if inspired by the spaces of people we admire.

UX Strategist Kelly Kautz took that admiration to a whole new level through her now award-winning painting, “Mary’s Office.” According to Kautz, who took the reference photo while waiting for a meeting to begin, “I love the way the morning light filters into our offices and that particular morning it was hitting the pink watering can just perfectly. I wanted to paint it not just for its beauty, but because it’s both still life and a portrait of Mary Pedersen.” PS&L is a division of JPL, where Pedersen is Executive Creator Director.

The painting, in acrylic, is currently on view at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Chosen from over 2,000 other entries, Kautz’s submission, won second place in the painting category.

Here’s how Kautz, who leads the creation, execution, and maintenance of digital experiences for clients like for Harrisburg University, Upper Iowa University, and Butler Community College, among others, connects creating her photorealistic acrylic painting to building high-performing websites:

Are there any parallels between your life as a painter and your life as a UX strategist? How so?

Every painting has elements that must work in harmony with one another: the medium, composition, values, color temperatures and even the style of the brushstrokes. A website is similar. The platform, technical setup, content, and design all work together to shape the user’s experience. Each element plays an important role, and each one must be executed thoughtfully in concert with the others.

How do you know when a painting is completed? Is the same true for a website?

A website is never really completed! It’s an ecosystem that needs to respond and adapt to changing user needs. That’s one thing I love about working in user experience. I can study how people interact on the website, make updates and get real-time feedback. I can’t usually do that with a painting!

Do you approach your web projects with an artist’s eye? Why is that valuable to your team and projects?

There are similarities between a strong composition and strong information architecture. Even if you don’t understand exactly how or why everything fits, you sense that it works. There’s a hidden logic to the way things fit together, and it feels effortless – even though it’s usually been designed very thoughtfully and deliberately. There’s a certain magic to executing it well.

Paskill Stapleton & Lord has launched more than 50 institutional websites, microsites, and campaign landing pages in the past five years. Learn more about how our website solutions drive results:

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