Women in Web: Hailey Day

Susan Snipes / Posted 8.28.2012

Women in Web:
Hailey Day

In our Women in Web interview series, Meta Q meets up with women around the world to find out more about their path, their passion and how they think the web industry could improve. We’ll be sharing insight from the bright minds of female designers, developers, architects, strategists and business owners.

Our latest interview is with designer, animator and business owner Hailey Day. Day is founder and principal of HeyDay Creative, a design studio that delivers web and print marketing solutions to start-ups, entrepreneurs, civic organizations and non-profits. In addition to her print and 3D animation prowess, Hailey is a web designer with a full set of web tools including HTML, CSS, SEO, SEM, CMSs and “cleaning up sloppy code from previous developers.” Hailey lives in Denver with her husband and daughter.

MQ: Tell us about your work in 140 characters or less.

HD: HeyDay Creative is a Denver-based website and graphic design studio that empowers start-ups, entrepreneurs and non-profits with effective brand marketing.

MQ: How/why did you get into the web industry? Why do you stick with it?

HD: In 2007, I made my first website as a portfolio-showcase to accompany my resumé, when job hunting for graphic design positions. But I knew deep down there was a growing need for print designers to transition to web... so I began my informal, online training. Website design is fun and addictive, the perfect marriage of technical problem-solving and artistic creativity.

“Website design is fun and addictive, the perfect marriage of technical problem-solving and artistic creativity.”

As the job positions that I desired didn’t manifest themselves, and the market dove into a recession, I made a decision to stop being passive and become proactive. In January 2008, I started HeyDay Creative and immediately the work started coming in. Although it’s still a one-woman shop, I have had over 50 clients and projects of all sizes. Some clients just need a quick logo, while others need a full brand strategy, complete with print collateral and a dynamic website. And it’s still fun.

MQ: What was your first web-related job? What was that like?

HD: My first website client was a small Christmas-lighting business. Although I now cringe when I look at it, the client was... and still is... thrilled with it. It’s a static, super-clunky website and uses out-of-date coding techniques like table-based layouts, Flash photo galleries, Javascript image swapping and image blocks for the navigation. The CSS is probably 10-times as long as it needs to be, but at the time I was just excited to get it to work. The design is also very plain and has the tiniest font I could have selected. Without building websites like that (and lots of practice) I couldn’t be where I am today.

MQ: What does a typical workday look like for you?

HD: Organization is key. I keep an ongoing task list, and order it according to deadlines and priority. I find it’s best to just focus on one task at a time, and work my way through the list. Most days I bounce between emailing clients and working on about 1-3 print pieces and 1-3 websites. Some days it’s code, other days user interface design, or even business cards and letterhead. My primary tools are Adobe Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

MQ: How do you stay passionate about your work? What do you do to refocus when you're having a bad day?

HD: I find design and “the technical stuff” endlessly interesting and fulfilling. If I’m feeling in a design rut, I browse the internet for inspiration of other fantastic designs and get immediately reinvigorated about the possibilities. Sometimes I’ll just take a break from the work and try to create something completely outside my comfort zone and learn a new way of coding in the process.

MQ: Do you think women face different challenges than men in the web industry? How so?

HD: Hard to say if we really face different challenges. I think it’s definitely a male-dominated industry, but that doesn’t mean women can’t do as well... or better. My whole life I’ve found myself in male-surrounded environments, and maybe it’s because I have an older brother, but it just drives me to be more competitive. As the lone girl in the trumpet section of my middle school band class, I fought to hold on to the “#1 trumpet chair.” And as the only girl at my former forensic animation company, I worked my way up to be the boss of a team of boys.

If I could change one thing about the web industry it would be:

HD: Cross-browser and cross-platform testing is the bane of web existence. I wish there was more of a push for uniformity amongst software developers that made HTML and CSS display the same way in various browsers. I often get extremely frustrated when my beautiful design gets rearranged or displays oddly in a different setup. It eats up far too much time.

My favorite website/web project I worked on is:

HD: My favorite web project is an architecture firm site that recently launched: High Plains Architects. I’m really pleased with the final aesthetic; I’ve seamlessly integrated it with a fantastic content management system; I challenged myself with some custom jQuery elements; and my clients are enthusiastic about the outcome!

My favorite website/web project someone else did is:

HD: Right now, I’m obsessed with Ghosthorses. They make me want to elevate my game.

“Don’t be scared to fail. Every stumble makes your next step stronger.”

If I had one piece of advice for a woman trying to break into the web industry it would be:

HD: Don’t be scared to fail. Every stumble makes your next step stronger.

Susan Snipes

Susan Snipes

President and Founder

Susan Snipes is the founder and president of Q Digital Studio. As a community-minded web entrepreneur, developer, and ExpressionEngine expert, Susan’s innovative approach to the web has benefited well-known companies and organizations ranging from technology, healthcare, education, nonprofits, local and regional governments, and more.  For more thoughts on entrepreneurship, leadership, and inclusivity in technology, follow her on twitter @SusanSnipes.