My 5 Women Web Designer Heros

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Bonnie thinks we need heros. It’s true. But I was getting worried when all of my web design heros were men. I really didn’t think that there weren’t any girl heros to be had…

Lots of girls are fantastic graphic designers or illustrators, but that’s not enough for me. I’m talking about the whole package here, with extra emphasis on webdesign. So many of the girls’ sites I looked at had glimpses of genius, but when you’re looking for a hero, you want someone whose complete portfolio blows you away, and makes you wish you were a better person. And some lists, including this one from Just Creative Design, made me embarrassed that these women, although very talented, were not heros, especially not to us girl web designers, as some of their websites were unprofessional, badly designed, or just PLAIN plain (the exception being Marian Bantjes who is my typography hero… from both genders, but this is supposed to be about webdesign, so she’ll go on my “general hero list”).

I’m just beginning my web career… I need heros to look up to!

Here’s the attributes I was looking for in my heros.

1. Every piece was polished

A lot of people have one nice piece, or others had a beautiful personal site, but their portfolio was mediocre. She needs to inspire awe with every piece of work she has done.

2. They have their own website portfolio

I know some girls that have designed a site I really like (perhaps being the art director), but they don’t have their own portfolio, so how can I be sure of their greatness? I don’t want to be disappointed.

3. They create something awe-inspiring

I know how to make mediocre stuff already. There is a lot of good stuff out there, but the stuff that inspires needs to achieve a whole new level.

4. Made me wish that I had done it.

If it doesn’t make me feel inferior or if it doesn’t make me feel like I have no talent at all, it can’t be from my hero. Design heros are there to smash your self-confidence. Period.

5. I didn’t just pick them because they’re a girl.

There’s a debate on whether it matters if a designer is a girl or a guy. For my list, I wanted my choices to be so good that it could be a list of just “web design heros”, not just because they’re girls. Does it matter? Maybe it shouldn’t, but I just haven’t seen that many girls around, and I really want to relate to other women designers. I’m sorry, but girls and guys ARE different, even if I don’t agree that one sex is more capable than the other.

So here they are in my personal order…

5. Alyssa Tucker

Alyssa impressed me because she’s a clean coder (her homepage validates) but she’s also a beautiful, clean, simple web designer, who puts playful details into her work. She’s young (only 23!) but when someone’s got talent,you just feel it. Her turkeywithsound project shows how well she combines her great design with her funky personality.

4. Susan Kare

Susan Kare should be well-known everywhere as a designer. She’s not a webdesigner, but I don’t care, because she’s a hero. She’s the original producer of the apple icons, and she basically revolutionalized the look of the computer back in the day. Her personal site is clean and simple too.

3. Eva-lotta Lamm

Go to Eva-lotta’s homepage. Refresh it a few times. Be thrilled. Seriously.

She’s got one error (her ampersand wasn’t coded out), but I can forgive her for that, because she’s not only an incredible illustrator, she also makes games and loves to learn new things. Currently working at Yahoo, she works on animations and other cool projects in her spare time. Oh, and it looks like she’s a bit of a grammar nerd (Yay!).

2. Veerle Pieters

Veerle is a lot of people’s hero. Her blog is beautifully designed. Her site validates. She writes great posts. And, of course, she’s a fantastic artist. No contest on this fine lady being on my list!

1. Esti Landa

I found Esti’s design when I heard about She Says, an organization encouraging women to enter into multimedia. I don’t even think I need to say anything about her design. Go look at it. Look at her portfolio, and you will drool. Even though her portfolio page doesn’t validate, I don’t care (it’s not broken, the styles are just put at the top, but she’s obviously not a coder), she deserves to be number one hero on my list!

Is there any girls you think I’ve missed? Let me know!

Coming soon: top 5 favourite male designer heros…

p.s. this is my article submission this contest on  Hopefully I will win a copy of David Carson’s new book!


  1. Jim!!! says:

    I would add to your selection criteria: Page load speed and how well the designs serves its purpose. A sexy design that doesn’t load or is unusable is no good to anyone!

  2. admin says:

    Yea, you’re right Jim, those criteria are very important… while coding was looked at, I was judging on design first, coding second. I imagine as I get more into the dev side, the performance will become more and more important. I know that my site definitely needs some caching… I’m just learning, so any hints are greatly appreciated!

  3. Dan says:

    Jim, when discussing female designers there are other vital statistics apart from page load speed surely.

  4. I only went through Esti’s website, she has a good portfolio…

    *I just think her ‘intro’ page isn’t necessary as it means an extra click from the user to access her site, plus whatever she has put as her intro page is available as a header on all pages.

  5. [...] Women web designer heroes by Kat Neville. [...]

  6. Gis says:

    Love to see the work of women recognized in an area mostly dominated by men!

  7. [...] while back, I wrote a post about my female webdesign heros, and felt a bit guilty about singling out girls. It does affect me that there are so many more [...]

  8. [...] My 5 women web designer heros by Kat Neville. [...]

  9. Itsallgood says:

    @safetygoat- no worries! I just used your site for basis of a lesson on how web design is a great profession for women and minorities to rise in, and as a launch-topic to discuss global digital access.

    Quite a good class and the students enjoyed the sites you chose.

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