Refresh for Success: Maintain Quality Themes Design with Olga Gabay from Zeru Studio

Samsung Developers

Spring is here and it’s a good time to clean house in your digital world. From your design process to Galaxy Store presence, it’s important to revisit past work to make sure it’s in top shape. To help you get started, members of the Samsung Developers community have been sharing advice on how they’ve successfully refined their processes and maintained a strong Galaxy Store presence.

We conclude our ‘Refresh for Success’ series with Olga Gabay from Zeru Studio, known for their beautiful themes, wallpapers and Always-On Displays. Read on to find out how Olga maintains design quality in her portfolio.

When and why did you start designing themes?

I started designing themes over three years ago, without any prior experience in this field. However, being a Graphic Designer for 26 years, I already had a process that could take me from an initial inspiration to an end product. First, I make a quick sketch with my tablet, search for the matching stock material, then create a series of 3-4 quick drafts that will represent the home screen, lock screen, messenger and dial pad backgrounds. These images may vary from modified stock photos to complex digital art that may take many hours to complete. Once I’m satisfied with my design, I finalize it in Galaxy Themes Studio.

In my first year, I was trying to figure out the market demand and create various seasonal products. Then I discovered promotional events are better for building demand than following popular topics. So, in my second year I put a lot of effort into chasing the upcoming events calendar. It wasn’t until the middle of my third year that I gave up following common requests. I decided to come up with designs based on my current mood and whatever comes to mind. Also, I stopped thinking about how many sales this or that theme can make.

Theme Designs by Zeru Studio

Theme Designs by Zeru Studio

How often do you revisit your old designs and update them?

From time to time, as long as refreshing the given binary is still available. Whenever I need to update a theme for a new Samsung device, I run through all the major screens and give them a fresh look. I almost always end up fixing at least a few colors, addressing visibility issues, and updating keyboard buttons or some other UI graphic elements. It might take a tremendous amount of time, but there is still value in prioritizing these updates over creating brand new themes during the active updating season, typically at the end/start of a year.

If there is a new feature being rolled out with a scheduled One UI update, I will go through all my old themes and decide which ones to update. Recently, I added video call screen backgrounds to over 25 of my existing themes, despite it not having any sales or promotional value. It's my way of showing appreciation to those who still use my products and it gives me a sense of professional satisfaction.

When new platforms are released, do you check to make sure all designs are working?

It's way too time consuming and not even possible on the newer devices to re-check all old binaries. Instead, I prefer reacting to user feedback. Sometimes, I will check for certain issues (most often contrast or icon/text visibility) to make sure everything is okay after the latest One UI updates. I rely on the Remote Test Lab (RTL) on a regular basis to check designs, because I don’t keep old Galaxy devices.

Are there any specific files you would recommend to always keep handy?

Keep literally everything! Extra disk or cloud space is not that expensive nowadays. It's very important to keep all source files like vector formats, PSDs, hi-resolution images and videos. Image fonts, icons, buttons and backgrounds tend to change in size and proportion with every new device, and that's when old files become handy. Also, source files are often needed to create promotional materials.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a designer about organizing their work to keep it fresh?

It’s difficult to give advice that’s helpful to every type of designer. Some bigger companies who are producing thousands of designs might want to be very organized, but smaller operations might be more comfortable in a system that looks a bit chaotic from the outside. The best advice I can give is to find what works for you so organizing is easy and doesn’t feel like a chore.

Thanks to Olga for sharing helpful advice on improving the design process and refreshing old themes to maintain their quality. You can connect with Olga and Zeru Studio on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also check out Zeru Studio’s full collection of themes in Galaxy Store.

We hope you found our ‘Refresh for Success’ series helpful in getting your digital refresh started. Remember, making Galaxy Store updates is key to keeping your seller account active. You need two activities every three months that trigger an app review by the seller portal team. An activity takes many forms, and can be anything from uploading a new app, to updating a current app, hanging the description or adding/updating photos. However, changing the price of an app does not count.

Follow us on Twitter at @samsung_dev for more developer interviews and tips for designing Themes, Watch Faces, and more for Galaxy Store.