A collaborative process : revisited
Digging a little deeper into a highly effective branding & web design process
I’m not gonna lie I wrote parts of this a few years back as we were developing our process at 5or6. I’m not sure if that’s cheating or not, but hey it is what it is.
However with the launch of the 5or6 new site happening over the next few months and the old article not being live any more, I thought it was a good time to revisit our process, discuss how we approach projects now & how it has evolved over time.
Our process has changed over the last few years, not majorly but we have learnt some new things, tightened up on a few bits and we have continually evaluated it’s role within the project as a whole. Plus I feel the clients expectations of branding and digital projects has shifted. No longer are people looking for their website to be digital dumping ground but a focused experience that enhances the users perception of the brand, product or company.
People also see the need now more than ever for a flexible brand that can communicate over physical and digital mediums effectively with a human touch.
When it comes to websites clients are requesting we focus on mobile first as they understand the importance that the mobile device has on all humans. They recognise the short period of time they have to capture someones attention, serve up the content they are looking for (on all platforms) and providing an experience they remember. It’s an exciting time.
We still like to talk first
Any successful project is built on clear, honest communication from both parties which means that the first thing we like to do is meet (if we haven’t already at a social soiree) and talk things over.
We feel chatting it through first off helps to establish relationships, boundaries and who we are working with, who’s leading the project on both sides and who makes the decisions.
Kicking things off
After an initial meeting we set up a kick off meeting in which we will look to establish the project goals based on companies short and long term aims, target audience and if it’s a digital product how it fits with their brand.
At this point we will be asking a fair few questions about the company and other subjects that are far easier to talk about face-to-face. Email chains and Skype calls can be impersonal and we need the honesty that face-to-face conversations offer.
In the kickoff meeting we are trying establish where you are now as a company, and how the project fits into your future.
If it’s a rebrand we will be focusing on why you are looking to rebrand, what your public perception is at the moment, your history, what the point of it all is and what is required going forward.
We will explore your direct and indirect competitors, your brands tone of voice and the most appropriate mediums to start conversations with clients on. It is a long process but incredibly important to the project as a whole as it allows everyone to understand if we are heading in the right direction.
If we are looking at a digital product such as a website or app, the brand as a whole is a good starting point. Who are you, what are we communicating, how does it fit into the overall brand aims are all questions we will look to answer. No one needs an app because everyone else has one, if you treat it that way you will get an unfocused product that the user can’t quite work out its purpose and it will be a disaster. Every addition should be made to hone in on the focus of the product, if it doesn’t do that then is it worth it?
Another thing we do in the kickoff meeting is to layout a framework for feedback. Doing this allows everyone to contribute based on project goals and aims to eliminate personal taste biases by focusing on what is right for the project.
Gaining an understanding
With the goals set, next up comes the research. We know what we want to achieve, but how we going to achieve it still needs to be determined.
With a solid background from the kickoff meeting in place we can now dig deeper into the overarching goals and explore routes to achieving them by taking a look at the macro and micro elements, but also gaining a clearer understanding of your target audience, and interaction with any outward-facing design resolutions/websites you already have.
With this information, and appropriate data, we can begin to structure everything we do and make decisions based on facts and figures rather than hunches and witch craft.
Reviewing, understanding & improving
With the research phase complete we will begin to put our thoughts together into tangible outputs through lots of sketching, doodling and coffee. Plus there will be lots of discussions over the phone, email, Slack, Whatsapp, Trello, Skype or face-to-face, whichever fits best to allow us to best reach our goal.
This iterative process of problem-solving, be it a new website or brand design does take time. Steps will be repeated in the design, build and testing phases working towards the best possible solution together.
Short and long term goals are set with a timeframe attached to them which are continually reviewed and everyone (the client as well) is held accountable for their role in the project to ensure a successful outcome.
After all the work has been completed, your website is ready to go, your product developed, your new brand put through its paces to make sure it stacks up against the research and brand values… how do we get it out there?
That’s a decision that is made between us all as the project is progressing. We may look to have a brand launch and unveiling or we could do a soft launch with the website, but this decision will be made together using the information we have acquired about the company, its customers and your brand values.
Once you’re out there in the wild, we will be there to help you through the initial changes and edits, so don’t worry. We are always reviewing, understanding and improving what we have both created.