Angry Thoughts
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Angry Thoughts

The stages and pain of AV7’s website birth

av7-website-angry-ventures-blog-post

Among many other things, some of what we do is helping to build brands, design systems, and websites. We do it fast and, if the feedback we receive is true (* tries to dodge the arrogance *), we do it well.

So why did it take us three years since we realized we needed a new website until the moment it was launched?

Good question. Some say it was procrastination; others might say it was lack of focus/priority or even poor project management. For me, it just was a journey. Many outputs came out of it, not just the website.

So what journey was it?

The first intention with the new website

At first, I believe the impulse to do a new website came from this feeling that we were fed up with the limitations of the previous version.

Don’t get me wrong: we loved our website. I think it endured the test of time pretty well, especially the homepage. Besides winning a few awards at the time of its inception, its minimalism made it pretty timeless.

It just was there for too long, and the overall navigation had its quirks which, over time, started to build up discomfort in us, that ultimately sparked the new website endeavor.

The first intention was very simple: let’s do a new version, and while at it, let’s question a few things.

Exploration

Most of our methodology and internal products are born organically from the interplay of ideas, trial and error, and sometimes, let’s say, gut feeling iterations. What are those? Well, sometimes we like or dislike something without being sure why. We don’t obsess about finding out the why, we just do another iteration and go at it more intuitively than rationally.

This is great for creativity since it makes us less self-conscious about rules and reasons, which normally shackle it, and since everybody’s shackles are more or less the same, so are the results.

After we set up a small team to start working on this, we did what we do, and soon the brainstorming and iteration meetings started to roll.

Week by week, month by month, new concepts and prototypes were presented for discussion. Although the team actually working on the task was small, the feedback eventually included the opinions of the whole group.

Failure

We approached the challenge from every angle we could think of. First from a graphical standpoint, from the copy perspective, from the “why” angle, and so on. Probing, assessing, discussing, brainstorming, drawing, and redrawing for a long while. We probably made 5 or 6 different versions that died at different stages. The graphical language changed along the way, the team changed, everything shifted. Just two things remained the same: our will to have a new website and our dissatisfaction with every prototype we had built so far.

Every time we crumpled a draft, we started (it felt) from scratch. Plus, the wear-off and frustration.

Ideas were pilling up to a point that it was becoming ever more difficult to trim off what to use and whatnot, especially because so many sounded and felt good in theory but were being hard to combine and put together into something that didn’t look like the monster of Frankenstein, let alone coming close to “feeling good.”

Anger

Since we were not short of ideas, we started to think the problem was one of executing them in a way that we liked. In other words, we thought the obstacle was in the concretization part, since that was the part that was producing the output we were evaluating more rigorously.

We made some adjustments to the team to try and bring even more expertise into the design component and tackle the obstacle, but the result was a fallback into UXUI common places that looked great but had little meaning to us.

The frustration this generated made us furious and out of that burst of Anger came some rays of clarity.

Vision

“We don’t want a website; we want a medium. We want something that generates an experience because that is the only thing we’re here for at the end of the day. Time can take everything else away from us, but not experience” — this can be a polished and curse-word censored version of the main insight we had.

No wonder nothing was hitting the spot — nothing was aiming at it. I mean, of course we had the experience in consideration, but that was just the X in UXUI. What we were secretly looking for was UXKYWTFNOWJWGRAKNX. Whatever that is.

Ripeness

The team changing was something that happened organically, for the most part. Some people left the AV team, as they do sometimes, for reasons not related to the website project, and it seemed that with them was also going some of the insight, some of the roads already covered.

On the other hand, looking on the bright side, “destruction makes room for the new,” meaning that every new mate that joined the team brought a new perspective to the table, and not only that, but the “pitch” of the project also got better with time. So at a certain moment, we had all the conditions for the project to get out of the puddle and hit the road. Both the team and the vision were ripe.

Traction

From a certain moment on, things just clicked, and the output that was being generated reverberated so much with the whole team that the new website was built with the input of every single one of us at Angry Ventures (plus some others that, as I said before, embraced other flights in the meantime — which I take a moment to thank for their contribution. You know who you are!).

Then, all of a sudden, it felt like things picked up a certain momentum and everyone knew exactly what fit and whatnot, and for the most part, that consensus made the energy everyone was putting into the project propel it forward at high speed. Especially considering that this was, for the most part, a side project within Angry Ventures — meaning that it was never put before the responsibilities we have within projects that we’ve been hired to help make true.

Birth of our new website

As one can see by the end result, the copy and the UXUI were built together. This is not so common in our experience. Normally, the UXUI can be thought of separately from copy, for the most part — hence the usefulness of Lorem Ipsum.

This made it an extra-challenging “feature,” but since the team managed to get traction and the project happened organically, even this eventually found a way to flow.

Before all the screens were closed, we had already started coding the parts that were certain, considering how excited we were to work on this, and the closer it was to launch day, the faster it moved.

At some point, we were aiming to deliver by Christmas, to try and offer ourselves that present for the winter solstice. However, for many reasons, that deadline eventually became a bit too tight and the present was going to turn into a curse, so we decided to launch a few weeks after and let everything happen as organically as it had since the beginning.

Nevertheless, it is still in progress. As it happens with babies, birth is a landmark but not the end of the evolution process. So stay tuned for the mild upgrades that are gonna be happening. Many of those are some form of easter eggs and that kind of stuff.

Insights about the website

If we try to classify things in terms of the boxes we normally use, being the biggest ones good and bad, and then all the gradients or flavors that follow those, like for example efficient and inefficient, success and failure (which we could use to try and classify this process), due to the dualistic and oversimplified nature of the classification, one ends up overlooking many details that are like a whole universe on themselves. Like, by trying to sketch a simplification of a fractal, one removes the fractal quality from the result — if one zooms in the sketch enough, the pattern ceases to repeat itself.

So the process of building this website was not just that. We learned things about ways to do things. We learned about ourselves and about each other. We ran into blockages related to a lack of clarity in the intention and, consequently, of vision.

Normally, we don’t run into this block because we first listen, and then, within the first or second iterations, our partners are happy with the output, and we proceed. Now we were being our own clients and that, combined with our lack of clarity, made us chase our own tail for a while.

Is it a website like many others? For sure it is not. We never wanted that, even when we didn’t really know what we wanted. Is it the best website ever built? Probably not. But it is the best not-website we have ever built. Does it represent ourselves? It sure does, if only because every single one of us put something of ourselves in it. And by the look of the few awards and mentions it already has, some people seem to dig it too.

It is not a coincidence then that this was the journey, and it was through a whole rainbow of emotions that we made it to the destination, having Anger as the highlight. After all, “emotion creates motion.”

So, “what’s your mood today?” 🙂

This blog post is part of a series titled “AV7”, a section where we write about building our new website from different perspectives: CEO and management, design, software development, and digital marketing.

Take a look at it here: https://bit.ly/3AC1is0

Originally published at https://angry.ventures on February 23, 2022.

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We’re a digital studio with almost a decade of experience, challenges, victories, and failures. It could be said that our core areas of knowledge range from software development and digital marketing to service design and new business development. www.angry.ventures

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