Design Studio Website top 10 tips (aka what clients want)

19.08.15

Great little insert from the new @the88journal, making us hungry. #print #graphicdesign #donuts

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We are currently re-designing the O Street website and like any project we do, it’s starting with us doing a bit of head scratching and asking lots of questions. My favourite questions so far are:

– Why the hell are we doing this, I have only just recovered from the last redesign?

– Can we do something like the Sagmeister & Walsh site?

– Can we not just switch it off and only use our Twitter and Instagram?

This is us asking the questions in the studio over some more donuts Josh brought in (I swear he is trying to fat up the Glasgow team!) and it’s fair to say that O Street, despite being very important, are not the key audience for the website. It’s the clients and collaborators we reach out to that I am really keen to understand. Rather than second-guess what these people are looking for, I did it the old fashioned way and just asked them. I’d like to thank everyone who got back to me, from the global brands to the local collaborators, your feedback was great. Here’s my ‘top ten’ favourite tips:

Call me up. #Cali #Monday

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10. Contact details

“Front and centre you need phone number, address, email  and directions. This is the stuff you look for when you are in a hurry. And I spend a lot of time swearing at folks sites as this info is usually buried on page 53 in the small menu under ‘contact us’  HATEFUL!!!!! total time eater.”

A good point, and one I realised hadn’t come up in any of our initial sketches. A website is a great chance to show off work, and underline the value you offer clients, but for a lot of clients it’s just a glorified Yellow Pages entry, and if we hide the contact details they ain’t gonna be happy. (What does a ‘time eater’ look like? A bit like Pac Man, I think.)

 

Meet O Street: Tessa brings a little something fresh to our #glasgow #studiolife A photo posted by O Street Studio (@ostreet_studio) on

9. Gorgeous

“A gorgeous well-designed site – both beautiful and functional. Agencies often neglect their own web presence.”

I loved this answer. I’m all for getting the concept and effectiveness right, but it’s gotta be beautiful. That’s why I became a designer in the first place, the aesthetic, the gorgeous-ness!  

 

 

Another #graphicdesign dandy from our label industry collection

 

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8. Case studies

“Good but concise case studies that clearly show the agencies role and the variety of work that was undertaken – headings and bullet points are good and live examples are best, and certainly not out-of-date ones.”

I wasn’t surprised this one came up, it’s key to communicating the value of what we do. Some agencies do this really well; my favourites are Moving Brands and Applied Works. The ‘not out-of-date’ is an interesting point; one challenge we have already identified is how to curate our case studies so people see the projects we (and they) want them to see.

 

Really hope they start filing in for the latter! #typography #NoTinder

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7. Services

“…there are such a range of agencies that tend to offer overlapping services i.e. design can mean a lot of things these days – so just making it very clear precisely what serviced are on offer would be helpful.”

I know we’ll struggle with this one—we have continually avoided pinning our services down to a specific niche—but are also fully aware of the negative impact this can have. Design’s ever-widening definition might force our hand soon!  

 

 

Happens to the best of us. #the100dayproject #100thingstosay

 

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6. Testimonials

“…perhaps, a page of testimonials from clients, that can be approached for references, might be helpful also.”

Client contact details on our site… that is an interesting one (‘though we have had problems with other design studios—you know who you are—trying to poach our clients, so we need to think about that one).

 

Okay @graeme_smyth, ask and you shall receive! #studiolife

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5. What website?

“To be honest, I’ve not really looked at the O Street site before – I think I’ve looked at it once or twice. But when looking at design agency sites I generally want to see a selection of their work and who their clients are.”

I appreciated the honesty of this one. It’s one of our most important clients, and I kinda had the hunch that clients don’t really look at our site as much as we’d like to think they do.

 

 

Here’s @tsimpo2 and her typographic handiwork #graphicdesign WIP

 

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4. Copy

“It’s very easy when you’re sat in the same room with someone to give them the full story, but always hard to convey in words. A copy writer…”

As you can probably tell if you’re still reading this blog, I’m a bit long winded and scrappy with my text. We often hire a profession photographer to capture our work, so why not hire a copywriter to craft our text too?

 

3. Personality

“The key thing I look for on a website, both as a client and a collaborator, is individual personality.  I want to know the people I’m hoping to be working with are not just as homogenous blob, but as people who I can imagine working with…”

I must buy this guy a beer soon, well said!    

 

 

Finding we’re having to force smiles as we’ve been eating a melon a day since @laurenlalaw’s #beertimes #exhibition

 

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2. Team profiles

“Team profiles.”

Brief, but to the point, I like it. We always put this in our creds documents, but not the website. As a boutique studio, the people are really what make us special—the personal relationships we build define who we are and are honestly our surest stream of new business.

However, as a hangover of a previous corporate age I have always been averse to publicly publishing names: What if they leave? Will that not encourage others to poach our staff? Shouldn’t our studio not be overshadowed by individual egos? Reflecting this though, we are a confident tight team and I am not really worried about these things; maybe we should publish profiles.

 

One of those days

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1. Beyond the website

“Web presence is way beyond the website now. I’m likely to see every off-the-cuff Instagram pic you post (and love it), but I’ll very rarely read every blog post you spend hours writing and tailoring.”

I have spent almost an hour on this post already…harshdarnit!    

 

Just doing what we do best. #graphicdesign #hotdog #uhhhhhhhh

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All this being said, we are still witholding the right to ignore all ten tips. As designers I also believe that we have to be brave, try new things and come up with unexpected solutions. Designing our own site is one of the few chances we have to completely ignore our clients’ direction and do things the way we think they should be done, with the goal of impressing them in completely unique way (I just noticed since I started this blog Sagmeister & Walsh have announced they are re-dong theirs!).


David

*All photos from O Street’s instagram feed