A close look at Digital Podge 2017
The Freestyle treatment of Digital Podge 2017 explored the era of “post-truth” in a lunch for UK's best agencies. Here are some snippets of what we created.
A four-week turnaround for scope, UX, design, build and some content support, you say? Not a problem.
Projects with aggressive lead times often bring out the best in teams. It’s great to see the camaraderie as everyone mucks in, disciplines blur and clients roll up their sleeves to become part of the Freestyle studio.
Here we share our approach to the Avanti website and hear from the guys that made it happen. Enter Paul Beacham (Creative Director), Will Carson (Senior Developer) and Perry Feighan (Front-End Developer) to talk us through a very busy month.
Paul Beacham (left) Will Carson (centre) and Perry Feighan (right)
Q: Tight delivery deadlines: How did they affect the design and UX thinking?
Paul: “We had to take a stab at it and think about the functionality, the content, prior to thinking what it’s going to look like from a brand point of view. Anything we could have used to help ourselves pitch better was about to be rebranded, so we took a small gamble... We went straight to prototype and pulled the current branding through, to give it more body, to feel more like an actual website than a wireframe.”
Will: “Normally we’d have a 2-3 week period to do UX and design, and us developers would be constantly talking to the designers.”
Perry: “Ideally you’d go through a process where you’d have a proper scope, there’d be a full interactive prototype, and full stylesheet rather than the 5-6 blocks. But when it works, it works. It’s an MVP so that’s sufficient for now.”
Paul: “Luckily, we did so well in the pitch that in the feedback we were told that we answered questions they were going to ask at a later stage!”
Q: Was the choice of technology affected?
Will: “When they came to us and they said ‘this launch has to coincide with this satellite launch, which is at the end of August’, we said that will be okay, provided we keep a lid on functionality, scope and that we know as much as we can know, then we were confident we could do it.
Open source can be particularly useful when the deadline is really tight. With .net it can take a whole week just to set up the infrastructure. It’s especially quick if you’re using PHP, because you can build the website in 2-3 weeks. “
"Open source can be particularly useful when the deadline is really tight."
Will: “We’re technology agnostic but we’ve been predominantly working on .net because of the needs of the clients. So we’re always keen to do projects with open source because we’ve got those skills in-house and are more than able to use other technologies to build websites.”
Perry: “We made great progress in the first week. Second week it was functioning, last week is a lot of tweaks and testing, some animations and transitions… The biggest hurdle is going to be the sheer amount of content they are going to have to add to the website. It’s like a rabbit hole, 3 levels plus whatever happens under that. We’ve dealt with this much content before, so we just need to make sure we’ve got all our ducks in a line.”
With many Freestyle and Avanti people on holiday in August, the deadline became a lot tighter. It meant a lot of planning, working in tandem, and getting the best from a multi-skilled and multi-talented team.
Q: Did you have to work in a different way to get this project through?
Paul: “Two designers working at the same time means we had to put things in place to make sure we were delivering consistent work. It’s not uncommon for us to work in this way, but it’s uncommon to cover so much ground in that space of time.”
“It’s not uncommon for us to work in this way, but it’s uncommon to cover so much ground in that space of time.”
Will: “There was even more pressure as key people in the agency were going on holiday including the creatives, so Perry had to pick up the amends on the design, which was great because his background is predominantly in design rather than build.”
Perry: “Will and I are a well-oiled machine so building in tandem happens frequently in our corner. We talk, we put stuff on whiteboards, we love ticking stuff off. It’s been a fun project to work on. Putting phase 2 on the board will be fun!”
Will: “What struck me about this project was that Avanti literally do rocket science… Their timing with that part of their business is impeccable. But their website launch was extremely tight. This makes me feel like what we do is quite meaningful, we are specialists in what we do, but for a company like Avanti to be reassured by us that everything will be sorted for them on time was quite humbling.“
"For a company like Avanti to be reassured by us that everything will be sorted for them on time was quite humbling."
Will: “We can do a tight deadline, we can work around lack of resource, we know how to build a website inside out. We definitely would not be able to deliver such high-quality services and outputs without having the right skills and people in our agency."
"We can do a tight deadline, we can work around lack of resource, we know how to build a website inside out."
Best of all, the client was thrilled with our work and the quick turnaround on the project. Check out the Avanti site.