How to develop a design for a brand

– So today I’m here with
Hjörtur from 14islands, an agency we really
like the way they work, the results, the websites that
you build are really nice. Basically here at Prismic
Studios, what we like to do is interview people that have good processes, good practices for producing websites, together with our product,
so that we share that with our users. So that they kind of learn
from you, and they get also their process better, they
get their quality better. We think like these kind of
things don’t come by accident, there are a lot of things
that you need to take care of to improve the quality of your production. First, how was the plane? Was it good? Did you get into any trouble? Today in Paris is a strike. – Yeah exactly I was a bit
worried yesterday because I was reading the news, I saw there
was a public strike today in all the public transport in Paris. I was a bit scared yesterday
before I went to bed. There were actually some
stories about the airport being like a chaos. – Yeah I was scared of that as well. I was like maybe, because
often strikes start somewhere and then chaos spreads everywhere. – But it was not the case,
I just strolled through the airport, straight to a taxi. – Cool, well that’s cool. Well thank you for coming,
that’s the most important thing. And thank you for willing
to share all of that with us and our people, our users. So the first thing, can
you give us an introduction to what 14islands do, and
then about your role in there. – Yeah sure, we are
around eight years old. We are a creative design and development studio in Stockholm. What we do is we do
websites, we do branding, we do product work, and we love to create really good experiences. That’s kinda what we are all about. We have a very good team to do that. – What do you do there? – My role is, I’ve
actually been a developer for over 20 years. That’s kind of my background. But right now I’m in this
transition where I’m taking over, kind of running the studio. So I’m more of like a
facilitator of our designers and developers, and making
sure that everything is going well. – Is it hard to move
from a role where you’re producing things, to a role
where you kind of feel more, as you say, facilitating things? Was it hard to make that change? (sighing) – Yes and no. I had a bit of experience
running teams before, and I always enjoy. Even though I’m a developer,
I’m very passionate about design, also. Which is also true for
my partners, actually. Our studio was kind of
started by developers, but now lately we’ve been getting more and more into designs. – So you enjoy that part as well? – Yeah we do enjoy that
part a lot, actually. It’s a lot of fun to do both. I think magic kind of
happens when designers and developers work very closely together. – That seems to be one of
the most important things, if you want to improve
the quality of your work, is to have people talk to each other. Developers and designers,
and not to be like hey this is design, go work on it. It’s more like a
collaborative work, right? – Yeah, exactly. I mean, at the start when we were only doing the development. Since we are all kind of, we like design, we think about design and we want to build a good experience, so at the start, our main clients actually were designers, because they knew that
we would actually deliver what they designed. What’s so often the case with designers, they design something amazing,
but then they pass it, throw it over the wall to the
developers, and it doesn’t always turn out as well as they– – They imagined it to be.
– They imagine it, so. That was really important to
kind of work closely together. – So that was your strong
point, is that you could take these designs,
and make them look like what they imagined, the
experience, you can deliver the experience in development. – Yeah exactly, at the
start it was kind of it. – So maybe, the thing I would
like to do in these videos, was try to break them into smaller videos, so that people can choose to
kind of watch one of them, whether the topic is relevant for them. We’ll break them into short videos. I want to start with, when you
have a client that comes in, and they want something, they
have something they want you to do for them. How do you think about the design? You’re talking about the design, right? How do you think about it? For instance, for a website. Do you say like okay website
sections, let’s do this section and then that section. Or do you think about, okay
now who is the visitor? What do we want them to achieve? How do you think about
your strategy of the design and producing that website
that the client is asking you to do? – There is a process. The designs don’t come out of thin air. It all starts with the strategy. We usually have a strategy
phase at the start of a project. The way we work is usually,
we spend quite some time with the client, at the
start of the project. We get to know them really
well, we get to understand their kind of the story, their
vision, and all those things. Then we dive deeper into
the challenge that they want to solve with the
project that they bring to us. – Can you give some
examples of challenges that they want to solve, for
instance for a product? So we can get into the topic of what kind of challenges, like with
some example projects or things like that. – It can be different. We both do marketing websites
and products, for example. For a marketing website, the
challenge is often to get people, there is a target
audience, and the company behind it wants people to actually
to take action on what they’re trying to sell, or what
they want people to do. It’s a lot about just telling
the story that appeals to that group, and to also
kind of present it in a way that appeals to them. – Right, right. What I like about this, what
you said, is something I’ve been wondering about for quite some time. A lot of people or studios
that produce website, they think too much about call to actions. But you’re talking about the story. People need to understand
the story, and to buy into the story before taking
the call to action. Is it what you’re telling me? – Exactly, and it’s also about the brand. The brand behind the story. I think the world has
changed a lot from its hard commercials to building
brands that people love, and people make connection to. I think that’s how the modern world works. People have the internet, they
will check multiple choices, and they will decide from
that what part they like. It’s really important to
get the strategy behind the product correct, before
you start the designs, and those things. – How long does it take, this
phase of making the strategy or like building up the
strategy or at least setting up the initial phase? – That’s the thing, it
depends a lot on the product. It depends on a lot of things, actually. But we always need to get
that kind of understanding of the business, of the project. Then we will take that
information, we will do our own investigation, we will
maybe do some research. We might do some interviews
with the main audience. – That’s a lot of work. – Yes and no. Maybe it sounds like a lot of work, some cases it is actually it can be. Also you can achieve a lot
with, let’s say you’re building a marketing website. You can achieve a lot maybe
with five user interviews. You might already discover some
common things that you hear throughout all these interviews. That is something that the
client might not be aware of. It’s gonna guide the
process going forward. – But does it happen often? Sorry I like what you’re
saying, that’s why I’m interrupting here. Does it happen often, that
you find something that the client didn’t tell you about? And actually it’s crucial
to kind of talking about their, whatever they want to market? – Yeah, definitely. In a lot of cases it kind
of confirms what they already told us. But in some cases, we actually
spot things that actually contradict what they told us at the start. Then we get this interesting
kind of two perspectives. Which we would then of
course just talk about and we would figure out
why is that, and then maybe something is something we have
to look a bit deeper into. – Maybe something missing in between or something to converge to. Who is involved in this
process, from both sides? That initial process,
the strategy process. – I would say, we have a
UX designer as an example. She’s usually involved in
those discussion and our design team is usually
involved, and a project manager. Some cases that’s me
actually, in some cases– – [Sadek] Someone else? – Someone else. – So the UX designer is
involved since the strategy, since the beginning with the research? – And to be honest, kind of
the outcome of this process is we will do a proposal. It’s like propose the strategy. Usually it’s largely based
on what the client told us. But we will also add
our kind of value to it, and often that’s, even
development is part of it. Because we will propose
kind of the technologies that we use… – Oh so you give like okay the
proposal with the full story. This is what we think the
story should be, this is how you should implement it,
and this is the technology that we’ll be using. That’s why it’s adapted
for thing, like that? – Yeah, exactly. Our type of projects, we are
very hands-on, we like to actually build the stuff. The whole point of the
strategy is figuring out what to design and build later on. We like to think through
the process from the start. – And you said, one of the
strongest points that you think you have is delivering
the results, as well as not only doing the strategy,
but delivering that value that you think you can do. – Yeah I think so. We are quite, like I say,
we are very hands-on. We actually try to not spend,
we won’t just take what the client told us, and
we will lock us in a room for one month and then
we will, or like a cave, and come out of the cave
and have these like big– – Ta-da. – Revelations like,
woo, look at what we… It’s a very open conversation. – Conversation with a client. Then you got that proposal,
do you include designs in the proposal? Or do you include an
idea of the global image of what you’re gonna– – I would say it’s very high level. Sometimes there is navigation,
maybe we’ll suggest a small piece of it, if
maybe the client gave an indication of what they
want in terms of design. Then we might include some part of it. But I would almost say
that’s kind of the next step. Which is where we actually,
where it comes down to more, when we have the strategy,
it comes more down to the craftsmanship of design almost. – Can you describe this a bit more? How do you go for design
after doing the strategy? – Then we have the strategy,
we know the strategy. Then it’s more about
how do we tell a story. Then it’s like color theory,
you’re like what colors are the right, I mean in some
cases it’s already a brand. – So you try to inspire from that? – Yeah, yeah. But in some cases we can
pick that, it’s about the tone of voice, is one thing. It’s about the visuals, it’s
about like what’s the best way we can actually communicate the story. That’s what drives the designs. That’s the foundation
that drives the designs. That’s kind of… – Imagine, and that’s maybe, I don’t know, if it happens with you,
but imagine a brand that, their choice of colors
were a bit, let’s say, rusty or old. Now, you know, every
time, every some years, there are new colors that surface. Would you try to challenge
that, suggest okay maybe you guys, this blue we can
make it this blue instead so that the design is more
fresh, it’s more adapted to now. Do you change colors
of the brand sometimes? Do you suggest these kind of changes. – Yeah, like I say it’s always discussion. If it’s an option or not. If we can feel there is
some flexibility, then, and we will always propose
what we think is the best, we will always try to propose
that, and then of course sometimes we have to make
compromises, which is like how things that get made get done. – What do you produce after the designs? What is it, sketch files? Or what tools do you use? – At the start it’s usually
like design explorations. That could be around the
brand, it could be around the design system, the interface part. It could even go further into social media and a holistic view of the company. But if it’s an isolated kind of project, then it’s probably gonna
be more about maybe showing an example screen or something like that. We want to give people
the feeling of how it’s going to look, how it’s going to feel. How the story is going
to be told, basically. – Right, and then you
present that to the client, you tell them this is
what we’re thinking about? – Yeah, exactly. – Do you have content writers in-house? – No, not in-house. I would actually say our designers are quite good copywriters. But we also have freelance
copywriters that can help us out. – That’s also part of
the experience, right? The tone used, it’s all– – Yeah, exactly, it’s
super important actually, the copy itself. – So maybe in the next
videos we talk more about the choice of tools, and
other aspects of the process. – Yeah, sounds good.

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