If you’ve spent time talking with us, you probably know that our size and focus aren’t topics we run from—quite the opposite, really.
They allow us to be nimble: highly configurable, iterative, and collaborative in how we work and who we work with. Being a team of four enables us to join forces with other specialists or larger teams in need of our skills. Focusing on design and development helps us imagine ways in which our core skills can be creatively extended.
Simply put, there’s a lot to like about being nimble. Here’s six ways people have been working with us lately:
1—Have us extend your in-house team
While full-service agencies may be a fit for large companies, a handful of the organizations we partner with use us as a boost of sorts of their in-house team’s capabilities and expertise. The Wegmans creative and IT teams have found this to be a great fit, and we’ve been helping them optimize code, introduce new features, and design new components to enhance their homepage.
Naturally, there are times when in-house teams like Wegmans will have design-only or development-only tasks for us to assist with. I’m not saying it’s impossible for large agencies to take on these kinds of projects, but anything that doesn’t activate multiple disciplines can create some friction for this kind of model. Not so for us—in fact, teams are routinely appreciative of the kind of impact we make on design- or dev-specific missions.
2—Plug us into a team of teams
Fans of 90’s cartoons know this as the Captain Planet “let our powers combine” concept. 80’s kids know it from Voltron. Whatever your point of reference, one of the strongest fits for our studio is playing the design and development role on a project alongside writers, content specialists, photographers, etc. Alongside our strategy friends at Attention Span Media, we’ve been helping Hormel Foods—a company with an in-house photo and video studio and communications team—maintain their website and digital projects.
Websites of any size benefit from a multitude of contributions—organizations rarely have the right amount of or ample expertise within their own resources to do this well. Large agencies tend to claim this as a gap they fill. However, we’ve found there’s more potency and collaboration when a team of expert teams is formed. Like the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest department.
3—Have us be your only team
And then there’s the thing you figure is right in our wheelhouse: creating a website alongside you—a startup or small business—from start to finish. While our preference is to create that aforementioned team of teams, some projects are only some light content or photo help away from us taking it across the finish line ourselves. This was certainly the case when sensing startup Hidden Level came to us for a website refresh.
These types of projects tend to follow our typical process, something we’ve made increasingly collaborative, whether it’s with other expert teams or, in this case, a client. This model involves all four studiomates contributing to the end product, making this one of the most straightforward and direct fits of our studio.
4—Hire our designers to refresh your brand identity
When we’re not knee-deep in UI projects, Maribeth and Dan are likely exploring anything from logos to applications of brand identity systems. While it seems tricky to shift gears between websites and branding, from a creativity perspective, it’s honestly refreshing to go back and forth between the two.
The summer of 2020 provided such an opportunity with Strange Design Public House, a brewpub on its way to Geneseo, NY. We spent a few months exploring brand marks and expressions in a phased approach to their branding process. We’re eager to compliment our web work with identity projects like this, and for some clients, one leads into the other.
5—Hire our designers to art direct your campaign
These next two models are surprisingly common for us. Not everyone needs a new logo or website, so we routinely find ourselves applying our skills to initiatives on the periphery of those mediums. Since we’re not well-suited for production overflow, we offer our art direction as a means for teams and collaborators to create on-brand communications. Think: social templates, brand guidelines, print communications, and even video.
We’ve had our hand in a number of video projects for Syracuse University over the years. For IVMF, we art directed two videos that shared an overarching style yet one leaned on photography and the other illustration.
This is a sneaky important role we can play. Leaning on us to art direct—or at least consult on—more than one project (ex: a website) enables us to weave continuity, and hopefully delight, across a reasonable amount of touchpoints people have with your brand.
6—Hire our developers as a tech consultancy
Likewise, the more we’re involved with your team or operation, the higher the probability that Nate and Tom will have ideas for how to solve sticky operational or workflow inefficiencies with technology. Sometimes this is us recommending a really good app we use that can scale to your size. Other times, we’ll propose building something custom fit.
Like many higher ed institutions, Syracuse University sends a lot of emails from a lot of sources. After noticing the difficulties that come with this—lack of brand consistency, varying performance, and unreliable mobile presentation to name a few—we worked with them to create Email Generator.
Tech consulting comes natural to us. It’s common for people who hire us to build a website to ask us about the enterprise software they use—Nate and Tom are reliable and easy to talk to. And we’re nimble enough to spend time dedicating ourselves to making our clients’ daily tasks easier to accomplish.
For us, small and specialized does not mean understaffed and inflexible.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the value of being nimble. It’s something baked into the core of our studio, and we routinely pull it off without detracting from our strengths. If you’ve got a clever way to bring us on board, let us know!