The Challenges of Designing Our Own Website

A reflection on the difficult process of rebranding – and designing your own website as a small design studio.

What are we doing?

Our team knew from the start that designing and developing our own website was going to be a massive undertaking. After finalizing Brunch’s rebrand in early 2018, our entire team was ready to get something tangible out there for the world to see. As a design and development studio, a completely brand new website was the appropriate first real-life application of the Brunch brand.

Being an interactive design studio, the idea of building a website was not what made this project intimidating—it was nailing down the content. What photographs would we use? How would we display mockups of our work? But perhaps most importantly: the writing. All of the writing. What was our tone of voice? How did we want to articulate our work? What are our core values as a company? Out of each step in the entire redesign process, these inward-facing questions took the most amount of time to answer.

A Fresh Perspective

After some initial brand development, we realized that creating your own brand identity as an agency is incredibly difficult. It became inevitable that creating our visual brand ourselves would take significantly longer due to the constantly revolving door of client work. This, combined with the objectivity issues inherent in branding yourself, led us down the path of working with an independent designer, Christopher Scott, and creative director John Zajac – who gave us fresh, experienced perspectives and got us moving in the right direction. Thanks to Chris and John, we were able to get an outside perspective on our brand, create a cohesive visual identity, and keep our rebrand process moving quickly.  

Not Your Typical Client Project

From the start, it became clear that our own rebrand and website was impossible to approach like any other project. Our process with client projects is rooted in clear structure that keeps both sides accountable and organized. An internal project like this required a less rigid, more agile approach that allowed us to make constant revisions to our design and content – and adapt to our hectic schedules.

With our internal site build, we actually skipped wireframing, which is basically the sketching out of your designs on paper. As strange as that felt, it allowed us to quickly iterate on visual concepts that felt right, and eliminate ones that didn’t. Our designer, Tyler Berg, took the lead on the visual design production. With Tyler leading the design, the rest of our team could work on copywriting and content development.

We used InVision to help our developers get a sense for page interaction and various animation concepts. This also proved to be extremely helpful when it came to page architecture and user flow. The Craft plugin for Sketch allowed us to quickly update our InVision prototypes with the most recent version of the comps.

Above all, the most significant challenge was creating all of our content. Because of our rebrand, it was necessary to have completely fresh material for every inch of the site. Nothing could be recycled from our old brand. Articulating a new brand voice that resonated with each member of our team proved to be easier said than done. This, combined with the fact that writing final content is very time consuming, was hands down the most difficult thing about our new site’s progression from idea to reality. There’s so much that goes into building a website that you don’t even think of right away. It’s important to know there’s no quick solution for creating good content. It’s something that requires more time than you expect, and a genuine, “from the heart” kind of effort. Luckily, it’s what we do every day so we were able to expect the unexpected.

Digital design is iterative. We can always make adjustments and tweaks along the way. We’ll be continually writing case studies to reflect our most recent work – and of course keeping all our spotify playlists on each of our profiles up to date!

To us, interactive design is having the ability to continually evolve and improve our work in a living environment. Sometimes that’s the best part about it.

Anyway, that’s our take on website design and why it can be pretty hard to design your own. Even though we ourselves are a design agency, we found it immensely helpful to get an outside perspective on things, because it can really make a difference.