It’s a new website. But it’s so much more than that.
You see, building a new website isn’t just about the layout, the functionality and how usable it is although, that’s really important as Robin points out. It’s about the journey to get here.
For the last 12-18 months, we’ve been working as a team to develop our service offer, who we are, what we believe in, re-pivot our offer, deepen our skills, build new knowledge and take on new projects to grow as a team.
It’s been quite transformational.
But hasn’t been easy. The last two years have seen us double in size and turnover, open a new office in London and really sink our teeth into a bunch of new projects focused on particularly challenging topics. From digital currency to domestic violence, launching educational services to global campaigns, we’ve continued to push ourselves and at the beginning, punch above our weight.
I’ve never wanted to run a top down office, so we’ve been engaged in deep discussion on a regular basis to slowly grow a consensus about what we do and who we are.
The website project, spanning a very long 18 months or more, took its time and went through multiple iterations – we discussed everything that went around each major decision. If you asked about the services page, we’d say, ‘Do we really know our services and do they work? Do clients understand them? What products go in each one? Should they be colour coded? If they are colour coded, do we need to tag all our projects with service codes? Does that we mean we need new presentation layouts?” You get the picture.
One question and design decision would lead to multiple questions and design decisions.
This is like a form of strategic design, as Dan Hill discusses, where we’re using a tangible form (our website) to question everything around us. We’ve held the space with this project to refine everything: from our values to the roles we have in the company, the corporate governance to how we plan projects. We jumped from micro to macro and back when making design decisions and it’s ongoing. You know what? It will never end but at Snook, we always work live, everything is always fluid and we like it that way.
To give you a feel for what we’ve discussed when building this site:
- Defining our service offering
We built a menu of products we all understand (even if design is difficult to commoditise in a purist sense). We’ve had to ensure we codify parts of our process for our clients and for ourselves so we speak a shared language.
- Creating company values
We had to write down what we believe in. This is actually harder than it sounds. We’ve repeated out loud general ways we approach our work but no one ever captured them. Finally, we’ve got agreed principles like ‘Work Live’ and ‘Thoroughly Pragmatic’ that make sense to us. It’s really important to me we have a shared consensus on our approach to the jobs we do.
- Job Roles and departments
Our team can be quite amorphous at times. We’ve had to configure our structure and roles to make work easy and see our growth towards becoming a full end-to-end team. This ambition is reflected in our new site and its brought up all sorts of questions around what skills we need in the team.
- Our vision and project choices
How do we want to portray ourselves? What kind of work do we want to do? We’ve reached a sort of unspoken consensus on our route forward and that’s come through monthly team-wide conversations and regular discussion on our slack channels. We’ve shared projects that work and excite us, we’ve discussed the tougher ones and dug deeper to find out why they were hard.
- Our templates
With a changing language, product list and brand, we re-built all our templates from scratch from contracts to new business proposals. We’re still building these and now re-designing our project processes. Everything, and I mean everything, is being questioned and re-designed. One by one and little by little.
Building our new website wasn’t about the website, it was about the fundamentals of who we are and how we work.
Sometimes, you need to see these kinds of projects in a different light. Not as a quick fix to sell something new but to slowly build who you are as a unit.
We’re far from finished. There are over 150 case studies sitting in our drives and heads, but we’ve got a structure now, a revitalised purpose and we’re ready to share it with the world.
And do it iteratively.
We’re tinkering every day. We’re watching what people read from data and listening to feedback.
I’d like to take this moment to thank my wonderful team who have given this everything to get it to where it is – from the design to the build but also the content that goes in it. That’s the work we’re doing day to day, week to week, year to year.
Cheers, here’s to version 2.something!