Posted 02 Nov 2009 - 4 Gratefully received comments
I thought it was about time I shared a few of my more recent projects with you. I’m not just going to show you the results, I’m going to try and show you how I got there.
Client: Seven Acres Business Park
Company Overview: Seven Acres is a small rural business park on the outskirts of Ipswich. The business park is comprised of a number of industrial and office units in quiet surroundings that are conveniently located to the larger centres of business in the area.
Project Brief: We began the project with the aim of developing an identity for Seven Acres Business Park.
A further aim was to implement the design into a website, to help publicise empty office space as and when there is any available.
Initial Meeting: Below is a scan of my notes from my first client meeting:
I always try to get an overview of the business and people I’m working with. In this case I had two individuals that needed to agree with any final proposal I made. I like to discuss general likes and dislikes that might help me make design decisions. These can range from favourite colours and the sort of car they drive, to the colour of their living room wallpaper or what newspapers & magazines they read. These may seem like strange questions to ask, but I feel they give me small insights into simple tastes in colour and form that might be able to guide me further into the design process.
My notes also show the results of a quick brainstorming session I had with the clients with the subject being how they feel the company should be perceived, and what values they have tried to instill in the business.
Research: I always do a little bit of research. Usually to get a feel for the business sector the company operates in. I look at their competitors, businesses that are bigger than they are and some that are smaller. It helps to get a sense of where the business should sit it’s brand in relation to the others, and what I can do as a designer to make them stand out.
Initial Sketches: Below is a scan of some of my sketches in reaction to my first client meeting:
Please don’t laugh too hard! I know these sketches are very rough and by no means works of art, but that’s not the point. These are the sketches that nobody, usually, sees. They are for my benefit only. I get ideas down as quickly as I can so I can filter through each and assess each one’s validity.
I’ve written about how important I think drawing is in a past article, you can read it here.
Initial Visuals: Once I’ve gone through the first batch of sketches I go through and filter the ideas that I feel have legs. I might sit down and do a bit more sketching to refine any details I’m unsure about, but in this case I went to work things out on screen, purely because of the nature of the ideas. The ideas I wanted to start with were very clean and geometric, so I would get the best and quickest results by working on the mac.
These are the first round of visuals that I sent to the client -
With the first round of visuals I want to give the client options. I try to stick to the parameters we have set through our first meeting, constantly referring back to the words from our brainstorming, to see if the ‘feel’ is right. I want to give the client different options that work within the narrower field we have set.
Basically I’m trying to give them a set of visuals that are the ‘same’ but ‘different’.
Development: Once the clients had time to digest the first round of visuals we met up again. We discussed the merits of the ideas, and most importantly established if there were any that they connected with. In this case we discovered there were two ideas that they wanted to develop further.
This is where I focused on the client feedback, and also where I wanted to give them more choice to see the possibilities in each idea tested to it’s limits.
First idea, Development -
This idea came from the abstract oak leaf sketch.
I also like to give the client a few ‘strange’ colour variations. I do this to help activate their thinking, they may not like any of the variations I give them, but it shows them that they have choices.
The colour palate for this project was decided quite early on, so this step seemed more important than usual.
Second Idea, Development -
This idea is also using the oak leaf motif but in a more friendly conventional way.
Final design Proposal: Below is the logo that the clients settled on. I did a few small changes from the last round of visuals just to tighten it all up.
My client felt that it had the correct feel for their business, they like how it projects a lot of the key words from our initial meeting: A sense of community, caring, small yet established and diverse.
As the designer, it can sometimes be hard to articulate how you achieved a final result. All I can say is that this design solution was deemed successful by my client, and myself, but it will only prove it’s efficiency through it’s implementation.
Please visit the Seven Acres website to see how we used the design. It is a simple, clear information driven site, and it was designed to this end.
Through the initial stages of research I looked at many sites in this particular business sector and found either a jumble of information where the design got in the way of what the site was trying to say, or a particular lack of information with the design trying to do the talking and failing.
In this case I think we found a good balance that will serve the company well in the future.
Let me know what you think of this article, what you think of the results and more particularly what you think of my process.
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