HOW YOU CAN HAVE F ORM, F UNCTION AND A BEAU­TI­FUL DI GI TA L DE­SIGN

A dig­i­tal project that’s both beau­ti­ful and func­tional may seem like a pipe dream, but you re­ally can have the best of both worlds, says Jonathan Til­lick of Dave Clark De­sign.

Idealog - - IDEALOG / DAVE CLARK DESIGN - Jonathan Til­lick Group dig­i­tal di­rec­tor T: +64 9 300 1612 M: +64 21 445 697 jonathan@dav­eclark.co.nz http://linkedin.com/in/til­lick

When you com­mis­sion dig­i­tal projects, it can some­times feel like you’re forced to choose be­tween what looks great and what ac­tu­ally works. But Jonathan Til­lick, group dig­i­tal di­rec­tor and part­ner at in­de­pen­dently owned agency Dave Clark De­sign, says it re­ally is pos­si­ble to have both.

“We like mak­ing use­ful things that are both prac­ti­cal and beau­ti­ful. If you have a ma­ture ap­proach and a well-in­te­grated stu­dio there shouldn’t be a need to choose be­tween one or the other,” he says. “So­phis­ti­cated dig­i­tal in­ter­ac­tions can be made beau­ti­ful. And a beau­ti­ful new prod­uct de­serves a dig­i­tal pres­ence that works for cus­tomers.”

The Dave Clark team are find­ing that as tech­nol­ogy evolves, de­sign and craft be­come even more in­te­gral to the process of cre­at­ing great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences. Sketches and wire­frames help cre­ate the core of the ex­pe­ri­ence, but vis­ual de­sign, pol­ished cod­ing and great copy­writ­ing cre­ate a more tan­gi­ble brand ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers.

“That’s where true dig­i­tal spe­cial­ists em­bed­ded in a de­sign-led en­vi­ron­ment makes sense,” Til­lick says.

As the name sug­gests, Dave Clark De­sign has its roots in the de­sign world.

The agency’s long-term strat­egy of in­te­grat­ing dig­i­tal with brand­ing from the be­gin­ning has clearly paid off, with om­nichan­nel clients like ANZ, Kia and Club Marine con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to the agency’s growth. It now has five stu­dios in Auck­land, Welling­ton, Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Sin­ga­pore.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion is key

“Some­times the fo­cus is on the big ideas and some­times it’s on the prac­ti­cal­i­ties. Ei­ther way, it’s al­ways about de­liv­er­ing,” Til­lick says. “We have a team of se­nior strate­gists, de­sign­ers, de­vel­op­ers and con­tent cre­ators who love de­sign­ing, build­ing and test­ing dig­i­tal projects in col­lab­o­ra­tion with clients. And with richer video con­tent of­ten an im­por­tant part of the mix, our in­ter­nal mo­tion graph­ics team is re­ally pay­ing off.”

With tech­nol­ogy chang­ing the way we com­mu­ni­cate, work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively means clients are in­volved at ev­ery step along the way. Mul­ti­ple it­er­a­tions are pro­duced for re­view as a group so ev­ery­one feels in­vested and pro­tected from any sur­prises.

“Things have def­i­nitely changed in the last five years,” Til­lick says. “We don’t go away for weeks at a time and come back with the big pre­sen­ta­tion of a fully re­solved project.”

For clients like ANZ, this col­lab­o­ra­tion ex­tends as far as plac­ing na­tive mo­bile and re­spon­sive web de­sign­ers as part of the bank’s ag­ile de­vel­op­ment teams.

“I’m also happy to be the hun­dredth per­son you’ve heard say that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool Slack has changed their com­pany for the bet­ter – be­cause it’s true,” Til­lick says. “It’s not only knit­ting to­gether our in­ter­na­tional team, it has be­come the key client ser­vice chan­nel for clients like Kia. Noth­ing makes me hap­pier than see­ing an ex­change where a se­nior de­vel­oper asks the client di­rectly if they’d like a small im­prove­ment to the CMS, and see­ing the change ap­proved and im­ple­mented min­utes later. With 60 staff, we’re lucky enough to have mostly se­nior tal­ent, so that flat­ter struc­ture can still work as we get big­ger.”

Bridg­ing the gap

The same hands-on ap­proach is ev­i­dent in the agency’s brand-led projects too. The 15-year col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Til­lick and the agency’s group cre­ative di­rec­tor An­drew Smith means there has al­ways been a nat­u­ral in­te­gra­tion be­tween brand and dig­i­tal – an el­e­ment miss­ing from many agen­cies with more in­di­vid­ual of­fer­ings. “Our fo­cus has al­ways been on do­ing,” Smith says.

"We work with big brands so we’re used to prob­lem-solv­ing on a large scale. In any project, it’s all about beau­ti­fully de­signed ex­pe­ri­ences that are un­der­pinned with solid cre­ative think­ing.”

Walk­ing the walk

Dave Clark De­sign’s dig­i­tal so­lu­tions are en­gi­neered to de­liver on com­mer­cial ob­jec­tives, while at the same time mak­ing cus­tomers happy.

“We make sure we’re in­formed about the busi­ness and its cus­tomers, whether that’s from ex­ist­ing re­search or ini­ti­at­ing it our­selves. Then it’s a case of rolling up our sleeves and

We l i ke mak­ing use­ful things that are both prac­ti­cal and beau­ti­ful. If you have a ma­ture ap­proach and a well- i nte­grated stu­dio there shouldn’t be a need to choose be­tween one or the other.

solv­ing the prob­lem rather than wheel­ing out di­a­grams about di­a­grams,” Til­lick says.

“Our pro­cesses and work­shops are fo­cused but very much a means to an end. We’ll cre­ate a strong brand and user ex­pe­ri­ence strat­egy pack. But we ap­ply just enough process and think­ing to get a project on a solid foot­ing, then spend as much time as pos­si­ble de­sign­ing user jour­neys and in­ter­ac­tions and get­ting them into the hands of cus­tomers.

“While we’ve got great ideas and tal­ented de­sign­ers, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than sit­ting with a client and ob­serv­ing their cus­tomers use and re­spond to new prod­uct and de­sign con­cepts. When we can sur­face in­sight from real cus­tomers, the clients find their stake­hold­ers re­lax too.”

Into the fu­ture

With user test­ing be­ing so in­te­gral to its dig­i­tal work, Dave Clark De­sign is al­ways re­fin­ing the test­ing and ob­ser­va­tion process. The next step is to take that learn­ing and cre­ate a ded­i­cated lab that en­cour­ages more reg­u­lar tac­ti­cal cus­tomer test­ing, rather than re­ly­ing on big­bang test ses­sions and for­mal re­port­ing.

“It’s not al­ways prac­ti­cal to get out and ob­serve our pro­to­types be­ing used in the wild, so we want to cre­ate a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment in a set of ob­ser­va­tion rooms. We’re call­ing it a UX lab, but maybe ‘lounge’ is more ac­cu­rate, as there’s not go­ing to be any white coats and ex­plod­ing beakers. It's one of the many ways we con­tinue to evolve."

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