Eth­i­cal De­sign

Web Designer - - Contents -

Stu­dio Repub­lic are shap­ing the dig­i­tal spa­ces of non-prof­its and char­i­ties.

Lead by a strong eth­i­cal com­pass, Stu­dio Repub­lic im­prove the lives and en­vi­ron­ment of the peo­ple their work im­pacts upon. Shap­ing the dig­i­tal spa­ces of non-prof­its and char­i­ties, this agency has a foun­da­tion of in­tegrity that shines bright through­out their work

In 2003, Stu­dio REPUB­LIC, Like Many De­sign agen­cies, Be­gan In a Spare Room. Chris tod­hunter, the Dig­i­tal Di­rec­tor and the Founder of Stu­dio Repub­lic, orig­i­nally cre­ated the busi­ness as a dig­i­tal free­lance re­source for lo­cal agen­cies. How­ever, Chris’s jour­ney to that point wasn’t all plain sail­ing. Drop­ping out of his Soft­ware engi­neer­ing Man­age­ment course at Bournemouth univer­sity, Chris spent his spare time tour­ing as a drum­mer with var­i­ous bands, play­ing gigs across the coun­try — and even hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to play at glas­ton­bury. It wasn’t un­til his metic­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail scored him a job as an art­worker that his path in the cre­ative field started to take hold. When the dig­i­tal era started, Chris found his true pas­sion — web de­vel­op­ment. ex­cited by the new ad­vance­ments in the tech world, he spent his evenings teach­ing him­self how to code. as the dig­i­tal in­dus­try grew, Chris’s tal­ents grew along­side it. Chris’s flair for tech gen­er­ated enough busi­ness for him to start work­ing as a free­lance de­vel­oper and, be­fore long, he had so much work he started think­ing about ex­pan­sion, so Stu­dio Repub­lic was born. “For the next eleven years, Stu­dio Repub­lic worked to pro­vide its clients with high qual­ity, ahead-of-the-curve dig­i­tal ser­vices — do­ing such a good job that some of our very first clients still work with us to­day,” Chris ex­plains. “But it wasn’t un­til 2014, when Jack De Wolf joined Stu­dio Repub­lic as Client Ser­vices Man­ager, that the busi­ness started to be­come what it is to­day.” Jack De Wolf grad­u­ated from univer­sity with a first class Ba Hons in De­sign and went

“as well as keep­ing up-to-date with new tech­nolo­gies, we’re keen to roll up our sleeves and de­velop new tools our­selves. In an ef­fort to bal­ance our col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach with clients and get rid of any bot­tle­necks in our plan­ning, de­sign­ing, build­ing, man­ag­ing and train­ing pro­cesses, we’ve started us­ing a new sys­tem that we’ve de­signed and built as a plugin for our MODX CMS sys­tems” Chris Tod­hunter Dig­i­tal Di­rec­tor and Founder

“When Jack be­came part­ner, Stu­dio Repub­lic re­ally took off as an eth­i­cal cre­ative dig­i­tal agency”

straight into the in­dus­try to work as a de­signer for a Lon­don agency. not en­joy­ing Lon­don life, and real­is­ing that work­ing as a de­signer wasn’t the right fit for him, he spent the next few years trav­el­ling the world. upon his re­turn to the uk, Jack worked in a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries — from re­cruit­ment to footwear — try­ing out var­i­ous roles be­fore real­is­ing that he still had a love for the cre­ative sec­tor, but wanted to take on more of a client-fac­ing role. In a Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Man­age­ment role for a com­pany on the South Coast, he re­alised he’d found the right fit. “When Jack joined the team here at Stu­dio Repub­lic, he took our client list and grew it sig­nif­i­cantly,” says Chris. “Jack and I worked hard to re­alise the po­ten­tial of Stu­dio Repub­lic as a full ser­vice, dig­i­tal cre­ative mar­ket­ing agency spe­cial­is­ing in the char­ity, not-for-profit and eth­i­cal arena. In 2017, when Jack be­came part­ner, Stu­dio Repub­lic re­ally took off as an eth­i­cal cre­ative dig­i­tal agency. Since then, the agency has gone from strength to strength. our team has grown sig­nif­i­cantly, and we’ve never been hap­pier do­ing the work we love, for the peo­ple who make the world a bet­ter place.” Chris ex­plains how he named the busi­ness: “It’s al­ways the way when you think of a great busi­ness name that some­one has al­ready pur­chased the do­main name. Com­pe­ti­tion wasn’t as fierce back then as it is now, but out of the long list of 20 or so name op­tions, half had been taken. to me, Stu­dio Repub­lic best summed up the in­de­pen­dent na­ture of the busi­ness, and the rest is his­tory.” agen­cies ap­proach their web­sites as calling cards and of­ten as a first point of contact for po­ten­tial clients. as Chris ex­plains, keep­ing their own site up-to-date is of­ten a chal­lenge: “our clients’ web­sites al­ways take pri­or­ity, which leaves very lit­tle time for our own site and has of­ten pushed our own mar­ket­ing to the back of the queue. “In the past, we’ve been pretty slack when it came to up­dat­ing our own site, but now, with our new fo­cus and larger team, we en­sure that we reg­u­larly up­date the web­site — we’re go­ing through another re-fresh as we speak. our web­site should re­flect who we are and what we can do, and that takes work. We treat our­selves as another one of our clients: we set a bud­get and as­sign time each month for that wellde­served TLC.” the chan­nels that agen­cies use to gain their clients can of­ten be di­verse. “over the years, we’ve been very lucky to re­ceive the ma­jor­ity of our clients through re­fer­ral,” Chris ex­plains. “each new project we launch acts as Stu­dio Repub­lic’s new ad cam­paign. this year, how­ever, we’ve mixed things up, giv­ing our­selves a mar­ket­ing bud­get, which Dee Rus­sell, our Mar­ket­ing Lead, has in­vested into mem­ber­ships, events, awards, Seo, ppc, etc., in or­der to at­tract clients in the char­ity, not-for-profit and eth­i­cal busi­ness sec­tors. “We don’t cre­atively pitch for work, as any­thing you present be­fore get­ting to know your client and their busi­ness needs would just be a ‘pretty pic­ture’. In­stead, we lead each pitch with our tai­lor-made strat­egy and im­pres­sive cre­den­tials.” Hav­ing the abil­ity to choose which clients they take on hasn’t limited the breadth of ac­counts that Stu­dio Repub­lic have worked on, as Chris ex­plains: “We’re for­tu­nate to choose the projects and clients we get in­volved with. We live by our val­ues and are priv­i­leged to work with a wide range of clients who share our out­look.” Chris also shares: “there have been a few oc­ca­sions where we have po­litely de­clined work­ing for busi­nesses sim­ply be­cause they don’t share our ethos. It’s not so much the size of a project that we de­cline, more the val­ues of the peo­ple we’d be work­ing with, or un­cer­tainty that we can bring some­thing to the party. We will only ever work on a project if we are cer­tain that we can add value. We’re not an app, pr or me­dia-buy­ing agency, and we



each client re­quires their own tar­geted set of ser­vices. For is­my­bill­fair, they needed in­no­va­tion. Is­my­bill­fair came to Stu­dio Repub­lic with a new busi­ness that was set to dis­rupt the price com­par­i­son mar­ket. there is sig­nif­i­cant price dis­par­ity for uk cus­tomers of util­ity and ser­vice providers, from en­ergy to broad­band.

the founders saw this un­fair­ness and wanted to chal­lenge it, sup­port­ing peo­ple to re­main with their providers whilst still get­ting the fairest price. the task was to brand the busi­ness (which only had a work­ing ti­tle at the time) and build the uk’s first price trans­parency site of­fer­ing users the op­por­tu­nity to stay with their providers for a bet­ter deal.

to achieve the client’s goals, the team needed to in­no­vate and utilise new tech­nolo­gies as well as cre­ate a highly tai­lored site that would match the vi­sion for is­my­bill­fair. ev­ery­thing was de­signed and de­vel­oped be­spoke for them.

Stu­dio Repub­lic’s de­sign­ers worked closely with the de­vel­op­ment team to care­fully cre­ate and re­fine a bold, user-friendly site. the cen­tral jour­neys of the site — the pages which lead users to the ‘priceome­ter’ that tells them how much other cus­tomers with the same ser­vices are pay­ing — were care­fully de­signed and de­vel­oped with ease of use in mind and were rig­or­ously tested.

the re­sult­ing site guides a user through a se­ries of ques­tions about their usage of var­i­ous ser­vices (such as broad­band, en­ergy or mo­bile phones) and then presents them with an easy-tounder­stand priceome­ter, which shows whether what they are pay­ing is high, low or av­er­age com­pared to other users with the same lev­els of ser­vice. users are then of­fered a chance to ask their sup­plier for a bet­ter deal, or to see a range of al­ter­na­tive sup­pli­ers if they wish to switch.

CIWEM Char­tered In­sti­tu­tion of Wa­ter and en­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment

at the end of last year, the Char­tered In­sti­tu­tion of Wa­ter and en­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment (CIWEM) ap­proached Stu­dio Repub­lic to pitch for their web­site re­design, and the agency jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. Since re­fo­cus­ing their ef­forts at the end of 2014 to work only with clients that share their val­ues, Stu­dio Repub­lic have wanted to work with an or­gan­i­sa­tion that’s pri­ori­tis­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

Since win­ning the pitch, Stu­dio Repub­lic have worked very closely with CIWEM, get­ting to know them and their or­gan­i­sa­tion in­side out, in or­der to pin­point and un­der­stand the is­sues CIWEM’S web­site pre­sented to their users as well as re­veal­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties within their busi­ness that could be de­vel­oped or im­proved.

as an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion with mem­bers in 89 coun­tries and hopes to ex­pand their mem­ber num­bers, CIWEM re­quired a site that drove mem­ber­ship and a sim­pli­fied mem­ber jour­ney, which was more user-friendly. their orig­i­nal mem­ber­ship sign-up and jour­ney were lengthy and com­pli­cated, and the Stu­dio worked very closely with the team at CIWEM to stream­line this process to make the user ex­pe­ri­ence as easy and has­sle-free as pos­si­ble.

CIWEM’S new site shows a sim­pli­fied mem­ber­ship jour­ney of just three steps (re­duced from the orig­i­nal seven) and also en­ables users to save their ap­pli­ca­tion mid­way through and re­turn at a later date to com­plete the process.

“HTML5, CSS3 and JS are con­stantly evolv­ing to pro­vide us with new and in­ter­est­ing tech­niques”

would never agree to take on ser­vices that are not our core spe­cial­ism, but there are no dig­i­tal projects that we can’t de­liver.” As an agency that de­signs on an eth­i­cal ba­sis, Web De­signer asked Chris if there was one project that re­ally en­cap­su­lated the ethos of his busi­ness: “The Green Party web­site would be one of the projects that best de­fines our pur­pose, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and scal­a­bil­ity,” Chris added. “They are the epit­ome of eth­i­cal and we re­ally align with their val­ues. The web­site we de­signed and built for them was in­de­pen­dently ranked the win­ner of the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion; ac­cord­ing to CBR, ‘The Green Party is the win­ner of the Gen­eral Elec­tion, at least when it comes to dig­i­tal per­for­mance’.” “From one sin­gle in­stal­la­tion of the MODX CMS we built the main web­site and 180 lo­cal mi­crosites through a con­trol panel that gives 200 users gran­u­lar ac­cess lev­els. In the four weeks lead­ing up to the Gen­eral Elec­tion, the site re­ceived a huge amount of vis­i­bil­ity achiev­ing 823,000 vis­its.” Tools? Chris ex­plains which tools Stu­dio Repub­lic favour for their work: “As with most agen­cies in the in­dus­try, we use a lot of Adobe soft­ware but, over the last few years, the mar­ket has be­come a lot more com­pet­i­tive, with a lot of other third-party soft­ware be­ing launched — ob­vi­ously an amaz­ing thing for ev­ery­one in the in­dus­try! We use both Sketch and Invision for de­sign­ing and pro­to­typ­ing on all of our dig­i­tal projects. Invision seems to be go­ing from strength to strength, with new tools, prod­uct launches and even doc­u­men­taries com­ing out all the time. they’re a great re­source for de­sign­ers. al­though we love the lat­est soft­ware, some­times you can’t rule out good old­fash­ioned pen and pa­per. We tend to start a lot of our wire­frames off on post-it notes or in our notepads as it’s such a quick way of pri­ori­tis­ing in­for­ma­tion and work­ing things out.” Chris con­tin­ues: “HTML5, CSS3 and JS are con­stantly evolv­ing to pro­vide us with new and in­ter­est­ing tech­niques to use on web­sites. Be­ing able to utilise tech­nolo­gies such as CSS grid, Webgl, SVG an­i­ma­tions and even HTML can­vas el­e­ments cre­ates un­lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties. If we could have seen the way we build our web­sites now a few years back, our minds would have been blown. In such a fast-mov­ing arena, it’s hard to pre­dict where web tech­nol­ogy will go — even in just a few years! What we do know, how­ever, is that wher­ever it goes, and wher­ever it takes us, we will al­ways look for the most in­no­va­tive and cre­ative ap­pli­ca­tions. “as pri­mar­ily MODX de­vel­op­ers, we are al­ways look­ing for new plug­ins and fea­tures for that frame­work. new fea­tures and ex­tras are con­stantly be­ing cre­ated and im­proved and, as we’re very ac­tive within the MODX com­mu­nity, we of­ten sug­gest up­dates for the cre­ators to im­ple­ment. “and as well as keep­ing up-to-date with new tech­nolo­gies, we’re keen to roll up our sleeves and de­velop new tools our­selves. In an ef­fort to bal­ance our col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach with clients and get rid of any bot­tle­necks in our plan­ning, de­sign­ing, build­ing, man­ag­ing and train­ing pro­cesses, we’ve started us­ing a new sys­tem

Ord­nance Sur­vey Photofit

ord­nancesur­ Stu­dio Repub­lic been work­ing with ord­nance Sur­vey (os) for a num­ber of years now, cre­at­ing en­gag­ing cam­paigns and re­lated soft­ware that has al­ways in­spired large num­bers of peo­ple to get in­volved.

ord­nance Sur­vey had an idea that needed to be de­liv­ered within a very tight time­frame. the project was photofit, which aimed to en­cour­age cus­tomers to en­gage more with the os brand.

to­gether, the Stu­dio and os de­vel­oped a na­tional on­line com­pe­ti­tion that en­abled mem­bers of the public to up­load their own pho­to­graphs us­ing the be­spoke geo­tag­ging ser­vice we de­signed and de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for them, as well as al­low­ing users to vote for their favourite shot. the geo­tag­ging func­tion­al­ity en­abled the win­ners from each re­gion to be se­lected with ease, with the win­ning pho­to­graphs be­ing fea­tured on the iconic ord­nance Sur­vey pa­per maps.

the Stu­dio team had an ex­tremely tight project time­line of just two months to build the in­ter­face, de­liver com­plex func­tion­al­ity, and to fully test the site be­fore it was launched. the tight-knit team pulled to­gether to en­sure the dead­line was met and that the prod­uct the client re­ceived was ex­actly what they needed.

Stu­dio Repub­lic didn’t stop there: ord­nance Sur­vey had a sched­uled ap­pear­ance on the one Show, which they an­tic­i­pated would lead to a high in­flux of traf­fic to the site, so they en­sured that the in­fras­truc­ture of the site would be ro­bust enough to deal with high vis­i­tor num­bers and con­tent up­load.

the site re­ceived 15,000 hits and 700 up­loads within 24 hours of go­ing live, which it han­dled without a hitch. the cam­paign gen­er­ated 471,000 page views, 46,000 users, 11,480 en­tries, and 59,889 votes cast.

“We spend more time with our col­leagues than we do our own fam­i­lies”

that we’ve de­signed and built as a plugin for our MODX CMS sys­tems. “now, when a client logs in, the first thing they see is a sim­ple in­ter­face that shows ex­actly what’s in the pipe­line, what’s com­pleted, and what they can be get­ting on with. We in­tro­duce them to the sys­tem when the first tem­plates have been signed off and built, which en­ables them to start us­ing MODX a lot ear­lier, rather than hav­ing to learn ev­ery­thing just be­fore the site goes live. In the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture, we’re hop­ing to give this soft­ware away for free to help other de­vel­op­ers in the MODX com­mu­nity and their clients.” the tools in use are not the core driver for how a de­sign is ap­proached and ex­e­cuted. “our de­signs are al­ways cre­ated with the pri­mary users in mind — if mo­bile is the pri­mary de­vice used to ac­cess the site, we de­sign mo­bile first. Re­spon­sive de­signs util­is­ing a fluid lay­out are key for a con­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Chris. “this has been im­por­tant for some time but, with google now in­dex­ing by mo­bile first, and with the way that peo­ple now con­sume the web, this has never been truer. With adap­tive de­signs be­ing less flex­i­ble and not al­low­ing for scal­a­bil­ity for all mo­bile screen sizes, we feel the ex­tra ef­fort given to de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing re­spon­sively al­ways pays off for our clients and their end users. It just pro­vides a more pol­ished and en­gag­ing prod­uct. “We try to al­ways have the end user in mind. the ex­ten­sive ini­tial re­search pe­riod that we un­der­take on all of our projects means that we can start to out­line and an­a­lyse who will be us­ing the web­site or ser­vice and how they’ll be us­ing it. From there, we plan how best to serve them the con­tent they need. Work­ing with a lot of char­i­ties means we’re con­stantly try­ing to im­prove and re­fine how peo­ple in­ter­act with on­line ser­vices — es­pe­cially the way that they are able to make dona­tions. Whilst a desk­top screen pro­vides loads of room to con­vey the im­pact of giv­ing money, keep­ing the do­na­tion ex­pe­ri­ence sim­ple but in­for­ma­tive on a mo­bile de­vice is where the real chal­lenge comes in.” Chris also ex­plains Stu­dio Repub­lic’s ap­proach to so­cial me­dia: “With bil­lions of peo­ple us­ing so­cial me­dia chan­nels every day, it’s a vi­tal way of driv­ing traf­fic to a site. use of so­cial me­dia is be­spoke to the project; each chan­nel ob­vi­ously comes with dif­fer­ing au­di­ences and vary­ing ways for them to be tar­geted,” he says. “our first step is al­ways to work out who we want to at­tract and, from there, we iden­tify the best way to en­gage with them. the great thing about be­ing a full-ser­vice agency is that we can of­fer a wide range of so­lu­tions. each of our cam­paigns take mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proaches with so­cial me­dia be­ing one, among con­tent cre­ation, ppc, guest blog­ging and printed ma­te­rial.” the eth­i­cal stance the agency takes in­flu­ences the peo­ple that want to work for the agency. Chris con­cludes: “Stu­dio Repub­lic is made up of the peo­ple that work within it. When look­ing for new team mem­bers, we look for pas­sion­ate peo­ple who have re­searched and un­der­stood why Stu­dio Repub­lic ex­ists. In ap­ply­ing for a role here, we hope that they’ve con­nected with our ethos and ap­proach. We spend more time with our col­leagues than we do our own fam­i­lies and, in a tight-knit team of like-minded in­di­vid­u­als, it can be dis­as­trous to get it wrong. Whilst skills are im­por­tant, they can be learned and im­proved, so it’s the right per­son­al­ity and out­look that we try to find.” Stu­dio Repub­lic not only cre­ate sites that en­ables clients to make a pos­i­tive im­pact, they craft dig­i­tal spa­ces that speak to their own val­ues, too. the close con­nec­tion to these ideals colours every as­pect of the strik­ing work the agency has cre­ated over the last 15 years. With their fin­gers on the pulse of what dig­i­tal de­sign means to­day, Stu­dio Repub­lic’s eth­i­cal com­pass en­sures that their clients aren’t just clients, but part­ners who want to de­velop new dig­i­tal spa­ces to im­prove the world that we live in.

Jack De Wolf (Client Di­rec­tor) and Dee Rus­sell (Brand and Mar­ket­ing Lead) putting their heads to­gether for an up­com­ing project pitch.

Halina My­ers (De­signer) and Har­ley South­wick (Lead De­signer) at work on their lat­est project

It was vi­tal that the web­site func­tion­al­ity worked flaw­lessly no mat­ter what de­vice was used to ac­cess the new ser­vice

the priceome­ter is a fun­da­men­tal com­po­nent of the site, which Stu­dio Repub­lic built from scratch

a faster, highly re­spon­sive and more stream­lined mem­ber jour­ney was at the core of the re­design

It was vi­tal to un­der­stand the busi­ness in or­der to de­velop a new site that sup­ported its mem­ber­ship.

Har­ley South­wick work­ing on some in­ter­face de­sign for a client project

Vis­i­tors are able to zoom into the in­cred­i­bly de­tailed maps that os is fa­mous for in or­der to lo­cate photofit win­ners from any part of the coun­try

a tight project de­vel­op­ment time­frame didn’t faze Stu­dio Repub­lic, who rose to the chal­lenge of de­vel­op­ing what has be­come a pop­u­lar com­mu­nity

the func­tion­al­ity of the photofit project and its un­der­ly­ing in­fras­truc­ture was para­mount to en­sure a flaw­less user ex­pe­ri­ence

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