Good creative is hard to come by. There are a lot of designers out there, but few of them can focus their talents toward other people's goals. More importantly, if they are given a set of to-do's, their talent dries up from micromanagement. The solution? A compass.
Yes, by golly, a compass. A special compass. One that you and your designer come up with together. A north star guiding the decisions made and inspiring your designer to keep moving.
What goes into a compass? Context, expected outcomes, boundaries, and aspiration. A good designer will take these and run. Wanna get good work? Make a design compass.
The past two Saturdays have been awesome. A client of mine and I have dove deep into the brand of his meal prep company and developed an outline of what his website should look like. It's safe to say that he and I are on the exact same page as to who this website is for, how it should feel, look, and the expected path this person will take. Before diving into the brand discovery, he asked something I thought was fascinating, "do you think we are putting the cart before the horse doing the branding before we do the website?"
I thought about this for a bit, and replied: "not at all."
Looking back at what we've done and the order in which we outlined these deliverables, we are both glad we started where we did.
Currently, my client's branding efforts are minimal and veer toward a male audience looking to get ripped. During the brand discovery, we unearthed that his most successful clients were busy, professional women who valued an easy-going, Southern California lifestyle. Diving deeper, my client had deep connections with farming and the peace that comes from working with your hands. That's a totally different story to tell, for a different audience, and so great a chasm between his current brand and those it was meant to serve.
How would we have come to that conclusion by focusing on building his website first? In short, we would have had a hard time getting aligned and the project would be a bust. We'd still be trying to talk with dudes who want to be ripped. We are going a whole new direction with the entire project. Hell, we're even changing the name of the company.
Here's the thing:
Whether you're building a website, designing a business card, marketing collateral, writing messaging, or coming up with the name for your company, understanding the brand you are trying to build is the foundation for a fluid design process and seeing results.
Full disclosure, I am a Webflow Affiliate and I get monies for sending people to Webflow. Full story, I didn't start out that way and after using the platform to make epic websites for three years, I was given affiliate status.
The website of a startup is like a 24/7 sales person and it's the most extensive component of your branding efforts. It's the only place where investors and customers can experience your company and get a feel for who you are. It stands to reason, then, that if you cannot keep it alive and make it a pleasant experience, it becomes a crutch.
Before you even get started on building a site, chances are you'll do some research figuring out what platform to use. You'll probably explore options like WordPress, but, in my not-so-humble opinion, WordPress sucks compared to Webflow. For these three reasons: time, functionality, and creativity.
Time is your most valuable resource and while WordPress was great in being a first mover into making the web more accessible for makers, they fell off the tracks. It's still time consuming and difficult to make a WordPress site look and function exactly the way you need it, even with the help of developers. Webflow's designer tool allows you to skip over the back-and-forth between design and development. This saves time and it also cuts down on costs, since you are no longer dependent on developers to make design changes.
Any time the development team is taken out of the picture, the question of compromising functionality arises. Blanket statement: whatever you are looking to do Webflow can handle it. If you're worried, just ask these giant tech startups how much Webflow helped their marketing teams.
Furthermore, if you do need to bring in your dev team after 99% of the site has been built, they can add custom code with ease.
Lastly, creativity. New ideas come on quick and you have to move quick as a startup. Can you afford to wait for a designer to put something in sketch, pass it to the dev team, go back-and-forth to make sure it's right, have your marketing team edit it, and then launch? NO! You've gotta move and at the speed of creativity.
As if that wasn't enough, WordPress templates are rigid as hell and can't be molded easily. Certainly not without developer help. Startups can't afford to wait that long or have their developers doing rudimentary coding like front-end website building.
Point being, if your startup is not on Webflow, you are missing an opportunity.