The last in our Studio Life series focuses on our web development team – the toughest to explain a typical day for, as web projects can vary significantly. So I’ve written a slightly more broad view with the help of Tom, starting at the beginning.
When Bluegg started out in 2002 the web was a very different place. For the first 12 months or so, Tom and Mike (the Directors) managed to provide strong branding and design services with a limited degree of website development. Back when tables, frames and 56k download speeds were all pretty normal! Thank goodness those days are behind us.
Offering a Complete Solution
Bluegg quickly realised that there was a big gap in the market for an agency to offer both print design and web development services, so they hired Paul, their first web developer. Paul was an old college colleague who had graduated with a degree in graphic design and had gone on to develop backend systems for a local university.
This proved to be an excellent and rare combination because he could not only bring the designs to life but he also has an amazing eye for detail. This was the start of Bluegg offering a much wider service.
Over the last 9 years, this side of the business has grown to match the design side, mainly because of the way the web has changed, becoming central to most of our lives. Paul is still with us and is now joined by Annemarie.
Our View on Design for the Web
Coming from a design background has been invaluable to our web development offerings. We see a strong correlation between the design of a quality brochure and a quality website. We don’t see them as completely separate means of communication. Lessons we learned in university about space, colour, alignment, tone of voice, size and shape all apply to the web in the same way they’ve applied to print for decades. The only thing that really changes is the medium, the technology and the knowledge of web users.
Like most agencies our projects start with planning. As studio manager I work with Tom (our Creative Director) and the client to establish the key information they want to promote, the target audience and the structure of the site.
Once we know where the site is going, we hand it over to the design team who develop the visuals. Very often a website is part of a bigger project which usually starts with the logo and branding. Having both the web and design team working together on projects has been invaluable to us as it’s a time to work together, swap ideas and inspire each other.
We then move onto development and the designers hand the final visuals over to the web team. These normally consist of Photoshopped versions of each page of the site. By this point, the decisions of the technical complexity, user control and functions of the site will have been agreed with the client.
Recently we’ve moved almost all our content managed sites over to WordPress as it’s just so easy to implement and not too intimidating for our clients, although we do offer training and support so that helps!
There are times where we need something a little more in depth than WordPress such as complex web apps. This normally comes about because of Tom’s ‘anything is possible’ attitude – sometimes much to the frustration of the web team!
But it’s true. We like challenges, and having to develop something that isn’t available off the shelf and is bespoke. This is when we really get to test ourselves. So far, Tom’s been right – we’ve yet to try something that wasn’t possible.
A Typical Day?
So as I explained earlier it’s tricky to give an overview of a typical day in the Bluegg web team. In truth it starts the same as the rest of us as we covered previously – coffee, morning catch-up, emails, Twitter, Facebook, work! The work part usually consists of coding web pages and CSS, doing website updates, updating clients, training and bug testing (although this is now much easier since we decided to drop support for ie6 – whohoo!)
We’re well aware of how quickly things move in the web world so we strongly encourage a large chunk of the morning and any downtime be spent reading web development blogs like CSS Globe, Net Tuts and of course Think Vitamin. This gives the team a chance to explore new technologies and techniques, which helps keep us ahead of the game.
Of course the web team are no different to the rest of us and take part in the usual lunchtime activities. In fact Paul has been Call of Duty champ for most of the last few months (well done Paul!).
And so we’ve reached the end of our story, that’s been Studio Life with Bluegg. We hope you enjoyed the series.