Time for Creativity

I’m the senior web designer & developer at IIR, a worldwide conference producer, and I thought I'd give guest blogging a shot. From time to time I will appear on NBD and share some of the design and development experiences of our in-house design department.

Visit the WebsiteNot so long ago on a computer very nearby, I launched a website for the 4th year of the Front End of Innovation Europe (FEI Europe) conference. It is a conference that focuses on the front end or discovery portion of innovation. It’s a sizable event so there was a lot of info to organize and communicate clearly. Even though it is heavy on the production side, it was a great event to work on this year because I had more creative involvement than I normally do. A quick rundown on our process at IIR: the Marketing Managers (MM) and Conference Producers (CP) go either to the in-house print department or an outside designer for the logo and color foundation and then the piece comes to the web department to make it, as my Creative Director likes to say, web-tastic.

This particular job was outsourced for branding and then brought in-house for production. There usually isn’t a vast difference between the web and print pieces design or content wise. This website, though, was going to have extra stuff! That wasn’t in the brochure! The event is based around these 7 critical factors needed for innovation to occur and the CP decided she wanted each factor to have its own page with a large photo to illustrate the accompanying text. The images were not already chosen by the outside team either; I got to choose them. This may not sound like WOW! but as I said our websites are usually created straight from the brochure. What really made it ‘wow’, though, was that I had time to work on the project. The team had come in almost two months in advance so there would be no hot, impatient breath on my neck wondering what was taking so long.

I started with the 3 factors that the CP had finished writing. In my initial search of Shutterstock, I was coming across a lot of images in cool gray and white tones that had a nice modern feel.

partnerships thumb commodity thumb

I thought that might be a good way to pull all the factors together, using a consistent color scheme. The CP chose the alternate color photo versions I provided which proved to be a good thing down the road. The factors Organic Growth and Customer Demands would have proved difficult to illustrate. Trees don’t feel very organic when in a generic white forms with cool gray shadows. And Customer Demands didn’t need any help in the difficult category. Most of the photos on Shutterstock were of customer service people with their headsets on looking really slick or surveys with checkmarks. The survey image would work but it just wasn’t interesting enough. I was so frustrated at one point that I made my own version!

customer demands outtake

I reread the copy several times and decided to stop focusing on ‘customer demands’ since that was a dead end and instead focus on the word ‘strategy’ since this was part of the factor; the strategy of balancing what the customer wants with what the business needs. This proved much more fruitful and the final version using chess pieces came together.

All and all the project was successful. The CP had such a great reaction to the pages when she saw them: an open mouth smile from ear to ear. That kind of reaction always works for me.

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