Computer ArtsNews

Image of the day: the District's website redesign

We love Cambridge-based studio's redesigned website ... So much, we caught up with creative partner Alun Shooter to find out more

Computer Arts: How long did the redesign take, and did you encounter any problems?

Alun Shooter: Now, there's a question. We put a holding page up with a view to getting the full site live within three to six months. The reality was different, and I guess this was for two reasons: firstly, Matt, the creative partner heading up the project, is a perfectionist, which although, at times, was frustrating, after about a year of work, it's a big reason the site looks and works like it does. We didn't want to chuck up a beta version full of errors; when we launched, we wanted it to be perfect – he said boldly ...

Secondly, as an agency, we have been getting busier for as long as we can remember and naturally you need to prioritise client work. Which is good, I guess? In the end, the site took around 18 months to design and build. Our aims were initially driven by the fact our last site was designed in Flash – say no more – but, more specifically, we wanted to showcase our work better and build our brand. The latter is important as we are not yet in that privileged position where or reputation precedes us and we can simply show our work.

We needed our site to express who we are as much as what we do, the experience you get from working with us. We've always been of the opinion that this is as important as the work itself. We have done this explicitly by linking to things like Instagram and including images of us, which didn't go without debate.

Implicitly, our tone of voice is expressed and adding a little bit of movement with animated gifs all adds towards giving people an experience of 'us'. The problems we encountered were pretty much driven by time, or lack of it. The site itself flowed pretty well from concept through build.

CA: How you would you describe the redesign, the overall aesthetic? 
AS
: I guess to coin a much overused phrase: flat. This has always been the way we have worked. The simpler the better. No unnecessary frills.

We didn't make big statements with typography, just keeping it pretty paired-back, even resisting the temptation to draw out the logo. Images were a big part of the design, all beautifully shot by our friend Alex Bibby. And, as I mentioned, the animated gifs add interest and movement.

CA What's you favourite bit?
AS:
That is a difficult one. I suppose the way it works as well as it looks, and particularly its responsive nature is exciting. This was something fundamental we were focusing on from the beginning and we feel works as well as intended.

Oh actually, I do have a very specific favourite bit: the animated gif on the contact page. As amazing as Google Maps is, and naturally we have included this, people are visual and so there is real function in showing the route to the studio. It's a bit of fun too, juxtaposing the precision in some of the portfolio shots.

Check out more from the District at thedistrict.co.uk

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