"We've just landed a cool new project for a high profile client that's going to be unlike anything we've made before, and unlike anything else currently on the web!"
That was my first introduction to our recently launched website cyberstreetwise.com
From the first meeting with the client at the Home Office in October, right up until launch (Friday 10th Jan) it has been a challenging and exciting project that has taught everybody on our team and the NFA (National Fraud Authority) team something new almost every day.
For me, it was an amazing opportunity to sink my teeth into being creative director. The creative brief was so exciting, I remember skipping down the street in Westminster after that first meeting singing "I'm gonna get to illustrate!"... the client had asked us to create a unique and interactive street that the user can explore, and throughout their journey they would learn how to stay safe online.
Working closely with M&C Saatchi and Picasso animations, the illustrative style was born. A fun, quirky and loose drawing style to try and soften the blow of what could otherwise be a very dry and, for some audiences, frightening message.
The most challenging part of the project was the user experience. With two very different target audiences defined we had to find a way of making this quirky style appeal to everyone, whilst keeping the spirit of the 'street experience' a real and enjoyable one! Team Nudge spent a day collectively brainstorming using the 'design studio' method, read more about that in Ben's blog post: Running a design studio. That day, whilst being really fun and exhilarating, also taught us that our combined minds could come up with some pretty impressive stuff!
Over the next few months my time was almost exclusively spent designing and redesigning the user experience of Cyber Street. I was able to bring my very good friend from my Falmouth Uni days; Paula Bowles on board, to take on the majority of the illustration work. I knew I could count on Paula to bring our vision to life with fabulous illustration, I was initially concerned that it wouldn't all be my own handiwork, but soon realised how amazing it was to describe the vision in my mind to Paula, who would then flesh out on paper what I had described and so much more! A collaboration I hope we are able to recreate again in the future.
I learnt so much about designing the user experience, I would like to share some of it with you:
- Get out of your head: Before making any decisions, clear your mind, put yourself in the mind of each user group and imagine how they might act and react
- Be harmonious: Try not to isolate a single part of the experience when making changes or redesigning. Keep in mind that every single part has a knock on effect to everything else; harmony must be maintained!
- Two heads are better than one: At regular intervals, encourage people around you to feedback on your work. It can be so absorbing working on the user experience of a big site that you can easily forget the big picture, a fresh pair of eyes is an invaluable asset.
- One step backwards, two steps forwards: Don't be afraid to re address decisions you thought were set in stone. Your dev team will hate you, but sometimes the best solutions come from sacrificing some of your favourite features to create a more simplistic solution.
- Keep it simple: Simplicity is beautiful. If you can make two steps into one, that will almost always be the best solution. Everything on the screen must have a reason for being there, if you can't find a reason, it may disrupt the experience for something else, which can create a negative experience.
- Take your time: If the answer is elusive, move on to something else and come back later. Some times solutions will present themselves unexpectedly while you're working on something else.
- Enjoy it! Because ultimately once you find the answer it's going to give you the best feeling ever.
The best part of working on Cyberstreet was how we all came together as a team. The deadline was tight, at times it was stressful and there were many, many late nights spent working through to hit targets by every member of the Nudge team. But we were all in it together. We've proved in the past that we work well together as a team, but somehow, this time it really felt like we were powering through together, supporting each other and celebrating every triumph, no matter how small.
The next stage will be phase two. The beauty of a website is that there is ALWAYS a way to improve and rethink the user experience. I know we all have so many thoughts already about what we can do next to help users on their journey... we are collectively having a breathing space before hitting it again with fresh minds and the benefit of user feedback, bring it on.
In the meantime, please enjoy Cyber Street!