Weeknote 321/322

January 16th to 29th

I skipped the last weeknote because my computer still gave me headaches. Or better: the people, who were supposed to fix it. In my last post I mentioned how good the customer experience in the Apple store Jungfernstieg was when I came there with my broken MacBook. Today I have to report the exact opposite. Because of either incompetence or carelessness of the staff, mixed with bad internal and external communication, I had to go there several times to bring in and pick up my computer. Grrrr...

Now to a more pleasant topic. In the last weeknote I mentioned Snoqualmie, a new project we are very excited about. Today I want to talk about the way the project came into being, because it's an great example of how to approach and choose a design company.

The client considered two other agencies for this project. From the start they were totally open about this. No secrecy or other tactics. First score for the client.

We asked who those other companies were and they told us right away. We were in good company. Their choice showed that they had a clue about the design landscape. Actually we were a bit flattered, because we have much respect for the other two companies, both bigger, older and better-known than our little studio. Another thumbs up for a fine selection.

In such a situation clients usually call for a pitch – and we usually say thanks, but no thanks. This client, however, did something else to make a decision: they paid a fair amount of money to prepare and conduct a workshop with them. They didn't expect a fancy presentation with fake "solutions", but wanted to learn about how the three companies would approach the project. Plus 1!

We decided not to show any visual design at all. Besides concept and interaction design, the visual design is a large and important part of the project and some nice looking screens are often the easiest way to win over a client. But we took the risk to talk about our process and thinking, rather than our ability to make beautiful visual design (which hopefully comes across by looking at the work we've already done).

Actually we didn't just talk about how we work, we showed it. We prepared a rough interaction sketch for the workshop. It was cobbled together in a few hours and it wasn't pretty (intentionally), but it helped to explore some of the fundamental interaction patterns of this product together with the client. The client's project team understood this approach and had the guts to trust in us. Another kudos for that.

This all may sound very reasonable (and it is!), but if you are familiar with the design business, you know that this kind of selection process doesn't happen very often for projects with larger budgets. I could go on why this approach is much superior to regular pitches, why it's not just better for the design companies but also for the clients, but that would be another blog posting.

Aforementioned Snoqualmie kept most of us busy in the last two weeks. Michael went to Denmark for a meeting with a technical partner. He found himself in a new role – the advocate for design – and seemed to enjoy it.

David and I spent most of our time in Photoshop. We explored some conceptual and visual ideas for Snoqualmie and also did some sticker and website designs for re:publica.

Christophe's weapon of choice in week 321 and 322 was Keynote. He presented the results of Wapato to the decision makers and flew to Switzerland to talk about the new challenges and possibilities for TV networks and content providers at the Media Future Day. He returned with a lot of new business cards and a bag full of swiss chocolate. When not presenting our work or talking about the future of television, he developed ideas for Clayoquot.

On Friday we swapped computers for scissors, cutters and rubber stamps. We'll soon show the results. Here's a sneak preview:

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