August 23, 2016
Several months ago, I was having a discussion with myself and asked the ultimate question about the company I started more than 13 years ago:
“What’s next for Elevate — how can we better something that’s already darn good to begin with?”
As a digital agency, we’ve created online experiences for some of the most prestigious brands in the world. Much like us, these brands take design very seriously. From creating the global suite of sites for a professional hair care brand to helping an American icon launch a new business unit, every nuance of design was considered.
Change isn’t easy but it is inevitable. Certainly nothing was broken with what we were doing, but we often felt stifled by perception. Some prospects looked at us as strictly a design-only agency, while others thought of us as a production firm — not terrible things in their own right, but we provide so much more strategic value to our clients than is understood.
We thought it’d be easy — just shift how we talk about ourselves when pitching new business. But as my management team and I dug deeper, we began to expose layers ripe for change.
We evaluated everything: our services, our process, our teams, our culture, even down to our office space. We also looked at the industry as a whole. Good design became a thread that wove through every aspect of Elevate. But, was good design really that important to the industry? Was good design really that important to the clients we hoped to attract?
A resounding YES!
But first, let’s define what “design” really is. Design, from my perspective, is the perfect balance of aesthetics and functionality. It’s a marriage of beauty and practicality, and it’s really quite difficult to get right. For Elevate, it’s finding that perfect way to represent a brand online while making the experience — the interaction between human and machine — one that is delightful and successful.
What client wouldn’t want that?
We soon set out to evolve every aspect of the company. The biggest leap for us was putting an even greater emphasis on three areas.
Experience Design (XD for Short) Would Play an Even Greater Role
Experience design coupled with user-centered design methodologies is a powerful combination: think like your user, solve their problems first, make the experience work for them first, all while keeping the brand’s business goals in mind. Instead of asking “How do we increase sales,” we dig deeper with, “How might we improve the purchase process for the customer to increase sales?” It’s a very different approach, but one that can lead to measurable improvements more rapidly.
Embracing Process Is Incredibly Important
One thing we’ve learned over the years is that design is never really “done.” Digital mediums give us the opportunity to launch an experience, analyze it, and make frequent changes to enhance results. Our process needed to evolve into a more Agile approach. Breaking the project into multiple “sprints” enables teams to work more collaboratively and more quickly. It helps us to bring concepts to life earlier in the process and test our design theories with actual users to yield more successful results.
Good Design Has the Power to Transform a Brand
This includes ours. This thinking, as it applies across all of Elevate’s disciplines, is our guiding light, and every Elevator must embrace it. Certainly our visual and user-experience designers already do this, but our project managers and account teams must consider design in all of their client interactions. And our front-end developers must consider good design and accessibility principles as they bring concepts to life.
Good design is meticulously integrated in all we do to form the soul that Elevate was founded upon and that continues today. Our evolution is complete: Elevate is an experience design firm.
I can’t wait to see what comes next.