I love horror movies and I often watch them with Louie the Dog. But he’s always like, “Zombies? Who cares? Brains ARE delicious.” or “Poltergeists? Hohum, they’d probably tip over some snausages for me.”
Eventually, Louie thought, “Hey, I should make horror movies for MY kind! About things that are actually scary!”
So Louie’s been hard at work and he recently hired Duck Brigade to create some posters for his new movies. We were honored to be able to collaborate with him!
Suddenly you hear it — owner-girl starts the water. But you smell so good — you just rolled around in that pee outside! This CANNOT happen! You run under the bed, but you hear footsteps approach. Suddenly a hand shoots out and grabs your collar. It’s all a blur — the bubbles! the water! the — GASP! — washcloth!!!! You’re in deep — HELL BATH.
Vacuum of Terror
You’re going about your dog day when all of a sudden “WHIIIIIIRRRRR!!!! SUCK SUCK SUCK!!!!” The noise shakes you to your core. Flee in dread as it slides toward you. Shake in terror at its deafening racket. You will ruff your hardest but no one will hear you bark over the VACUUM OF TERROR!
Thunder of Doom
BOOM BOOM BOOM! What could it be? It must be the dog-pocalypse. The sky is breaking, the air is splitting, your head is pounding with the THUNDER OF DOOM.
We’re a little obsessed with podcasts over here. I’ve long been a fan of the gorgeous, smart, and funny 99% Invisible. As a person who works in the design world, I’ve had dozens of chats about a recent 99PI show around coffees with colleagues.
So back in September 2015, when Gabe and I saw that they were looking for a team to help them rebuild their website, we jumped at the chance! Big thanks to Dan Engler (twitter), our friend from the world of podcasting, for making the initial Twitter connection. This was our dream come true! Podcasting + art + design + development, oh my!
We emailed Kurt Kohlstedt (website), who is the digital director at 99% Invisible. To our delight, we began the discussion about the project.
This BIG OL’ post will detail the process that got us from start to finish successfully and without any mental breakdowns (that I know of)!
One of the most important stages of a website project is the proposal. It’s not just something to get through so you can get into the meat of the project.
It is an opportunity to see:
- How communication styles are meshing — the consultant and the client
- Do both parties understand each other — do I as the consultant understand the client’s identity and how they see themselves?
- Are the goals and needs for the website clear?
- Are there any points of fogginess — are there lands in the map of the project that haven’t been charted yet?
- Either explore those now, or flag them for future exploration
99PI prepared a wonderful scope of work document outlining all their hopes and dreams for the project, down to great technical specifics. This is so great to do at this stage — talk about the big picture goals but also don’t be afraid of getting too detailed!
Once the 99PI and Duck Brigade teams all felt good about the proposal, it was time to dive into Research.
The goals of the research phase are:
- Establish creative direction for the project by analyzing the 99% Invisible brand and audience
- Kick off creative discussion about visuals, user experience, and site organization
- Identify what will work — and what would not work — for the 99% Invisible site
One half of Duck Brigade was recently a guest on the fascinating podcast Responsive Web Design.
We chatted about the recently-completed redesign of the 99% Invisible website, which was such a super fun project to work on with the impressive team at 99PI.
Listen if you have a hankering for some nitty-gritty responsiveness chat!
Listen to the podcast
Some of my favorite RWD episodes
I’m listening to a recent episode of the great podcast Don’t Get Me Started today, with Jason Mantzoukas as the guest with hosts Anthony King and Will Hines. Hearing these guys talk about improv is surprisingly inspirational — they’re dropping gems that can apply to business and life, like these:
1. Make a choice
- The worst path forward is not deciding. In improv, a scene will die if the performers aren’t actively making decisions on how to move a scene forward.
- In business, if an opportunity for improvement presents itself, the best decision is any decision. The worst decision is not taking action.
- Some action — even the “wrong” action — is better than no action
- Some action gives you the opportunity to react to that decision
- Some action gives OTHERS the opportunity to react to that decision
- For example, say your business is at a point where you or your employees have too much work. The worst decision is doing nothing — your current employees are overworked, burned out. The best decision is ANY action — and that could be: refining process so that work is more manageable, training for current employees so that they’re more effective, specializing so that you’re taking on certain jobs but not others, hiring contractors, hiring employees…
2. Be specific
- It’s so often said, but so true! Specificity is the heart of comedy — and improv. The audience doesn’t want to see two unknown entities performing — they want to see Sarah, neurotic heiress, interacting with her butler Jared. Or whatever.
- But broader than that, specificity adds interest and personality to almost anything — a business pitch (tell a story, use examples, be concrete), an email (what do you need, when do you need it, who needs to be involved), a creative brief (what is the feeling you want to convey, who is the audience)
We recently had the pleasure of working with the amazingly talented actor, comedian, and general ultra-creative person Ele Woods on her personal site. She was looking for a site that’s professional but playful, clean but quirky and it was super fun aiming for that aesthetic. We ended up with a great, colorful site that works well responsively and hopefully puts a big ol’ smile on yer face! Check out the site: elewoods.cool
I’ve been thinking about an ideal passion/practicality balance recently — and how there are these different kinds of people or approaches.
1. People who do not have a creative or vocational passion
People who get pleasure from leisure or entertainment or sports or relationships/socializing. And who have a career or vocation solely to make money and be practical.
2. People who have a passion for an activity but who do not monetize it and keep it as a personal hobby. Their job does not relate much to their passion at all, or it does in more subtle ways.
Someone might take this approach because:
- It’s impossible or difficult to monetize their passion
- They can monetize it but it does not earn enough to support themselves or their family or doesn’t support other goals
- They’ve monetized it but find that making it a job takes the pleasure out of it
- Or their job fulfills their passion in a different way. For example, someone who is passionate about acting realizes that the thing the really like about acting is the public speaking, being in front of an audience, or evoking feelings in an audience. So they use this insight to decide to become a lawyer, where they speak in front of a jury, use the art of persuasion, and they’re able to fulfill those goals in a different way.
3. People who have a passion for an activity and earn money from something tangentially-related to it
For example, a painter who works as a curator in a museum. Or a writer who works as a publisher.
4. People who have a passion for an activity and earn money from it
For example, an artist who sells their paintings or a writer who sells books.
YOUR WORK TYPE IS PERSONAL AND UNIQUE
The important thing to remember is that the above different types are very personal and one is not more right at all than another.
If a person is dissatisfied with their job or career, it might be because they’ve placed themselves within the wrong category above, or that they need to modify their circumstances to balance it out more.
For example, if you’re a 2 and you’ve chosen a really time-consuming or demanding career and it doesn’t leave you the time or energy to pursue what you really like in your personal time. Or you’re a 2 and you’re so annoyed and dissatisfied with your job that most of your life isn’t fun at all.
Sometimes job dissatisfaction can be because you are in the wrong “number” and some experimentation and time might be needed to adjust.
EXPERIMENTATION AND TIME
So say you pursue widget-making as a career and you find it’s just too boring or frustrating. Then maybe you can springboard those skills off into a different career. Like maybe now you could be a project manager for widget-making or a designer of the widgets. Or you find you don’t like widget-making overall, but you do like one small part of the process and you can focus on that.
Or you decide you hate it all so much that you’d rather go do something totally different. Those are all ok – it takes a lot of experimentation and time. I think knowing that you’re not locked into a particular work/passion balance forever is good.
For example, when I first started working, I was working in a library and while I love libraries and writing and books, it was basically the most boring job in the whole entire world to me. Even though I had a lot of free time in off-hours to do my art, I wasn’t really enjoying my work overall and it was bumming me out.
I thought a lot about what I enjoyed doing in my free time and it was basically messing around with the Adobe suite on my computer and doodling and stuff. I thought about what allows me to achieve flow and that was making images, whether by drawing or digitally.
So then over the course of the next like 10 years, I experimented with different jobs, different amounts of work, and finally came to a balance that works well for me right now. But it took a lot of time and experimentation.
Gabe Danon, web developer extraordinaire at Duck Brigade, moonlights as a comedy podcast host with a couple of his dear, funny friends. They’ve been putting out a podcast Trends with Benefits. The podcast includes Trends, Discussion of Said Trends, Garfield Readings, Advice, and Hoe-Downs.
We did the logo design, supplementary graphics, and created a simple, eye-catching website for the podcast.
The idea was that we’d use black + one striking color, to give the identity a range of looks. It was fun to push the graphics in an over-the-top direction since the podcast itself is really irreverent and fun.
I hope everyone’s headed into a happy Thanksgiving week! Maybe there will be a pumpkin pie kitty wherever you’re celebrating.
Done in Illustrator. Typeface is Frontage.
We’ve made it through the main parts of Process! Here are all the posts:
- On Process Part 1 – The What and The Why
- On Process Part 2 – Eight Tips on How to Create a Process
- On Process Part 3 – Conclusion and Last Thoughts (That’s this one!)
For my conclusion, I’ll go over some last thoughts and followup materials if you want to discover more.
THOUGHTS ON PROCESS
Optimizing your process is powerful. It gives you control. Control over:
You can precisely control the quality of the resulting deliverable.
- TIME AND AVOIDING RUSH
You can control and predict the steps of a process and how long each takes. You can avoid rush work before a deadline.
By mastering a process, you can modify your feelings about it. If there is a specific process that frustrates you, if you overhaul your process, you can turn around your feelings about it — removing frustration and anxiety.
These are not necessarily all specifically about process optimization, but sometimes about process’s cousins — ritual and productivity as well.
- Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
This is about daily rituals more than individual processes, but it’s given me some valuable insight into artists’ creative lives. Process is connected with daily ritual – our daily ritual is a bunch of strung-together processes.
- Manage Your Day-to-Day
Great insights into creative rituals and processes.
- The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology
This might seem out-of-left field, but part of getting better at process is being mindful of your own feelings and biases. You have to be able to look inward and accept feelings of frustration in order to analyze and possibly overcome that frustration.
So in last week’s post we talked about the What and the Why of Process. This post will focus on general strategies for formulating a good process.
To discuss these tenets of process creation, I’m going to use an example task, one that most people can relate to: Doing Laundry (hooray).
TIP 1: WORK BACKWARDS – IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
What is your goal? In the case of laundry, it’s having clean clothes, right? Not quite.
Be AS SPECIFIC with your goal as possible and rank your goals. My goals in doing laundry are:
- Have clean clothes
- Have nice-smelling clothes
- Have my clothes put-away
- Not mess up my clothes by having dye bleed from one item to another
- Not mess up my clothes or other belongings by accidentally leaving my wallet or pen in my pocket (ask me how I know)
- Use the least amount of time doing laundry
- Eliminate as much annoyance as possible
- Spend the least amount of money on laundry
Oh wow, that’s much more complex than just having clean clothes.
Your goals are unique to you. Your priorities might be different.
This is an especially important thing to remember about why we must (re)consider process for even established tasks. Even if your boss gives you a task and is like, “This is the process our company has used for approximately one million years,” YOUR goals might be different than the goals of the people who have used that process in the past.
TIP 2: EVALUATE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO YOU
In the case of laundry, my example tools are:
- Washer and dryer in the apartment building basement
- Laundry Soap
- Dryer Sheets
- Dish Soap
- Other People’s Detergent (OPD) in the Basement
- Washer/dryer hookup in our apartment
- Washer and dryer from Craigslist
- Washer and dryer from, like, Best Buy
- Professional Cleaners
Okay, okay, some items in 6-17 may seem a bit ridiculous. HOWEVER, if you’re creating a process from the ground-up, it is important to consider any tool you have available.
Why? Because a previously-rejected or never-considered tool may be the exact solution you need to an unusual problem.
For example, what if one of your primary laundry goals is to spend the least amount of money on laundry? In that case, you may decide you need to use your bathtub to wash your clothes.
Consider all tools available to you before rejecting them.
TIP 3: BRAINSTORM AND VISUALIZE YOUR PROCESS
In Part 1 of On Process, I talk about how I feel when I’m thinking about process: I visualize myself behind my brain, as a distant observer. Do whatever you can to get into a similar open headspace.
Here’s where you start to create a process. Visualize yourself doing a test process. Make it as vivid as possible!
I see myself: