Hi Andy, tell us about yourself in a few sentences - who are you?Co-Founder of MadeByShape in Manchester, UK. Working with clients all over the world from start-ups to global organisations. I became a University Lecturer at the age of 21, and delivered digital material within the design degree at Salford University for 8 years.
Talk us through your creative process and a tool you can't live without?
MadeByShape is a web design agency so we use different tools for different aspects of a project. We use Teamwork and Trello for project management and specific tasks. Teamwork and iCal for arranging and syncing diaries of the team members. Slack for communicating within the studio. Adobe creative suite for the design. And various apps for the development of a site.
It's obviously super important for us to be discussing as a group along the way to get feedback on ideas and have input to make sure the final design is the best it can be. The process never really ends though, be it A/B testing or revisions based on feedback, it's always evolving which is part of why this is exciting to be a part of.
What design trends can we expect for 2017 and beyond?
Most agencies are designing websites and approaching digital projects from a ‘mobile first technique’. This means they first and foremost think about the mobile target audience before anything else. Generally, this wasn’t the case for web developers. In the past, and still now to some extent, developers will design and build from desktop down to mobile. The fact that responsive has been around for a while now is key, but I think agencies will be pushing boundaries of responsive websites and how they can improve functionality across responsive devices.
I also think that animations will be big. We can already do a lot with CSS and script animations within the code of a website, but I only see this improving throughout the next 12 months. It’s crazy what we can do within the code these days… much different to when I started in the industry 12 years ago.
Is there a design fad that you absolutely hate?
When photographers make images black and white and then cut out a section of the image and put it in colour. Whatever that is called…. it’s awful. It’s never been good, not even in the 90s, it should never be executed again. .
Describe the project you’re most proud of.
Theploughatlupton.co.uk is a website we’ve recently launched and are very proud of what we’ve achieved in a short space of time. It’s a hotel and pub in the lake district, it’s amazing, but the old website did not reflect this at all. We’ve re-designed, built and are performing SEO on this site to see amazing results pretty quickly. Even though this is only a small client and a small project for us here at the studio, it’s great to see the positive results we’re making for clients.
From another aspect, we’ve just completed a very large website for Confidentials, which you can view at confidetials.com/manchester. This is a site I’m proud of because the back-end is very complex and we’ve improved the running of this business day-to-day due to the technologies we’ve implemented.
What role does photography play in your work?
It’s huge. If we or the client does not insert great photography into a website we’ve designed, the end result will be poor for them, and for our portfolio. Content is just as important as the design. I advise all clients to set a budget aside for photography if they don’t already have a good portfolio of images.
Your #1 Tip for storytelling:
Images are vital on websites, they need to engage with the end user and I personally feel the best way of doing that is by adding emotion and personality. If a website lacks personality, the brand does, which means the business suffers. Include real people, real situations and interact with your audience via beautiful imagery.
What are three images you love on Picfair?
Picfair is an image library with a big difference — our photographers are in control: Upload your pics, name your price, change it whenever you like.
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