Recently at work I’ve been doing a bit of research (now I say research, but it’s more looking at sites and bagging them, thinking I can do better) on how agencies and studios display case studies on their portfolios. What I’ve come up with are some potentially ill-formed thoughts – as I’m a visual designer and illustrator and only like pretty pictures, hence, therein lies some form of bias.
From looking at a lot of case studies from other agencies and studios, they’re all trying to tell a story. Which is great. Showing the journey from concept through to final product. When looking at the layouts and content, most of these case studies read and look like a bog standard article that you could find on any news or blog service. With the imagery and final visual design taking a back seat to the text and narrative. In some respects I think that’s a bit of a mistake.
Does a prospective client really want to read a long winded explanation of all the shit we did behind the scenes, that lea us to the end result? I reckon most clients would come looking to see images of final designs, something “sexy”, for want of a better word. How we arrived to that end point and the processes that led us there, is probably more of an interest to our peers and people in the industry than the client.
I’m not completely dismissing the value of having all of the process stuff, it certainly has it’s place. But I think we can achieve a nice middle ground. It’s important to show the process and how we arrived to the final product, through the use of a narrative. However it is just as important to show that end product in all of it’s beautifully designed and developed glory. How we do that is always up for debate. Whether it be shots of the full visual designs, which are always fucking ghastly and I’m a main offender in that respect. Or if we pull out certain UI elements and go into that sort of minute detail, as opposed to standing back and having an holistic view, so to speak.
- Great big hero image with a massive heading. Check.
- A ridiculously long column of text at a narrow width, that runs down the centre of the page. Check.
- Content broken up by massive fucking headings, for people who are obviously legally blind, pull quotes and then the odd image. Usually of an arbitrary sketch or a group people sitting at a table in staged deep thought. Check.
- Have body copy so big, it looks like you’ve got the page zoomed in at 200%. Check.
Now, don’t get me wrong I love those guy’s stuff. I just think there has to be a different, if not slightly better way of doing things. What that is, I have no fucking idea, I haven’t really thought about it. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I’ve found that the end product seems to take a bit of a back seat in these case studies. I suppose that’s fine… If you want to see the end result you can just visit the site, or download the app, or whatever the hell it may be. Still though, it’s pretty bloody important. I think that’s what most clients are going to be judging us on in the end. Even though we’d like to think it’s all about our shit hot processes, and all of the research and theory that is put into that.
I think it’s partially because I try to be a purveyor of pretty pictures I feel this way. When it comes to showcasing my own work, I just slap what I think are the best images up there, with very little description. If I write a full paragraph, I think I’ve gone overboard. In essence I’m letting the work do the talking, which may not be entirely wise in some cases, but I personally can’t be fucked. Basically what I’m trying to get at, is that there should be a nice middle ground between the relation of the story/process and visual design/build. Where the story of the process and final visual design can make sweet passionate love together, as opposed to the visual design getting bum raped by the process and narrative.