By Michelle Barnett
06/01/2020
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How we boosted our design in 2019

It’s that time again. It’s not just a new year, but also a new decade!  It’s the perfect moment to cast our eye back over the year that was as we launch into 2020. This year we wanted to look at new things that have made office life really good for us.  Some of these are specific to branding and design. Others are just good business sense, and you’re welcome to adopt them!

Figma

We’ve started using Figma this year, particularly for web design. It’s a cloud-based program that allows real time file sharing between more than one person at once. Even if we’re in multiple locations, several of us can be working on the same design at the same time. No more saving out multiple versions of things, or trying to remember which emailed copy is the most recent. And if we have an idea, we can try it out right there and then.

It’s worked really well for us. We’re a collaborative company by nature, with everyone contributing their specialism to the design, adding fresh perspectives and creative ideas. We’re always passing files between us, allowing each person to add their expertise to the mix. So it makes sense that having a shared space like Figma really suits us.

It’s helped our clients too. By adding them to the access list, we can show them prototypes and early models.  It gives a real sense of involvement and streamlines the decision making process.

The support Figma offers has been up to scratch as well. There’s some great tutorials around, and Figma have been updating their service with some useful functions.  We particularly like the addition of the Auto Layout.  It allows elements like buttons and frames to sync up with each other, so when you change the dimensions of one shape, its neighbours react automatically.  It’s much more efficient than changing them all one at a time.

So if it seems like we’re all singing the praises of Figma this year… that’s because we are!

Office Sweet Office

The term ‘creatives’ carries a certain image with it, but it a lot of ways we’re like any other office-based business. And something that benefits any workplace is good ergonomics – that is, the way things are physically set up to help people do their work without discomfort.

We’re all familiar with those boring charts on how to set up your work-station to help your posture, but when you spend 7+ hours a day at that desk all marginal gains count. For open offices there’s an extra level of challenge because one-size-fits-all options rarely do fit everyone.  But we managed to make a change this year that we’re all happy with.

Our office has very bright fluorescent lights, and lots of them. We’ve always known that they give one team member headaches, but as she often worked remotely it wasn’t too much of a problem.  We could just turn the lights off when she was in, and buy a few lamps. However when another person began to get eye strain, it became clear that we needed a more permanent solution.

So in 2019 we needed to come up with our own bespoke lighting solution.

Dale in particular has championed this, researching lamps and smart bulbs and what kinds of light levels would be best. There were some trial runs, and several hours spent quibbling over who liked what. Yes, it was a bit fussy, and yes it did involve balancing on some unstable tables in a way that wasn’t totally kosher with Health and Safety. But the end result has been really effective. We now have two big paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, with colour-change bulbs that can be set to the exact colour and brightness that we want. The effect is much less glaring, and a lot easier to live with for everyone.

Being able to all sit in the same room together seems like a real small goal, but actually it has knock-on effect. We can have discussions more easily, get answers faster, swap ideas across the tables. And best of all we can all focus on our projects without being distracted or in discomfort.

Take the time to get your set up right. it really is worth it.

Work that makes an impact

One of the luxuries of being a creative company is that you feel that you have a bit more leeway to choose some less traditional ways of going about your work. People expect you to be doing things like taking field trips to exhibitions and galleries to get inspiration, or taking a meeting about social media in the local park with ice creams. But the benefits of getting out of the office once in a while are well documented, and more industries should consider it.

With our wide range of clients, in situ visits are often really helpful to give us a clear idea of how to bring our designs into the real world.  Branding isn’t just about digital work that exists only in a computer, it extends into the physical space we all move through.

For example, Charnwood Brewery opened their own micropub last year, The Sorrel Fox, and asked us to do the branding. This meant the usual business of signage, logos, and web presence. But we also ended up advising on things like the colour they should paint the walls, to tie their online image together with the bricks-and-mortar building.

We celebrated the opening by driving out there for a drink! As well as giving us a chance to congratulate the proud owners, we got to see our work and advice being enjoyed by the village. That’s always a great moment for us too.  To see how your work has positively impacted people’s ability to connect to each other, to find what they need to find, to help others understand difficult subjects, to aid them in making a choice. When you see your design at work, you get a real sense of satisfaction, and motivation for future projects.

It’s our anniversary!

This is a big one, and we nearly missed it! When writing this blog we suddenly realised that this year is the 10th birthday of a dozen eggs!

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been around for that long.  Looking back, this company had very humble beginnings as a partnership between recent Loughborough University graduates Fran and Jo. Here they are at the first ever a dozen eggs Christmas meal!

Starting a business is no joke, and a shocking percentage of partnerships fail.  So the fact that this little company has survived for ten years is amazing. And it has not just survived, but flourished.  We’ve had the privilege of working on projects that have run the gamut from heart-warming and meaningful through to fascinating and challenging – and occasionally the downright bizarre!

a dozen eggs isn’t a partnership any more, but a fully established company who have worked with some seriously talented people, both as employees and clients.  On many occasions these relationships have turned into good friendships spanning years.  We’ve attended parties, socials and even weddings with some of you.

Every project has been a chance to learn, to grow, and to do some great design.  We’re really looking forward to everything 2020 brings us.

See you in the new year!

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