The June issue of Net Magazine features a variety of amazing content from specialists in our industry. Amongst it, the Design Challenge feature looks at our Tank Talks event, discussing potential ideas for elevating the event with a bespoke website design. Our very own Ola gives her comments on the true heroes of web design, and The Exchange showcases practical advice from Fishtank’s MD, Damien Fisher.
Design Challenge – Tank Talks:
Tank Talks is an invitation-only event, exclusively held for friends and clients of the award-winning agency. Complimentary food, drink and gift bags are provided whilst members of Team Fishtank share presentations with insight into their respective fields of expertise. The people in attendance will be from varied sectors and job roles so the design had to appeal to a wide demographic. The website needed to work on all platforms creating a clean crisp design using colourways and fonts taken from the agency brand toolkit. The conference is set to be held once a year, so the date had to have clear visibility along with the event partner. A traditional burger menu hides all the generic content leaving space for important event call out, including social media and guarantee your place messaging. A large emphasis was placed on the success of the previous year’s event and displayed in numbers. Most importantly video is king and can be viewed instantly on all platforms taking up two thirds of the screen real-estate.
The Real Heroes Of Web Design:
Coming from a small agency, I really think Account Managers are the unsung heroes of web design – and not just because it’s part of my role! It’s usually their job to do the research, pitch the proposal, and do the dreaded follow ups. Once the project lands, planning and organising the work is no small feat. Co-ordinating the work of 3-5 different departments (UX design, Development, Copywriting, Digital Marketing, Animation), all the while participating in every meeting and contributing to every step of the project. They are also the first to communicate delays or chase payments, so appreciate your accounts!
Exchange Feature Q&A:
As the owner of a small but growing digital agency in the north-west, I’ve tried to advertise for web designers but have had no enquiries at all. I realise I need to be more proactive and go out and find people, but don’t really know where to start. What do you advise in terms of first steps?
“We too have faced this problem. Within our sector designers and developers are notoriously the hardest to recruit. The problem is the number of agencies, versus a small pool of credible talent. However, this will go full circle and there will be a period when you can recruit the talent on the basis that many agencies have gambled on securing projects to sustain the team they have assembled. I have seen this circle so many times before in various guises and unfortunately luck plays a huge part. What we have done to negate this issue is to tap into the network of the local university and introduce work placements to 2nd year students with a guaranteed job at the end of their degree. We repeat this process year-on-year which provides a constant stream of talent. Secondly, don’t forget to promote your brand and ethos outside the agency. Make sure the business features on the digital landscape in news stories, award shortlists, online journals and being active and visible on social media. Become an agency where designers and developers would love to work, and you should see an increase of CV’s without advertising roles.”
I’m in my first year of running my own digital agency. Some other agency owners (a little boastfully) have told me that they rarely need to look for new business, because they go so much repeat business and word of mouth. As a rule of thumb, do you think that’s what all studios should be aiming for, and if so, what sort of timescale is reasonable to expect that to naturally happen?
“I recognise your concerns and the comments you have heard are true of ourselves at Fishtank. It does not matter how great you think you are, in my experience tendering is a waste of time. Our success rate has been poor to the point we now won’t take part in any tendering opportunities. We now strictly focus our energy on customers who require our services. Equally don’t sell yourself short and stay true to the premise of why you created the business. When starting Fishtank 10 years ago there was a gap in the market, and we were able to bridge the void between designers and developers when creating engaging and functional digital platforms. Consequently, we created some sterling websites, and associated marketing strategies. The word spread and referrals came very quickly. There is no timeframe on this. Be the best you can be when the opportunity presents itself and the next project will follow.”
I’m planning to launch a digital services company in the Midlands and I’m wondering whether to target local or national clients. So I was wondering… how difficult do you find it to convince clients that going with a local agency, rather than a London one, is in their best interests? Do you find there’s a natural assumption that a London agency is better, and if so, how do you counteract that?
“There are so many variables here and locality should not be considered an issue. A digital agency should aim to be working on a global landscape, after all a website is created for the world to see. At Fishtank we have a nice blend of UK and international clients and with modern technology we negate any issues of timezones using applications like: Slack, Asana, Bugherd, Google etc. We are based in rural West Yorkshire, but this works in our favour, and our unique approach is significantly different than an agency based in the surrounding major cities. This is what our customers love! The general association with London agencies is that regal brands who have obscene budgets often run campaigns over an extended period. Not all projects can be campaigns, and these agencies are not always interested in singular projects due to their financial commitments. There is still the old adage that outside the big smoke project costs are significantly less, but I’m personally not sure. Position yourself in a place that works for you and your team. This will create a happy camp and will transcend across the projects that you deliver.”