Planetary's Partner Josh Gross and Designer Tom Treadway discuss the new, and much anticipated, Planetary.co.
As an agency, Planetary creates immersive experiences for their clients daily. But what happens when their client is themselves? We chatted with Joshua Gross and Tom Treadway to find out what went into redesigning Planetary.co.
Congrats! Planetary's new site is live! I'm told it has been at least 3 years since the last build. Why now?
Josh: We've done a lot of work, learned a lot of new things, and the web has evolved significantly since we built our last site. Now seemed like the right time to really take advantage of the new technologies to showcase the variety of work we've done in the past 6 years we've been around.
Tom: The site began to feel out of touch not only for how we saw ourselves as a team, but also ineffectively represented the quality of our work & the extent of our capabilities.
When you started this process, what was your original design thinking, and how did it morph or change into what we see with the live version?
Josh: We really wanted to put some lovely motion-centric touches on the site, which is something we really haven't done in the past. Historically, our site has been less… showy and we really wanted to try something different and more visually impactful this time around.
The design went through a ton of design iteration, as we bumped into technical limitations and refined the content and information.
Tom: The original design thinking was that the site should be a reflection of our approach to any - simple & effective. I think the live site remained pretty true to those objectives.
What tools did the design team use to accomplish each stage of the design phase?
Josh: We relied on Sketch to do most of the design work, including clickable prototypes. The design team mocked up some of the interactions in After Effects and our development team would prototype these interactions in code to see how the actually looked and felt in the browser. There was definitely a lot of back-and-forth.
Tom: We worked with Sketch & Cinema 4D.
How did you involve the rest of the team in this process of determining the general look and feel?
Josh: It was a collaborative process with the team; we got everyone involved in determining what information to show, what case studies to feature and even the way we really positioned ourselves.
Tom: We reviewed regularly with the entire team so that everyone had a say in the direction. It wasn't just a task for the design team, but for the entire team since we all work cross-discipline. Of course, as the designer, it's my job to try many as many different things as possible and exhaust all options. But it's the entire team's responsibility to collaborate on finding the strongest solution.
Obviously as an agency, Planetary has (paying) client work that is simultaneous with this internal work, how did you manage to break off time to get it all done?
Josh: There's an expression that has come up time and time again over the years at Planetary: The cobbler's children have no shoes.
It's really tough to balance our client work and our internal projects since the former always take priority. Fortunately, we have a great team that was able to make some time to balance the design and implementation of the site between other work; it took longer than we'd maybe have liked but I think the end result was worth the wait!
Tom: Of course - as a small team it was important for us to establish a workflow that allowed for the handling of internal experiments as well as client work at the same time. We're almost always building new products & technologies while handling client work, so this time it was no different.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Josh: Honestly, the homepage of the site. Up until the last two weeks of the project, we had an entirely different concept for this page. A pre-coffee moment of epiphany one morning between myself and Tom kicked it in the direction you see now, which is far stronger than what we had before.
Tom: As is the case with any project, pivoting and finding our footing again when we hit a roadblock. When you're trying new things and experimenting with new technologies, those difficulties are inevitable.
Heaven forbid you had to do it all again, what would you have done differently?
Josh: Do…do I have to think about that?
Tom: I don't think there's anything we would have done differently, but there's always room for improvement. The site took us a bit outside our comfort zone, so I think we will be better suited to handle these challenges come next time.
What's next for Planetary?
Josh: Now we can get our focus back to our client work…along with a few surprises in between ;)
Tom: We're working on lots of stuff both internally & externally. Redesigning our website wasn't just about marketing, but also about improving the way we operate as a team, so we're looking forward to tackling some big projects with new clients in 2019.
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