Sometimes the best way to recognize and make up for our mistakes is to laugh at them first. That’s what the sub-reddit /r/assholedesign is for, to call out the UX and industrial designer that insists on making people’s lives harder. Almost everyone’s been subjected to the great feat of simply trying to cancel your account only to be met with a thousand step procedure or a technological design that just complicates or confuses the process. That’s why this sub-reddit hits the mark.
As an offshoot of the popular sub-reddit /r/CrappyDesign that features everything from signs, advertising, and third grade projects gone wrong, /r/assholedesign has over 400,000 subscribers who delight in the humor of “designers who know exactly what they’re doing…but they don’t care because they’re assholes.” The site serves as a place to shame bad design varying from architecture, packaging, and web interface.
Some of the posts will have you wondering what the conversation was like in the design meeting. I can only envision “Ah, let’s make it harder by adding three steps, or better yet, let’s make the unsubscribe button invisible!”
According to the moderators, “satire is ridicule of asshole design techniques” and the amusement of posters reveals exactly that. Not only does it intend to amuse, but the sub-reddit reveals dark patterns in design, “tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things you didn’t mean to.” These patterns have implications for society, but also for the future of design.
This guy is definitely a subscriber of /r/assholedesign:
Doesn’t everybody love a classic dark pattern?
We need this type of sub-reddit because sometimes, even professionals need a reminder of what and what not to do. Anyone with an iPhone 6 or above feels this struggle when trying to listen with their headphones and charge their phone at the same time (that’s some serious “asshole” design).
Although framed in a comical way, /r/assholedesign reminds us that looking at our failures in a UX/UI community allow designers to focus on designs that make the experience better, and not worse, for the user. Laughing at our mistakes and old designs help us grow as a group of professionals. We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a lesson needs to accompanied with a good laugh.
Over the years we’ve worked with some great companies and amazing individuals. We love the work we do (or we wouldn’t do it). But more importantly, we love and value the relationships we create with our clients. This is the story of one of those relationships.
Six years ago, we met Steve Feldman, founder of Renovation Angel. In addition to what was at the time two subsets of their company, Green Demolitions, and Kitchen Trader. Since 2005, Steve and his super talented team have conducted thousands of projects for members of the Forbes 400, professional athletes, and everybody else in-between. With a long term retainer in place, Renovation Angel, America’s premier recycler of luxury pre-owned kitchens and renovation items, allowed CreateApe to lead them on a digital rebrand.
First, let’s discuss the parameters of a retainer. Retainers are beneficial for several reasons. One of the most obvious is that the client receives a discounted rate in exchange for a long-term commitment. In the bigger scheme of things, however, the best benefit of a retainer is the freedom of collaboration. Both the client and the design team know there is a wealth of hours to allow room for excellent products to be created. Neither side is worried about pinching hours to stay within a certain budget. All the work being done is already included!
It isn’t just the security, trust, and speed; it’s the collaboration and the teamwork. As an agency, we’re able to fully enmesh ourselves into the brand. We learn the nuances which help us deliver consistent success. Working with Renovation Angel, we knew the brand inside and out. We knew the stakeholders and what they were expecting and the best way to approach success. This kind of investment from both the vendor and client is priceless.
When Steve initially contacted us it was to revitalize their website’s User Experience design. Since then, we’ve helped them kick off and improve their entire digital footprint from Renovation Angel to Green Demolitions. Now that they have let go of their other two brands: Kitchen Trader & Green Demolitions.
What had begun as an initial “UX-friendly” revamp turned into a full-blown site re-launch. At the time, not only were we just working on Renovation Angel, but also Green Demolitions, the e-commerce portal of their company. With our help, their website traffic increased by 40%, and their overall sales increased by 15%. Brand engagement almost doubled, and the sleek modern feel we helped to create was being mentioned by consumers and industry professionals alike.
There are many moments when both the client and us, as the vendor, benefit from the flexibility of being on a retainer. On a retainer, the client can pivot from idea to idea. Because they have a clear outline of the scope of work possible, (the actual tasks we can do), without worrying too much about budgets. Our dedication to transparency keeps expectations manageable and deliverables on schedule.
For example, every month Renovation Angel had a monthly sale that required a lot of soft and hard collateral to be created. Several different web banners of various sizes, an email design, and a price tag design (for use on the showroom floor) were created. Being on a retainer allowed the entire team the flexibility of trying different things over a period of time. That eventually served as the foundation of our well-oiled design process.
Flexibility and agile design processes are definitely important parts of our long-term client success. When redesigning their site to be an e-commerce website, it made it easy to spec out the scope of the project together. Even while decisions were being made, we were able to maintain the status quo of business as usual while putting our best foot forward. We had accumulated knowledge over the span of several years on their target client demographic. This allowed us to come up with impactful conversion-centric designs in much less time.
“That was a really big win for the retainer because we were able to work even at times when they weren’t available to provide guidance and ultimately help move the needle forward. Having the opportunity to work within the boundaries of a retainer proved to be advantageous for the business in more ways than one,” said CEO Alessandro Fard.
Renovation Angel took many risks over the years, especially when it came to brand architecture. While Renovation Angel focused on the donations side of their company, both Green Demolitions and Kitchen Trader were e-commerce based sister-brands. Each sold luxury kitchens and home renovation items. Fast forward to 2019, the brand organization is has undergone another transformation. All three brands have merged under the Renovation Angel umbrella, bringing its own set of challenges and opportunities.
Our new job was to capture the attention of many verticals. The new website, one that merged all three aspects of the brand so far, had to be luxurious, modern, edgy and welcoming. It’s part non-profit, part recycling, part luxury, and interior design. We had to create a fully immersive online space that customers could easily shop and understand.
The feedback from their team was, “Oh my gosh, this makes it so much easier to not only upload information and keep the information up to date for the users to see, but also for our team to manage information.” Now, when Renovation Angel would receive phone calls asking questions about their products, they were able to reference a fully robust website. They now had up to date information that was not only easy to engage with, but impactful. Not only did they see an increase in sales, but in their daily efficiency of overall operations.
One of our favorite aspects of collaborating with a client within a retainer framework is the opportunity to work on exciting new projects all the time. As Renovation Angel took off, we had the privilege to work with an organization that had undergone many iterations for continued quality improvement. We ultimately saw improved success markers across the board.
Not only were we working on keeping their websites up to date and ensuring things continued to convert, but we also got to develop social media channels, and direct marketing campaigns. The work that we did went from just a one-off project to become a six-year collaboration that we’re very lucky to be a part of.
In the end, the most important aspect of a retainer is the ongoing relationship between the agency and the client. Risks, opportunities, and great ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. Our retainer with Renovation Angel allowed us to bring those ideas to life in the best way possible. We feel so lucky and grateful to have worked with such an amazing team at Renovation Angel over the years and can’t for what lies ahead in the future!
Let us help get you #JungleReady. Let our CreateApe expert team be your jungle guide. We will help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.
This week we wanted to share a great article from the desk of our founder Alessandro Fard. Read on to learn more about user experience storytelling.
Isn’t it bananas how fast Apple releases a new and improved product every quarter? Ever wonder why they are even able to sell those new products so rapidly after just launching the last one? What makes consumers go back for those new and improved products? Hint: it is not the advertising of words that Apple spends on; it’s the experience that keeps the consumer coming back for more.
I mean think about it, you get a new phone with an amazing camera on it and you think that it is the best of the best in the world, but then Apple comes out with an even better phone than yours and all of a sudden you need to see for yourself how the grass is greener! Apple doesn’t need to dazzle you with words, you just know and expect that the newer product will be even better. Each. And EVERY. Time!!!!!
Welp, ladies and gents…that experience, that expectation, that innovative mindset, and branding is what marketing has evolved into. You can thank Apple for setting that bar so high…jk! ?
But in all honesty, marketing is no longer just a play on words and creative campaigns. It has converged into a massive beast that we like to call experience.
Back in the 60s a brand’s communication strategy was separate from the design of the product or service. Today, both branches collide, collaborate, and produce the product and design together for a successful service or product launch. As a result, products and services must deliver engaging stories, deepen customer engagement, and organizations must structure creative teams differently in order to grow revenues.
Alongside these changes is the task of delivering the experience to multiple platforms within a network of multiple brands. Whereas in the 60s you really only had the TV, radio, or newspaper as your communication channels; nowadays there is that plus websites, social media, blogging, stories, videos, podcasts, and more. The complexity can be challenging and intimidating when marketing for every platform, but it also gives organizations great tools to get creative and collaborate with their team about the product or service, and an even greater experience for their diverse audience.
So what should teams look like if not separate anymore?
As my peeps at UX Magazine so nicely put it, “marketing and product teams need to work more closely. Copywriting and story teams need to collaborate with user experience teams. Likewise, interaction and interface designers, rooted in human need and usability, need to work in integrated ways with marketing and advertising creatives.”
In other words, everyone works with everyone. Don’t separate your teams, as difficult as it can be to have everyone stirring the same pot, it is what makes the difference in your campaign strategy because it will be so uniquely progressed through multiple layers, professionals, and creative mindsets.
I want to encourage you to switch it up and take the challenge of team collaboration beyond designated branches. It will greatly impact your product or service to more meaningful, relevant connections with your consumers.
There are so many tools to get you to the finish line of designing a masterpiece, each and every one to ease the process. That being said, keep in mind that the tools or methods you use don’t matter as much as the finished product does. Don’t try to dazzle your clients with how fast your turnaround rate is, take your time to create something that matters beyond what has been requested of you.
Everyone is branding themselves these days on social media, but a true brand begins with a meaningful, purposeful idea. Don’t let the filters, grids, and logos drive your brand, but instead the mindset and goal should be the focus. What is the meaning of this brand? Why is it important to consumers? What does it feel/look like long term?
Dive deep into the benefit of your product/service brand. People want to know why your service or product is necessary and what it will help them achieve. Don’t just settle for the best on the market, because let’s face it…there is always better out there or the next best upgrade. Truly conveying why a product/service is going to benefit a consumer is the best way to maximize your brand. Apple doesn’t claim to be the best cell phone in the market, they capitalize on what the cell phone features and the type of consumer that would love it.
Take the time to own your craft, focus on those small details that set you apart from the rest, choose to make the experience one that keeps consumers coming back again. Chances are if they’re coming back, they’re likely to share that to other consumers creating that domino effect that can happen through well crafted design.
Less is always more. Charm can be extravagant, but those grand romantic gestures in movies that are way over the top–yeah those aren’t a win in design. Think about the speed of life lately, everyone only has a few minutes to do things, the faster, easier, and simpler the better when it comes to interface and design flow.
With technology shifts and social media trends changing on what seems like every day, it is important to reassess, improve, and reinvent what you’re delivering to your customers and the methods you are using to do so. I like to take some time at the end of every month to assess what worked really well, what could be improved, and what was a bust.
I know it is redundant considering number 6, but assessing and changing the version are really two separate parts. Version upgrades and updates can both increase or harm your customer base. Consider all personas when updating what is not working, and also when deciding what is working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
If you’ve been to high school you know the role that social media plays in destroying and raising ego. Needless to say, it is all too easy for consumers to completely defame a company or any entity. The best way to mitigate that is by ensuring that the client/consumer doesn’t feel fooled or wronged through faulty promises/products. Don’t create crap that creates crap!
Let’s face it, sometimes we get too creative and lose sight of the central truth that a brand was developed for. We want to create art that impacts without considering the impact itself to be the core truth about a product or service. In my experience it is far better to create around a central truth, than to create and then try to apply that truth to what you magnificently created.
It was true when your mama told you, and it’s still true today. Stand out means not blending in. Blending in means copying what’s being done. There is not one client design that is similar to another in my portfolio, and for good reason. I truly believe that every product or service has something unique to offer, and it’s up to me and my team to find that out. Thinking outside the box is truly an art that I’ve come to master and love. The more personalized the better rapport with clients, the better experience with consumers, the better product design, the clearer the focus, and so on..
In order to create the experience and succeed in branding, both product development and campaign marketing teams must work together, collaborate, and reinvent the experience to match the story and core brand. We’ve come a long way since the 60s, but the main thing has always been the main thing, tying them together into a story that results in a positive experience for consumers is the trend…and it looks as though it’s here to stay.
It’s a jungle out there — let the Create Ape experts help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.