The Doers: Behind the Scenes of Building BigWheel's New Site
When we first decided to build a new website, it was like someone unleashed a stampede of kittens and puppies in the office. The excitement was palpable. What colors would we go with? Could the team collaborate on a few animations? Needless to say, our initial enthusiasm overshadowed the challenge of creating a site from scratch -- in addition to our regular workloads. But once the dust settled, our team of designers, developers, copywriters, and project managers got to work building a fresh site we could celebrate.
To say we’re proud of our new site is an understatement. Marathon meetings, extensive research, and multiple rounds of sketching and wireframing led to a final product that is both visually appealing and user friendly. In that spirit, we asked BigWheel team members to share their inspirations and processes behind building our site.
UX Design and Development
This is the best site we’ve ever made – the way it’s built, the way it works, and the way we were able to distill everything down to exactly what we needed. And all of that is really because of the time we invested up front. Doing the research and going through the wireframes, content, and outlines was so important. Giving the site the time it deserved early on made the development process relatively easy. Everything was defined and we knew where all of the pieces went.
From the beginning, we wanted to make the site custom and modern, but we didn’t want it to look like everything else out there. We were very careful to be different. We really wanted to distill it down, keeping the navigation minimal and the content straight and to the point. And to not have things just to have them. We wanted the user to be able to easily digest it and understand it.
My job as a designer is to always listen and understand what stakeholders want -- to really hear and appreciate everyone’s point of view. I think with the new site, everyone on the BigWheel team can feel like it’s theirs.
The primary goal from the beginning was to display what we do: the design chops, the quirky writing, the animation. And to let everybody have fun in the process. The colors are based on the BigWheel brand. My challenge was finding a creative way to display those colors that the user hadn’t already seen in relation to BigWheel. The font is a very minimal, clean sans serif that has different weights we can use throughout the site to establish hierarchy. It’s a base that lets the site pop and have personality. It’s kind of like if you build the frame of the house: you build it and it’s very simple. But then people come in and add color and decorations. I’m building a nice clean shell that everybody can decorate and have fun with.
The site was an open door from the start -- which was both exciting and challenging as a project manager. There was so much we could do and the biggest question was: How do we fit it all onto one website? To help narrow things down, we had multiple meetings before any design or development work started. That just organically happened because there were so many great ideas being tossed around. As a project manager, I made sure that the people who needed to be in the room were there, the things that needed to be discussed were discussed, and the tools were in place for the team to execute effectively. Sometimes, we’d end meetings without knowing what to do next. But because the team was in deep, we accepted that it was going to be a longer, more organic process. And it was worth it.
While I think our old site is still awesome and appealing, so much has changed since we launched it. If we’re going to offer cutting-edge web design, we need to have a cutting-edge site. The real challenge was finding the time to build it in a way that didn’t impact our client work.
My theory has always been to try and employ people who are smarter than me. Who am I to try and micromanage a team of experts? For the new site, I wanted to give the team the creative freedom to do what they thought was best -- because I know they’ll do what’s best for the company. It’s an easy choice.