We recently sat down with Jenelle Bremault, Senior Designer at FKA, and Kevin Newcombe, Developer, to pick their brains on a recent project we did for our clients at The Brick called My Brick Home. This project had a few different moving pieces, as our client’s needs were quite specific.
My Brick Home is a quarterly catalogue that showcases beautiful lifestyle imagery, which is accompanied by an online advertising campaign. A series of videos are also produced for each edition of My Brick Home, which feature DIY home decor ideas. With so much beautiful and engaging content, The Brick needed a website that could digitally showcase it. Each quarter these assets would also need to be updated with photography, videography and any other assets created for that season’s catalogue. So how can a website be both beautiful and functional while constantly subject to updates and changes?
This project was unique, as it required an approach to building a website that focused on format more than content. Building the site required our team to break every section of the site into modular parts to ensure that the client was able to create new web content from scratch on the fly that would seamlessly integrate into the existing site.
A previous iteration of a modular approach to websites for another client gave our team some initial insights into what would be required, but there was still a steep learning curve. They discovered quickly that building a template and building a site are very different experiences. “I had to be strategic on how I approached the design of the modules. They needed to be used on multiple pages without looking too repetitive and had to accommodate content that would change throughout the year depending on the season of the catalogue,” Jenelle recounts. “It was a challenge to pre-plan and make smart decisions that would ensure the site was a success without having all the variables.”
Kevin echoed Jenelle’s sentiment, reiterating that designing the blank modules was more challenging than creating a standard website. “How do we make each module user-friendly? How do we include a taggable image module and allow them to edit it? It was a big technical challenge.”
This new way of building websites forced the team to juggle their roles. Jenelle first noticed her role was shifting when the project entered the development stage. “My role as a designer transformed when the project was in development. I had to test the CMS for content population and what the users would visually see and interact with. As we were adding content I tried to break our modules any way I could think of. Anything that could make the visuals less pleasing than I intended had to be fixed.”
Adopting a quality assurance role was crucial for the project, which needed to be able to handle anything the client could throw at it. “In the past we were able to design around a template, but for this we had to build modules that could accommodate anything and everything,” explains Kevin. “The whole time I was building the site, I was looking at it on phones, tablets, old computers and new computers to make sure it was adapting properly.”
Challenges aside, Kevin believes this template will give FKA a strong tool to offer new and existing clients. “It was kind of a breakthrough for us because it is so simple to update. It’s cost effective and it doesn’t lock clients in to a particular design.” This new template offers clients the ability to have more control over their content and site functionality after our team hands over the keys. Each module included in the site is designed for a different purpose, which gives the client the freedom to build unique pages whenever it’s needed based on whatever content they have at that time.
The innovation and creative problem-solving that led to building a website focused on modules was born out of a need from a client, but has taught our team about a new tool to use for clients who want more flexibility with their website pages. The goal of FKA is to be able to meet the needs and expectations of all clients and this is one more way to provide the best possible service.
The site, which launched at the end of March 2018, can be seen at mybrickhome.ca.