Assembling Ingredients and Trusting the Recipe

Last month I wrote about the amazing team we’ve assembled on our journey to create a new website for TEN7. Over the last several weeks I’ve had an opportunity to see the team in action, putting together the ingredients that will soon come together to create the site.

For those of you who don’t know, I love to cook! I’m not great, but I do love the process (I can spend hours watching J. Kenji López-Alt’s Point of View cooking videos). That’s probably why I’ve been so energized by the way our new website design has been progressing. It’s like watching talented sous-chefs selecting fresh ingredients and starting to turn them into something delicious! Here’s what’s been happening in the TEN7 kitchen over the last weeks:

  • Our strategist, Lynn Winter, completed her strategic brief, analyzing the content, navigation and features of our current site and suggesting the best ways to focus the new site on the needs of our key audiences: potential clients and potential team members. This work built upon our mission to Make Things That Matter and it is guided by the values that drive us every day.
  • Our design and branding partner, Studio Malagón, presented options for typography, color schemes and logo treatments. Then they started creating “high fidelity wireframes” to explore how the pages will come together. These wireframes are designed in a way that uses shades of gray to lay out site elements and hierarchies of content in a clear and compelling way.
  • All the while, our Director of Operations, Dani Adelman, has been playing the role of head chef, making sure all the ingredients are being assembled on time and in the right order to start bringing it all together.

In my role as the “client” in this process, I have had the opportunity to see website development from a new perspective and I have really enjoyed the process. I provide input and evidence and then I get to see our strategy, values, and brand personality reflected in the array of options that are placed in front of me.

Perhaps nothing over the last month tapped into this excitement more than when Ernesto and Melissa from Studio Malagón presented options for typography and color schemes. At the beginning of that meeting I was admittedly a little nervous, wondering what was going to happen if I just didn’t like any of the options. Quickly the nerves gave way to confidence, and I lost myself in the new possibilities that were being laid out before me.

As usual, being on the client side of this effort has yielded valuable lessons.

  • Trust the Process
    As a scientist, this lesson should come easily to me, but it never hurts to be reminded. When you have a good system in place and you are using data and evidence, you can trust that you’re going to get great results. The team isn’t guessing which ingredients I will like, they are using input I’ve provided to create something that is likely to match my taste.
  • Reinforce What Makes You Unique
    As we develop this site, we’re trying to resist the temptation of creating flashy features simply for the sake of uniqueness. Instead, we’re trying to develop authentic touches to reveal more about who we are and what we are like to work with. For example, we’re emphasizing audio clips where people can hear directly from our team members and our clients to learn what makes TEN7 special. This is how we represent the values that drive us.
  • Collaboration is More Important than Polish
    It’s often tempting to try to put an extra coat of polish (or, maybe to keep our food metaphor going, an extra round of glaze) on presentations for clients. Speaking as the client, however, I have learned to appreciate when the team is willing to share work without worrying about perfection. In some ways seeing things in progress encourages more collaboration and helps bring us to a better place.

At this point in the process, the team has whetted my appetite, and I am more eager than ever to see the ingredients come together. In the coming weeks we’ll dive into the website content needs and we’ll start to see how the various elements look and feel when they are combined together. Just like when you’re cooking, there is magic when things are combined in just the right way. The oven is preheating. I can’t wait to sample what’s next!

As always, if you need some help, I’m just an email away.