Mithun, a Seattle-based ?rm that does classy, ecologically sustainable architecture work, came to Blue Flavor looking for a full redesign and build out of their site. We love their work, so we were pumped when they signed the job order.
The Agency-to-Agency Challenge
We talked to Curt Pilier, Mithun’s Associate Principle and Director of Brand. He had this to say about working with Blue Flavor and his project:
“Working for a ?rm full of designers is not an easy task. Blue Flavor did their homework on Mithun and our profession prior to offering any direction. They listened closely to our desires and clearly sought to understand our needs. They had the con?dence and experience to tell us when we were wrong, and the openness to accept compromise. We are completely satis?ed.”
Agency-to-agency work is known for being tricky. The worst case scenario involves agencies failing to communicate peacefully, egos unleashed, expensive pens being busted on moleskin notepads, the whole bit. Luckily, working with Mithun was awesome—nothing
like the stereotype.
Since they are designers (and because they told us), we knew Mithun would be more focused on the visual design phase of the project than any other. This presented a challenge: We couldn’t over-emphasize design and compromise other phases like information architecture, but we couldn’t focus too heavily on the IA and risk a less-than-perfect design. We needed all elements of the site to be air tight, while creating a beautiful design that Mithun felt happy with.
To deal with this, we settled on a very traditional IA. No complications, no bells and whistles. Keeping IA simple made the site easy to use and allowed Tom to get sign-off quickly. An uncluttered navigation and site structure also gave us ?exibility in the site’s design (and more room for pictures, pretty architecture things, and “?ashy” interactions).
Visual Design and Project Management
Taking time to fully understand a client’s goals is what separates good and bad design work. That’s why we spent a lot of time in the discovery phase getting to know Mithun’s branding, business goals, and visual aesthetic. This attention was instrumental in helping us bring their online identity up to speed with their clean, crisp, and hip architecture work.
Typically we think of lengthy reviews as wasteful, but with Mithun it was just what we needed. To keep us all on the same page, Tom ?exed in project management, setting up in-depth design reviews (yikes!) with Mithun’s entire management team.
“Late night and weekend email updates attest to their professionalism and pride in what they do. Blue Flavor definitely went above and beyond,” said Curt Pilier when asked about Blue Flavor’s work ethic.
He’s right, we ran into some zingers in the development phase—some truly challenging stuff that took us many a late night to work through. Still, our development phase went fairly smoothly, and we’re proud of a few of the features we were able to develop for them.
ExpressionEngine is an elegant content management system that allows people to enter and edit their website’s content. We chose it because:
- Its beautiful templating language and admin interface made it easy for us to build it quickly.
- It was perfect for the large volume of text, media, and organizational structure on Mithun’s site.
- It’s easy to modify and bend (it can handle many different types of data (e.g. HTML, XML, and PHP)
- It’s also extremely easy to use, so we barely had to train Mithun on how to enter content.
- It allowed us to build the iPhone version using content from the main site, without interfering with the main site whatsoever.
Mithun wanted a gorgeous, “?ashy” slideshow to display their work. The slideshow we created required three separate technologies to play nicely together, and included the following features:
- Image metadata such as titles and alternate text for the image (for people who don’t have images turned on in their browser).
- It had to play automatically, stop at Flash movies, and play Flash movies.
- They wanted to be able to enter content that would actually display in the slideshow using ExpressionEngine (their CMS).
The iPhone Site
Mithun also wanted a way of showing their work to clients, from anywhere, using a mobile site.
We drew on our work with lea?ets and experience in the iPhone market to build them a compatible iPhone site that allows people to access basic content, quickly. We also made it possible to add videos, photos and important project data in a quick-to-download, easy-to-use form.
The Bottom line
This project is a long time in the making, and we can proudly say we’re happy with the results. The sites function beautifully and look just how Mithun wanted them to. Most importantly, working with Curt, Mahalie, and the rest of Mithun’s team was a great experience.
Have a similar problem? Interested in our services? Tell us about your project, we'd love to help.