As Design Lead for a small automotive design and strategy consultancy, I was tasked with creating the first design system in the 15-year old company's historyâ€”including a new website, Powerpoint templates, business cards and online company profilesâ€”to lead a push into new markets and clients beyond the original scope of the small company. The new design system needed to be efficient and easy to use for all members of the team, regardless of their technical knowledge, and also make an impression on the design managers they would be presented to. Bold imagesâ€”drawn from an existing library of motor-show and project photoshootsâ€”anchored the main points and helped capture the attention of the highly visual clients that would be seeing them.
As an agency focused on automotive design strategy, our website needed to reflect our own understanding of the business needs of our clients. A stable platform that could grow and adjust dynamically for our needs was essential, but so was an interface that was easy to understand and navigate for (often foreign) entities. I worked with the website developers to create a user-friendly version of their custom CMS that would allow for quick building of multimedia Insight posts to keep things updated, but also allowed me full control over the design and layout of the other pages of the site.
We also integrated functionality such as downloadable Trend Reports, forms linked to a Mail Chimp database, an archive of posts, and full search functionality so that we could run the site with minimal day-to-day effort but maximum impact. Over the course of the four years that the site was live, traffic increased continuously while backend investment was reduced.
As we all know, presentations are the foundation of most consulting projects. So for the Powerpoint templates, I designed everything to be as "automatic" as it could be. By creating an extensive set of master pages, any user could easily build presentations that were not only quicker than the previously "build-to-order" setup, but were also clean, highly legible and on-brand every time. Specific templates were also built for different general business needs, such as the Company Overview, Trend Reports, and Quarterly Insights. All were simple to use, with pre-styled drag-and-drop image and text boxes to ensure that the external view of the company was always consistent and clear.
The final piece of the puzzle was the creation of new business cards and social media profiles. While digital templates and website made a good first impression on potential clients, we needed continued engagement to get the projects. The old gray and white business cards were replaced with a vibrant wash of blue, while the social media profiles were updated with vibrant imagery and consistently-updated content, fed automatically from the Insights section of the website.