Designing Through the Dog Days of Summer

When it comes to designer assignments, our ideal at Viget is to have one designer lead a project from start to finish – and in most cases they do. But the reality is that limited designer availability, summer vacations, or competing priorities have challenged us to find alternatives for certain projects. Respecting each other's design vision is imperative when we tackle these situations by re-allocating portions of the design responsibilities, which we just succeeded in doing with Interventional Paws.

We addressed this non-profit's simple redesign by having one designer do mood boards, another do design comps, and a third to build-out in ExpressionEngine.

First were Jim's mood boards, which are loose design concepts that allow us to try out a few stylistic concepts and solicit client feedback before we jump headfirst into time-intensive applied design compositions.

Jim's mood board uses cool colors and carefully selected pet photos.

"We decided to go in two directions with the mood boards," he said. "One would be a more bold and colorful approach, the other a bit more toned down and conservative to give the client a better range of options."

Then, Jim left for his summer vacation, and Rob took over.

Taking a designer's concepts and a client's preference from mood boards to design comps proved to be a fun assignment. The leg work on colors, fonts, and imagery was essentially established. So Rob took Jim's vision and applied it to a layout and overall site concept in the design comps.

Rob amped up the warm colors to put his own personal touch on the applied design. View the live site.

"Jim did a great on the mood boards and my goal was to build on the mood he had created. I decided to take some the warmer tones from the palette to use as my base. I felt that this conveyed a welcoming feeling and also tied in to some of the tones of fur from the images we were featuring. I also chose to use the stripes from the mood board to create the a patterned texture for to the mast. Overall it was a great experience taking a concept and mood from another designer and bringing it to life."

The client loved the design translation and approved the comps straight away. We found ourselves in a pinch with Rob swamped with many deadlines, so we transitioned the build-out and ExpressionEngine implementation to Mindy, who'd only been at Viget a few days and hadn't ever worked in EE before. After populating the site with content and getting the client's sign off, http://www.interventionalpaws.org went live.

"Interventional Paws was my first development project at Viget - a great way to start things off. It helped introduce me to our teams' highly collaborative way of working. Everyone helped get me up-to-speed quickly, especially CSS ninjas Keith and Rob. Also, I'm a dog owner and animal lover so I felt lucky to work with a company that has such a kindhearted mission."

Not only was this a fun project for a good cause, it was amazing to see how different designers could take the work of others and know exactly where to go with it all while including their own working styles. And, in the end, the client was over the moon about the collaborative design -- which is what it's all about!

See how this exercise in collaboration turned out at the Interventional Paws web site.

Tom is vice president of design and works in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. He has over two decades of experience as a designer and team coach, and works with clients such as the University of Pennsylvania and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

More posts by Tom