The leverage effect of working in tandem

A few months ago, we created the new website, a simplified accounting platform allowing artists and indie labels in the music industry to manage their royalties.

This is new type of project for Walking Men as it’s smaller than our usual websites, and it’s in the music field. We decided to consider a new way of working internally with a compact team composed only of a project manager, Martin (M), and a designer, Arthur (A).

In this article, they share their feelings about a collaboration with many “first times” and what this experience has taught them about the leveraging effect of working in tandem.

A two-way project like a ping-pong match

M : This project started with quite an unusual dynamic. It was the first time we worked with Brussels-based marketing agency Digizik, which added an entirely new dimension to the process: while they worked on the content of the website (which we usually do) we focused on offering a design that would match the client’s vision, core values and content brief, as well as developing it. It was also the first time I had the complete lead on the management of a project, which was small in size but very bold in its ambitions. In many aspects, the project allowed us to try new ways of working and cooperating with each other.

A : As a designer, our works are most of the time divided between many hands, but occasionally working on the project from the very beginning all the way through to handing over to the developers is an option, and it’s exactly what we chose to do with Martin and the team. I was thinking about the structure of the website, writing the storytelling of the pages and laying out the different sections; it was a complete UX experience for me (a first!) at the agency, and which taught me a lot from the moment I arrived. Surrounded by my colleagues, bringing their expertise to support my creative exploration, I produced strong designs carrying my own artistic vision. A complete design project for an atypical and exciting idea.

A blank sheet with a defined format

Good collaboration in a duo or team is built on several essential pillars. Working small has many advantages and can be a wise decision depending on the project.

A: clear briefing at the beginning of the project from Martin, the Project Manager, was essential. Knowing who we are working for, what their values are, who the end users will be, and what the objectives of the project are — it all makes it possible to avoid future points of confusion. Starting a project on a blank sheet gives the designer the freedom to create while clearly defining the limits from the outset.

M: During this creative process, we updated and discussed our progress and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Understanding what you do and informing the other of what you know gives everyone the means to provide the best of themselves. Information does not get lost and can flow smoothly between us. Communication is therefore essential in this operation.

A: Communicating with fewer stakeholders also speeds up the pace at which decisions are made. By collaborating live on Figma, by writing the content in parallel to the UX phase, we talked constantly during the different stages. Over the course of the project, we were supported to evolve our skills and explore new areas with the help and the expertise of our colleagues. This multidisciplinary approach has also grown proportionally with the progress of the project.

As a result, presentations in front of the client are made with all stakeholders on the project. Each decision taken can be defended by the person concerned, the proposed solutions are related to the question, and the returns are understood without losing the initial central idea.

Share everything for a common goal

The close proximity that comes with the tandem approach brings quite a lot of fast results and an interesting dynamic.

M: I most enjoyed the efficiency on this project. Since we opted to share everything, I was constantly engaged and aware of the design process, while Arthur was always part of every presentation and kept in the loop of discussions with the other agency and the client. This allowed us to work in close cooperation towards a common goal, without the loss of efficiency that can happen when projects are passed from department to department. I believe it also brings a sense of familiarity and security to the client, allowing everyone involved to get to know each other and to be regularly in touch to discuss next steps and feedback.

A: This collaboration and efficient communication led to a website that truly represents the aspirations of the client, and the identity of their product: bold and innovative, with a funky feel. Design and copy are complementary and transparency is central: all the information you need is easily accessible, and finding it is intuitive.

Early after the launch of the website, we noticed a nice steady rise in visits, and most importantly a drop in the bounce rate. The search optimisation and friendly tone of voice makes the experience smooth, while the design welcomes the visitor into a playful universe.

Adapting to the client’s requests to better meet our users’ expectations.

Every project is different, and what works for one will not necessarily apply to another. It’s crucial to assess the demand, needs and requirements of the client beforehand, and to find out the best way to meet those needs.

For us, this project was an opportunity to work with another agency, which challenged the way we traditionally approach a new project. After a first meeting with the client and an assessment of the request, we opted for a smaller team, so that everyone was involved from beginning to end. This paved the way for future collaborations with Digizik, who we now consider as a local partner, and with whom we just finished working on a whole other type of project. But that will be another story.

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Valérie van Delft

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