Over one weekend in April, Idea Kraft held our first ever Re-Kraft event. Similar to a hackathon, we fully rebranded a small business to give back to the community, all within 48 hours.
Since it was our first year doing Re-Kraft, we learned a lot along the way. When you have to condense your entire process under an ambitious (and slightly crazy) time constraint, without cutting deliverables or sacrificing quality, you quickly see which parts of your process are efficient and where you can improve.
I highly recommend undertaking challenging projects like these. Pulling off a full rebrand under such a tight timeline helped improve our processes going forward, and this insight can be applied to everyday work.
Plan, plan, plan.
Having a plan is worth the time that it takes. As we were gearing up for Re-Kraft weekend, we were all thinking about how we should set up the site, our build process, a client review schedule, mood boards, and the list goes on. We conducted our content audit in advance, created a current site map, and obtained the story and values from our client. This way we had an understanding of pain points and business goals ahead of time. Solutions could then begin to brew in our heads.
Don’t underestimate the power of spreading out your process, even if it seems premature
For 5–10 minutes a day leading up to a project, just think about it. A few minutes of acknowledgment each day allows your brain to subconsciously work out problems and come up with ideas before you even start working.
Simply being aware of what’s ahead puts you in the discovery phase for your next project.
It’s better to over-communicate than risk under-communicating. This was especially apparent to us on Day Two. We were nervous about launching the new website in time, so we ended up doing some duplicate work. I woke up at 5 a.m. Sunday and worked, while another developer went in early and cranked out every page. Designers did extra work, and so did directors and writers. Everyone was so dedicated. Blending roles is a wonderful thing, but real-time updates of “what I’m working on right now” would be a way to streamline this even more.
Show imperfect mocks to the client.
It’s okay, really! In fact, I would argue that it’s more productive to show imperfect mocks to a client. Loose ideas fare better when you want to open up the discussion, and we needed as much feedback early on as we could get. I’ve been a proponent of paper prototyping because, as Dustin Senos said,
“Senior designers spend much less time on cosmetics, and much more time validating that they’re going in the right direction.”
This is no different. Our Designer and Developer Collin Bigart had websites ready to show our client first thing in the morning, to talk through layout and pick their brains before even starting mockups.
We mocked up two different homepage layouts, and showed them before anything looked presentable—at all. This was so much more helpful in teaching me what to look for in a client’s response, and how to ask the right questions. Getting a list of likes, dislikes, concerns, and needs helped us hit the ground running on Saturday.
Active, participating clients are the best.
Design ideas from a client can be helpful. As long as it’s not “make it my favorite color,” a client can give you insight into the audience perspective, because even clients are one step removed from the design—and they usually know their audience.
Take short breaks, especially when under pressure.
Burnout is real no matter how much you love what you do. Short breaks clear your mind, and because design is based on thoughtfulness (of the brand, the users, interaction, and messaging) it’s important to never design nonstop. ?
Dedication is contagious.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with combined dedication. This is just some of what we provided our client with by Sunday night!
Celebrate with your team!
The best part about Re-Kraft weekend was sharing the experience as a team. It brought us closer together, and we better understand the intricacies of how each one of us works. Everyone has a different approach to a challenge, and when you have a chance to solve a big problem together, that’s how you innovate.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” — Picasso
Just dive right in. The process itself is how you learn and grow.