It's annual planning season and I've been spending the past month or so thinking about the strategy for the ConvertKit Brand Studio team in 2023. Today I want to share with you some of the systems we're going to be building to increase the efficiency and consistency of our output. Sound good? Read on!
The systems that will help us get a lot done with a small team in 2023
As I've been interviewing design leaders for Inside Marketing Design there's a little part of me that can't help but feel envious of the number of designers and producers some companies have on their brand and marketing design teams!
Handling the "everything-but-the-product" side of design at ConvertKit is:
- David - Senior Marketing Designer
- Cory - Senior Front-end Developer
- Hollie - Part-time freelance graphic designer
- and me... (who let's be honest probably only spends about 25% of my time hands-on designing now)
While we've come a long way from me being a solo designer handling it all myself, that's still a small team!
If you've been listening to Inside Marketing Design episodes this season you will have heard a lot of folks talk about having a design system in place for their marketing site. That's something we're working on at ConvertKit too (watch a video about that here), but there's a series of other systems we're going to work on putting in place to make our work lives easier, and our brand more consistent.
Here's a little about each one and why we're investing in it.
A tiered system of illustrations in a defined style. The first level will be small, simple illos (only a little more detailed than a basic icon), the second will be for medium-sized spot illustrations, and the third for feature graphics and empty states in the product.
We're still working on the actual style for them, but here's an example of that three-tier system in action to *ahem* illustrate the point
This system will give us a library of assets to pull from, make our illustrations more consistent and extend our brand creatively.
We're exploring the ways in which abstracting some parts of our product screenshots can actually increase their clarity and comprehension. Right now we use a lot of literal screenshots across our website, which means the product details are especially unclear on mobile.
We want our product imagery to feel like it comes from a real creators account, so it's no small task to create them and we tend to create them bespoke for every page! Getting a system in place will ensure we have what we need to speak to our main features, and we'll document the design decisions to make it easier to create new ones in future.
Product motion graphics
Figuring out a repeatable process for creating animated flows to demonstrate our product and promote new features. We're defining what type of motion feels 'on brand' for ConvertKit as we work on having product imagery animated.
Social media imagery
Putting type styles and a few layout components in place to make the graphics we create for social media to promote our content & product more consistent in the ways they need to be, but actually encourage more variation in layout too (we know people will keep on scrolling by if they feel like they've seen that image before!).
And, of course, the marketing site design system will be a set of components and styles that help us to design and build pages more efficiently, and allow any iterations we make to apply site-wide rather than on the specific page we designed the iteration on.
I know it's been a while (*cough* six months *cough*) since the first video in my design system "series", but I promise that over the next year I'll update you all along the way with how our work is going on these systems and what we learn from the process of creating them.
Our hope is that the work we put in to making these design decisions up front as part of a system will lead to easier, more cohesive layout choices that allow us to have a big impact as a small team.
Does your team have systems for these things in place already? What advice do you have for me and the ConvertKit Brand Studio team as we embark on this process? Reply and let me know!
Collaborating on designs has never been easier
Designers and developers, this one is for you.
Try Zeplin, the perfect solution for easily collaborating on designs. This design handoff tool makes it simple for team members like QA managers, PMs and developers to review, provide feedback on, and build designs. With Zeplin, you'll be able to access version history, save developers time with auto-generated specs, and make constant back-and-forth a thing of the past!
Physical whiteboards: are you a fan?
October 15th 2022
Kyle is not alone. I too, am not into mocking up wireframes or flows on a physical whiteboard.
I see whiteboards in the background of so many designers spaces on Zoom, but there’s something about sketching (heck, even just writing) on a vertical canvas that has never clicked with me. A digital whiteboard — like a FigJam — though? Heck yeah. And for me nothing will beat sketching on my iPad or with a Sharpie on paper to share layout ideas in a group.
Are Kyle and I missing something when it comes to physical whiteboards? Do you get value from them in your design process?
Let’s take a vote! (just click on the option that represents you to cast your ballot)
If you’re a whiteboard fan, I’d also love to hear how they serve you in your process. Feel free to reply any share your thoughts!
I’ll share the results in the next issue.
Hope you have a good week ahead.
I've got some vacation time coming up starting Friday which I'm very much looking forward to after some stressful weeks of work. You'll still see me back in your inbox next Monday tho!
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