Launching the brand new Makermet website - experimenting with a minimum viable product and hackathon

By Alex Traska on 4th Apr

We’re excited, proud and relieved to be announcing the launch of Makermet’s brand new website, currently featuring the most detailed explanation of our services ever published, and blog full of news, opinion and reviews of design events and exhibitions.

This new site discusses the services we’ve brought to brand exploration, identity development, web and e-commerce, and marketing and communication projects with a broad range of B2B and B2C clients in the last two-years.

Design that makes a difference

During planning stages, the team were in agreement that the websites of many agencies were too focussed on showing pictures of beautiful websites and clever print design. Our alternative approach has been to share a clear overview of the impact our services have on a clients’ business, rather than showcase a series of images that don’t necessarily show that design challenges had been met. Afterall, it's quite possible to build a bug-free, cutting-edge user interface or a super trendy looking mobile application that simply doesn't solve any of the problems it set out to.

During the development of our site, we decided to follow our own mantra…

Relate your website content to your reader; a worrying number of websites fail to really say what a business actually does!

Over the forthcoming weeks we’ll also be adding detailed case studies of our successful research, brand identity and web development projects. Each case study will examine the challenges we faced at the start each project, the strategy and design work we provided and then an appraisal of the actual outcomes for each client; did we help the client meet the challenges their business faced?

We’re also looking forward to building on our archive of articles on the site, with some technical pieces for our peers, some quick overviews of exciting, smaller projects we’ve undertaken and contributions from the wider Makermet team and perhaps guest bloggers

Experimenting with a "minimum viable product" and the first Makermet Hackathon

Following changes to the business last year and our involvement with a “service innovation” project by a Nottingham Business School MA student, the team gathered to spend half a day planning our new website. We considered the work overhead involved in completely reworking our website; new CMS, new layout, totally new approach to content.

“Internal projects represent a perfect opportunity for experimentation with workflow”

During that whiteboard and post-it note heavy session we sketched a general structure for the site, and explored how we’d link data types around the site; services, clients, testimonials, team members and case studies. The on-going maintenance of the site was also carefully factored into our plans; did we have time to profile every project we worked on? Was it necessary? The answer was a resounding "no".

Regardless, the result of all the planning was a site that represented a fairly enormous build, unrealistic to fit into our already busy work schedule. Since internal projects represent a perfect opportunity for experimentation with workflow, we decided to expedite the build process for the new Makermet website as follows...

  • Content first; an approach we encourage with all our projects
  • Minimum viable product (MVP); identify what our site NEEDED at launch, and WANTS that could be added post-launch
  • Hackathon build; a 14hr session on a Saturday in the studio to break the back of the website build

During the hackathon we planned the MVP user interface (UI) in detail and designed it in Adobe Illustrator. Our junior designer Aaron was put in charge of exporting image assets for our developer, and collecting old content from the existing site, ready for transfer to our new Craft CMS. Dave worked on deploying the server, installing the technology stack and building the database schema and front end.

Hackathon Build Threeimage
Planning, developing and designing during the hackathon

The pressure of a 14hr hackathon helped with decision making; designers can be terrible perfectionists, lingering over small detail for hours or even days. Over the subsequent weeks, the UI and copy was tweaked and nudged towards completion. Having a CMS and front-end already in place, rather than developing everything in parallel, definitely helped us reach launch.

Overall, the MVP and hackathon approach was successful in this project where we were able to make executive decisions as required. This may not be true of more complex or collaborative projects. Development of the content took far longer than we expected, which is an issue that was interesting to experience for ourselves…and experience many of our clients share. This reinforces one of our most important pieces of advice we share with clients considering relaunching their own websites…

Realistically commit adequate internal resources to the development of your website content - you're going to need more time and people than you might think!

Of course, the nature of our MVP launch means that there's still much to do! But with our foundations in place, it's much easier to add our new case studies sections and continue to develop our content. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to know about changes and updates as they happen.

We're looking forward to applying the hackathon and MVP build strategy to some future self-initiated projects for charities, via a new collaborative project between Nottingham agencies that is gathering and will be publicised soon! 

If there’s a project you’ve been thinking about tackling, get in touch today to see how our services can help you, email studio@makermet.com

About the author

profile-alex

Alex Traska

Founder / Creative Director

Alex's works with clients as brand consultant and strategist, and with the in-house team and a large network of collaborators as creative director and art director.

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