From Rich Fisher, Project Designer:
Back in 2015, Randy Burkett Lighting Design began the process of developing not only a new website but also a refreshed brand identity. As we were fast approaching the firms 30th year in existence, it was important that we leverage our history in creating something for the future. To best achieve that goal, we turned to Spry Digital. From the very onset of the process through to the website launch their team kept our goals at the forefront while guiding us to an end product has exceeded our expectations.
When Spry Digital were asked to design the new web experience for Randy Burkett Lighting Design, we were thrilled to accept the challenge. Randy Burkett Lighting Design has designed lighting for some of the most prominent buildings, monuments, landscapes and public spaces in North America.
Founded in 1988 by Randy Burkett, the St. Louis-based team consists of design professionals across disciplines, with lighting related backgrounds and educations in architectural engineering, architecture, interior design, and theatre. Coming from design backgrounds ourselves, we could appreciate the firm's unique digital business challenges and help them to overcome any obstacles in communicating their work, discipline and philosophy to a wider audience.
Randy Burkett Lighting Design’s previous website was minimalistic and featured content that was tidy but small. Like many websites of the time, the site had been designed for screens less than 1000px wide and was not responsive. The content was high on aesthetic, but void of brand messaging and calls-to-action. The copy required an industrious attention from the user to read and synthesize what the firm had to say about their own work and practice.
The site was not built on a modern content management system (CMS), so was difficult to maintain and update, and did not provide scalability to grow with the firm as their work examples and content needs did.
Goals of the new website:
- Design a responsive web experience that works and functions across a myriad of screens sizes and devices
- Build on a modern, easy to use CMS that is scalable and can grow with the firm
- Design layouts that make full use of the web canvas to highlight beautiful work
- A multi-layer approach to content that appeals to a multiple audiences
- Build the site on an SEO-friendly platform
- Incorporate a blog where the client can express their culture and work
The team at Randy Burkett Lighting Design was quick to point out that while many of their partners include those in the architecture field, key decision makers and stakeholders on projects range from architects, building managers, interior designers, landscape designers and other non-design professionals. Thus, the primary content goal was to showcase the high level of expertise in their field, while making the content accessible to a range of audiences and not appear overly aloof – in other words, it needed to appeal to individuals from the technical and visual design field, as well as those who were not.
Spry Digital began work by conducting stakeholder meetings with the principals and staff to understand their business, people, approach, how they represent their work and the firm's unique value proposition. One of the first areas on which Spry focused was the Randy Burkett Lighting Design brand itself: How has the brand historically represented the firm and how can the brand accommodate the future?
Spry Digital considers every decision for our clients through the lens of a customer interacting with the brand. We spent time with the client to understand how the brand identity was used in communication pieces in the past, and how the brand is represented and perceived today. After evaluating the identity, it was agreed we would begin our work with a brand identity refresh to represent what Randy Burkett Lighting Design is today.
Legacy vs Future
The client’s previous word mark logo included a stacked and justified Old Style typeface. While an elegant treatment, it did not necessarily speak to the to modern highly-technical practice of lighting design. Since their existing logo enjoyed some familiarity with their audience, we considered how to remain loyal to the original mark, yet bring it forward with an updated typeface and treatment.
During the design process, Spry explored a variety of logo treatments – from variations of the old logotype to more abstract interpretations. The result is a primary logo that remains loyal to the original word mark with a more contemporary typeface and treatment. The 45 degree two tone background evokes a lit facet, hinting at the practice of lighting design.
Setting the Stage
Since the logo would typically be presented alongside visually striking imagery of lighting plans, architectural drawings and finished projects, we limited the palette to a selection of monochromatic dusky hues, akin to a midnight blue sky - a time of day when the magic of lighting design is revealed.
Creating a Brand System
With the primary logo revealing itself in the process, we then addressed the multiple uses of the brand identity across medium.
Randy Burkett Lighting Design requested specific strategy around the fact the firm is often referred to as RBLD. We designed a version of the mark with the four letter forms against the same background, knowing this treatment would work well as an avatar, icon or watermark on project images, presentations, and social media. For additional flexibility, we created a horizontal version of the full word mark. Both the abbreviated and horizontal versions are used on the two sides of the business card, while the stacked word mark is used on the website.
Spry Digital continues to work with Randy Burkett Lighting Design to extend the brand into multiple marketing, sales and communication pieces.
While the brand identity exercise was underway, Spry Digital got to work on planning the new website experience.
Architecture and User Experience
We took the information presented in the initial stakeholder meetings and began the process of documenting the requirements for the new website. We created an information architecture diagram to inform the main landing areas of the site and the audience’s journey through the site with navigation.
Wireframes were developed to inform the user experience and content architecture of the new website. At this stage, we are thinking about the user’s priorities, considering a multi-layer messaging approach to attract intended audiences and guide them to the call-to-action.
We designed multiple areas on the home page to draw users into key landing areas, like featured work, services, studio, and the blog. Throughout the site are omnipresent calls-to-action to reach out and contact RBLD, assuming a visitor has already been wowed by the beautiful work. We consider the multiple audiences and address their questions and expectations when they land on any area within the website.
With the user experience portion of the planning done, we set forth on the visual look and feel of the new web experience, taking direction from the brand identity exercise.
Defining the Visual Language
A priority of the visual aesthetic is to to consider how the website form, as well as any user interactions, translate between mobile and desktop, or any other device for that matter. Thinking about these different scenarios up front informs a more comprehensive design, consistent user experience and functionality across devices.
The visual design employs a magazine-style layout in its presentation. We created multiple versions, taking into consideration multiple font and color treatments. We were sure to make use of the phenomenal photography owned by RBLD with oversized areas, showcasing details of their work previously not seen by making full use of the web canvas.
Brand extension comes in the way of angled overlays in various content areas – the blog, studio, and calls to action – carrying the faceted theme of the logo through to the interface.
A unique “off canvas” menu hides the traditional masthead so not to conceal any of the beautiful photography. Microinteraction design in the form of animated hover states on thumbnails and key content blocks were included to create an enticing experience, encouraging discovery and interaction.
By the end of the visual design phase, we had achieved a balance of design aesthetic and practical data that would satisfy all audiences no matter their background.
Bringing it to life
The new website was built on the WordPress content management system (CMS). WordPress is the most popular open source CMS platform in the world, and could be easily managed and maintained by the client. We leveraged the Advanced Custom Fields plugin for WordPress to make content management a breeze, and utilized Zurb's FoundationPress theme to speed up development of RBLD's custom responsive web templates.
Other features of the new website include:
- Featured work masthead on home page that randomizes on every page load, communicating the breadth of work and giving the site a fresh look on every visit
- Customizable block on home page for Randy Burkett to push announcements
- Off canvas main menu
- Portfolio area sorted by industry
- Portfolio projects cross-linked with related work and services to encourage further discovery
Spry Digital tested the website on most popular screen sizes, operating systems and devices to ensure a consistent experience for every user.
The new Randy Burkett Lighting Design web experience delivers on the goals defined at the offset of the project and presents the firm’s work and philosophy in a new light.
Since its launch in September, 2016, Randy Burkett Lighting Design has reported dozens of new leads generated by the website, and continues to receive positive praise from partners for the new brand identity and website.
Founder/Principal Randy Burkett had this to say about working with Spry:
The Spry team expended a significant amount of up-front time getting to know our design practice and philosophy, before embarking on the website and rebranding effort. The time spent proved invaluable throughout the entire process, as they were able to better anticipate our needs and meet expectations.
As design professionals ourselves, we chose to remain closely engaged with Spry during the development and rollout. They were always accommodating and worked responsively, while using their knowledge to keep us on track to our goals. They were the experts and it was their insight that ultimately led to a successful project for us all.
Visit Randy Burkett Lighting Design to explore their beautiful portfolio of work and the new brand identity and website by Spry.