March 21, 2016

Aesthetic – big word, not the big picture

It can be a delicate balance when working with a new client who is looking for a website redesign.  There will always be references and comparisons made to “how it looks/works now” when you’re in the midst of the design process, and you need to remember all the who-what-where-when-why of your client’s business, while making everything fresher and more up-to-date.

One of the scariest conversations to have in the middle of your process, however, is a discussion around aesthetic – particularly when you hear this statement:

“I don’t think this exactly fits our aesthetic”.


So often what is unnerving about this statement is that it’s not just the “look” part of the “look and feel” that a client is anxious about.  It’s the representation of the client’s persona and how they want to present themselves to users – their brand identity.

Aesthetic only scratches the surface of articulating a company’s brand identity through their website, and chances are that the existing website you’re tasked with redesigning isn’t doing a great job of this either, otherwise they wouldn’t have hired you!

The divide between the client and the design team’s perception of the “correct” aesthetic usually originates not from a misunderstanding of what information has been shared, but rather from what hasn’t been shared.  This often leaves the design team asking “how did we get here?”  There are a few possibilities:

  1. The design team didn’t ask the right questions in their discovery about the client’s brand;
  2. The client didn’t convey important information about their brand, target audience, or general company culture; OR, scariest of all –
  3. The client doesn’t know or can’t articulate their own brand identity

The danger of the word “aesthetic” is that it can be used in a design process to signify so much more than what either party thinks it means.  A designer will go on tweaking fonts, calls to action, images, and still not have a satisfied client, because what the client really means is “this website isn’t us, here’s what we want to say and here’s who we want to reach, and here’s how we do that”.

How do you avoid making aesthetic a dirty word in your design process?

  1. Ask the right questions in your discovery meeting.  Make sure both you and your client understand the brand identity that you’re displaying to the world on this site.
  2. You may need to help guide the client in their copywriting (if you aren’t doing that too) so that the message in the copy melds with the true aesthetic of the site.
  3. If you hear that frightening statement midway through your process, help the client articulate what about the design doesn’t match the brand identity goals you agreed on at the beginning of the project.  Sometimes taking a few steps back means a leap forward.



January 15, 2016

Work Clean: The Joy of Project Wrap-up

When the to-do list is your friend

The site is launched, the wrap-up email is sent, you’ve celebrated with your favorite chocolate bar/bag of Cheetos/glass of Malbec…and then the fun begins.

For me there’s almost nothing more satisfying than wrapping up our post-launch checklist at the end of a project.  Running the numbers, downloading all the pertinent files, tucking the passwords away for safe keeping.  And watching that to-do list get shorter and shorter.  Some of the most important to-dos include:

  • Saving and labeling final design files
  • Documenting the domain registrar, hosting and support information for the site
  • Saving any pertinent admin passwords needed to update the site in the future
  • Double-checking all analytics codes to verify they are reporting correctly


But it’s more than the list, more than calling a project “done”.  Because, as we so often learn, the project is never done.  It will be tested, stared at and tweaked.  It will continue to grow as the business does.  That is why the to-do list is so important.  The designs will need to be unearthed, the passwords found in a pinch, the code revisited and the content edited.  It’s about making someone’s life easier in the future – so we can be at the ready even if we don’t touch the site for 3 years.

It’s not about calling the project done.  It’s about making sure we’re ready for its next life.

August 15, 2013

New Website Launch: Rob Biesenbach

Astek is thrilled to announce the launch of our friend Rob Biesenbach’s newly redesigned website!

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 11.16.43 AM

Check out!!!

A man of many talents, Rob is a corporate communications expert, author, actor and professional speaker.  We think this site really shows off all of Rob’s successes!

August 9, 2013

Google Chrome: My One and Only


As a non-technical person, it doesn’t take much to impress me when it comes to internet browsers.  I know what I like, and right now what I like – a lot – is Google Chrome. Oh yes, I’m a Chrome girl. Here’s why.

May 24, 2013

Healthy Employees = Happy Workplace

I'd do anything to lose 10 lbs.

More and more frequently I’m hearing about friends’ employers instituting a mandatory “wellness questionnaire”, with comforting reasons such as “Save $520 a year on your insurance costs!” and “Help us help YOU!”  I’m not fooled, insurance company, I can hear you silently judging me from behind the digital curtain for my 5-7 glasses of wine and 30 minutes of exercise per week.  Whatever, I do what I want!!!  But healthier employees do generally mean happier employees.  Here are some ways that Astek ROCKS at supporting employee health, and how you can help yourself in and out of the workplace.