So, you might have spotted something… different about us. We’re rocking a new website – and we’re feeling ourselves. From member testimonials to Huckletree Ambassadors (and some pretty special team bios), it’s all live and waiting for you to explore.
A scroll-stopping new website doesn’t appear out of thin air. Join us as we catch up with Tom Catnach, Studio Graphene Digital Product Manager, for his behind-the-scenes insights into the work that preceded flipping the metaphorical ‘on’ switch on the new Huckletree site.
One of Huckletree’s key values? Be renegade. You’ll find it spelled out in neon lights in each of our spaces. It encourages us to think differently, push harder and banish banality from our daily lives.
We knew we wanted creative minds who would approach the website project from a similarly offbeat perspective. In a sea of digital product design agencies, Huckletree Shoreditch members, Studio Graphene are known for their unconventional approach (there’s a reason why they’re nicknamed ‘the studio of better things’).
Tom reveals more: “The thing that makes us a little bit different is that we work the whole way across what a startup would need: ideas, concept and strategy through to product and experience design. Then, moving on to developing and building whatever we design to launch, marketing and product maintenance. We’re interested in bigger, more holistic problems and working with startups is a way of doing that.” Renegade attitude? 100%.
STOP, COLLABORATE AND LISTEN
We’re big believers in the importance of collaboration in growing your business, so it felt only natural for us to team up with our members on such an important project… and it’s all down to our community Slack channel. “We saw your message that you were looking for design work”, explains Tom. We pitched and went through a long process of refining the proposal, making sure we were designing the product around what you wanted. It went from there.”
Whilst we knew we wanted the site to primarily communicate our brand story, our curated community and membership options clearly and directly, from then on it was up to Studio Graphene to take the lead.
“Early on, we had a lot of creative freedom. A lot of clients will say ‘lots of creative freedom’, but when you start designing, it’s ‘no, I actually wanted that grey!’. We realised we had an opportunity to produce a really quality site.” Tom explains. “Because we’re an agency, we’re beholden to the client and if they have really strong ideas and won’t listen or aren’t willing to be open, it’s hard to deliver quality work. Huckletree was the exact opposite – you were super open and we felt this should be our showcase project.”
THE HUCKLETREE VIBE
One thing we knew we had to capture in the new site? The Huckletree vibe. Sounds intangible, but trust us: when you know, you know. Our members, guests and team all agree: when you walk into a Huckletree, there’s a welcoming, collaborative and unique atmosphere that makes us stand out from coworking spaces. It’s a big challenge to lay down, but as long-term Huckletree Shoreditch members, Studio Graphene knew exactly how – and why – it was so important to bring it to life.
“We pushed information architecture as far as we could without compromising functionality. Those moments where someone doesn’t expect something and you do something extra, something graphically pleasing, it’s another way of communicating the quality of Huckletree. The the design and implementation should be the same as the high quality of the Huckletree spaces, from the fabric of these sofas to the coffee machine (which takes a hammering!).”
Beyond good vibes, we’re all about people. Our members are at the heart of everything we do, so bringing the community aspect to life was a must-do. As it happened, Studio Graphene took inspiration from the very space around them…
“You have a Members Board at Shoreditch – when people come in, they take a look and try to remember names. Juliette (Huckletree Shoreditch Front of House Star) knows everyone by name! So do Jax (Huckletree Shoreditch General Manager) and Meetra (Huckletree Shoreditch Membership Manager). It’s a very different vibe to every coworking space in that respect. So, we included pictures of your members, quotes and who they work for dotted throughout the designs.”
Aside from Team Huckletree, we had some very important opinions to take on board. Who better to quiz than our community about the key elements of Huckletree to showcase? Studio Graphene flexed their interviewing skills to find out, asking our community for their favourite things about Huckletree.
‘They brought up common themes like community, environment, the space, the architecture, a friendly place to be – and they’re the things we tried to bring out in the design. Part of the core brief was the Huckletree team felt the old site didn’t communicate who you are – and you need that! You might want to project a certain brand but your customers will tell you what your brand means to them.”
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Embarking on your new site build? Ready for a re-design? Here’s Tom’s top tips for startups to consider before you get started on a new site:
- “Be really clear about your objectives. I say objectives plural, but really it should only ever be one or two. You need to have them agreed, signed on a piece of paper that’s kept in a drawer, that you can reference. People will build arguments to support their ideas around false objectives, so having a clear reference stops that.”
- “Content comes first. Sometimes it’s not understood that you need to have an idea of which words they want to include, from a technical SEO perspective as well as information communication. You need to know what you want to say before briefing your agency.”
- “Listen to your creatives. What is the point in paying creatives if you’re not going to listen to them? People get way too attached to pet logos, colours and features. Hanging onto pet features and ignoring experts, whether they’re content/SEO/photographers/designers really is a waste of everybody’s time. ”
Looking for more than just an office for your startup? If you’re on the hunt for a community to collaborate, work and hang out with in Shoreditch, you’ve found the right place. Let’s talk!