Times are a changin’
Design historically has been a process applied to physical objects—creating products and making objects aesthetically pleasing. It’s evident that clever effective design is behind most successful businesses. Over the years Boccalatte have been the designers behind such successes, designing identities, campaigns, print and websites. But things are changing.
More recently we have been asked to use our design processes in other ways, to improve customer experiences or helping businesses with multiple stakeholders to build better organisations. Too many organisations are spending big on digital and other solutions without a clear path to value creation.
Getting to the underlying problem
The value of creative thinking today goes beyond make it pretty. It offers narratives that create impact, reinforce a unique position and support a core purpose. The power of this thinking breaks through clutter and adds meaning. The more complex the market, the more the simple and elegant will stand out.
So when the National Arts School came to asking for a solution—a new website—the first question we asked was: Why?
NAS’ answer was that their online communications no longer worked. Their website had grown into a tangle of wires and logistics, a common issue. There was a need to increase the number and quality of enrolments and overall customer experience. But using a design-led process to qualify the big issues affecting NAS, we discovered an even greater problem—one of identity and positioning.
A most compelling offer
The National Art School is situated in the old Darlinghurst Gaol in the heart of Sydney. It’s been an art school longer than it has been a gaol, but nobody knows quite who they are and how they’re different.
So we asked, how can NAS become the most compelling option in the art school market both nationally and internationally?
In these troubled times the only way out, according to future forecaster Li Edelkoordt, is to adopt a world view inherited from the romantics, creating a second romantic period. While earlier romanticism focused on the ‘achievements of artists whose creative endeavours set pioneering examples that would elevate society’, today’s romanticism, she suggests, idealises community as a ‘critical authority.’
NAS we believed was in the right place at the right time, NAS has the ‘critical authority’ as a great art school producing great art and even greater artists. With that in mind, we helped NAS articulate their position to elevate studio-led arts practice, cultivating creative and intellectual engagement with a vision of shaping a culture of Creating great artists.’
The nuts and bolts: How we worked with NAS
Before we began thinking about the website, we considered what was required from both an audience and business point of view.
Boccalatte began by conducting a communication audit and survey to capture strategic and financial issues from across NAS. In parallel, our friends at The Interaction Consortium unpacked the technical scope of the project.
Using this research, we facilitated a design-led workshop with stakeholders to assess issues for evidence, impact, context and constraint—how these issues hit NAS’ bottom line. We believe that spending money on a website must always optimise a return on investment.
The workshop illustrated that solving issues around buying courses had a smaller financial impact than the imperative to articulate their unique offer as a 100 year old art school. In short, the NAS brand wasn’t working hard enough. Their message was indistinct. If this issue wasn’t addressed, then the website would be built on shaky foundations.
Boccalatte and the NAS executive team co-created a new definition of the NAS offering, revitalising their vision, mission and core values and making the big decisions about brand positioning to create a new focus for the marketing team.
With these well-articulated requirements in place and a solid consensus of business and project priorities, we moved quickly and efficiently through the visual design phase employing video and a new library of photographs by the talented Zan Wimberley to reinforce the new vision for the NAS brand.
Working closely with The Interaction Consortium and NAS team through the development phase, the first iteration of the site launched in April, on time, on budget.
Boccalatte continues to consult to NAS to prioritise future design and development investment.
Visit the National Art School website