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How to go from brand to build faster than you think: Part two

Edgar Allan | Blog | Brand to Build Faster Than You Think Part 2

Part Two: The Build

Welcome back to our two-part series on brand to build (check out part one, where we talk about seeing brand as a club, workshops, and other discovery processes if you haven’t already). I sat down with Kendra to discuss how we take our clients from brand discovery to website build in three to four months on average. In this part of the conversation, we discuss how collaboration keeps nearly every aspect of the project firing on all cylinders from the start.

Meet the interviewer:

👋 Danielle Scherr, Director of Business Development at Edgar Allan. It’s her job to meet with prospective clients, understand their goals and challenges, and help create solutions where our team can help solve them.

Meet the interviewee:

🤘 Kendra Rainey, Edgar Allan’s VP of Strategy & Content. She’s the person who asks the most questions of anyone on a project, creates brand strategy to guide our work, and makes sure that the websites we build are both brand-aligned and give audiences the things they want in the ways they want them. 

We like to say that we work not “content first” but “content always.” How does being so content-centered help us speed up our process?

We start with something called notional copy, which I would characterize as a “better version of Lorem ipsum.” Lorem ipsum is, well, first, a holdover from 1960s Letraset printing, but more recently, a relic of the days when you would build a site, design it, admire the form absent much context, and then say, Hey, writer, I’ve got 65 characters for you to fill in on this page, put something there

To say it plainly, we’re not big fans of that approach here at Edgar Allan. It’s an extra step, plus it’s just not a great way to create a cohesive experience. It's like asking your five best friends to help you write a novel by going to different corners of the earth, working on a chapter each, slapping them all together and calling it a narrative. 

Anyway, during the wireframe stage of a project, we create notional copy, which gets us one step closer to helping the client understand how the end product will hang together and flow. So, rather than have the text say “Lorem ipsum,” it might read “Benefit-led headline about X (whatever the topic may be).” That way, the client can look at it and understand the type of message that will appear, if not the exact wording. As they scroll the page, they can have confidence that all the relevant information appears when and how it should, and if it isn’t, offer feedback. 

The great thing about the wireframe stage is that it’s so much easier to change things around or choose a different direction than when we’re in page design. By doing this, we’re also nurturing buy-in throughout the entire process instead of just asking for it at the very end. 

I’ve also found that for stakeholders who are less involved in the work but still need to approve the deliverable, having wireframes with notional copy or designs with content already in place really helps them understand the goal and what we’re trying to achieve. So, it helps our core stakeholders get internal approval, allowing us to move faster. 

Completing the project process efficiently really depends on client partnership. During pitches, we let clients know when we will need their participation. We work hard to ensure they’re available and ready to review, give feedback, and work collaboratively with us throughout the project timeline. 

And that’s not to say that everyone on the client side has to clear their calendar for three months. It’s about being strategic and letting people know when we will need their feedback and which days they need to be available. We try to determine all of that at the beginning of the project so everyone can plan accordingly. 

Definitely. So, let’s discuss where development falls in this whole process.

We start engaging our developers right around the time we create wireframes. We focus on the most important pages, the ones that set the style and components, and start iterating on those quickly. So we’re already building some pages out in dev before we’re halfway through approving the rest of the pages. 

We also tend to conduct QA as we go so that we don’t wind up with 300 pages to review at the end of the project. If we do 10, 15, or 20 at a time, we can learn and adjust other pages accordingly. So, if a mistake surfaces or the client doesn’t like something, that feedback cascades through the rest of the project instead of building up at the end. 

Webflow also helps us move very quickly because it’s easy to prepare designs in Figma and then integrate them onto the platform. Thankfully, by doing this, we avoid a lot of the ticketing that was needed years ago, where you would design something and then send it off to a development shop to get the deliverable back and go, “What is this? This is not what I did.” 

The bottom line: It's all about working together, singing the same song, and knowing where we’re going — and going together.

You shouldn’t have to call your agency every time you want to make the slightest update to your site. 

Exactly. We also make sure that our Webflow developers have access to visual and content design and even brand strategy so that they understand audience needs and where things should connect. Collaboration never really stops. It’s not just a matter of everyone doing their individual thing; the entire team understands the site's context.

Overall, we want our clients to have control of their marketing layer, so we provide training sessions on how to update items in the CMS and stand up new pages. We do want to work ourselves out of today’s job. It opens the door for us to offer higher-value help rather than do small stuff that could be done internally. You shouldn’t have to call your agency every time you want to make the slightest update to your site. 

Finally, while yes, time and speed are definitely important, rushing is not. In other words, we’re not doing all of this stuff just because it’s fast. We’re doing it because we have found that these things create efficiencies that help our clients get what they really need. 

Webflow surveyed 500 marketing leaders for its inaugural The State of the Website report, and 81% of respondents indicated that their marketing teams find website ownership a challenge. In-house teams say that their websites aren’t brand-aligned and can’t do what they want. It’s also difficult for them to mold or change them as they might like. 

We’re here to tell those teams struggling with outdated websites, hey, you can get something usable — fast. It will represent who you are and what you need to be as a brand quickly and accurately. And we can do all of that in three or four months because there’s no reason to sit with a stale, un-useful experience any longer than that.

Interested in partnering with Edgar Allan on a web design, brand, or content design project? Get in contact with us today.

More articles from Edgar Allan

Four essential questions to ask when building a successful website

Mastering the ‘how’ in website projects: A comprehensive guide, part one

Mastering the ‘how’ in website projects: A comprehensive guide, part two

Mastering the ‘how’ in website projects: A comprehensive guide, part three

Mastering the ‘how’ in website projects: A comprehensive guide, part four


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