Brighton Photo Biennial 2016
This project took place at Multiple States whilst I was director between 2014 and 2017. We wrote our case studies as interviews between members of the team. Here is that interview. Credits for everyone specifically associated with the project are at the end of the article.
Brighton Photo Biennial is the UK’s leading curated photography festival and promotes new ways of thinking about photography through a commissioned programme of events and exhibitions. This BPB was held from the 1st to the 30th October 2016.
Kevin Beck asks Will McLean about setting design restrictions for content creators and building a reusable WordPress theme.
Having worked on the last Biennial site, what did you change and improve this time?
We refined almost every aspect of the site. Rather than doing a rebuild we used the 2014 site as the beginning of what is now a reusable WordPress theme for all future Biennials. This was a great approach as it means every penny spent on the site this year is also going towards the site for all future years. With this in mind we built some nice features in the back end to accommodate future branding changes.
What are the biggest challenges on a site like this and how did you overcome them?
Good web design relies heavily on creating design boundaries for content creators. This means placing some design restrictions on what layout modules can appear on certain pages and what content forms can appear within those layouts. However, when you are thinking about making a flexible and adaptable site structure for content that has not even been developed, those restrictions must be relaxed slightly. The challenge is relaxing them enough to be able to accommodate future content, but not so much that the integrity of the design is compromised. This was the challenge that took the most careful thought.
What advantages or difficulties do you find when working within brand guidelines developed by another agency?
Working within existing brand guidelines is always enjoyable. It is not always straightforward but the enjoyment lies in the challenge of creating a site that synchronises with another designer’s vision. We are very used to this process as we often work in collaboration with external design agencies to build their client’s sites. So for us, it is not a huge leap to this way of working.
Among other things, the site delivers times and locations, which is a often a lot of information for a user to take in. What are the most important things to consider when building an events website that has a lot of information?
Without a doubt, it is clarity of content. Rather than trying to hide and show information in trendy, design-y ways, sites like this need simple lists of information. That is not to say that it can’t look good. A well thought-out typographic structure, as well as a simple, punchy colour scheme, is all that is needed to make a list of event details sing! What helps markedly in these type of sites is a well considered and high quality feature image – which BPB always has.