September 23, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing nGen Works

By Carl Smith

Seven months of brainstorming, researching, concepting, testing, designing and writing come to an official end today. We welcome you to the website of the new nGen Works.

For those of you who followed us on this journey, you know that we focused on who we are as a team and what we want to offer our clients. We didn’t look for the easy path, but the rewarding one.

This website is very much the manifestation of hundreds of hours of work in changing our approach and attitude. Over the next few weeks, my fellow nGeneers will be sharing our rationales for the new identity, website design and mobile design, as well as giving you a peek under the hood to see how the site was built.

Right now, I’d like to take you on a quick tour of the site and highlight a few things.


“We use strategy, technology and creativity to help people get things done in the digital space.” It’s funny how important that sentence is to me. We didn’t analyze and tweak it like a mission statement; we just kept talking and one day it appeared like a double rainbow, except we knew what it meant. It really does sum up everything. The other content on this page helps establish our attitude. It also sets the tone for us being a little noncommittal. Do we build websites? Hard to tell. Obviously, a click on the Work tab shows that we do, but we aren’t approaching projects with services in mind — we’re approaching them with results in mind. As you’ll see, that makes for some interesting changes.


The biggest aha moment we had caused us to change the name of this section from Process to Approach. And that’s really what the content talks to. Every person who comes through our doors has different needs. No one process will fit, because a process leads to a predictable result. So we’ll follow best practices, but not get caught in a vacuum. This may be the biggest shift in the new nGen. For more than six years, we were very process-focused. We refined that process to be highly optimized for building websites. Afterwards, we often rushed clients out the door. We were very much an assembly line. Well the conveyer belt has been turned off. One of my favorite quotes that came from our transition is from Jeff Croft. He said “It’s not about deliverables, it’s about delivering.” That one sentence sums up the change in our approach.


The Work section becomes quite the challenge. How do we show work we’ve done while we’re becoming a new company? What is the secret to a project being selected and highlighted? It has to have a powerful story. It may end well or it may end badly, but something had to be worth talking about. The four projects that have the best stories are featured. When you navigate to them, you are told the story through a series of slides, only some of which show a screenshot from the actual “work” we did. These stories are what we create with our clients and the service we provide to them. Websites and other creations are just some of the ways the stories can be told.

The slides are followed by a brief write-up that no one will read, and then by a traditional gallery for those who want to see what we created to help our clients.


When something works, you stick with it. The popularity of the Happy Webbies illustration style is not something we would toss aside. Let’s face it — the damn things rock. The detail pages tell a little more about us and keep the fun, irreverent side alive and well.


The Contact page is traditional with one exception: the client survey. Believe it or not, it was only about a week ago that I realized the old online survey was trying to sneak over to the new site. Nothing would have been as sad as being so careful throughout all of our communications to present ourselves as a strategy first firm and then asking someone: “How many pages will your new site have?” The new survey is much more open and the answers, or their omission, will tell us a tremendous amount as we decide which projects are a fit for us.


While the content of the blog will evolve, everything else is basically intact. Even the old posts; all of them. It felt like there were thousands, but I know it was only hundreds. And I read them all. As much as I love page views, I don’t recommend reading them all. The other notable change about the blog is that it isn’t featured on the homepage. We really wanted to share one clear message there, and having random headlines mixed in would work against that goal.

So thanks for coming along for the ride, or just showing up at the end. In the immortal words of somebody, “It is what it is.”

If you’d like to see how we got here, just follow these links.


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