Q&A With Website Designer Jay Beckman

August 27, 2015
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The trend in website design is bigger, simpler and more colorful, according to Jay Beckman, co-founder and creative director of Northern Ground, a BC creative partner. "It's interesting to see how much pairing back most brands can take and how modern the effort continues to feel," Beckman says.

When BC and Northern Ground collaborated on BC's previous website design a few years ago, it was unlike anything we had seen before. That's the spirit Beckman and company wanted to capture in the 2015 redesign of the BC site. "We started with the same goal: to create something that hadn't been done," Beckman says.

Besides that tall order, other key design considerations from the BC team were to have the site reflect the company's global reach and to streamline the content.

Keeping those things top of mind, Beckman was conscious not to discount the originality and personality of the existing site. The bold, colorful graphics created for the previous site by artist Mike McQuade, whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, WIRED, Newsweek, Variety and other national publications, became a jumping off point for the design, mingled with influences of typography artist Barbara Kruger.

In a Q&A with Open Mic, Beckman shares NG's creative strategy and how design is an important element in communicating brand and company culture.

Tell us about the design concept.
Even though it had begun to show its age, we loved the previous design of the site. The colors and typography by Mike McQuade were so punchy and perfect; we didn't want to mess with them.

As we were kicking around possibilities, we came up with the idea of turning the website into a presentation deck. The colors lent themselves to flash cards, and since BC is a communications company, we loved the idea of using these short, bold statements to pitch BC to site visitors. Quick, concise, clear — what communications should be.

One change we made to the original typography was to italicize it. The Futura on red reminded us too much of Barbara Kruger to pass up. Since she's known for her work with using messages in art, we loved the reference.

What did you want the experience to be like for visitors to the site?

Brief! Most sites have your attention for about 60 seconds, so we wanted to create a site that worked within that format. We also wanted the fun and personality of BC to come through loud and clear.

How does the design speak to BC's brand and culture? What were the priorities?

Some were practical — we wanted to make the site responsive on mobile, make it easy to navigate, add a blog and dive deeper on some case studies. Some were more strategic — the new site coincided with a move to new BC offices, and it was an opportunity to refocus the brand, how the company communicates about itself and what services it offers to clients.

We always come out of our meetings with BC laughing, and we think the site's bright, fun aesthetic fits them well. It's bold and different, but not pretentious. If you had several communications company websites open in tabs across your browser, BC would stand out.

What is your favorite feature on the site?

As someone who has designed hundreds of menus, I think US, YOU and US + YOU might be the coolest.