Cheers to another month in the books and welcome to day 174 of quarantine. That’s quite the stretch of time. We hope this mailer makes you feel a little more supported, less alone—and maybe, some joy. Inside, we share how we build relationships, a new set of discipline-specific prompts, and how Ted chooses between Hum and Enya.*
We hosted three fellows from America Needs You (ANY) in a five-week remote internship this summer. Paired with One Design team members who could help them explore these areas of focus, we started by asking a simple question: What would you like to learn? It turns out, partnering with them in the learning process ended up being the most rewarding part of the journey.
Office Ours Extended is a compilation of responses to unanswered questions from the inaugural Office Ours appointment. Throughout the summer, we’ll dive deeper into the values that were discussed throughout the webinar—including the importance of nurturing relationships, being honest and transparent, and prioritizing curiosity to name a few.
CHAPTER 3: BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Making new friends is awesome. But strengthening connections with current friends is critical. To put it concisely—stop thinking of your clients as clients. This mentality shift does wonders. It allows you to be honest, direct, and embrace who each team member is. Because this is a tough business. Don’t you want to like the people you're working with?
William: Our design business was built on a network of referrals based on good work. We have a hard time going after totally new clients. Any thoughts on your experience going after new clients you have no existing connection to?
Robyn, Account Director: This question reminds me of the motto, ‘Look for the helpers.’ There are of course several approaches to finding and building relationships with totally new clients—including targeting, responding to RFQs, cold calling, etc.—but we have found that regardless of the approach, the best tool at your disposal is to prioritize the relationships. If you can find someone within your network to build the connection for you, do it. If there aren’t any connections to follow, then build rapport with your first contact within the new client organization. Then build rapport with the next person you speak with, and the next, and so forth until you find your internal advocate. This advocate is someone who understands the value of your work and has the traction within the organization to be able to fight for you when there are other agencies also being considered. At the end of the day, even if you don’t immediately land a contract, you’ve built a connection who may need your help down the road.
Geoff: Have you ever felt so strongly about a design that the client was strongly opposed to that you really went back and tried to reframe and then succeeded?
Katie, Designer: Oh boy. I’m sure I have because I often feel strongly about things—it’s getting the client to agree that’s the tricky part. Some things that make that easier: Tie every design decision to clear rationale. This is (obviously) something you should be doing from the beginning anyway. At One, we always frame our design presentations with this context to make sure our clients understand that every choice is based in clear rationale with their particular needs in mind. Secondly, include your client in the design process so they feel ownership over the work. Make them an advocate: Most projects typically involve a main contact on the client side; including this person in design discussions and work sessions throughout the project will help them advocate for your work—because it’s their work too. And last but not least, be persistent—within reason. If you feel strongly about something, say it! More than once! If your feedback is tied to clear rationale and your client understands the process, they’re far more likely to hear you out. But also, the phrase ‘is this a sword you’re willing to die on?’ exists for a reason. Pick your battles wisely.
Piece by Piece is a series of discipline-specific prompts to spur curiosity and creativity. A call to make, at any fidelity. Although strategy and rationale are critical components of the One Design process, these beginnings are meant to get you inspired enough to just start practicing.
Every Tuesday morning, we’ll share new prompts and ask you to submit your responses by the following Monday through your personal page, tagging #onedesignprompts and @onedesignco. But before we release that new set of prompts, we’ll share a handful of the best submissions in this very newsletter and on our Instagram Stories.
Notable Week 2 Submissions
This batch of submissions really impressed us. Thank you three for taking the time and putting in so much effort. Remember, friends. Any stage in the process is welcome! Submit away.
@ross.gehm found “the most readable typeface” when laying out Miranda July’s A Very Revealing Conversationwith Rihanna—and his rational is just as stunning as the design.
@candynchips wrote, “the color blue is...the quiet abundance of a soft august evening. Blue hour lingers, briefly, between the solar crescendo and the spark of the street lights—a slim window to melt perfectly into the background and be no one. Just for a moment.”
@ravenmodesign decided to highlight a quote from this article, using “an olive-grey gradient on the copy inspired by how Rihanna discussed her eye color as the conversation starter on her ambitions and vision.” Heck yeah.
Micro-conversations spotlight the unique perspectives of our team members through splices of candid chats—reflecting the spirit, story, and point-of-view of all the voices of our studio.
Below, Ted (Senior Developer) responds to the prompt, “tell us about the role music has played in your life,” in a conversation with Caitlin and Nora.
Ted on the natural choice between Hum and Enya
Originally, I was supposed to be a professor of English. I got almost to the end of my PhD and then dropped out to play in bands in L.A., which is a super-smart thing to do. For seven to 10 years, that was the core of my world, and I viewed every other job as a way to get fed. I was trying to make music.
But then I got into programming and saw the through-line between English, music, and being a frontend-er.
In some sense, when you’re doing front end development, you are doing a lot of pattern analysis and recognizing variations on themes and recognizing moveable, modular components of things that you can shift around in the structure of a narrative. That’s creatively the same between a song, website, and text.
But playing music changes the way you pick the music you want to work to.
Probably the simplest answer is that once you know how music is made and how to play all the instruments, it ramps up your active listening. So when I want to listen to music, I want to listen to music. I don’t like to have it on in the background. I want to actually listen to it on headphones and pay attention.
When I’m working, I listen to a lot of post-rock, which is heavy, instrumental music. Currently, it’s a lot of Hum. It’s not super distracting, but it’s also not nap time—