No Clients, No Limits, No Deadlines—Welcome to the Hell of Redesigning Your Own Website

You will make mistakes. You may waste time, and you may waste money. And you’ll probably argue over quite a few things that don’t really matter all that much.

Redesigning your company’s website should be the ideal design experience—an opportunity to highlight your proudest achievements without a pesky client looking over your shoulder—but it’s often the one task every agency employee dreads. There’s no shortage of excuses. An agency’s site is a vital tool for generating new business, but it’s the only project that doesn’t end with an invoice, so it’s constantly competing with paid work. And when 30 or 40 cooks are messing around in the kitchen, a few food fights are inevitable. If there’s any truth in the old trope about the cobbler’s children having no shoes, then the design industry has barefoot kids running rampant.

We spoke with several agencies that emerged from the experience with plenty to say.

In the fall of 2016, Threespot’s chief creative officer William Colgrove noticed their website had gotten a little stale, so he created a simple one-page “front door” with a graffiti aesthetic that announces: “We help progressive causes make the world a better place.” The approach is consistent with the founders’ history of performing together in Washington D.C.’s punk scene in their younger years; and when Donald Trump was elected weeks later, it seemed even more appropriate.

“One of our clients recently told me, ‘I hire you so I can put you in front of people and you can say unpopular things that they need to hear,’ so that ‘rebel’ aesthetic makes sense,” says Colgrove, who believes too many agencies construct bland, soul-less portfolios for fear of putting off clients in search of versatility. Colgrove sketched out Threespot’s punk aesthetic on his own, then brought it to fruition with the help of a creative director steeped in UX design....more