Here at Brikit, we dive into the design process thoroughly, interviewing our clients and following up with extensive questions. We’ve heard that Frank Lloyd Wright would camp out on the grounds of any new architecture project, before ever beginning to design, in order to get a true sense of what the landscape called for. We do something similar, although virtually. We “camp out in your woods” (as best we can, sometimes from continents away), in order to get a sense of the culture and “lay of the land” of your organization, in order to fully absorb the needs of your project.
As mentioned, part of this process involves a set of follow-up questions we provide through a client portal, which we set up on a themed Confluence instance. Within this framework of questions, we ask each client for three or four descriptive words that come to mind when imagining the ultimate collaborative site. Over the years, we’ve heard a variety of responses to this question (professional, informative, inviting, engaging, clean, authoritative, and reliable lead the pack). In the many design brief sessions, however, we have yet to hear a client ask for down-market, unclear, confusing, cluttered, or crowded. The differentiator here? Design. And, more often than not? Whitespace.
We are passionate believers in whitespace here at Brikit. So deeply do we embrace it, in fact, it’s part of our first value: Make Life Beautiful—“We trust the whitespace.”
Mark Boulton, in an oldie-but-goodie A List Apart article lays out the fundamentals: "Whitespace, or ‘negative space' is the space between elements in a composition… it is often used to create a balanced, harmonious layout. One that just ‘feels’ right.” He goes on to illustrate how the use of whitespace is critical in brand positioning:
“Designers use whitespace to create a feeling of sophistication and elegance for upscale brands. Coupled with a sensitive use of typography and photography, generous whitespace is seen all over luxury markets.” In contrast, he asserts that designing for direct-mail often requires the exact opposite: “They need to appear down-market to work. Less whitespace=cheap; more whitespace=luxury.”
Think brand positioning has nothing to do with your collaborative platform? Think again. [ Tweet this. ] When we ask clients to tell us how they want their company’s intranet perceived, we are really asking them how they want their company culture (the ‘brand’) positioned in the company. Why is this important? Are you selling something to your employees? Absolutely. As we say here at Brikit, Confluence is awesome, but not if you’re the only one using it. Collaboration requires collaborators. Most of our clients know this intuitively: an inviting, engaging platform has a far higher opportunity for successful user adoption. Trust us on this one: don’t go direct-mail “cheap” on your theming needs. Trust the whitespace.