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Designing for ultra niche audiences — a look at our behind-the-scenes projects

Photograph of Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews

Director

Most of the time it’s easy to publicise our work — we just send out a link and say “we did this”. Recently though, we've worked on a number of projects that are private by design. They include intranets, client-review systems, meeting planners, CRM platforms and more. They are bespoke but all share a common thread: they solve specific challenges to improve the working lives of our clients.

The big difference in creating a private platform is audience. Where public websites have the potential to reach millions of users, closed systems are designed for a specific set of people — an ultra niche audience with singular requirements and goals. The challenge is in creating a system that fits naturally into an organisation’s culture, preexisting workflow and IT infrastructure. It should feel intuitive and engaging. It should be useful.

Solving disjointed project management for Casarotto Ramsay

Casarotto Ramsay’s agents represent several hundred clients working in film, TV and theatre. Writers, directors, producers, choreographers, through to sound mixers and specialist advisors. The agents gather information on potential projects (movies, TV shows and so on) and put their clients forward to staff those projects.

Agents managed their projects in many different ways. They used spreadsheets, Word, Google drive, sometimes used good old-fashioned notebooks. While each agent was efficient, the different practices made collaboration and oversight difficult.

We built “Grid” to solve that problem.

Grid is a bespoke online system. It is a single platform to allow easy collaboration and oversight, saving time and money.

It details titles; genres; dates; budgets; locations; priority; plot-outline; source material; and so on. Crucially, is shows which clients are up for the open positions and what their status is. I.e. whether they are considering the job, passing on it, otherwise engaged, etc.

Agents log-in to see their specific projects, make changes and browse all projects. They can filter projects by multiple criteria including assignment type, genre, budget, location, priority ... whatever they need to, to get a desired sub-set. They can also set date-reminders on projects, so nothing gets forgotten.

Agents can generate a report of any list of projects, either as a PDF or plain text. Reports can be tailored to share with clients, other companies or internal teams.

A bespoke meeting planner for an international delegation of ministers

In just a few days we designed and developed a meeting planner for an international ministerial conference. The organisers wanted to ditch their cumbersome spreadsheets for a bespoke solution to schedule meetings between delegates, keep track of aides’ details and share background information on attendees. We tailored our platform around the precise requirements of our client, using Craft CMS to manage user accounts and data, but designing a custom interface to keep creation and editing schedules super-simple.

An early sketch of our meeting planner for a three-day ministerial conference
An early sketch of our meeting planner for a three-day ministerial conference

A complex intranet for one of the UK’s biggest architecture practices

One of our larger projects has been Jicwood — the intranet for Sheppard Robson, one of the UK’s biggest architecture practices. Jicwood (pictured) includes scores of pages of technical documentation, standard forms, staff directory and seating plans for hundreds of employees at multiple locations, internal news and events, transport and weather widgets, social media feeds and resource links.

The platform is hosted internally by the practice for absolute security and syncs daily with the Active Directory for minimal user management.

Users are notified on login if pages assigned to them are about to expire.

A multifunctional sidebar aids navigation into the deeply nested technical information, houses the staff and news filters and highlights social media posts and recent news.

Ten4 impressed us with a holistic approach that fully understands design, development, and user experience – explaining clearly how they could use all these to help a large practice like Sheppard Robson present its many projects and ideas. Ten4 are not just 'yes' people who passively deliver a project; they challenged us to enhance the design and structure of the site [...] I would fully recommend them.

Peter Dye, Head of Marketing and Communications, Sheppard Robson

We have also created intranets for Derwent London and Gillespies with several more in the planning stage.

An image review tool and intranet for The Boundary

The Boundary needed a platform to share their in-progress work for quick feedback. We developed a custom portal for them (on Craft CMS again) that allows them to stack incrementally revised images on top of each other (creating a historical trail of each visualisation) — a roll of the mouse reveals past versions and each is labelled clearly with a project-phase, timestamp and artist. Staff grant their clients access to the portal with the user-management section of Craft, assigning projects to each so the client can see immediately where to go and what to review.

Clients leave comments; team members respond; time is saved.

Clients can leave comments in context, team members respond and make updates, going back to previous iterations if required; huge amounts of time is saved by having everything catalogued in one place. It is a neat and professional solution that streamlines the entire process.

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Photograph of Owen Matthews

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