AWW is an AJ100 architecture practice renowned for forming supporting partnerships and excellence in collaboration. Following a comprehensive rebrand, the practice commissioned a new website to support and guide its users through an accessible portfolio and provide insight into the practice’s people and ways of working.
A leaner, more focussed portfolio that still shows depth and experience
AWW sees its work in two phases: the new, design-led exemplar projects, and the historical portfolio that evidences decades of experience. Initially the brief was to remove the historical work in favour of a big hit of new, detailed, highly polished case studies. We dutifully responded to this, but ultimately the directors found that losing the historical portfolio would damage a strong aspect of their offering: stability and long-term success.
In order to balance the competing aims of new/shiny/exciting with past/abundant/dependable we reintroduced the historical work in a second-tier portfolio. To users, it is clear which projects AWW is proud of, and which are included to show depth and experience.
Navigation that balances minimalism with usability and complements a core brand expression
Architects—on the whole—love minimalism. The aesthetic dominates the websites of the AJ100 and allows users to focus on project imagery and video, without being distracted by unwanted information or superfluous aesthetics. To this end, the hamburger menu (the three lines that one often sees in mobile interfaces, indicating a navigation menu) is often suggested as a way to ‘clean up’ the desktop interface. However, where the hamburger menu is often used on mobile interfaces as a necessary response to vastly reduced screen-space, the argument for its inclusion on desktop is less compelling.
Where possible it’s better to keep global navigation visible to reduce the overall effort it takes to navigate a site, and to let people know what the main areas of the site are at all times.
We identified an opportunity to balance the desire for minimalism with usability, while also complementing an aspect of the rebrand that otherwise might not have made it onto the website.
The new AWW logo had two formats — the first being a standard three letter wordmark, and the second format exploding the three letters into the top left, top right and bottom right of whatever rectangle is occupied.
In consultation with the branding team we filled the fourth corner of the home page (bottom left) with a super-slimmed down navigation leading into the two core areas of the site: projects; and practice, with a final icon for on-site search.
This format only really works on the de facto front-cover of the website, where it is free of other information and able to deliver a big-hit of AWW branding. On internal pages we retain the minimal navigation but revert to the the standard wordmark top-right.
Best User Experience at the Archiboo Awards 2021
The Archiboo Awards have been at the forefront of sweeping changes in the way architecture is communicated, inspiring practices to rethink digital and challenge norms.
The judges said of AWW: “The winning website is simple to use but has a lot of interesting content which has been brilliantly organised. A great user experience looks effortless despite all the work that’s going on behind the scenes and this website delivers on all fronts.”