19 Jul 2016
I worked with New York based startup Timber.io, on new branding, marketing website, illustration and animation.
Timber make the traditionally difficult task of monitoring data logs easy, with their new interface that streamlines and modernises the whole process. Logs flood into the UI and unlike anything else currently on the market, Timber allows users to easily search, filter, spot trends and even click on individual logs to gain insight in a way that until now, wasn't possible with traditional data logging.Final web designs
Timber wanted me to create a visual style for the company that injects a bit of fun into what could otherwise be a relatively dry subject matter, something that appeals to developers (the main users of a product like this) but also would be memorable to any casual viewer.
Look and feel
The process started with discussion around the overall visual route to take, during these early stages the final company name wasn't yet 100% settled upon, so we decided to explore two main routes.
The first being around the name Timber, running with the visual metaphor of logs, trees and all things Lumberjack related. The second route was to go with a Viking theme, again hinting at the connection between the use of logs, perhaps to make boats and houses, but with the main difference being the use of a Viking mascot.Initial sketches
I started out by simply sketching some really rough ideas to help us envisage what both routes might look like and then fleshed these out into full visuals.Comparing Vikings with Lumberjacks
At this point it became clear that the Lumberjack route resonated more with people we had shown the work to. It's just more of a direct connection, the almost pun-like quality of linking data logs, with wooden logs just works. It was less of a stretch for viewers of the site.
For the Timber logo I created something simple that hints at the idea of data as well as the visual metaphor around the name itself. This ended up being the letter T in the centre of a log, the lines around it creating tree rings, but also the general idea of 'strings of data'.
This then led onto a poster and t-shirt design, that supports the overall brand. It's a slightly different style to the main website graphics, but feels like it's part of the same family. Hopefully, everything comes together to create a look and feel for the company that is modern and trustworthy, but with a hint of fun that makes it memorable.T-shirt design close up
To get across some of the high-level ideas behind what Timber does, I created some simple animation to be used in various places on the website, but mainly via a 'how it works' type of graphic.How it works animation
Again running with the trees / logging visual metaphor, I came up with the idea of combining 'real life' logs with data logs, in a kind of logging conveyor-belt machine. This continually looping gif communicates the idea that a never-ending number of logs are fed in, the hard work is done by the Timber machine in the middle, and the end result is a clean and clear user interface at the end.
I also created a simple looping gif for a 'coming soon' holding page.
And a bit of fun for the 404 page, where our Lumberjack mascot find himself (like the user) in the wrong place.
The final outcome of this project is a set of work that I am very proud of. I'm extremely grateful to the team at Timber for allowing me to run with my ideas. In doing so have hopefully come up with something memorable that is a little different from the norm.
19 Jun 2016
At the end of last year I was asked for my ideas on 'web trends for 2016', by the nice people at Net magazine. In March this year (issue 277) they printed the piece, which features along with my own, thoughts from 22 other designers and developers on trends for the year. (Also available online here.)
My contribution to the piece was around how I'd like to see more bespoke illustration being used online, from the article:
Illustrator Oli Lisher hopes to see more bespoke illustration in 2016: "Custom assets make brands stand out. This is essential online, where everything is starting to look similar."
He says the explosion in popularity for massive header photography is becoming samey, and that illustration is a memorable alternative that can "set you apart and help describe difficult concepts".
They printed some of the design and illustration from my work with Heroic Labs as an example of the point I was making.My design work for Heroic Labs
To expand a little further, I feel the thing that makes a brand or company stand out most, even more so than the company logo, colour scheme, or typography choices (which are all important too, of course) are custom assets. Usually on the web, these assets come in the form of photography — in recent years we've seen an explosion in sites using large header photography, making everything start to feel a bit familiar.
Don't get me wrong, I've used this technique myself and there will always be a place for great photography of course. And there is even the argument that this 'sameification' is a good thing, that the general public will start to see it as a pattern that they understand, like a style guide for the web almost.
But I'd argue that Illustration can set you apart, help to describe difficult concepts at a high-level and makes a memorable alternative to photography.
You can read more about my work with Heroic Labs here.
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