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Newman Architects // CASE STUDY

Setting a New Digital Foundation for an Esteemed Architecture Firm

It’s not every day that a creative consultancy gets the opportunity to partner with a prominent architecture firm in its own backyard. Yet with Newman Architects, the minds behind the designs of some of the most life-enriching buildings on the East Coast, Digital Surgeons had that very opportunity. Over the course of a year, we shared design principles, processes, and aesthetics. We collaborated on the craft, pushed each other, and learned from one another. And by the end, we had ushered in a refined brand identity, design system, and digital experience for the revered New Haven firm, built to live and thrive in both the digital and physical worlds.

The Challenge

Newman Architects came to us with a problem we see often at Digital Surgeons: their visual identity and digital experience didn’t quite match the design excellence—or sophistication—of their actual work product. The firm, albeit having a strong presence in New Haven’s famed architecture community, was struggling to digitally communicate their value proposition in a way that accurately reflected their history, vision, and general design principles. Without a revamped experience, they risked missing out on leaving a memorable, and often make-or-break, first impression on prospects.

Outcome

After months of collaboration, exploration, and iteration, we completely redesigned and redeveloped Newman Architect’s brand and digital experience. This started by simplifying and refining the firm’s brand identity with a new logo and wordmark. From there, we created and implemented a 360º design system that both details the correct usage of Newman’s brand elements and serves as a repository for their team to quickly find and use design assets. Finally, we put all of it together in a full site redesign and rebuild in a way that spoke to the human-centered ethos of Newman’s own work, bringing all facets of the brand together for a cohesive digital experience predicated on the physical world.

Modernizing the Newman Logo With a Digital-Friendly, Abstract Design

The first step in our project with Newman Architects was revisiting the visual identity of the brand. Existing in a crowded market with many brands stylized in a similar—predominantly abstract—fashion, Newman sought a refresh of their wordmark without stepping out of line with the general aesthetic of the industry. To do this, we created a powerful and modern wordmark by pairing custom typography in all-caps with a brighter and airier color palette. For the glyph, we strove to differentiate and celebrate the Newman name by making the “N” the hero, framed by a blue bar beneath it to portray the brand’s foundational impact on people and places, both literally and physically.   

Building a Custom, Web-Accessible Design System for Easy Brand Communications

Like every other industry, architecture is becoming digitized. Yet unlike some, there is still a heavy presence of pen, pencil, and paper involved in the design of buildings, as well as the communications that make it all happen. This requires firms like Newman to maintain a standard of branding in a multitude of places, from email signatures and business cards to letterheads and envelopes. The only way to maintain such a standard in every brand communication, particularly at companies where such communications are the responsibility of more than one person, is to implement a design system.

For Newman, our design system was made to inform and direct all visual executions of the brand, both online and off. Besides detailing logo, color, composition, and typography, it also dictates the brand’s usage of motion and provides a full suite of icons that speak to the various sectors of life and business that Newman serves. To make it increasingly accessible to all members of the Newman team, we housed the design system on an open URL, giving the firm’s employees the ability to quickly and easily download assets as they needed them. In a business world that’s moving faster with each passing day, a design system like Newman’s can make an enormous difference in productivity.

Working Collaboratively to Architect the Site Strategy and Design Wireframes

With the brand identity and design system in place, we charged ahead toward the redesign of Newman’s digital experience. We devised a site strategy that called for a design that was evocative of architecture and supported by a clean, easily navigable UX—one that championed both the work and the people behind it. With agreement on this strategy in place, Digital Surgeons went forward with wireframing the site experience itself, identifying the different components we needed to design and develop while also nailing down the necessary content types and dictating user flows that were the most logical and user-friendly. In the end, we had high-fi wires that represented our version of a blueprint—now it was just time to design and build.

Taking a Human-Centered and Project-Focused Approach to UX Design

Building off of our strategy to champion both the work of Newman and the people behind it, we took a human-centered and project-focused approach to the overall website design and development. From a user-friendly UX to the detailed and descriptive “People” and “Knowledge Group” pages, the entire web experience is exceedingly human, which successfully sets itself apart in the architecture industry. And when it came to displaying Newman’s work, we devised a creative yet logical information architecture based on project industry and category to enable users to rapidly find whatever type of case study they’re looking for. Once there, they get an in-depth and highly visual “tour” of their chosen project, including a list of all Newman team members who worked on it. The end result is a sleek and sophisticated digital experience that, in addition to expediting the business development and recruiting processes of Newman Architects,  earned Digital Surgeons an Honorable Mention from awwwards.

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