Responses by Athletics.
Background: On the surface, the role of an agency website is to showcase projects, processes and thought leadership so as to attract new clients and talent—as well as to generate attention in the creative community at large, including the press and awards organizations. At a deeper level, the creation of a new website is the purest opportunity for an agency to apply the lens they point towards external clients towards themselves and their internal challenges.
The conception and creation of Athletics’s new website exists within a larger arc of introspection involving a deep interrogation of every aspect of operations from our business model to organizational structure to the very space in which we work. As Athletics initiated the process of fundamentally reimagining the way we appear to the world digitally—the first time we’ve done so since 2014—we seized the opportunity to test our process on the most exacting of our subjects: ourselves. Along the way, we embraced new technologies and means of interdisciplinary collaboration, which we’re eager to implement to the benefit of our current and future clients. The result, we hope, is a living, breathing document of our studio, making manifest who we are, what we believe and where we’re going.
Design core: The entire property is built with Athletics’s hyperreduced kit of design elements: our sans-serif typeface (Theinhardt Light by François Rappo), three-dimensional monogram, monochromatic palette and a 16:9 grid. The site uses this toolkit to create as little friction as possible between the visitor and the work we’ve created for our clients, resulting in an elegant framing system rather than a self-congratulatory self-portrait.
Throughout our work with clients, we’ve found that simplicity guarantees consistent expression across the many contexts in which a brand must appear. That’s why we always make the case that a streamlined kit of iconic parts is a strength. It’s a hard sell: simplicity is often seen as a sign of weakness. Hopefully, our new website offers a compelling counterargument.
New lessons: Working for ourselves has many advantages, efficiency among them. As opposed to needing to navigate the layers of approval that always accompany the commercial design process, we could immediately apply fresh thinking to our end product. And yet, we treated that immediacy with caution, knowing that without order, the unchecked impulses of many perspectives and disciplines—strategy, design and technology—could result in what we refer to as a “Frankenstein’s Monster” of a site.
This is not to say that we didn’t struggle with the same things our clients struggle with when building a site: consensus, workload, distraction and so on. If anything, this process raised our capacity to support our clients when they face these obstacles in the future. When managed correctly, friction can create energy that fuels the creative process.
Technology: With a WordPress CMS and a React front end, the site seamlessly combines the familiarity of WordPress with the more leading-edge, experimental experiences that React supports. We took into account the way we work as a team, along with feedback from our clients when applying the same technology stack, to create a site that so far has been a dream to operate. Modular layouts were implemented with the Advanced Custom Fields WordPress plugin, using a custom server-side preview feature for dynamic rendering on the front end. While this is contrary to the trend we see of hoisting static front ends for React apps with technologies like Gatsby, it reflects the type of content creation experience we wanted to provide for our team and ultimately for our clients.