Responses by Brijan Powell, art director, ThoughtLab; and Fran Pruyn, marketing director, CRSA.
Background: “This site is key to everything we market, a powerful research tool for anyone interested in finding out more about us [and] how we work,” says Fran Pruyn, marketing director at Salt Lake City– and St. George, Utah–based architectural design firm CRSA. “No one really buys architecture off a website. People can see the work we do and get an idea of who we are, but no one is picking a structure like they would pick shoes off an e-commerce site. What makes us different is our people, so the site showcases our people, their strengths and passions, alongside our products and who our past clients have been. To a lesser degree, we can give an idea of our process; however, that really isn’t something that brings people to the table.”
“We focused on helping CRSA reach a broader audience while reconnecting with its current one,” says Brijan Powell, art director at Salt Lake City–based ThoughtLab. “Recruiting new talent was also important for the firm. So with this site, we had a three-fold mission: feel younger and exciting, attract new talent, and appeal to a broader base so that the site could bring in new and exciting architects.”
Design core: “The site definitely has a Swiss/International Typographic style,” Powell notes. “The heavy use of grids and clean, readable, objective type has an inherently architectural feel. In keeping with the style, we selected Neue Haas Grotesk for the typeface. Architectural elements were incorporated into the site as well: page call-outs that are essential blueprint elements. Calls to existing architecture were important to me, both to sustain the feeling across the board and give subtle reminders as to what CRSA does. I wanted to have that running throughout the site.”
Favorite details: “For me personally, it’s the [presentation of the] team,” says Pruyn, “looking at their pictures and seeing what they contribute to the projects and the company. That’s a detail I find most important, because as I said before, our people are what makes us different. Clients buy the talent of the architects making the building. How they see, think and approach design will always be unique.”
Time constraints: “In the long run, COVID-19 proved to be an unexpected factor,” says Pruyn. “Things got tied up on our end, and so things naturally got tied up on ThoughtLab’s end. It became a much slower process than any of us expected. But we decided that the site was essential and that it was important to have it done right, so we all took a more relaxed pace. It probably took an extra five months—we had hoped it wouldn’t take that long—but slowing down wasn’t a game killer. The final results are exciting, and we’re happy, so it all worked out.”
Navigation structure: “It’s simple and straightforward, with all navigation at the top,” says Powell. “Again, this echoes the blueprint feeling. Architecture sites tend to be very clean and direct, with no need for extras or filigree that gets in the way of the work and the people. My thinking was simple, clean, tight and easy to get to what’s essential for clients.”