Design Process for A Very GK! Holiday Website

Client Overview

Jeff is the owner of Killer Cool Entertainment and books underground music concerts at multiple venues in upstate New York and Connecticut. He approached me about creating a promotional website for an annual music festival he puts on at holiday time. High school kids (their primary audience) would be able to see the lineup of bands playing, purchase tickets, and get other information about the festival. Jeff would also be taking out a couple of ads in Alternative Press magazine and wanted those designed along with some other promotional flyers.
The event is sponsored in part by Glamour Kills, a crazy trendy fashion company, hence the name “A Very GK! Holiday”.

Initial Thoughts

My background in web design actually goes back to high school for me, when I started teaching myself HTML to create websites for my friends who were in metal and hardcore bands. 10 years later, I hadn’t done any design work in the music industry since then. I was excited to tackle this new industry and imagined I’d be able to have a lot more fun than working on some of the more corporate projects that had been filling my schedule.

The Brief

Jeff already had an initial idea for the website. It all stemmed from those tree-shaped air fresheners you see everywhere. He had purchased a costume and would have someone wear it at the event and hand out prizes. He hoped the design would continue on with this theme, maybe using the title of the festival to create the tree.

I expressed my initial concern right off the bat. Use of that air freshener symbol is actually trademarked. I contacted the company attorney to ask for permission to use the shape of the tree, something they encourage on their website, but was still denied permission. Time for Plan B.

Inspiration

Determined not to deliver bad advice empty-handed, I started some internet browsing, hoping to find some inspiration. I searched through some work that designers had posted up on Dribbble, and came by a great shot from Ryan Putnam. I loved how the the lights looked a little realistic, instead of just being a flat design.

I started experimenting with recreating the same technique, since I don’t usually design in this style. I created a little graphic inspired by Ryan’s work and showed it to Jeff to see if he liked the visual direction.

Initial Designs

Jeff thought the photo-realistic direction was interesting and I continued to integrate his original concept of having the event title make up the tree. This is where we arrived.

There were still a few details to develop. Jeff noted that he’d like me to include the Glamour Kills logo, a flying pig, somewhere in the graphic. It found a nice home at the top of the tree, replacing the star. I then took the opportunity to change the reds of the lights, presents, and ribbon to the pink of the Glamour Kills brand. Jeff’s final comment was that he thought the ribbon at the bottom looked a little flat. He was totally right. It should be rounded and look more realistic like the rest of the design.

Website

With an approved showpiece graphic for the festival, it was time to build out the website. The festival happens in two cities and has slightly different lineups in each, so a two-column layout made sense. Below is my initial design for the website.

I was very confident in this direction, and was proud to show it to Jeff, but he felt that it resembled a regular website too much, and he wanted it to evoke the feeling of a promotional poster a little more. It was really fun stretching my web design muscles past the assumed constraints of web design (and having a client that actually asked for it!).
Jeff was much happier with the revised design and this ended up being the exact version that I built the website from.

The only things left were to design a small 4×6 flyer and a couple of full-page ads for Alternative Press.

Reflections

It was my first time working with Jeff, and I believe it was his first time working on a formal web design project. I listened to what he needed and started designing from that. What I didn’t realize is that sometimes clients don’t know everything they need. It’s my job to ask the questions, dig a little deeper, and find out what I should be giving them, things they perhaps don’t even know yet.

In this instance, Jeff was excited to get the word out about the headliner bands, and I didn’t realize that down the road, he’d want to be adding more information about things like hotels, special band announcements, and interactive video chats. My failure to extract all of the details led to a site that may have been structured differently with all of the information.

Since then, Jeff and I continue to work on a number of projects together, and I’m much better at asking the right questions so I can deliver the best result right from the start.

Overall, I love the design and think it stands out in my portfolio. I am so impressed at the number (thousands) of visits that Jeff can conjure in one day just by making one post on Facebook or announcement on Twitter.

View A Very GK! Holiday Fest