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Website concept sketches: they’re worth more than you think

I’ve learned a great lesson from doing the Create Conference 2008: you never how how valuable the various design artefacts you come up with will be during the life of a website project. Your throw-away thumbnail-dipped-in-tar scrawls may well lead the way to other areas of creativity and visual assets for the website that you hadn’t anticipated.

When I was first thinking about the visual concept of the Create Conference 2008 website (read more in the work section if you like), I was combining their existing visual ideas of an airship and a clockworky steampunk theme into some pretty scratchy concept sketches, with notes and call-outs all over them.

I showed one of the pages to the client. She loved it. But the thing is, it wasn’t just the concept, it was the actual ‘look’ of the scratchy sketching as well that fired her imagination. And boom: thus was born the visual concept for the print brochure.

I didn’t know at the time that the client was working on the print brochure for the conference, but that one sketch launched a series of extra sketches I did, all around the same theme, and centered on the airship theme. The client ran with the sketch idea, and wanted to convey a ‘Leonardo da Vinci’-esque theme, which actually fit in very nicely with the creative spirit of the conference, and with the playful ‘bygone grandeur’ visual theme I was originally after.

What’s more, once I started thinking about what I could sketch of this thing, the whole contraption under the airship came alive in my mind; I could see it in 3 dimensions; I could see where people moved around on top, and the living quarters in the hull… everything. Now I’ve never been into model ships or anything like that… but suddenly i wanted to build this thing!

I’ve put a few of the sketches in this post. Looking carefully at the Create Conference website and the brochure, you’ll see how they’ve been knitted in.

Sketch of the front (bow?) of the contraption under the airship

A cut-away view of the contraption under the airship

The tail and rotor of the contraption under the airship

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