Strategy

Reviewing 2021 in the Design Engine studio

Wow what a year! Like so many other independent businesses, 2021 for Design Engine has been a real mixed bag of highs and lows. However, whilst writing this review I have to say that my overwhelming feeling is that I genuinely have so much to be thankful for.

We've worked on some amazing projects for equally amazing independent businesses, and I'm genuinely proud of the results that we've helped our clients achieve. 


CHANGES IN THE STUDIO

I believe there is always room for improvement in business. This year, I intentionally invested time in my business to improve and refine processes.

Improved Client Experience
Throughout the year I've taken a deep dive into client journeys across all projects, asking my clients what was working and where we could improve to give them a better experience.

By listening hard to their feedback, I'm happy to say that we've refined a few areas in Design Engine for the better, some of which include:
- improving our onboarding process for a smoother start to projects for clients
- the introduction of website video tutorials to help clients update their websites with ease
- developing a file format guide to help clients easily choose the best logo file to use 

Streamlining Processes
We've also made some changes behind the scenes to ensure less time is spent running Design Engine and more time is spent on client work. 
- We introduced Xero: the wonderful Rona Kerr Accountants recommended Xero and the change has been nothing short of epic! 
- We started using Trello more consistently for larger projects to help stay ultra-organised when working within bigger teams where there are multiple client contacts 
- We changed our timekeeping software to Harvest for better time keeping accuracy and more accurate quoting

New Services
We've listened hard to the current challenges that clients are experiencing with branding and design in their business. In response, we've trialled several new services, testing them to make sure that they are spot on before we send them out into the big wide world in 2022. These include: 
- VIP Design Days 
- Brand Identity Toolkit
- Social Media Toolkit


INSPIRATION IN 2021

Rather than looking at trends and visual inspiration, this year it seems more fitting to note the people who have inspired us instead. 

The Independent Business Community
As we have navigated the second year of Covid-based uncertainty, I can confidently say that I have continued to be inspired by my clients and the independent business community. The tenacity, dog-eared determination, support, and kindness shown on a day-to-day basis astounds me and fires me up to keep helping this sector as much as I possibly can. I have too many examples to mention in one post, but trust me when I say, you guys rock!

Our Children
These little guys (or not so little as the case may be for my oldest) continue to blow me away. In the face of uncertainty with so many things to try to understand, their amazing ability to smile and find the best in life inspires me daily.   

The Power of Community
Throughout the last two years, we've witnessed the community of Hexham reach out and support each other like never before.  
Earlier in 2021 I was privileged to be invited to rebrand and develop a new website for Hexham Community Centre. I started the project fired up about how we could help them and finished the project humbled by the kindness, determination and care shown by their team. I want to give Clare Mwande, and her team of volunteers a special shout out. They are truly inspiring!



WHAT WE'VE LEARNED:

Wow, this was a tough one to summarise:
- Kindness is always the best policy
- Sometimes things need to change to make way for new opportunities and that's ok
- Research and reason are some of the best tools a designer or business owner can have


WHATS NEXT?

Personal Aim:
My personal aim is to continue to foster kindness, understanding and to be a better listener (a lifelong goal) in business and in life. 

Design Engine
In Design Engine, as 2022 has kicked off, we're already in the thick of some exciting projects, and we're taking bookings for even more! Our aim is to continue to provide design that helps our clients achieve amazing things in their businesses.

The Independent Business Sector
We can't ignore a definite shift in energy in the Independent Business Community, everywhere business owners seem fired up and ready to kick 2022's butt - I can't wait!

Wishing you a happy and proposerous 2022, 

Heather