A creative person’s mind often resembles a dynamic, sometimes chaotic meeting room with many different voices trying to be heard at once. For a professional designer, the ability to engage with the positive voices while ignoring the discouraging ones is a fragile mastery. After a project has ended and the meeting room has emptied, most designers realize that the creative process boils down to two simple motivations: the need to own the operation from beginning to end to ensure your vision came through just right, and the need to have fun while doing so.   

This exciting yet hectic process becomes even more challenging when the target audience is actually designers, just like yourself. That was the case for a team of over 20 designers from the Wix Design team that were given an unusual brief: imagine a new language and website to showcase the features of the Wix Editor to creative professionals. Designing for a broad audience requires staying within the limits – keeping the ideas straightforward, uncomplicated and easy to edit for someone of any professional background. So being granted this incredible freedom to design for a professional niche is a celebratory occasion that invites designers to break the rules, dive into fine details and higher concepts.

Welcome to the Playground

As if their own busy, conference-room-of-a-mind wasn’t noisy enough, the Design team locked themselves together in a room for a week to spark the creative process. “We were brainstorming, asking ourselves how do we, as designers, want to be spoken to by a company that provides us with the tools we need to create a website,” says Lior Dahan, team lead and art director at the Wix Studio. “Even though for most creatives this process is somewhat challenging, the word ‘Playground’ kept coming up. Most designers expressed the act of creating with the Wix Editor as ‘playing’ and having fun with its design features on a blank page. There’s always a moment, after going through the hard part of the process, where all the hard work, sleepless nights and over-thinking culminates into an idea that makes perfect sense. It was only natural that ‘Playground’ would become the core value of our work.”

Good foundations

Once the main value of the new language was established, the team went on to create the Playground mini-site – a site for designers, built and imagined by designers. It was a joint effort, a task force if you will, by professionals from different teams and fields at the studio. With one word in mind, a new concept and language had to be conceived.

“It was clear that in order to tackle such an open brief, we had to establish strong foundations for the project,” Lior continues. “We knew this project would grow and evolve, so we had to come up with a language that is memorable, definite and total. At the same time, we wanted a concept that would allow us freedom, so we can update it and adapt to varied types of creative thinkers. The choice of the Playground allowed us to play with the existing language. The values then slowly evolved into ‘flexible’ and ‘eclectic’ and naturally, these concepts leave a lot of room for interpretation. When working on all the elements of this project, different types of designers in the studio can play within the clear rules of the visual language.”

To establish this foundation, the team came up with a concept that puts the designer in the center of an environment – a studio, a gallery, a set that embodies the inner mind of a designer or creative professional. That space holds a frame, a symbolic window to the designer’s world of creation, or simply a canvas waiting to be transformed into a work of art.

“We understand that different kinds of designers from various fields create in different manners, and each has a unique method. So we started with three types of creatives: the emotional artist, that creates from the gut; the designer that finds beauty in patterns, colors, and texture; and the experimentalist, that creates by trial and error and forms a clear vision as the process evolves.”

Each creative type, starting with the emotional designer, is presented on the header of the mini-site created with the studio’s in-house motion design team – but can be also seen in various aspects of the site itself. “One of our advantages as a big design studio with over 170 designers, is our in-house capabilities,” Lior explains. “Every element of the site was created here: the header shooting, the animations, photo shoots – even the site itself was built in the Wix Editor. No developers were involved in the process. It gave us full control over each step, so we could focus on the smallest details. It meant we could create a huge amount of design elements that translate into endless inspiration for other designers. And that’s exactly what we wanted to say with our project – you own the canvas, so make use of that freedom and bring your true self as a designer forward, without any dependency on others.”

Hit the refresh button

Establishing a design that will resonate in the months to follow alongside creating the mini-site, was only one of the numerous challenges the team had to overcome. Another had to do with inventing a new visual language, aligned with a strong existing brand – Wix. “The company’s brand has its own values and guidelines, and while our audience is wide and varied, this mini-site we’re creating is for a niche audience, that is savvier. There is something so gratifying in keeping within the lines of the brand, yet come up with a language that looks so new and fresh.”

The team ended up imagining words and values to guide themselves through the process of creating the mini-site. ‘Professional’ and ‘straightforward’ were chosen to guide the design. “We deliver our capabilities to our users without embellishing too much. It’s like saying ‘Here we are, these are our amazing features, here’s a blank page, now go and play.’ Straightforwardness is also what made the team give the good ol’ Helvetica font a typographical facelift. “The typography became bolder and stronger in presence because it’s an inseparable part of the graphics on each page, not just a functional text.”

Let the games begin!

Going through the Playground mini-site, you can tell that the playfulness is throughout all of the details. Within the site itself are hidden features, waiting for a wandering finger to scroll and click. “We didn’t want the feeling of a playground to be present just in the atmosphere. We wanted it to take over the whole site, graphically,” says Lior. “There are many areas within the Features section, for example, that shows the whimsicalness of the editor itself, whether it’s code in Corvid by Wix, or design effects. The last fold of the site is basically an open invitation to click and play with the images created for this project. I invite everyone to click, get inspired and start playing with their website!”

Visit the Wix Playground for designers >> www.wix.com/playground