Tomatoes, pregnancy and existential crisis.

Author:
20.03.2015

The story of the Manifest website.

And… exhale. All of the sweaty, hand-squeezing, rhythmic-breathing-legs-akimbo stuff is over. We’ve birthed a brand new website, wiped the gunge from its brow, and released it, kicking and screaming into the world. We’re proud parents for sure, but also relieved. So relieved.

After all, an agency website is basically a cliché waiting to happen; hipster incarnation of the old adage about the expert builder whose house is falling down. We spend our days pouring over the design detail, copy and functionality of other companies’ websites (among other things!) while our own has remained somehow neglected.

The Manifest website was like an ageing tomato left at the back of the fridge: we knew it was there, we know it looked pretty bad, and we knew that it was only a matter of time before it started genuinely scaring people. And yet it never quite made it into the ragu.

But now that we’ve actually done it (well, pretty much), and have something good to show for our efforts, it feels absurd that it took so long to do. That’s not to say that it was easy – or quick (good things rarely are) – but more a reflection on the retrospective value of having to define how we want Manifest to be seen, known and understood. If that sounds a little lofty for a blog post that has so far used childbirth and a mouldering tomato as its central conceits, it’s not meant to be. It’s just an observation of the unexpected things we found out along the way.

Putting a new website together – especially if you want to go right back to the beginning as we did – requires a lot of fundamental questions. As a company, we needed need to know, definitively, who we were, what we did and why we did it. You might think that this would be pretty straightforward for a 15 year-old agency… but it wasn’t. The reality of our work – and the myriad directions it takes us in every single day – has an inconvenient tendency to resist simple categorisation and definition. So that meant a lot of head-scratching and a lot of soul-searching – basically an SME equivalent of a (mild) existential crisis.

But as is so often the way, it’s those big, befuddling questions that lead to the best answers. By getting people together from across the business for various discussions, chats and debates, everything started to get a bit clearer. We were able to see how perceptions of the company overlapped and deviated; how we saw our own disciplines, ways of working, and future plans shaping up.