Double Click How-To: Makemepulse on designing websites with a narrative
We chat with the global interactive design studio on how to create digital designs that are driven by an overarching narrative.
We’re doing something a little different for this month’s edition of Double Click. In the past, we’ve given you a highlight of the best around the web, giving you a taster of how different designers have used similar themes and techniques. With the Double Click How-To, we’re bringing you to an in-depth Q&A with one particular studio or designer. This way, you’ll get a more intimate look at how their projects came about, what challenges they faced and any tips they might have for both emerging and established creatives.
When telling stories, your design decisions can be crucial elements in supporting the core narrative, but you might risk driving attention away from the heart of the story if you put too many extraneous interactions in the experience. For this month’s Double Click How-To, we chat with Nicolas Rajabaly, the co-founder of global interactive design studio Makemepulse, on how to create digital designs with an overarching narrative in mind.
It’s Nice That: What do your sites set out to do, first and foremost, and how does the design help to achieve that?
Nicolas Rajabaly: Makemepulse is focused on storytelling experiences in the interactive space. While we do a lot of things and strive to always use new ways of immersing users in our stories, we are fond of browser-based experiences. These experiences are widely used and can be discovered through all sorts of devices for a worldwide audience.
As the production team is composed of a mix of producers, developers and creatives, we are deeply influenced by mediums such as video games, movies and art. This creative sensitivity is transposed in every aspect of our projects including the interface and frontend design.
We feel strongly that interfaces convey not only information but also emotions – similarly to imagery, animation, copy, or music. At the same level of importance as the other creative streams, we spend a lot of time polishing our interactive experience interfaces with consistency and personality.
INT: What decisions did you make with the site to enhance the narratives you’re trying to tell? How do you prevent interactions from becoming purely superficial?
NR: With a tech background, we are always eager to tell stories instead of doing tech for the sole sake of interactivity. Our ultimate goal is for users to be amazed by the creativity, the storyline, and the emotion without even noticing the tech prowess behind it.
We emphasize visual craft and details while leveraging micro-interactions to immerse users into our world. Micro-interactions allow us to surprise users in various ways while adding an extra layer of gaming to our narrative.
Interactive experiences tend to change and, since last year, we noticed a shift in the longevity of the productions in the current field. The deep structures are changing and we started to incorporate product design workflows and user experience principles.
While we injected this kind of process into our projects, our hearts and soul are still in love with exploration and emotions. That’s why our magic formula is to mix those two worlds! On one hand, we follow a huge UX process for each project and we implement startup and product company workflows. And on the other hand, we are big dreamers and we break rules, add surprise elements and leverage our storylines to cultural and human moments.
INT: What were the biggest challenges in these projects and how did you overcome them?
NR: To be honest, the last weeks of Nomadic Tribe were very intense! The core of the experience was there and we were so deep into the project that we had to focus and remind ourselves to try to take a step back to see the big picture and prioritise tasks. We were lacking time as everyone wanted to add details, small interactions and polish things over and over. So we had to give up on some details to focus on the compatibility of our experience. That’s why we spent the last two weeks working hard on making the mobile experience smooth. A lot of the 3D models, interactions and interfaces were slow or just ok, so we pushed it further to upgrade the experience and bring it as high as the desktop one.
Our audience was very wide and we made the experience easy to use for a big variety of users. More specifically, we are talking to digital agencies, studios and talents. We had a very warm welcome from everyone and it was a huge success for the team as people generally found it very poetic and very different from the actual trends.
INT: How do you make sure that users get a consistent narrative experience when navigating through your sites, to get that emotional connection?
NR: We tend to approach the creation of projects such as Nomadic Tribe similarly to directing a movie. The first half of the timeline for this project was focused on writing the story, polishing moodboards for the landscapes. We wrote, storyboarded, modelled and developed everything ourselves with a small team to make sure the true essence of the project didn’t loosen with too many people.
Our way of working together is influenced by the fact that most of our team is highly creative, even with the most technical profiles. This allows us to rely a lot on each other in terms of quality, allowing us to focus all our attention on the narrative journey.
Nomadic Tribe and Sea Shepherd are truly passion projects and whatever constraint, deadline and limitations, our entire team is devoted to the craft. We are all passionate about stories, our only focus is for people to be amazed by those pieces so they can travel and forget everything else for a few magical moments.
INT: For beginners, what is your top tip for designing a website that shows some of their own personality? For web designers wanting to delve a little deeper and experiment, what exciting tech is out there to build their skills?
NR: We think trends are the most common issue with young designers. It’s very easy to get flooded by the amount of similar content you can see on platforms such as Dribbble, Behance and Awwwards. When a project is driven by passion and uniqueness, people feel this, the passion and the love put into it is passed on.
“Do what you love” is a good approach. Try to understand what you truly like and what makes you feel things. This will help you find your way of creating unique experiences instead of doing another piece of a long series of trendy websites that will be irrelevant in a year or so.
A last note for web designers: Look for inspiration outside of the digital world, get inspired by movies, video games, music, events, nature and whatever things you enjoy in life, there is a good chance you might find a valuable creative angle that people will definitely respond and relate to.
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Double Click is our monthly round-up of some of our favourite websites and digital designs floating around out there on the world wide web.
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.