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Vanessa Frye Digital Experience Architect
June 4, 2024
We are Designers


Design is the lifeblood of what we do at Chapter Three. While much of this blog is devoted to development-related topics like decoupled Drupal, all development revolves around the design that supports it. Design is what clients and audiences see and engage with, and it makes or breaks a website as much as the site’s infrastructure. In Steve Jobs’ words, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

We do a lot more than just create pretty websites. We design user-friendly, accessible sites, with robust functionality, and we put a lot of thought into the user experience. We also create systems that make maintaining good design easier across large, multisite ecosystems, as well as other tools to help clients maintain and expand their sites while preserving design consistency.

We Are Communicators

What does it take to arrive at and maintain a cohesive visual identity? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it invariably requires effective communication. We believe in cultivating long-lasting relationships with our clients; the more we get to know you, the more easily we can address your design needs in a way that’s consistent with your visual identity and brand voice.

The University of California, Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor of Research is one of our longest standing clients. We originally built their site back in 2010 and have updated it no less than four times, most recently last year with a retheming project. Some of this work consisted of migration to the latest version of Drupal, but we’ve also delivered design improvements that have kept the site optimally functional, easy to navigate, and modern.

We’ve achieved this type of longevity with clients by being highly collaborative. Our process begins with a series of conversations and workshops aimed at understanding the organization we’re working with, and their brand voice and tone and style guidelines. Then we get to work creating visual assets. We typically create layouts, icons, and illustrations in Figma, and often move them to Storybook or Pattern Lab for the development phase, all while maintaining close communication with the client.

We have a lot of design chops here at Chapter Three, but all the design skills in the world don’t get you the design you need without good communication processes in place. Hiring us means you’ll get  a team of great listeners who will work with you to ensure you get the design you need.

We Believe in Design Systems

Any agency worth its salt will go through the process of assessing client design needs, blocking out content and creating wireframes, helping craft a visual identity, and executing the resultant design concept. We do all this, but many of the large organizations we work with need systems in place so that they’re not creating designs from scratch when expanding a multisite system.

A design system is a comprehensive library of reusable components, equipped with clear standards and specifications, facilitating the construction of websites and other applications with consistent features across multiple platforms. In other words, it’s a system that allows site builders to use visual components across multiple websites without having to recreate them from scratch.

We’re firm believers in the importance of design systems at Chapter Three, and we’ve helped numerous organizations implement or expand such systems. When the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) needed a new online hub for their Human Development Reports Office (HDRO), we helped build a design system that allowed them to expand their site network with a consistent visual identity.

We’re especially proud of our recent design work for the Judicial Council of California (JCC), the largest court system in the United States, with 58 superior courts serving all the state’s counties. This massive multisite system achieves a delicate balance; each site has a distinct visual identity, and the entire system shares a brand identity. The design system we created made it easy for the JCC to reuse combinations of elements so that managing the sites is much simpler.

We’re always trying new things and promoting those that work well. Just as we continue to be enthusiastic about Next-Drupal, we’re just as excited about our design system innovations. We’ve seen what they continue to do for our clients and we don’t think any website should be without one.

Looking for great design along with great development skills? Reach out to us today and let’s get the conversation started!