There aren’t many who can strike start-up gold twice but the ever-honest Tess Robinson, who’s shared many an entrepreneurial crisis with us in the past, is one such businesswoman.
She’s the founder of Smack Bang Designs but she didn’t let the fact that she’s currently outfitting over 80 brands with clever creative branding stop her from building another business. (It’s all about psychological bandwidth, right Tess?)
Her second venture, website building platform First Flight, is aimed squarely at people just like her – those at the helm of start-ups, trying to make an impact.
“We sell limited-edition, beautifully designed website templates that are carefully crafted, fully customisable and seriously easy to use,” says the Sydneysider, who has spent the past five years listening to the struggles her branding clients faced.
“First Flight is for business owners who don’t do boring. It’s for design-minded individuals ready to kick-start their craft, jazz up their online presence and showcase their awesome-sauce to world. It’s for the brands who want to stand out but don’t necessarily want to invest a whole heap of time and energy into building a custom site – who appreciate good design but may be restricted by budget or time limitations.”
Needless to say, Tess speaks our speak. So we got her talking…
How did it feel to be branding your own business for a change?
I have loved being the director and decision-maker throughout this process. I thrive on the liberation that comes with doing things your own way and at your own pace – I guess you could say I’m a bit headstrong and it’s nice to not have to abide by anyone else’s brief. We’ve really thrown caution to the wind with this one. I’ve just gone with my gut.
Your biggest learning curve?
Getting my head around the tech side of things and all the moving parts that come with creating a digital business. I’m very comfortable playing in the service-based space, but moving into selling more of a product as such comes with its own challenges and hurdles.
Where do some sites fall short?
If they are too functional to look nice, or look too nice to be functional. The middle ground is where the gold is. A lot of sites fail to translate when their vision and key messaging is clouded by over-complicated, inconsistent design.
What’s trending in aesthetics and functionality?
Anything interactive, and of course, amazing user experience. Simplicity and a clean, modern aesthetic are big right now. Bold, large images, simple typography and minimal colour – unless it’s in the photos. Also super flat, graphic sites are making a comeback, [like that of boutique publishing house] We Print Nice Things.
Advice for businesses building a digital footprint?
Be consistent. Consistency is paramount in everything you do, from conveying your brand message to the content you create and imagery you select for your site to your overall layout and design. Brands that are consistent translate a far stronger and more effective and meaningful message to their audience than those that don’t. Also, moodboard like a maniac. It’s a fabulous visual tool to get all your ideas and inspiration down in front of you!
To see what Tess and the First Flight team have been working on, check out firstflightstudio.com for more information.