A live one.
Advertising agency BMF prototypes live representations of a website for one of its biggest clients with Adobe XD.
To better present website builds to clients alongside actual programming and construction
Involve more stakeholders earlier in the design process
Avoid last-minute-crunch bug fixes
Transforms client presentations and approvals with realistic wireframes
Improved collaboration and elicited feedback faster by making designs tangible
Boosts efficiency by reducing last-minute changes
Empowers staff to address issues proactively with streamlined workflows
Bringing the Long Idea to life
Christmas comes but once a year, and for one busy Sydney advertising agency it starts in around March. For the last 23 years BMF has successfully handled strategy and creative advertising for many clients, and for the last 18 years, has managed TV, print, and radio, as well as point of sale, social media, catalogue, and online for retailer ALDI. Recently, building one particular channel—ALDI’s website—got a very welcome shot in the arm thanks to Adobe XD, the user experience design and prototyping application within Adobe Creative Cloud.
BMF’s positioning is the Home of the Long Idea. That means looking at ideas that will last over time, to deliver results and meet its clients’ objectives. This approach informs whatever work—big or small—the agency’s projects call for in the foreseeable future.
With creative advertising, brand strategy, campaign development, design, digital, direct marketing, and a photography studio all in house, BMF crafts and deploys the brand messaging for many of Australia’s biggest companies. Established in 1996 with the aim of being a world-class agency that happens to be based in Sydney, it’s been the recipient of many major awards in advertising.
According to media research firm Roy Morgan, ALDI has become Australia’s most trusted brand, and this accolade is largely due to the creative and effective advertising by BMF and the fun, quirky tone of voice the agency has developed for the retailer.
The most recent Christmas campaign, which ran across all traditional and social media as well as ALDI’s website, has been very well received. With Adobe XD, BMF saw an opportunity to better present the new campaign on the website during development, not just with ALDI but also to internal BMF stakeholders: account management, creatives, and programmers. “Selling website ideas to clients can become a bit tricky, because web design isn’t something they do, so it can be hard for them to imagine what it might look like,” says Retail Studio Lead David J. Cook.
Now, Adobe XD lets ALDI navigate the interactive wireframe like it’s a finished website, so it’s easier to see how the visitor experience works in a live environment. “Most of the time, all we can give clients is a slideshow deck or PDF of layouts to flip through,” he says. “This makes it much easier for them to navigate. Adobe XD has not only transformed the client presentation and approvals process but also the storyboarding process inside BMF as the content comes together. Adobe XD is essentially a wireframe on steroids.”\
“Adobe XD allows for a big change in the way we sort and organise everything. You tend to collaborate with everyone involved in the process earlier and more effectively.”
David J. Cook
Retail Studio Lead, BMF
An effective collaboration tool
Several BMF teams already rely on Adobe solutions to do their jobs. Creatives and account managers use Adobe Creative Cloud tools for print, digital, TV, presentation and show reels, animation, and effects. The studio, editing, and production teams use Photoshop, Illustrator, Bridge, Acrobat, After Effects, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and Premiere Pro. The company is also exploring other Adobe solutions, including Dimension, Character Animator, and Adobe Experience Manager.
BMF embraced Adobe XD in 2018 to help design and construct the website behind ALDI’s Christmas campaign. Cook refers to the resulting framework as a scale model of the assets needed that showed where links led, how scroll behaviours worked, and how much screen a given layout took up.
Adobe XD lets designers and programmers create user interface designs, user experience designs, and prototypes for mobile or desktop apps and websites, using new functionality that eliminates the need to jump between applications to make changes.
This collaborative design platform is a particularly handy way of working because it helps clients without an advertising mindset see something real. “When we create a prototype in Adobe XD, everyone can see what we’re working towards and what it’s going to require,” Cook says. “We get feedback much earlier in the process, which is helpful.”
Such feedback, even internally between account, creative, and development staff also unshackles the website building process from the last-minute time crunches most digital marketing agencies are familiar with, like someone realising a .gif file is the wrong size or the placeholder text on the About page hasn’t been replaced with the approved copy.
“Adobe XD helps with checking off that all the assets are being covered,” Cook says. “We might have new account people handling the briefings who aren’t familiar with all the requirements, or a new designer from another project who isn’t acquainted with the site structure. Using Adobe XD, when we have a full website built that everyone can look at, it’s obvious how it functions even if the pages aren’t populated. It just means we’re not rushing at the end.”
Spreading the workload
The advantages of Adobe XD seem obvious, but there were other gains to be made to BMF’s pipeline, not all of them immediately apparent. Usually building the site—coding pages and linking them together—is one of the last phases of the project. But, as Cook and his team have found, the entire workflow and everyone involved can move faster with Adobe XD.
“Adobe XD allows for a big change in the way we sort and organise everything,” he says. “When a designer or programmer can see the page structure, because they know the branding or style, they can see if there’s an asset missing. You tend to collaborate with everyone involved in the process earlier and more effectively, working together to close those gaps.”
It also makes it easier to track back through workflows to make the relevant fixes. Cook says making an amendment previously required going back a few steps, and possibly people; it wasn’t as simple as just dragging and dropping assets. “You had to re-upload them, relink them, and reschedule it to update,” he says. “So now with Adobe XD, having it happen earlier in the process lets you avoid the changes that happen later, which could be more difficult.”
Not only that, Adobe XD is a user-friendly way to include everyone concerned. In ALDI’s case, BMF uses a very specific CMS that gives different levels of staff and clients different degrees of access. “You can send a web link to a prototype to account management staff, the client and the designer, and all they’ve got to do is log in with an email address,” says BMF Finished Artist Tony Todorovitch, who championed the use of Adobe XD. “There’s no need to download software or use any special new tools.”
Cook says that while there was a bigger investment in time and training going in to ALDI’s Christmas campaign, it saved time and effort in the long run.
“We generally don’t have time to create style guides, but with Adobe XD we have the specs of the website, which allows us to set up templates for future campaigns,” he says. “Now anyone who works on the next campaign should be able to jump straight in.”