Research, prototyping, design & development
Paul Brophy – UX Designer
(2015) 1 month
Opus Plastics are a company based in the South West of the UK specialising in plastic injection moulding and extrusion. The company were in a state of rapid growth and looking to reposition themselves within the national market.
I worked in collaboration with Managing Director Justin, to design and code a new website, and update the company branding.
The goal was to better represent the company’s manufacturing capabilities, and reposition as a “one-stop shop”, where clients could see an idea for a product designed and manufactured.
I spent a month working on the project, which involved performing interviews with the management team and research into competitors, working through design ideas and then finally writing code for a static site.
Identifying the problems
I interviewed Justin and Gary, the Manufacturing Director to find out what the goals were, and where they felt things were going wrong.
We gathered two main insights;
The Pitch. Customers didn’t know what services were being offered. The sales team would be met with surprise when clients realised they could have their product assembled, packed and shipped direct.
Qualification. The current site attracted a 'casual' audience that had small-scale needs or required runs of one or two parts. Setting up tooling for injection moulding is expensive. Enquiries like these resulted in disappointment for both parties.
Improving the pitch and better qualifying the audience
We needed to better signpost what services were being offered. We could address this with ‘cards’ that would direct the visitor, but would also instantly describe what was on offer. The imagery. we had to work with wasn't great. We could remedy this with some clever cropping and the use of overlays.
A tactic we could employ to address qualifying was to redefine what ‘small’ meant in terms of manufacturing. If we used technical language and visuals that showed scale, this would appeal less to the casual audience.
We settled on a more neutral, but strong font which reinforced the idea of reliability and efficiency.
The Closing “O” Logo
The “O” logo animation combined two ideas; the first from the injection moulding machines, with their pneumatic closing action. A machine can cycle like this 1000s of times per shift.
The second is the “sprew”, which is the redundant grid like plastic left over between the product. The easing movement reflects how the mould comes together on a cycle.
Successes & Failures
My regret in this project was that I wasn’t able to steer Justin in the direction of the final design shown here. We ended up with a solution that did the job, but is more generic looking. I think this was largely driven by my approach to the branding which was quite a departure. It’s difficult to get clients to separate their attachment to a brand, especially when they designed it themselves. As a result I changed my process to involve the client more from the beginning. On a positive note I had much more success with the Daneswood brand overhaul as a result.
The new site has made a big difference to enquiries. The sales team are receiving less requests for small runs, and 2018 saw the beginning of large national contract which utilised many of the services under the company’s umbrella. Justin has also since received positive comments from new and old clients.