The following is based on real events. This is a collection of entries taking the reader through the reflections on the game of the digital design tenders. Witnessed and recorded for the future by a hivemind of dops.digital, the creative studio.
✍The agency is doing good. Posting new portfolio pieces at Behance proved to be effective, almost every entry attracts a new customer who wants to get something similar. A lot of space to grow, but it is really satisfying to see people loving dops.digital signature style. Wish it would move faster, though.
✍It's been a long, busy year, but now Behance algorithms seem to have changed. Somehow the viewers don’t convert to web design clients anymore. The quality of case studies is the same, but they only attract other web designers. All this time spent on managing the visual presentations, will it pay off?
✍Probably should quit the Behance strategy altogether. It was a good long journey, but not sustainable anymore. Freelancing platforms are not a way out either, that would require dumping the price unfairly. And, plainly speaking, who wants hasty low-level cheap projects? The whole idea of starting this thing was to do classy, premium quality designs.
Note: maybe try finding web design clients on social media or networking events. No one knows the dops.digital, but probably there is a way to do something about it.
✍Can’t believe it – the ******** announced today that with the current company leverage they are going to shift for long-term projects, and give away all the rest! Meaning, there are plenty of 3-6 months potential designs to be created, and winning the tender = getting a new customer on board.
New year, new opportunities, and more than a handful! That excitement will drive more than one sleepless night.
✍On that project giveaway – today the qualifications rules were published. Documentation, estimates, design concepts… there are several steps to pass, and more than 200 other agencies to compete against. This amount of work usually takes two weeks, but this time the deadline is in two days!
Sorry, Diary, it’s time to get to it. We’ll meet again if dops.digital survives that crazy crunch.
✍Top 10, TOP 10 in the partnership program! Can you believe it? Well, the quality speaks for itself, doesn’t it!
Now the hustle begins. Thanks to the ********‘s exhaustive selection process (can’t blame them, picking out potential vendors for customers should require a thorough “face-control”) many projects are already in a “burning” state of emergency. So, no time to rest, there might be the right customer longing for the right solution ASAP right now as these words are written. We are going to apply to every tender with a fair budget and requirements for motion animation web design, 3D graphics, and custom website development.
✍It’s getting so weird. At first, it felt like these customers out there are actively looking for design services to do the job, and obviously, not all of them are dops.digital potential clients… but still, shouldn’t they be interested in having a video meeting, see the web designers, ask the questions, establish the project pillars?
Reaching out several times it’s the same answer again and again – send us your project estimate, then we will talk. Ok, Google, project estimation it is. Have to get it right. But it is incredibly hard to get it right without meeting the business representatives first.
✍Many polite business letters, many declines. It’s not the end. But it would be great to start a new web design project instead of yet another project estimate template.
✍Finally, it’s a match! The name is Nuage, a new line of women hygiene products. They don’t have a website at all, and in a week they expect to see a design concept. Not much time to learn everything about this market niche, but with the utmost dops.digital creative effort it is going to be absolutely the best offering they ever saw.
✍The first milestone on the tender highway. The final documentation and design-concept video for Nuage got the approval, meaning dops.digital got the project. Now the fun part starts – making routine, unglorified products feel classy and desirable. A challenge? You bet. But the glossy animated 3D models with soft lightning and iconic fonts are exactly the right tools for that.
✍If dops.digital had a business card it would say “Don’t follow the trends, don’t serve the temporary rules”. The customer wants to have the look that will stay fresh and catchy for years from now. That demands a playful experiment or valiant exploration.
Remember those 3D animations? Sometimes it feels like you can almost touch them within monitor depth. It is mesmerizing. The clients love it, too.
✍The Nuage project turned out to be a huge success, and they confessed that they picked dops.digital for unparalleled preparation. All that enhances our confidence a great deal. Moving forward the rule of thumb is to filter the available tenders not only for the fitting budget and design approach but the chance of winning, to spare the resources for a concentrated effort and a killing video presentation. Only participate in a tender if you feel you have better than a good – a great chance to win. Meanwhile, applying to a dozen other tenders – all with enormous potential to become great new customers.
✍Another win, getting almost used to it (chuckle). International corporation DMG wants us to redesign an old template website. They also have a foot in design, working on expo exteriors and trade shows, and work with customers spread all over the world – just like us.
✍Just got through a predicament with the DMG project. The design concept was approved by pretty much everyone on the management team – except CEO, who, as we found out weeks in development, had his original design ideas but also a hard time explaining them. It took three attempts to chime into those implicit aesthetics. The real pride is in satisfying the most challenging client.
✍A new tender, and this one is a real story. The company is Proximity (the name doesn’t ring a bell, really), they offer payment two months after the project is finished, and expect three months scope of work to be completed in just one. Sketchy… Looking closer though, they drive a marketing advertisement initiative dedicated to the World Cup for VISA, FIFA, and BBDO – big players. It is an incredible opportunity and achievable – if we work with no holidays and day-offs. The budget above the market average is motivating, too.
✍The impossible 24 hours to prepare documentation, relevant ideas, and vision for the design concept just finished. And the effort paid off! While all the other participants provided is just a project estimate and pdf presentation, dops.digital got a moment of glory bringing a creative one-minute video. Why video? Because the static image of the website layout just doesn’t cut it. When the business owners saw how the website would interact with a user and how the design will work they were absolutely compelled.
Now to the legal, technical, and branding issues. Dops.digital never worked with a fish that big before, and the responsibility of the project on that scale just starts to settle in our heads.
✍28 business trips in three months. No day-offs for anyone. Design approval rounds from London to Singapore. The website structure and appearance majorly changed more than three times, while already approved web pages are in simultaneous development.
The tricky part is to connect the website to the VISA API. This is quite serious – the banking services’ reliability is now tied closely to the web design. And the PR campaign is already active on social media but would have no effect if the website isn’t functional.
✍After many attempts and a handful of mistakes, it’s launch time. 00:00 sharp – it’s out in the world. Wonder what could go wrong now...
✍The day after launch no one could believe the crunch streak was actually over. And then the user feedback data started to pour in. There are hundreds of visitors. The site has very simple features: any buyer, while shopping in the supermarket, can pay for their goods with a VISA card, then scan a QR code on the website and enter a prize lottery. Again and again. The next two months will be dedicated to supporting and monitoring that process and learning first-hand.
✍The FIFA & VISA campaign is over and the result is... stunning. Millions of visitors have converted into the hundreds of thousands of registered users and, as a result, into thousands of prize winners (a few lucky ones even got custom name T-shirts and tickets to FIFA World Cup finals). And not to disclose any sensitive data even within this diary, but total revenue for three customer companies from this campaign could be millions of dollars. That’s thrilling – seeing the design in action, brought to life by our effort and making the palpable difference for the business.
THE END of dops.digital diary part dedicated to gambling the tenders
✍The money from that tender adventure for the World Cup project bought a new, seven times larger dops.digital office. The experience from it, though – it’s hard to put a price tag on that.
Still amazed by how coherent and streamlined the processes are at these large companies, while they operate in at least eight different world corners. Proud of the fact that dops.digital is implementing their best practices in daily work.
It has been a wild year of chasing, winning, and completing the tender commissions. Probably gotta stop for a while now, engage in finding new web design clients from the other sources, write several blog posts, grow the team, finish office kitchen renovations. But participation in those tenders helped us to grow into a mature company in a relatively short period. We managed to jump over the psychological barrier and set up a fair price for our high-quality design services. It was a hands-on practice of working in critical conditions and creating premium digital products within very short timelines.
Participating in tenders is an extremely demanding but effective path to scaling. While it's not a stable, reliable, or long-lasting vector to grow, it does shift the perspective and makes one look at the web design business from a different, unusual angle. Coming to think about it, that responsibility and stress give an enormous impulse to improve internal design processes and to make them work truly efficiently.