From the Admin Team

Mar 11, 2019

So, What Would You Say It Is You Do Here?

By Ben Meszaros

You know the story. You go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and you brace yourself for the bombardment of questions from distant relatives asking just what a designer actually does.

"So you draw pretty pictures all day? Can you make a website for my dentist's cat? Uncle Burt and I aren't on speaking terms anymore, can you photoshop him out of this year's Christmas card?"

Explaining just what we do well at Underbelly can be just as challenging sometimes. We want to be clear about our value proposition, but we also want to avoid terminology that is potentially alienating because it requires in-depth industry knowledge to understand.

For instance, when asked this last Christmas by a relative what it is we do at Underbelly, I just said screw it and replied:

"We use a series of design processes to identify problems and provide solutions, primarily for mid-large size tech companies like Netflix and Facebook, through well-validated research and user-testing in a way that provides tangible, measurable results. We build those solutions in a modern and scalable way, sometimes leveraging React JS for the front-end work, and then follow up with those clients to make sure our prescribed solutions provided the results we were shooting for. Lastly, we try to learn as much about what our shipped work is doing for our clients through a deep dive into their analytics and make changes to ensure our work delivers the impact we promised the client."

When I got a blank stare as a response - and rightfully so because most of those words mean absolutely nothing to 99.9% of the general population - I tried a different approach:

"We are the people who make sure the apps and websites you love are easy to use. If you've ever made an ad for your hair salon on Facebook, you've used our work."

"Ohhhhhh!" my relative responded, "I get it. Well, can you show me how to make an Instagram?" Why yes Uncle Bob, I can.

The point here is that it can often be much easier to explain what we do, and most importantly what our greatest strengths are, by using real examples of our work that you've likely used in your day to day life. So, for the uninitiated, here are a few recent pieces of our work that exist in the real world that will help you understand just what we do well at Underbelly.

Boosted Boards

If you've bought a Boosted Board, or if (like me) you've just stared at their site wishing you had one, you've used our work. We handled all of the development work, and partnered with the fantastic design team at Boosted, to build the newest version of their site. We've been collaborating with that team for over a year now, and we've done everything from building limited time online contests to completely overhauling the store. We also worked feverishly to get things up and running again when Casey Neistat accidentally broke the site by giving it a big internet hug.

So if you're currently cruising down the streets of SF on the greatest electric board ever conceived by human-kind, then chances are you've used our work.

Chatbooks

If you bought a Chatbook this last holiday season to commemorate and share the past year's memories, chances are you saw our work. We worked with Chatbooks to create promotional holiday content for their services last year, developing an approach to combine live action shots of beautiful, real family moments with a seamless visual effect. The result was a series of unique cinemagraphs to promote Chatbooks' seasonal books and launch their brand new holiday card products.

Also, if you were one of the folks who had to wait to order your Chatbook because their site crashed when we launched the campaign, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. ;)

Facebook

If you've ever created an ad on Facebook, chances are you've used our work. We've worked with Facebook to improve many ads products and services over the last few years, in some cases making small changes to optimize complicated flows and in other cases exploring all new ad types to leverage modern mobile devices. We started out improving "Carousel Ads," which at the time were a new ad format that has since become a ubiquitous ad type that nearly every other product with a feed has copied.

If you've used the Facebook core app to create a Story, you've probably used our work as well. Stories are one of the most important and highest priority products for Facebook this year. We took a decentralized design system and created a consistent library of components so that the many teams needing to build into that product are set up for success. As a result of our work, you should have a much cleaner and more consistent experience on Facebook when you create a Story there.