At Xandra, this is what design means to us.

Illustration: Madeline Rawlings

Illustration: Madeline Rawlings

By Madeline Rawlings.

As a tech agency that identifies ourselves as ‘design led’ I think it’s important to clarify why we can claim this title and what it all means to us. First and foremost, it doesn’t mean we privilege everyone with the word ‘designer’ in their title. It means recognizing that everyone who makes a decision at Xandra is ultimately contributing to the act of design. After all isn’t design, at its most raw, the action of giving form to the yet-to-exist?

Beyond that, design to us means communicating with a purpose. That doesn’t just include copy. Or graphics. Or UX. It’s the whole picture — and more. Every touch point and minor detail is an opportunity to stand alone as a creative and proud reflection of the Xandra brand.

These ‘details’ surpass how something looks. We see it as a process-oriented artistic approach — similar to that of Bauhaus — that involves bringing ideas to life while connecting it to a higher purpose every step of the way. Therefore, we ensure each decision is intentional and driven by a stronger motivation. Because everything we see has been designed by someone and it’s the careful consideration during the creative process that separates the great from the good.

Bauhaus, approaching its centenary as a movement, heavily influences our creative values and processes. Beginning in 1919, Bauhaus was a massive shift against the artistic standards of the time. Its founders — Walter Gropius and his creative counterparts — aspired to more closely unite the arts and craft with technology while removing all unnecessary distractions. Instead it favored simplified forms, rationality, functionality and the idea that mass production and artistic flair should be used collectively. At Xandra we identify with the minimal approach to design and the stance that ‘industrial methods are used for the betterment of social conditions’. We believe we live in a time where humanity relies on more technology, and technology needs more humanity.

Being deliberate with our efforts for quality design allows brand personality — both ours and our client’s — to shine through. This is why we focus our efforts into designing personas so our team understands the common goal and overall tone when communicating — no matter the form. We believe quality design is refined and inclusive — only made possible by collaboration. We see design as a way to craft more meaningful outcomes. This has allowed us to differentiate ourselves by unifying art with technology to push boundaries in creative communication.

Whether we are showcasing our own brand or collaborating with a client, everything we do is aimed to reflect our purpose of bringing more humanity to technology. In a digital environment this means creating a strong message and rich experience that goes beyond a screen. That’s why the details matter, because strategic collaboration of all the elements (physical environment, intended use, context, tone, functionality, sizing, composition, color, etc.) can determine the overall effectiveness. This is what fascinates us.

Impactful and thoughtful design isn’t about being in your face. It’s about being creative connoisseurs — constantly and cleverly taking advantage of subtle opportunities to surprise and delight. For us, this could be in the way we craft the dialog for a bot in a conversational interface to showcase a quirk of the brand’s personality. Or even the way in a simple, visual illustration we angle, color and position a graphic in comparison with the typography to show a hierarchy and guide the flow of a viewer.

Being design led isn’t something you turn off and on. It’s a constant frame of mind ingrained at every step of the process and involves taking full ownership of every decision you make. If you don’t mean it, don’t ship it.

By thinking beyond the conventional we see design as a celebration of our brand and the individuals behind it. It’s an alternative way of saying who we are without literally ‘saying’ it.

As a conversation design agency, ‘design’ is such a broad term that covers so much of what we do and who we are. And doing it right means we’re strengthening relationships, reinforcing brand identities and creating more meaningful connections between people and the technology they interact with daily.


Madeline Rawlings