new design firm website! Any thoughts?


We are a uk based design firm that was start by a small group of design graduates from Coventry University in 2008. We have just launched our new website and thought we’d test it out against the refined tastes of the core 77 reading design community.

Please provide your very honest critique and don’t hold back!!

gnu design {designu}

My first impression was that it took me a second to process everything that was happening on the page. The center 3D navigation tool is a cool eye catcher but not very useful. It makes you want to sit there all day until you can find a way to click on the images all the way at the back. Really just pisses you off after awhile. I can’t seem to figure out what the logo is but my first impression was a uterus or a disected chicken. Kind of turns you off initially. Also I don’t see any reason to have your contact info displayed twice on your home page. It is at the top and also at the bottom. I would just get rid of it at the top and leave it at the bottom, the info at the top is distracting. The portfolio page is a pretty cool idea but if I were a client I would want to see more. Well you wanted it honest so there it is. Wish you great success and luck.

fwiw, I think the logo is a “GNU” :bulb: (it’s an animal, like a wildebeest)


everything moves and most of the pages don’t fit on my pretty decent res 15" MacBook Pro screen (not that they always should, but the design makes me feel like they should).

Interesting though… just a little over-excitable.

I agree. This seems to be one of those just because you can do it does not mean you should. I am a big fan of very simple and easily navigated websites. I go a bit frustrated with this one and ended up closing without going to deep into it.

I liked playing with the central interface when I first realized what was going on, but I did not being able to click the cool illustrations in the back… maybe you could improve the navigation there, or have a little “skip intro” button?

Logo is very strange to me too… you should refine that for sure

Overall navigation works for me, though you might want to go to image chips rather than web text… they seemed to render a little pixelated.

“about” and “process” are alright. The title’s for the process seem a little busy with all the text before the key words (in the pop up parts)

Portfolio doesn’t deliver… I wanted to see amazing stuff and good amounts of it. Pictures weren’t loading and the one that did loaded very slow and was a single image.

News didn’t load.

Overall it seemed like a good start, but you might want to add more “meat” too it, refine some of the details, and make sure all the links are working

i agree with all the previous posts, all good points you should consider. the one thing overall is the lack of a consistent information design between the pages. you go from the 3d environment, to info on grey squares, to the gallery o’products shots (which i actually like), to square menu items (on the portfolio page), to round menu items (like on the process page). i guess i will reiterate the thing about the overall height of the pages. i am usiung a 1280x800 screen. not very designery of me, i know, but think of your clients, they could be on lower res formats. Unless you go with a vertically scrolling format intentionally, nothing wrong there, but if you try to use a “main screen” concept you need to thin it out.
i commend your openess for opinions etc, honesty like that will serve you well! good luck!

waaay overdone, IMHO. whole lot of flash and sizzle and very little meat. Browsed around for a bit and likewise closed the site before seeing everything.

3d interface doesn’t do anything, portfolio pages have a whole different unclear navigation (when you get the single image that has a bunch of product in it, it isn’t clear that you can mouse-over them for more info), and process tells me nothing and doesn’t show any process. BTW in your whole 7p process, how is that you don’t have a single stage for design? You go from proposal to prototype with nothing in between yet have 5 steps just to get to the proposal? doesn’t seem to make much sense… sounds like clients are paying for 6 steps of BS and one step (if any) of actual design.

Iit reads as a whole bunch of student work with no real experience and little to attract potential clients. (speaking of which, you list two universities as clients - did you really work for them, or is that where you went to school). But also overall has a feel that you are trying to trick people into thinking you’ve done more than you actually have.

At this point for a new studio, I think you would be better off being more forthcoming in who/what you are and what you’ve done. Don’t try to look like a big fancy established studio. Show some process, and some depth of thinking and resolution in you designs, and make-up for lack of real experience by showing a lot of depth in the school projects you do have.

So far, it all just comes of as pretentious and fake. from your about “gnu’s user research is acclaimed by many” ?? Such as who? Personally, I’d rather see a straight blog, with tons of sketches and info on the thinking and process in a project than few shiny renders of fake products. but maybe that’s just me.

sorry if it comes off harsh, but you asked for critical review :slight_smile:



I like Gnu as a play on new. It’s catchy, but the logo is a bit hard to lok at, especially because everything else is visually clean, and that is very detailed.

I think the words and the pictures don’t tell the same story. The talk seems a little cut and paste general about branding, strategic design, process, and product. The work is about CAD… also the BMW CAD model says z3, but it is a z4. Was it called Z3 in the UK? The white car is not nearly as resolved, says you can’t tell me abut it, but I can see it?

I give you huge credit for throwing it out there to get feedback, not an easy thing. It might read tough, but you are among colleagues here.

How did the firm form?

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your feedback to date and we have taken every point on board. We formed after the university asked me [James] to work on some live projects while studying the final year of my undergraduate masters. After graduation the contracts kept coming in and through word of mouth I had a steady increase in clients, which is when I joined up with some guys I studied with and have known since I was 11. Since then we have been recognised at local business awards, were in profit after a month, and grounded ourselves in some new offices and a studio. We are a serious team that have all studied a postgraduate certificate in business enterprise (with distinction) since finishing our degrees rather than a group of naive graduates which seems to be what the site has implied. We may have been a year ago but entering industry as a new firm you learn very quickly. We hope our opening up to this process in its self communicates this.

It is very true that we were like kids in a candy store when it came to many of the effects on the site as I have taught myself flash and dreamweaver to construct it after a few broken evenings of work. The busy nature of the site is being remedied as I type.

With regards to the logo, “my first impression was a uterus or a disected chicken” is enough to make us change that as well.

Both the universities were, and are, clients. There may be points of miscommunication on the website that we want to iron out through this process, but there are certainly no lies.

Our research is aclaimed by many including both our clients in industry and academia, but in the context of this forum, the most reputable would be 2 fellows of the Royal Society of the Arts and a member of the Design Research Society.

We obviously need to change the site impression that we’re trying to claim we have done more than we really have, and show that we really have done a lot of work on live projects. We’ll get a blog up and running discussing and showing the design thinking and processes within our projects.

To save this being a long list of ‘yes we agree’ we will leave the message at that for now. Again, thank you for your time, and we look forward to the next wave of onslaught. Constructive criticism is always welcomed otherwise we wouldn’t be in an industry that always strives to be at the cutting edge by definition. Please look for the new discussion when we are done.

Best regards and thanks again (might have typed that to many times but we mean it so…),

James - gnu design {designu}

I’d recommend a proof read. Your latest post reads like it came fresh out of google translate…
Haven’t checked the website yet but good copy is important.

Just curious, what is an “undergraduate masters”?