Nestled in Dublin, Ireland, the design agency Hidden Depth was started by Dave Meier in 2007. He had one goal in mind: To create an agency that focused on the end user over the designer or the client. Ahead of the curve (to think, the first iPhone was released in 2007), this focus on user experience and design has brought Hidden Depth’s sleek and efficient design recognition beyond its native Ireland.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I came from the sales and advertising world with a digital media company. For me, the big thing that was lacking in most digital advertising was good, smart design. Everything was very much “selling at” people rather than resonating with them. I love connecting with people and understanding how they think.
In terms of branding, everything we do reflects who we are as people. We don’t buy cars just because of the price tag or the miles to the gallon, we also buy them because of the brand’s personality and what it says about us. So when we started Hidden Depth in 2007, the entire focus was on the end user. We thought that if people found our work beautiful, interesting, and easy to use, they would use it more often, and, in turn, it would make the client’s brand better in their eyes.
When you boil things down to being as simple as possible, there is no hiding place for poor design or usability.
When it came to designing your website, what sort of aesthetic and feel were you shooting for?
Confidence and passion. Nobody really cares about our logo or branding, they care about what we do and why we do it. The Hidden Depth branding takes a back seat to allow our work to shine through. We are lucky to have a strong catalogue of work established already, so we allow it to do the talking for us.
Our about page briefly explains “our process” to reassure the customer that we know what we are doing and can repeat it again and again. The contact page intentionally does not feature a contact form (surprisingly, removing the form increased leads). This subtle tweak actually makes it slightly harder to get in touch with us. We always want what we can’t have. Sometimes, making things easier for people can portray you as wanting to work with everybody and anybody. In turn, we are highly selective in choosing our clients; in fact, we turn down more jobs than we take on.
What sort of aesthetic do you strive for in your work?
Clean and simple. We see too many overly designed websites out there. We create designs but then spend a lot of time discussing how to make them simpler, how to remove elements but keep functionality. When you boil things down to being as simple as possible, there is no hiding place for poor design or usability.
Does Hidden Depth ascribe to a specific workflow process?
We break every project down into Sprints. These are one to two week highly focused bursts of work. We’ve found this helps sustain momentum in a project that may last a number of months and be more accurate about timelines for ourselves and the client.
We use Basecamp for project management and InVision for design feedback.
Generally, most projects start with us helping our client create their own Brand Persona and profile their ideal customers with Buyer Personas. These become our barometer for all work we carry out. It also removes personal opinion from projects and becomes more about “does this resonate with our brand persona?” or “does this help persona #1?”
A big part of our work is getting inside the mind of the customer. We buy magazines they would read, look at the advertising they are already exposed to, and understand what appeals to them and what does not.
If there’s one thing people should know about Hidden Depth, what would it be?
The quote at the top of our portfolio page states “Great design will not sell an inferior product, but it will enable a great product to achieve its maximum potential.” In other words, we are confident of who we are and the type of people we want to work with. There are various quotations around the site (and within a lot of our customer touchpoints) that we feel fit the ethos behind Hidden Depth: our passion for doing something right.