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Newmark Website

Project Overview

I had the pleasure of working with Newmark Realty Capital, Inc. from initial meetings as new client through me tenure at Looking. Initial assignments, a more traditional, branding, pitchbooks, ads. When the push came from an internal group to refresh their corporate website from a few years prior, I was excited for the challenge.

One of the key catalyst for the redesign was how figure out to express what it is Newmark does as commercial mortgage bankers. Other drivers were that the company wanted convey a larger presence. On the old website all producers and support staff were listed only by regional office, making the company feel like a connection of franchises.

We attended a company-wide retreat in Southern California, and the need to speak as a cohesive organization came up. The new identity, elevated the brand to speak as a single word operation “Newmark”, and had a new financial pedigree, something inspired by the timelessness and simplicity of Geismar’s 50 year old Chase symbol. With a “new mark”, literally, we set off to help redesign their company website.

Discovery

Design Tangent

More than any project I worked on while at Looking, Newmark’s lead team for the website had true confidence in our thinking, hearing us out regarding how to visually convey what they did as a company and stand out in a field of financial consultancies. While the concept was eventually toned-down before launch, I give them eternal kudos for their faith in us.

early brand identity presentation
As mentioned, I had the priviledge of working their current identity. Here is some iteration process up on the wall at Looking.

Newmark manages risk. They have a big team of producers who assess along their vertical expertise (storage, commercial, etc.), real estate market opportunities and dangers for buyer and seller. Markets go up and go down. Similarly, decisions are made based on data, but even with such insights there is a layer of the “art of the deal”. Newmark encapsulates both. Their symbol is essentially two hands coming together.

At a visual level, with philosophical input from Newmark, came up with a concept whereby paper represented data, and the artistic photography of paper represented this “art of the deal” and the clarity of a given perspective. Bold construction paper colors were brought into the design, and we set up a shoot to bring it to life.

pic from paper photo shoot
Two masters at their craft at the photoshoot.

The homepage was a rotation of these beautiful paper ribbon images that you can see on the Looking website here. We worked with Andy Engel who was masterful with paper scenarios, and Don Miller who set up shots on a giant custom light table with a variable strobe in his studio. Some paper had shadow, some had reflection, all captured the energy of markets going up and down.

Interviews & Insights

In interviews with the client, we discovered that the website is a huge communication tool for producers. Producers use the web as a marketing tool, almost like an online business card, where they can share their latest transactions with potential clients. With a current site that relied on conveying data through antiquated tables, we decided to play with the card idea.

Observations & Hypothesis

Showing Yourself Larger Than You Are

It is dangerous, to do so, moreso on the web. You risk hyperbole, false advertising even. On a website with a financial company it can be devestating

The original site introduced you to the company’s production team by having you click on one of eight office branches. The branches were listed as buttons, so the user experience was browse only, and users had to dig through eight separate page loads to browse producers.

Enter Cards + Isotope

In the design we listed all of the producers together in a single grid. Then employing filters through Isotope, all producers were shown as one, but a user could drill down by region or office. More importantly, the main visual was a wall of 50-some producers instead of eight navigational items. Here is a demo.

Asynchronous Searching

To help producers use the transaction page as a quick resource, we replaced a reverse-chronological table of all transactions with a grid of transaction cards. All transactions were tagged by location, type, officer, etc. Combining a custom asynchronous search with masonry (to reshuffle results responsively), we ended up with a nimbler searching vehicle. Below is a sample of functionality.

Iterations

The homepage was modified from a stately fade-in of the above ribbon imagery to a single-scrolling page that described the company, their services, current rates, lender partners, and contact information. Here offices could be listed by tab, saving a page load per click.

single producer landing page
Individual producer landing page. Note the handy URL for sharing.

Finally, we made sure each producer had their own landing page for marketing. Each producer had a page that listed bio, transactions, and any links to resources on their page.

Terminus

Launched Website

Click to see the site

The build was done in Wordpress, which allowed us to do two things.

  1. Their previous site was locked up in some proprietary ASP CMS, which was a minor reason for a redesign. We implemented Wordpress so they had ultimate freedom to develop onward as they please.
  2. All data could be relational without being overly complicated. A producer’s phone number could change, and it need be updated in one location. When a new transaction is entered it automatically shows in the respective producer’s individual feed, etc.

While the bold conceptual ribbon was too far for their board to approve use, it did make artwork for some large framed prints in their offices.

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