Then & Now #3

Great design does not happen in a vacuum. It’s the result of the collaborative process we rely upon at Shelter, and it involves our clients in every step of the project they hire us to complete.

As we wrap up our examination of the ways in which technology is transforming how we work and the tools we use, the ongoing dialog between client and designer should not be overlooked. This communication is at the heart of the creative process that ensures our designs have a higher and more sophisticated value for clients than the cookie-cutter solutions offered elsewhere.


Because client input is such an important part of how we work, new technological tools that allow us to communicate more easily, but also on a more sophisticated level, have been hugely beneficial. Gone are the days of fax machines (remember those) or documents sent by snail mail – subject to the whims of the weather and the post office.


Today, we can work from anywhere and we’re always in touch. You’ve seen how smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the world around you (and we can debate the merits of living a constantly connected world another time), but there’s no denying these new tools provide us an entirely new level of contact with our clients.

For example, we are now able to share new information, even on issues that require explanation using drawings or schematics, quickly and efficiently. Hurdles which would have slowed progress in the past are now easily overcome, and projects continue moving quickly forward.

One of the tools we use to do this is called Basecamp. It is a unique project-collaboration tool that is Web-based – meaning there’s nothing for clients to download or install. It offers file sharing, time-tracking and milestone management, all with a messaging system that lets everyone know when action is required.


We also use Dropbox. It lets users create a special folder on each of their computers that it then syncs so each person can access files through the shared folder, which is hosted on a cloud server. Showing clients a small design change is now as simple as placing the new file in the folder where they can view it moments later if they wish.


When sharing information becomes that simple, we can work more closely with our clients than ever before and use their input to fine-tune projects in ways that would not have been practical, or possible, even a decade ago.

Where we’ll be 10 years from now is anyone’s guess, but the technological pace is only quickening. And, while we don’t believe in change for change’s sake, when doing things differently helps us do them better, we’re not afraid to try something new.


Technology is a means to an end. When great design is the result, we’ll use all the technology at our disposal to achieve it.

Over and out from your friends at Shelter.

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