Assignment: New business cards for our staff.

Goals: A clean, professional, and friendly design with room to write on. (People like to make notes on business cards — namely, when and where they met that person.)

Process: After several iterations — I’ll post ’em in the full case study later on — we arrived at a minimalist, two-color design. What’s most striking, perhaps, is the front side doesn’t actually say “Four Kitchens.” Instead, we opted to show only the logo and slogan to create a sense of mystery: “What’s this all about? Who makes big websites? Who are these people?” Simply flipping over the card reveals the answer.

To create a friendly, informal tone and demonstrate our sense of humor, we have the logo “speaking” our slogan, as if to say: “Hi! Nice to meet you. I like you. Let’s hang out!” Just like I do in real life.

The back of the card displays three important chunks of information, the placement and design of which each tell a story about our company.

First, the employee’s name and contact information is placed above the company’s. Each of our web chefs posses unique and invaluable skills. Everyone here contributes to the direction of each project, both internal and client-driven.

Second, each card includes GPL and Creative Commons watermarks. Open-source development and collaborative culture are central to our business model. We do not work with closed-source software, and we contractually obligate our clients to license our work under the GPL and similar licenses.

Third, each card reflects the web chef’s personality. When designing the cards, we asked each chef to choose four areas of professional and personal interest and created a set of icons that symbolized each.

Robbie, for example, is really into tuning his car. (He’s installed a supercharger, added USB hookups to tune the onboard computer, and has all kinds of extra gauges to monitor… whatever.) So we made him an engine icon. I, however, have a much more reasonable and interesting hobby: reading and writing. So I made myself a pilcrow.

Aaron likes rock climbing. Shannon Lucas likes SCIENCE! You get the idea.

By placing these icons in talk bubbles to the right of each web chef’s name, the cards seem to say: “This is what I’m good at, and this is what motivates me.” These cards communicate so much more than simple phone numbers and email addresses. (How boring!)

Here’s the entire set: