The Value and Interest of Internal Studio Projects

A thought piece by Nicolas Rajabaly, CCO & Co Founder.

Internal studio projects have long served as a playground for exploring new ideas and showcasing our capabilities. For several years, our annual tradition of creating unique digital greeting cards captivated both the team and followers of our work. Internal projects like Nomadic Tribe, released in 2019, really put us on the global map and received accolades like ‘Site of the Year’ from both FWA and Awwwards. This recognition not only validated our creative talents but also elevated our standing in the industry, boosting our visibility and reputation.

For Antoine, Greg, Sarah and I, one of the primary benefits of making space for internal studio projects at makemepulse, is to give our teams the freedom to push the boundaries of creativity. These projects provide a space for the team to experiment with novel concepts, techniques, and technologies: to imagine beyond the boundaries. This creative exploration often leads to the development of unique and groundbreaking work.

These projects serve a crucial purpose in strengthening team cohesion and fostering unity. They create an avenue for team members to collaborate towards a shared vision, exchange expertise, and provide support in a nurturing environment. However, it's important to note that not everything always goes perfectly, and these projects can sometimes present challenges that wouldn't arise with client work.

In our upcoming studio project, due to be released next week, an example of this would be the treatment of the cursor - it’s definitely one of the most complex components of the experience. To not overload the screen and break users' immersion in our story, we really wanted to have a minimalist approach regarding the interface. We wanted the cursor to let you understand how the interaction would work, along with the steps or gradations you are invited to discover by holding, whilst also telling you when you have to wait and really listen to the story. With such an important role in guiding and pacing the narrative, I think we probably had a dozen versions of every single cursor state before landing on the ones we agreed were the very best for the user experience.

In these moments however, we find that the team rallies together, finding solutions, regaining motivation, and pushing the project even further. Everyone contributes their energy and talent: the tiredness can still hit, the response is different, but we all share such a great sense of pride in crafting these projects - they are our most personal endeavors. Pursuits like these reconfirm our confidence in our role as creative partners: resilience, problem-solving and optimism are often overlooked qualities in a production partner.

We approach internal projects as enduring works of art, aimed at remaining immutably on the web. These projects are not tied to any marketing objectives but rather serve as a reflection of our expertise, imagination and creativity. Additionally, we use these projects as opportunities to share a brief digital interlude with our clients, allowing them to savor the experience and the time spent engaging with our creations.

These projects also serve as a testing ground for ideas and approaches that can later be applied to client work. By tackling self-initiated projects, we gain valuable insights into emerging trends, tools, and methodologies, enhancing our ability to deliver high-quality solutions to clients. For instance, we've recently been exploring the ability of sound, dialog and voiceover more deeply. In our upcoming studio project, we know that some narrative parts of the journey would be considered as too long for a traditional web experience, but we’re keen to learn more about drop off and push to see how our storytelling, elevated with a more sophisticated and emotional audio treatment than we’ve invested in before, might encourage users to stay and explore a little longer. These projects help us identify and address potential challenges in a low-risk environment, ultimately improving our problem-solving skills and adaptability. This experience can then be leveraged to optimize client projects and ensure the most successful outcomes for them.

Each release of an internal studio project marks a significant moment for the team at makemepulse. There's an undeniable buzz of excitement as we prepare to unveil our latest creation to the world. Anticipation runs high as we eagerly await the response from the community. Will our project resonate with audiences? Will it garner attention and praise? The moments leading up to the release are filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement, not unlike the anticipation before a performance! Sometimes, the reception exceeds our wildest expectations, as was the case with our 2016 greeting card (that is still online In an unexpected turn of events, Reddit discovered and embraced the project, catapulting it into the spotlight and attracting over 500,000 visitors organically. Such moments not only validate our efforts but also serve as a testament to the power of creativity and community engagement. I’ll wait with baited breath to see what happens this time!

In our latest internal project, titled Kaizen, the team has truly poured their passion and energy into creating a poetic and immersive experience. This project embodies the spirit of continuous improvement and self-reflection, as the team pushes their creative boundaries and strives for excellence. For us it’s a testament to the power of internal studio projects in fostering growth, innovation, and collaboration at makemepulse. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away". Stay tuned for the release of Kaizen next week, we can't wait to share it with you.