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Case Study
At Play creative

How Gary Cut a 4 Month Project Down To Just 4 Weeks!

A chat with:
Gary Smith
Brand Strategist and Creative Director - At Play Creative
ABOUT
For this Emmy-nominated creative services agency, At Play is much more than simply a name. For us, play is serious business. We construct interactive web applications, creative marketing solutions and rich media experiences that are functional, fluid and fun. Our client list includes powerhouses like Microsoft, Nissan, Infinity, ABC Family, SoapNet, Adidas and Disney; as well as innovative start-ups searching for dynamic, distinctive branding and elegant utility.
LOCATION
Pasadena, CA
INDUSTRY
Digital Media and Design, Motion Graphics, Branding and rich media advertising., Site Design and Development, Concept Development, Marketing, Advertising, and Video Production
Company Size
2-10
Ready to get started?
ABOUT
For this Emmy-nominated creative services agency, At Play is much more than simply a name. For us, play is serious business. We construct interactive web applications, creative marketing solutions and rich media experiences that are functional, fluid and fun. Our client list includes powerhouses like Microsoft, Nissan, Infinity, ABC Family, SoapNet, Adidas and Disney; as well as innovative start-ups searching for dynamic, distinctive branding and elegant utility.
LOCATION
Pasadena, CA
INDUSTRY
Digital Media and Design, Motion Graphics, Branding and rich media advertising., Site Design and Development, Concept Development, Marketing, Advertising, and Video Production
Company Size
2-10
Ready to get started?

“Imagine if every time you spoke to a client, you had 100% clarity on what they were saying – without them needing to be specific. This is how my day-to-day life is now.”

Gary started out as a designer in the early 2000s and became a Creative Director while working for a large design agency.

Realizing he had the experience and knowledge, he decided it was time to start his own agency in 2007, At Play Creative. Today, they are now working with pretty big and impressive clients, such as DC Heroes, Disney, and Hasbro.

He’s been working with some clients for as long as 12 years, so speaking with him was super interesting.

How Did Gary Approach Web Design Before Atarim?

“Chaos, some clients don’t even believe in subject lines…”

Going through how Gary approached projects was very interesting, because it was almost identical to how I used to go about it during my early design agency days.

As he was delivering projects to corporate clients, he was usually dealing with a project manager or CEO. This meant that, for most of the time – especially at the beginning of a project – he and his team were forced to drive 20-30 minutes to their offices for face to face meetings.

Or even worse, they would have to fly to a different city, just for an hour’s meeting.

Then, inevitably, a back-and-forth email chain with hundreds and hundreds of emails started…

The GIF above is pretty much how Gary’s office felt when client emails started rolling in.

The worst thing about it was that most of these emails were redundant. 

  • Clients sending texts at 6am.
  • Clients sending emails about random different things.
  • Clients sending 3 different emails to speak about one subject – sometimes not even including subject lines.
 

He then moved over to Basecamp to try to organize these emails in some way, to make it easier to find all of the fragmented information. But this actually made it worse, as it was taking up more time.

Now, that all sounds crazy, right? But we bet you’re feeling a similar pain.

Gary started accepting this as a part of business, believing that’s “just how it is.” We’re here to show you that, no, it’s not how it has to be.

And he hits on the head with this:

“If the project is to design and build a functioning and efficient website, shouldn’t most of the time be spent designing and building that website while talking to your clients? Instead, 50% of the time is spent on how to talk about designing and building the website!” 

And whatever agency Gary has worked for over the last two decades, even the best and biggest, fragmentation is ALWAYS there. So much so that they hire people whose job is only to make sure fragmentation is not happening.

How Has Atarim Changed Gary’s Agency?

Gary originally heard of us in a Facebook group, where he was recommended our tool by a friend. He bought a plan very early on actually – quite quickly after we launched.

But, it took him almost a year to start implementing Atarim. When he first dived in, it was all very new and different. Understandable, bad habits die hard, and using email to communicate with clients is one of the worst habits out there.

We’re all creatures of habit, and that extends to our clients 100%. 

It can be difficult to cut ties with a familiar platform, or comfortable method of doing something, especially if you’ve been doing it for the last 20 years. At the time, Gary had massive clients that were big enough to influence how he was operating, and this meant if they didn’t want to learn a new tool, that was that.

Now, though, he introduces Atarim like this:

“I’ve installed a new feature on your site, to make it much easier for you to communicate with me…”

Today, they literally don’t even want to send emails anymore.

He is no longer chasing information from his clients in an email that might have no subject line, or a message buried deep within a thread in Basecamp, on Trello, or even a text message…

Instead, he leverages the power of Atarim, ensuring all communications are organized in a dedicated, shared inbox, with easy-to-use filters for either specific projects or clients.

For the client, it’s much easier than using email! They literally point at the part of the web page they want to comment on, click, and then write a note right there and then.

As soon as they’ve done that, an email pops through in your shared inbox, and a task is automatically generated. The email even includes a screenshot showing exactly what the client was seeing, as well as other data such as their screen resolution and browser.

But communication is not all in one direction. Whilst Atarim makes it easy for clients to point, click, and comment in order to send you feedback, questions, or requests, you can do exactly the same.

If you have received questions from comments (via email, text, or over the phone), use the same point, click, and comment approach to send visual responses to the client.

Going beyond even this, to make communication even more effective and efficient, Gary created pre-made responses to clients for repetitive emails.

His team was able to streamline the communication with clients and save a huge amount of time. 

With visual comments directly on the website, along with a streamlined, shared inbox, and premade responses, Gary and his team are able to see precisely what a client is referring to, fix any issues and work more efficiently.

Would Gary recommend That Others Use Atarim?

“I want you to really think about how much time you spend talking to your clients. Not just that, but how much time do you waste trying to find what your client wants, or specifically what they’re talking about?

Imagine if every time you spoke to your client, you had 100% clarity on what they were saying, without them needing to be specific. 

Sounds too good to be true right? 

This is how Gary’s day-to-day life is now – he no longer has to hunt for information or waste time speaking with his clients. 

He absolutely recommends using Atarim.