SXSW 2017 has begun, celebrating film, interactivity and music as creative from a vast array of media converge on Austin, TX. One particular feature of this year’s festivities arrives in the form of the Brandcast Design Lounge, where creative can stop by to “relax, recharge and get inspired” with fireside chats on interactive design and more. Brandcast, a design-centric company that specialized in creating designer-friendly web design software, is celebrating the launch of Design Studio, which brings the options and performance of some of the most popular design tools—think Photoshop—to an in-browser interface.
Brandcast Chief Product Officer Conor Egan says the goal is to enable designers to build precise and custom-looking websites that would traditionally require code to create, without being locked into the parameters of a typical drag-and-drop template-based web builder.
“The idea was to make an end-to-end design platform – from wireframing to production to iteration,” Egan says. “It’s a collaborative platform, so designers and content editors can come in and work on it together, removing the bottleneck of using code and slowdown and unpredictability. It empowers the designer to build more and iterate based on analytics and performance, to focus on storytelling and brand.”
The Design Studio web design platform is one among swell of new web design and layout tools that are created specifically for designers, but its toolkit and interface are what truly makes it unique. The interface offers a toolset inspired by Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, making it familiar and user-friendly for designers less adept at coding—not to mention TypeKit connection for precise typography control.
Launched four years ago with software geared toward Etsy store owners and personal websites, Brandcast is no stranger to creating web design software, but new web technologies prompted the company to rewrite its platform from scratch with a more robust set of simple layout tools and new capabilities. “We’re using React, the library that Facebook uses, which allows for new interactions and feel like a desktop application,” Egan says. “It wouldn’t have been possible a year ago.”
For now, it’s best suited to design-focused informational sites for agencies and marketing teams, but more CMS features are on the horizon for more complex interactivity and publishing. That’s why Brandcast aims to get the software into the hands of every designer it can—so they can explore and expand its capabilities. At SXSW, visitors to the Design Lounge can sign up to beta test a free version of Design Studio. “We want to change the web design paradigm so it’s not technical/code but design-led,” Egan says.