Earlier this week, Travis and I announced the sale of Flip Websites, and the acquisition of this site provides an interesting live case-study in re-branding and redesign. In this article, I’m going to highlight some of the design changes that have been implemented and share the reasoning behind them.
- It has a good, memorable domain name that sets it up to be the industry authority
- It has high quality content that also indicates that position of authority
- Its design was a bit more “home brew,” not entirely matching that authoritative voice (particularly the logo)
It’s important to know a sites strengths and weaknesses when you acquire it, so that you can quickly develop a plan to improve its deficiencies.
What Makes a Good Logo?
A good logo must be scalable, memorable and meaningful. It should reproduce well in one-color and look good in knockout (reversed on dark backgrounds, over photographs, etc). A logo that does all of these things well will give off a perception of quality.
It doesn’t need to be overly complicated — in fact, some of the most recognizable logos are exceedingly simple. Consider the following world-renowned logos:
One of the important things to note is that these logos don’t “try too hard.” Compare these to what previously existed as the identity for Flip Websites:
Clearly, this identity doesn’t measure up. It uses a heavy stroke around the lettering, a drop shadow (almost never used in a real logo), and the perpendicular type makes it difficult to read. A website logo should ideally scale well to a very small size so that it can be used as the favicon. This logo struggled to do that as well.
Outsourcing Logo Design
I’m a pretty creative guy, and I’ve done a number of identities successfully on my own in the past, but for this site, I was having trouble coming up with a concept I loved (and more accurately executing that concept). I knew I could provide good creative direction, so I sought out some extra design muscle.
I thought about using a design crowdsourcing site (99 designs), but I had recently come across an alternative that looked promising — Upstack. With Upstack, you set your price and create a project brief. Then, the designers who have signed up with Upstack can indicate if they want to work on your project — you get to see their portfolios, and you can choose a designer you like. If you don’t see anyone you like, you can cancel your project.
I was really impressed with the quality of the designers who submitted to work on my design. I could have easily gone with any one of a handful and probably ended up with a great logo. I selected to have only one designer work on my project — the one whose portfolio was easily the most impressive.
The Flip Websites Logo
Without going through all the details, by the time we hit our fourth concept, I knew we had found a winner. The new logo consists of two elements – a ‘w’ (from the word ‘websites’) that looks like a bar graph trending upwards. The final bar has an upward arrow. This symbol is simple, clean, and crisp. It represents the positive financial growth that can be achieved by flipping websites.
The second element of the logo is the type treatment, which is clean and modern. The ‘p’ from flip has been modified to include an arrow curved in a flipping motion. Here’s the combined logo in full color, 1 color (black) and knockout — you can see it translates well in each case:
Redesigning the Website
- Really showcases the content
- Allows for certain articles to be featured
- Allows easy access to the main categories
- Prominently features the article’s author (to encourage guest posting)
- Accommodates standard ad sizes (468 x 60, 300 x 250, 125 x 125)
I’ve been modifying the outstanding Gazette Edition theme (from Woo Themes) for some time. I feel that this theme meets all of the above requirements, so I used it as the base design, altering the featured content slider, the way posts display on the front page (including author image, full width instead of 2 across), and adding an author box to individual post pages.
Here’s a side-by-side of the old and new designs:
The Real Measure of Design Success
The way you know a design is successful isn’t that you believe it looks prettier (or that others tell you as much). The real measure of design success is how the site is used. Since implementing the new design, bounce rate is down, average time spent on site is up, and pageviews per user have increased.
That said, it’s been really nice to hear from people about how impressed they are with the new design. I’ve received plenty of praise and no complaints, so I think it’s safe to say that the new look isn’t detracting from the user experience on the site.
What are your thoughts on the new design? Do you have any other resources you prefer to use for outsourcing your design work? I’d love to get your feedback.