Behind the Redesign: MilesDesign.com
Just before the New Year, I was thinking about all of the “little tweaks” I wanted to make to milesdesign.com. At that time, our current website design was only about eight months old. Although I didn’t intend to generally alter the look or feel of our site, I couldn’t help but see opportunities for improvement. A few hours later, those “little tweaks” turned into a full-scale redesign.
I moved into “rapid prototyping” mode, quickly exploring grid and layout options within the existing brand identity system, landing ultimately on a new 6-column grid.
Here’s a quick rundown of many of the design changes we made, why we made them, and some of the technical improvements achieved by redesigning our own website.
For a detailed view of the homepage changes, you can click the image below:
1. A new grid-based design: Our last site had different layouts based on which page the visitor was on. The new site adheres to a much more strict grid, which not only looks cleaner, but makes for better usability.
2. Cleaner, more consistent navigation: One such improvement was more consistent navigation elements. The old site had navigation showing up in odd places–the result of features that were added post-design.
3. New Content Management System: The new content management system (CMS) is a product of Wired Ground called Capacitor. The newest version of their CMS is written in PHP using the Zend Framework and boasts stronger SEO tools. Capacitor is a CMS that we’ve been using on some of our new client projects. A big thank you to these guys for making this project happen so quickly.
4. More clear calls to action: The new site gets users deeper into our portfolio faster with more direct calls to action. The top banner image on the homepage rotates to show highlighted projects and case studies.
5. More distinct positioning: We wanted the new site to focus more clearly on our areas of expertise: branding and design for professional services firms such as architects, consultants, and software companies. The new “Work” section focuses exclusively on these segments.
6. Blog updates: Our previous blog had undergone a moderate update late last year, but we took this opportunity to introduce the same grid as the website, tidy up individual post pages, integrate Feedburner as a subscription option, along with our other social networks.
8. Better integration with external services: Speaking of typography, we’re now utilizing an external service called TypeKit to securely serve up real fonts for headlines, in addition to our other external integrated services: Google Analytics, EMMA, and Feedburner.
9. Content additions: We’ve added a large amount of new work, testimonials, and other content, including a more substantial footer.
10. SEO improvements: Most of the SEO improvements are a direct benefit of the new CMS which boasts built-in 301, 404, and SEO tools, however our site has better compression, resulting in much better page speeds, which apparently Google likes. And we’re okay with that, of course.
It’s easy to delay working on your own website by putting it on the back burner, agonizing over the details, or ignoring it all together. So to combat that, we set a soft launch goal of February 1st, and managed to launch (in spite of the “icepocalypse”) only two days after our goal. Our total timeline, from concept to launch, was very accelerated–only about five weeks in total.
On any project, especially when it is for your own company, setting aside time, establishing a deadline, and making it a top priority is the only way to ensure it will get done.
What is the biggest internal challenge you have this year? Let us know how we can help or encourage you to get it done.