Behind the Scenes: Website Redesign

August 22nd, 2012 by Deborah Kim

 

Ye Olde Veer West

Here’s our old website, originally designed in 2006, when we were just a fledgling company! The layout got pretty dusty. It didn’t have a particular style, and it was mostly text, so it was basic and kinda ordinary. We needed a change. We needed to be more “us” — to showcase our team style and ethos right off the bat.

Our Goals

  1. Make very clear that we’re the company behind FormAssembly. The old site also featured a few open-source projects and a time-tracker app, and this time, FormAssembly was the only product we wanted to highlight.
  2. The website is our personal space. We’ll post corporate-y things like job openings, but also fun stuff about our company, which wouldn’t belong on the FormAssembly website.

Draft 1

My first idea was a clean, minimal look with a limited palette. The website would show screenshots of FormAssembly on computer and tablet screens, so our service would be front-and-center.

And it was time for a new logo. The old one was powder blue, with a curly wave. If I used it, I’d be restrained to the color and style, meaning the whole layout would have to match. So I tossed it, but kept the typography. The new logo is black and white, sleek and simple, so it could go with almost anything.

 

But the layout looked more like a product website, not a company website. And it didn’t fit FormAssembly’s design, either. It felt a little cold and empty. Nope, not us!

Draft 2

I had another idea — we could use the sky, land, and sea. Instead of being empty, it would feel open and warm, with birds and trees and fish. But how would we make it meaningful? I thought about what “Veer West” means, in the literal sense. “A sudden change of direction.” To veer, to turn, to sail.

Naturally, I thought of pirates.

 

 

Building the Ship

The new logo went well with the sloping hills and the arcs of the clouds. From there, I brainstormed a flurry of sea creatures and a bright, plucky pirate ship. The team suggested ancient maps and treasure chests and a shipwreck. I wanted to try as many elements as possible, so I kept drawing. We even had pirate hats!

 

Rethinking a Pirate’s Life

I began to have second thoughts about the pirate-y atmosphere, though. Pirates could be fun, but pirates were also… mean, to put it mildly. In our little website world, what would happen once our ship hit land? Did we really want to represent ourselves as wild seafarin’ criminals?

The Veer West Life

So our team discussed a new direction that was less combat and plunder. We wanted the website to be a place to unwind, a place apart from work. The keyword was relax. Think breezy, think vacation. I got rid of all the pirate stuff and switched gears. I swapped the pirate ship for a friendly sailboat, a better reflection of Veer West. Out with the hats and gold, in with the flip-flops and bubbly drinks.

 

 

Cleanup on Aisle VW

But the layout quickly became way too busy. There were a ton of things vying for attention — the hot air balloons, the “Click Here,” the web form in the sky, the neon-green octopus. Too much colorful chaos. Not exactly peaceful or calming. I needed to do some serious trimming, even though I’d given these little graphics a lot of TLC.

Also, the skyscrapers didn’t make sense. Veer West isn’t located in a huge city, and the cluster of high-rise buildings was an ill fit for the cozy island. More chopping!

 

 

Almost There!

The house was much better than the skyscrapers — a welcoming and comfy touch. Still too cluttered, however, and we needed an introduction for Veer West at the bottom.

Font Choice

We also debated serif versus sans-serif and tried to find a balance between style aesthetics and readability — sometimes fonts are very pretty, but they’re hard on the eyes as a dense block of text. We decided on a combination of serif (some flair for headlines and larger text) and sans-serif (clean and easy to read).

I almost chose Georgia because it’s a great serif, but Lora is more fresh. It’s excellent for our design, too, because Lora’s roundness complements our geometry.

 

Ready to Sail

Yep, here we go. A more peaceful shade of blue, too. You get the sense of ease and welcome, but also the spark of discovery — you can soar, sail, or dive in right along with us.

P.S. Thanks to Deborah Kim for helping put this post together!

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