The Next Web redesigned their site recently and introduced a new full-page intro ad format.
This is actually quite a beautiful animation and design on the ad itself, but this model feels like the content is the new annoying banner ad, bouncing on the edge of the screen.
I actually clicked on the first ad I saw this way for Evernote, but not because it was especially engaging, but because I didn’t know how to get to the content. The call to action was “get started” so I thought that would let me read the article. But it sent me to Evernote’s homepage instead. So I guess it works!
I’m interested to see how this does, but my first thoughts are this is really overwhelming. I’d rather not have to chase down the content I came there for. But at least it’s better than the evasive close button on a moving banner ad…I think.
I’ve worked for iThemes since January 2010. Since I started working here, I’ve been making updates to our site – designing sidebar ads, new sales pages, adding custom post types for our content and products, and making little tweaks everywhere. But after 2 years of piling more and more into the old theme, we knew we had to bite the bullet and do a full site overhaul and redesign.
So a few months ago, Cory gave the green light for Ty and I to start working on what a redesigned iThemes would look like. After loads of revisions and decisions we started on the development in June, and since then, I’ve been Photoshopping every possible page layout and product sales page for the site and slowly passing them over to Ty for front-end development.
This was my first design with responsiveness in mind from the start, so it was definitely a challenge. Interactions that you take for granted on desktop have to take on a whole new strategy for mobile – no more wide info-packed tables, no relying on image sizes or fixed font proportions. Every design decision has to pass through the “how will this work on a phone?” test. So I’m glad Ty was doing the dev on this one. He’s a lightning-fast coder and has done stuff on the site I would never have thought possible. It was fun to get to stretch the design beyond my own coding capabilities, and imagine what I would want, not what I think I could build.
So go check out the site! We’re still making a lot of responsive adjustments, so if you’re on a phone or tablet, bear with us a couple days. But we hope this makes it easier and more pleasant for customers to use the site and understand our products better at iThemes.
Thanks to Ty and Koop for the theme development. Thanks to Cory for trusting me to work on this enormous project. And thanks to the rest of the iThemes team for helping make the switch yesterday in the wee hours and building the awesome products that we used to build the site and that this new design will help sell.
The new iThemes.com homepage
New iThemes.com footer
New plugin sales pages with all content created using the new Products custom post type.
I used 4 messenger bags throughout college. 3 of which were bought at thrift stores for less than $2 each. So when I got a real job (a post about that coming soon), I decided to invest in a good messenger. Considering I ride 2 miles to work every day with a $2000 laptop in my bag, I wouldn’t want a cheap strap to break.
So I checked out the hipster messenger favorites, Chrome and Timbuk2. Chrome didn’t have many options and the ones I’ve seen looked bulky, so I tried out Timbuk2. They let users post product reviews (positive & negative) on the site, which was an awesome way to learn about the bag from people riding with it, not just a flowery description. Loved the custom bag maker. I chose a monochromatic look. 2 panels of lightweight black and 1 panel of reflective restaurant-booth-style vinyl. Like an Orca.
But the most impressive part of the purchase was the personal touch they put on everything I got from them. This snippet from the confirmation e-mail was so much more entertaining than the usual confirmation receipt:
We suggest that you actually read it and like it because this is what you are getting and the address below is where we are going to send it. If you must be That Person, we can TRY our best to make changes or cancel your order. This is only if we have had enough coffee and our warehouse hasn’t… Remember, this is only if your order is NOT IN PRODUCTION. Once your order makes it to our production line, we can’t change it for you and if it’s custom, we can’t take it back. Not because we don’t love you; but because we already have really, really nice custom made Messenger bags from Timbuk2. It’s part of the uniform.
It was refreshing to get something with some personality. Made me feel better about spending $200 on a backpack. When I actually got the bag in the mail there was another surprise. It didn’t come in a bloated box like everything from Amazon. It came in a plastic shipping bag with a map on it. Not just any map. It’s a bike route map of San Francisco with all the locations you can buy Timbuk2 bags tagged. They encourage you to cut it out and reuse it for something. But the writing is brilliant. Not your average Starbucks corporate eco-friendly statement.
Now every time I need a travel bag, I know exactly where I’ll look first. Next time I go to San Francisco, I want to go check out their office. I couldn’t care less about visiting the Jansport factory or the Nike factory. But because of the extra personality Timbuk2 gave me, I am now fascinated with their brand and want to support anything they do.
This is powerful branding. All about knowing your audience and taking every opportunity to be genuine and personal with them. Timbuk2 has a mission and it’s not to be the biggest messenger bag company on earth. But it is to be the best. And to not destroy the earth in the process.
Recently, my friend Michael Biddy came to me asking for some cool blogs with cool things on them to add to his RSS feed. He’s a hobbyist photographer and appreciates good design, so I sent him a list of the best of my blogroll. I think it’s up to 155 now in my reader and I manage to keep up with it pretty good. But this list is the best design blogs and a few other random ones thrown in for good measure. Enjoy. Sorry for all the text. Too many to make feature pics for each one. You’ll have to go on the descriptions and cleverness of the blog titles to judge which ones to click on.