Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Blogs

02/11/2015

When the team was getting together initially to talk about a blog redesign, three notions stood out as being most important: responsiveness, faster load time, and a join/login flow that was better integrated with the mothership. And so, when we finally started digging into (what was then) the blog’s current design, we realized there was no way to shoehorn in these features. The blog needed so much re-writing that we came to the logical conclusion that it simply needed to be scrapped.  Read on to learn how we approached the rebuild, and be sure to visit the new blog

RESPONSIVE FIRST

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.27.23 AM

One of the larger goals of redesigning the blog was to make it responsive first. Our UX approach looked at responsive design at the atomic level--designing for mobile first, and expanding outwards into the desktop, instead of the other way around. Understanding that a mobile device is more than just a tool for information, but rather a personal conduit for hobbies and connections, our talented UX team got to work.

When we decided to scrap the previous blog code and start fresh, one of our first tasks was to find a Wordpress template that was as stripped-back as possible. And after a few days of research, we landed on the Bones Theme by Eddie Machado. What it lacked in out-of-the-box features, it made up for in capacity. In fact, the only real “feature” that we liked in the theme was SASS compiling for CSS. Other than that, it was pretty much a blank canvas.

FASTER LOADING FTW

Libraries are helpful. They allow us to leverage features and create more engaging interfaces without doing a lot of heavy coding. They are also prone to misuse and overuse. It was clear from the outset that the old blog was bogged down with libraries, both Wordpress and JavaScript, that were underused or just plain obsolete.

Removing these libraries was a method to make the blog faster as much as it was a way to clean up our code. With fewer dependencies, posts load faster, pages render sooner, and the user is treated to a more immediate experience--especially on mobile.

INTEGRATED SIGN IN AND SUBSCRIPTION


Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.38.50 AMWhile it was one of the major factors that led us to the redesign in the first place, there’s not much I can expand upon. In the previous version, if a user was to subscribe to a category newsletter on the blog, we would redirect them to our newsletter provider’s site where he or she would then continue their action. We all agreed it was a klunky experience.

Once all the clutter of the old code was removed, our solution was clear and easy: we make the call to the API behind the scenes. And hell, while we’re at it, let’s sign you up to Craftsy.com if you want! Seems like a win-win to me.

 

RESULT

In the end, we went from this:  

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.59.12 AM

 

To this: 

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.33.23 AM

Comments (2)

Love the new blog - great work, Jamie!

Nice job FE and UX! I especially like the integrated sign up and subscribe ;-)

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