As you may have noticed, the Kalexiko blog has undergone a massive redesign. What you are looking at now is months of meticulous planning, dramatic feats of design and days of non-stop development...ok well maybe the last part was a slight exaggeration, but by no means was there a gentle breeze carrying us along; it took a lot of work.
In fact, the new blog is something we are very proud of and we're sure you are happy with it too. We are also sure that you want to know how the ins and outs, therefore we wanted to share the story with all of you readers.
Why did we redesign the blog?
As in all good stories there is a beginning, a middle and an end and this in no exception. So let's start at the beginning; firstly, why did we decide it was time to completely redesign our blog? Well there were a number of reasons for why we wanted to redesign. We felt that we had come to the end of the road with our old blog, it was built in WordPress a number of years ago and we felt that it just didn't provide us with the freedom to allow full creativity anymore. While it wasn't a bad blog we felt that it was too restrictive; it just wasn't scalable to suit our ongoing requirements as a web design agency.
We had also begun to really push our editorial and publishing output and we wanted a blogging platform that could both reflect and handle this. We wanted a blog that was able to lose none of its lustre when viewed on mobile devices as well as larger screens; a blog that was able to astound with its content: large pictures and gallery images as well a sleek flow of text. Our ideas and ambitions for our content was moving fast and we felt that our old blog just couldn't keep up.
As well as fulfilling our editorial requirements, we wanted a blog that would provide our readers an exciting and memorable reading experience. Through our blog we convey not only our technical knowledge, but also industry related news and entertainment. For a lot of our articles we knew that better formatting would convey the information a lot more clearly for the reader; allowing them to take full advantage of the advice we were transmitting. Our old blogging platform didn't offer us the customisation options to do this.
Most of all, and often forgotten in the industry is making an experience that immerses and interacts with the reader- i.e putting a bit of fun into the experience. We wanted to add a few little tricks and interactions that the reader could perform to make their experience of reading the articles more fun.
So with all these points in mind we took our ideas to the cutting room floor; ready to tear ideas to shreds, put them back together, mix them up and get started with building the blogging platform that would fulfil all of these requirements.
The redesign process: planning
When a number of creative minds put their heads together the results can be like putting a lighted match into a box of fireworks; there's a huge explosion, a lot of chaos but a lot of colour to admire. This is pretty much what happened when we began the planning process. Initially we set up a Writeboard on Basecamp for us to jot down our ideas, but within a couple of hours the entire thing was populated with ideas and notions: so, so many ideas and notions. This was great, we all had a lot of ideas to commit to this, we all would be using the blog and we all have perspectives based on our specialties; the explosion was producing the colours.
We sat down and held a number of discussions; deciding how we would address the issues we faced and how we would achieve our goals; as designers and readers. Question arose; what should the blog look like? How should we lay out the content? What sort of navigation will there be? How will we present different types of articles? The questions and possibilities were endless but we had to address them all, nothing else would suffice; the blog had to cover everything.
Of course with ideas flying around and inspirations piqued, as these things go there were a few disagreements; a couple of tantrums and an impressive duel...well no, rather creative differences were combined to create solutions that were universal and would cover all realms of web design . It was important that our blog overcame all of the issues that we had addressed, as well as being a resource that both fortified our online community as well as generating new leads and interest.
With all these points taken into account our designers worked their magic. Before we started getting the design of the blog underway a number of wireframes and design concepts were created; which were analysed and reworked the entire HQ. Complete collaboration meant that this took a few reworking's before everyone was happy but we were convinced that the final design was exactly what we wanted.
The redesign process: design
With the design concept of the blog pretty much decided upon it was now time to put our concepts into action. We wanted a blog that could handle all of the requirements and allow absolute freedom of creativity in creating our editorial content, this meant that one type of 'post' wouldn't be enough to meet the requirements. So, to deal with this we designed a number of different templates; 'featured', 'normal', 'small' and 'quotes'. This function means that we now have a system where we have a post 'template' for each type of post.
The 'small' post type serves as a standard type post for small articles, the 'normal' is for larger posts and includes an article cover image and a landscape image on the blog menu. The biggest update in this area is the 'featured' post; by selecting a 'featured' post type we have the option to insert an impressive screen spanning banner image that will show up on the post and on the article menu page. We also created a 'quotes' type post, which means that any little inspirational snippets we find we can post in a nice block-quote format.
We didn't just stop there. As well as creating different post sizes, we also added some image features. The main one, which you will have noticed on our posts, is the feature gallery. The feature gallery runs as a banner at the top of a post. Included in the banner is a series of images relative to the post. So for more image based articles , you can just flick through the images at the top of the article.
Secondly as we felt that in our old articles there wasn't the best amount of room for customisability of in-article images, so we thought it would be a good idea to remove images from being embedded in the text completely; now we use a thumbnail image system. The image sits next to the text in the article as a thumbnail, and by clicking it, the thumbnail will enlarge and become part of the body of the text. This allows the reader two things; one is a completely uninterrupted flow of text and secondly it offers interactivity with the blog, the user can tailor their own reading experience.
As well as images, we wanted to go further to make sure that the reading experience will be fluid for the reader. To do this we included fixed navigation. This now allows a reader to instantly select a category where ever they are in the blog. So, the next time you find yourself mid way through one of our articles why not check out the others in the same category.
An important one for us was making sure that all readers could access the articles; no matter what device they are using. Therefore we made the blog fully responsive across all platforms. So now you will be able to access our articles; fully functional and high-fidelity across all devices. This part of the design was a little bit tricky. While the programming part wasn't too much of a difficult hurdle, ensuring that all of the content fitted inside of the parameters on all devices was the bane of our lives for a short while; as you can see though, we managed to overcome this issue.
While we wanted to create a blog that was a hub for industry news and know-how, we also thought that it would be great to make sure that the blog platform offered as much sociability as possible. We wanted readers to be able to interact with us and one another; so we added social sharing features, a comment box and the number of views on an article so you can see what others are reading and check it out for yourself.
So, where are we going from here
At this point in time, we think the blog is pretty impressive, but were not done with it just yet. There are still a few more things that we are working on adding to it. One of our next developments will be to include author profile pages, where a user can check out the profile of the author and their other articles. We also want to make our social share function super unique, so we will be tailoring a bespoke system for those.
Really, the work on the blogging platform will never end. It is something that we constantly tweak and improve but the first step has been climbed and it is out there for you readers to enjoy and get to grips with.
We are extremely happy with the turnout of the blog. It is the platform that we set out to create, and all of you out there seem to be liking it; there has been an unprecedented flux in traffic and some of our articles have received very high Google search rankings; so we can't be doing too badly. That being said, the hard work has really only just begun and as well as some amazing editorial content you will also notice that many new features will be added in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.
If you wish to leave any thoughts, feedback or suggestions regarding our new blog then do not hesitate to leave a comment and we will get back to you.