You know me, I love a good redesign, and this one from Proud Creative is one of the best I’ve seen in a long while. Created for an issue of Icon Magazine, Proud Creative took on the challenge of creating a brand new identity for the seaside town of Rhyl, which for those of you (like me) who aren’t familiar, it’s on the northern coast of Wales.
They created a brand that’s filled with bright colors and interesting patterns which were inspired by the British seaside and a skewed rectangle, inspired by the angle of the Rhyl coastline. Seeing a project like this is so inspiring. Imagine if something like this were real? If the people and political heads of Rhyl took this project and enacted it, made it happen, and brightened their community?
Maybe instead of a Re-Covered Books project I should start a contest to rebrand your small town? Perhaps it could be the town you grow up in or a small town near you? Maybe there would even be a population limit?
I thought I’d try my hand again at doing another unsolicited redesign of a site that I enjoy, but has fallen by the wayside over the years. Back when I first started Internet-ing in the late 90′s one of my favorite sites to visit was TreeHugger. At the time there was really nothing like it, exploring alternatives and helping to usher in a green mentality. Over the years though it’s started to fade, becoming a monster of banner features and skyscraper ads. Everything is currently screaming look at me and the features themselves seem to be of little to no importance. That’s why this is the perfect candidate for a redesign. To be clear, this wasn’t sanctioned, paid for, or endorsed by TreeHugger or the Discovery Channel, this is simply me having fun.
The Logo & Mark
The first thing I did was try a light handed redesign of the logo and mark. I don’t think either has changed in years, still maintaining the flavor of early 2000′s. The vibe of the site has always been a mix of environmentalism with a tech twist, but the pixelated tree and hard angled (but not) font wasn’t really working anymore. Neither is the ‘A Discovery Company’ lockup that’s way too tight, see how the A and D caress the first E in Treehugger? My idea was to simplify the Treehugger logo and refresh the mark… literally.
The mark is a simple combination of two things: The computer symbol for refresh and a leaf. I thought about using a recycling logo, but it felt contrived and bit too on the mark. I also feel like the idea of refreshing is more positive than recycling. A leaf is the most basic way to identify nature, and plays together well with the word treehugger. Together they embody the spirit of what the site has always been, nature meets tech.
For the logo I kept things simple, using the free font Miso by Omkrets Architects. The font is similar to the old one, but is a little bit softer and less trying to be tech related. The ‘A Discovery Company’ byline has been severely minimized and reduced down using Jason Kottke’s font Silkscreen. Together I think they form a nice combination and could also work easily on business cards, letterheads, etc.
When I started playing around with the design, the first thing I thought about was color. Okay, I get it, TreeHugger, it has to be green, right? All I see when I look at the current site is this deathly, moldy shade of green in the background that’s totally unappealing. So I decided to opt for a light blue instead, which I called a much needed breath of fresh air. When comparing the two side-by-side the results are… breath taking (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
Another huge hurdle I faced was trying to figure out what was important on the site. Currently there’s zero hierarchy on the page, everything is competing to be seen and it’s a huge mess, the web equivalent of a hoarder. I decided to break the site down into three main parts: a featured section, a main column, and a side column. The featured area is just what it sounds like, a simple carousel displaying popular or important stories. I see that TreeHugger is quite dependent on ads, I counted 7 ad units on one page, so I decided to determine the height of the featured unit by the height of a search box and a med rec.
The main column, which features all of the articles, is simplified and made larger to give it the respect it deserves. Currently on the site the articles seem like passing thoughts, squeezed between two columns of ads and click-me-nows. They’re also inundated with every sharing tool possible as well as recommendations for other stories. It was all too much. There are a few more things like tags or an Outbrain style of related articles that I could have added, but let’s not ruin the magic.
The sidebar was the last hurdle to jump, and I thought he best way to handle it was to do what Cool Hunting has done. Basically, they have a few ads in the sidebar, as well as some of their own pertinent information that could entice a reader. The genius part is that they allow for about five posts to go by, lazy load more posts, and then lazy load the sidebar again. This allows them to get a ton of ad impressions, even though a user hasn’t click a single story. I tried to get the folks at Myspace to do this, but it never clicked (yet again, I can’t help myself).
Overall, I think the site is a thousand times better and more easy to digest. It’s amazing how much crap can pile up on an established website over time. I’m not really sure if TreeHugger has a design staff, but hopefully my redesign gets someone in the right place thinking about changing things up. It’s also worth mentioning that they could benefit from an improved footer as well, but that’s a can of worms I didn’t want to open.
I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback and what you think about my little experiment. All critical feedback is accepted, but please keep it polite. If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself.
I often complain about the design and look of websites. There’s a lot of sites out there that simply need some love and a few tweaks, and they’d instantly be much better off. There are also a lot of sites out there that have been around for so long that they’ve got digital junk laying around their site, like they could be on an episode of Hoarders. Instead of complaining endlessly about the matter I’ve decided to do something about it. So here’s my first try at redesigning an existing website to look and function better.
Let me be clear about my objective. I’m not trying to rethink or reinvigorate these websites, I’m simply giving them a facelift. Clearly these sites are popular for a reason, so I’ve made a list of simple suggestions on how they can improve their user experience. My version is meant as a critique of their current website, definitely not an attack on anyone in particular.
To start off my first redesign I chose a website which I use quite often… Netflix. I use Netflix quite often, and I love using it… on my television. The 10 foot experience is perfect for browsing movies on your couch. But when you use their website it looks like it hasn’t been updated in about 5 years. Is it functional? Yes. But could it look and function better? In my opinion, the answer is yes. I’m not here to make the whole damn site better, far from it, I simply have some ideas that I think would help. I should also make it clear that I have no relation to Netflix, this isn’t some kind of ad, I’m just doing this because I’m a weird-o. So what would I change? Read on to see my suggestions.
“The Champagne of Beers” is it’s tagline, and boy do I believe. Miller High Life, introduced to me by my buddy Michael, has in the last couple years become my usual standby. Last summer, in the midst of my freelancing (aka starving) the “champagne of beers” was my $1.46 refreshment that would get me through the sweltering days. Now this classic beer has been given a fresh face thanks to the team over at Landor. From a press release from Landor:
“Once the flagship brand for Miller Brewing Company, Miller High Life had over time been repositioned as a below-premium beer that belied both its product quality and rich 100+ year-old heritage. In order to improve consumer perception, we contemporized and better leveraged its revered and iconic brand elements—the Miller High Life Soft Cross and the Girl in the Moon. The new visual identity allows the brand to stretch beyond the below-premium category into a more premium territory that we think positions the brand to reclaim its iconic status.”
The dazzle is in the details on this redesign. The choice of fonts, the subtle patterns and textures, the blue, reen and reds that compliment the golds of the beer/cans… it’s all spot on. What’s kinda funny is that I already thought it was an amazing packaging design, but it’s rad that they’ve stepped up their game on such a low priced product.
Last Thursday I posted this video showing the redesign if the $100 bill here in the U.S. and the proceeded to talk about how horrible it was. To my surprise there were a lot of commenters who seemed to think that the idea of security and beauty were two concepts that couldn’t live together, which kind of baffled me.
In response I’m posting these currency redesigns by Michael Tyznik, who I think did an amazing job of bridging the gap between design and potential security. His design includes ideas like a holographic strip, which not only makes it easier to tell the bills apart easier but could also be filled with a bevy of security features, I would assume. Inside the strip there are also embossed dots for the sight-impaired, something that current currency definitely doesn’t take into consideration.
This in my mind couldn’t be any better looking. It’s simple and bold while still giving a nod to the history of money in America. If you’ve happened to notice that there’s a lack of $1 you’re right, Michael suggests doing away with the $1 all together and replacing them with coins instead as it only has an average lifespan of 21 months. Kinda interesting, huh?