Mike Cushing / Design / July 18th, 2013

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog

When I was asked to take over the 352 blog, I was excited to take the reins. When I was told that we’d soon be redesigning the site and building an entirely new blog, I was ecstatic.

Ranting & Raving, our first company blog, launched more than 6 years ago (looks pretty good on the new site…) as a way to continually add fresh content to the site, attract potential clients and leverage the expertise of our staff. Nearly 800 blog posts and three redesigns later, 352 is ready for a blog that more accurately reflects the company that we’ve grown into. Our new design delivers.

Gone, but not forgotten.
Gone, but not forgotten.

Throughout the new site, you’ll see a handful of common themes: great visual elements, a focus on our employees and the circles of our five values. You can already see that our new blog reflects the look and feel of the rest of the site, and as we begin to populate the blog with new content, you’ll see how much the blog builds off the talented, inspired people of 352.

The New Look

Right off the bat, I have to address the design of the blog, which I think is one of the best-looking around. In our initial brainstorming meetings, I requested a blog design that really “popped.” Once the design team finished beating me with their sketchpads, they got to work on a design that offered a lot of function, married with visual appeal.

Highly Visual

sidebar-calloutThough the focus of the blog has always been the words we write, we wanted to build a blog that provided an incredible visual experience. Just like the rest of the site, the blog was designed from the ground up with visual appeal at top of mind.

Rather than the old Ranting & Raving header, each page has vibrant hero images to welcome visitors. Our preview images are large enough to show detail, rather than tiny thumbnails.

We’ve improved readability by removing the structure of the center column and sidebar to provide a lot of white space and moved away from our cramped gray font. Rather than keeping a busy sidebar, we moved our category navigation to the large header to provide some cohesiveness and to pave the way to use larger images to help drive users to new content.

352-blog-categories
The new design relies heavily on high-quality images and visual elements, from navigation to story-telling.

Highly Readable

Though we shared some design and development content on our old blog, Ranting & Raving was largely the domain of our digital marketing team. Fear not, our marketing team (myself included) will continue to run our mouths, but we’re putting a larger emphasis on content from our designers, developers and sales teams. This won’t be technical jargon or developer-speak; you’ll be hearing directly from people in the trenches to help you make informed decisions, no matter what your position.

We’ll feature video case studies, we’ll celebrate site launches, and, but most of all we’ll shine a light on what makes 352 tick: our inspired people.

In our new logo, and throughout the site, you’ll see those five interlocking circles. Those circles represent our new philosophy, with every part of the company operating in sync. The new blog will provide a platform for employees throughout 352 to be heard. They’ll share their stories, insights and expertise to provide content that fully showcases our entire company.

Highly Functional

We may have built our last blog to incorporate customizations that WordPress did not support, but our new look is built on WordPress, and I could not be happier. WordPress has come a long way since we first considered blog platforms, and WordPress gives us – and our clients – the tools to run an incredible blog. Aesthetically, the new platform may not bring a lot to the table, but it allows us to manage a host of writers, create a unified content schedule and brings a lot of neat features to the backend.

Our marketing director Erin shares my nerdy enthusiasm.
Our marketing director, Erin, shares my nerdy enthusiasm.

It’s the little things, you guys.

Still Ranting, Still Raving

On our former blog, we certainly enjoyed sharing our opinions regarding the good, the bad and the ugly of the Internet. Long-time readers need not worry – we’ll still be quick to give a pat on the back (or a slap to the back of the head) when warranted, but the new blog will move beyond that.

We now have clear blog channels that represent the full range of services 352 offers, and we’ll be filling them with expert content that goes well beyond what we’ve produced before.

I’m like a kid in a candy store. A candy store that is also a roller coaster, which ends in a pizza parlor. Gimme a break, I love pizza. Just a little bit less than I love this blog.