Savvy Socializer

Choices, We All Make Them

Coming Up: Following the design process of taking a blog from so-so to sensational

Now that I had dug deep in my pocket book and purchased a new name for my network—one that made people smile—I needed to test it out on head designer Will, one of the most important people in this makeover process.  A good brand name can make an artist’s life easy or miserable depending on the task.  I thought I had taken to heart Will’s advice by sort of creating a nonsense sounding word, but you just never know.  Like me, Will can be a pretty stoic guy sometimes, especially when thinking hard about an issue.  He’d be a mean poker player, I imagine.  His immediate response to Poptimistic:

“Sounds great! I like it.”

A man of few words, but important ones, nonetheless.

Indeed the name gave a powerful, dare I say it, POP to the designs that Will and his team came up with for the logo and overall look and feel of the new site.  Let me paint a picture of the process using Will’s images.

First, the Kern + Lead team presented me with two initial options, based upon the name and my brand mood board (remember Marc Jacobs’ crotch?  I mean who can forget it?)

Immediately, I was thrilled with both options.  In my years of experience with graphic firms, typically they present clients with an option that they LOVE, and then a real second rate option that they don’t.  The idea is to steer the client in the right direction.  But here, obviously Will had put a lot of time and attention into both.  I could see validity in either one.  The first option was a san serif font—clean and reminded me of the mood board.  The second option with a serif font was more like Paul Smith—quirky and fun, a little softer.  This decision wasn’t going to be easy.

After testing the options out on dedicated readers (a.k.a. friends and family), I clearly went with the san serif, option 1.  Will wanted to refine the logo—he had a few other ideas.  And came back to me with another round of options.

The addition of the “talk bubble” was genius, really.  Adding another bit of “pop” to the look.  But I liked the way the colors played out in option 1, especially for the show titles.  Ever the master of compromise, Will agreed to work on a merger, creating the logo that you see now.

While Will was busy at work, the rest of the Kern+Lead programming team lead by Amit jumped into action to create a new user interface for the site.  Visual design is one thing, but actual navigation of the site can also affect a readers’ experience—and their willingness to stick around or come back for more.  After a few rounds of options, we ultimately chose this channel format that allows me the flexibility to highlight favorite/new/important stories.  It also places a unique emphasis on visuals—anchoring them in the sidebar for a clean look.  Even better, it provided an opportunity for advertiser and sponsor messages in a way that don’t distract from the content.

From our initial meeting, through mood boards and design review, it took about six weeks to settle on this direction.  Pretty fast, if you ask me, considering by no means was I Kern+Lead’s most important client in terms of financial impact on their business.  The next part involved a lot of programming and transferring of the old ABCityblog into the new site.

With Christmas a few days away, I felt like I’d been given a terrific present: a glimpse of a new direction for my blogging career.

On the next Biz Savvy Blogger: Top Design Tips that No Biz Savvy Blogger Can Afford to Ignore (courtesy Kern+Lead)

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