Why We Gave Our Blog a Responsive Redesign!

August 12, 2016
By Damian Jolley

A web design agency should take good care of its own website, don’t you think? Forge and Smith recently went through a complete responsive redesign on our own blog landing page.

Why did our blog get a responsive redesign?

The primary objective was for the blog to better align with our digital marketing strategy and goals.

The existing design wasn’t bad — but it wasn’t great either. Being a key inbound marketing tool, our blog needs to reflect our best work while making our content offering clear and enticing. That’s a huge ask, but one we’re used to executing for our clients’ websites.

There have been three design variations of the Forge and Smith blog since I have been part of the team. Here’s the most recent:

screenshot showing Forge and Smith blog before responsive redesign

There were a few issues with that previous design:

  • Only titles and the category of each article were shown, making it challenging for the user to find relevant content (no snippet of text to give more detail)
  • There was little white space, making for a crowded and visually overwhelming design
  • Category navigation was buried in a dropdown menu
  • The e-Newsletter subscription was not integrated well into the page design, or enticing for visitors to sign up

The restrictions

We tailored a solution to our specific needs, goals, and digital strategy. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that every design solution should be different.

These are some of the restrictions and considerations that formed our own unique design problem:

  • Scope/Time – I knew that we couldn’t create a responsive blog design that required hours of web development time to build. Our clients come first, so we don’t have endless hours to dedicate to a labour of love. That said, the payoff would be worthwhile for the time required by the team.
  • Existing Structure – This wasn’t a full site redesign. We would work within the existing site structure and components, to update only the blog landing page.
  • User Experience – The design should align with what we offer to our clients as an agency; if it isn’t going to improve the experience, or make it more usable for the audience, then it offers little value.
  • Assets – The previous design used square preview thumbnail images. Over the past year or more we have spent many hours creating the images; it seemed wasteful not to use these visual assets as part of the new design.

How we did it

We wanted the blog to be easy to navigate and engaging — the right balance of visuals and text. We also wanted to better showcase the breadth of our expertise in the articles we published. We regularly produce great content on a range of topics, but some much more so than others.

For example, we have five recent blogs on social media, but haven’t written about SEO and analytics in four months. All of the articles and topics are of interest and value to our audience, but a visitor to the old blog landing would have to either use the secondary menu, or dig down to the third page before they found an SEO article.

The idea was to bring feature articles from each category onto the blog landing page. This would allow articles from all categories to be showcased and easily located — with the option to also dig deeper into a specific topic.

The result

  • Categories were pulled out of the drop-down menu and displayed clearly for a user to navigate
  • We lost the “authors” dropdown, moving that functionality to links within the posts themselves
  • Visitors are given an excerpt of the article contents for each post

Forge and Smith new responsive blog landing page

Visit the new blog landing design!

A blog design should be crafted to suit the topics, frequency of posts, and your ability to produce content. Iterations are all part of your website design process. It isn’t a finished product, but an evolving content hub. This responsive redesign was focused on improving user experience and our own content marketing initiatives — other great reasons include improving SEO factors like page speed and mobile accessibility.

This isn’t the end! We will continue to improve and redesign our blog to suit our audience and needs. We are going to watch the page analytics and see if our assumptions were correct and the tweaks to the design are achieving the site goals as intended.

The same should go for your website. Just because it worked two years ago, doesn’t mean it aligns with your online marketing and strategies today. In fact, we also launched a new case study landing only a month ago as we continue our own evolution: have a look! Read more about our design process in Build Your Content’s Dream Home, or contact us to chat about your web design project.

Damian Jolley

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