KPS3 Website: New vs. Old
If you haven't noticed by now, we’ve overhauled our entire website. 2011 was a great year for us at KPS3 and what better way to end it than with a project to showcase all we accomplished during the year? We were also very excited to start 2012 fresh and clean. We wanted to take the process we use with clients on a daily basis and apply it to ourselves, with our own website. I wrote this post partly to point out some of our site’s features, but mainly to shed some light on the strategy behind the new site and all the work that went into it from everyone here at the agency.
How it all began
In the creative industry it’s hard to ever be satisfied. We live in a constant state of evolution, improvement, and carry around an unwilling-to-be-content attitude. The path here is clear: we were eventually going to need to re-do our website. We needed a plan, a strategy. We began the project just as we would with any client: with the discovery phase. Identify the problems of the old site and the goals for the new one. We started by breaking down our old site and listening to all the feedback we've heard over the years, good and bad. It became apparent pretty quickly what people liked and what they didn't.
People's Likes: The site was fun. It was interactive. There was motion, you could click around, watch video, see different things happening in front of you.
People's Dislikes: It was very difficult to navigate. It was outdated. It had flash. You couldn't turn off the SOUND!
Our original assumptions were confirmed by the feedback. Our new site needed to be fun and creative, with all of our personality and none of the flash. If there's sound, it better be part of a video and you better be able to turn it off (but really, no unneeded sound.) And most importantly, the site needed to be state-of-the-art and relevant.
Uh, so, now what?
We gave ourselves the green light. We knew what we needed to do and what problems we needed to solve. Time to go. We planned, strategized, architectured and all those words in-between to come up with our new site structure: Company, What We Do, Work, Thots and News. That's it. Clean and simple.
From there, we spent a few weeks wireframing and drawing all over our windows. Different layouts, different pages. We drew out ten different portfolio layouts with different functionality before settling on what we liked. By the time we were done, you could hardly see Virginia Street through all the dry erase marker.
I was a little nervous when I heard the words "let's start designing." I kept looking for excuses to go back to the wireframing and planning stages - but there were none. Everything I needed was there. A creative brief, sitemap, wireframes, past surveys, assets… anything and everything I could think of I had, no exceptions. Time to go.
Two failed designs and three creative blocks later we had something. It wasn't a full site, but it was a realization: why not make the client work the largest and most important thing on our site? After all, that's what we're doing on a daily basis. We're creating, we're making, we're producing. Let's show it. Let’s let their brands, their campaigns we create, govern and dictate the design of our website.
With our focal point decided the design finally started to come together, layers started clicking into place. Having our work drive the website gave us a unique advantage: because our work is diverse, our design could be diverse. Each page could be unique. We also paid special attention to main areas of the site where the content was unique; in particular, the clients page, crew bios, and our portfolio.
The long road of content + code is paved with redbulls
The design was finished. Our website had a face. Time to build the brain. This is the bulk of the work. It is the accumulation of countless strategic talks and endless planning coming to fruition. We began developing the site from the ground up. Countless late nights of chicken bakes, chinese food and taurine. Writers writing, coders coding. From custom-branded-system-emails to a fresh, new portfolio, our plans were finally materializing.
A few technical notes about the new site:
- It's running on Drupal 7
- It's built using HTML5 / CSS3
- It's hosted with NetworkRedux
- Users can sign up on the site to take surveys and focus groups to win prizes or just comment on articles/posts.
A big part of our agency’s strength is that we’re full service. Whether it's PR or a new digital project, we do it all - and more importantly, we had to come up with a way of showing that to the world. We take the philosophy of IMC (integrated marketing campaigns) seriously, and wanted to apply that philosophy to our website. We wanted everything to be in sync, in tune with one another. Every piece of content tagged and cross-pollinated with other pieces of content. Our solution was a new tagging system - whether it's a news posting or portfolio piece - is tagged with the client, type of work, and strategies involved. This makes it so that whenever a client has a piece of work, whether it’s a press release or new website, it's displayed on the client overview page and updates dynamically. This gave us new flexibility and a never-ending stream of links throughout our site. You will be hard-pressed to find one page on the website that doesn’t have some type of organically created link to other pieces of content.
The next major overhaul was our work page. Let's display everything we do, nicely and cleanly. This included new start/end slates on all our videos, updated shots of all our websites, as well as new photography on all our print pieces. We wanted to be consistent, concise and true to the work we were presenting.
One of the exciting features that will go unnoticed for the first couple months is the expansion of the Disruption Team. We are bringing back the KPS3 Disruption Team, with more emphasis on interaction. You can now sign up on the website and become an active member of KPS3 (sign up here). Disruption Team members get access to the super-secret back-end area of the site where you can take surveys and answer questions to help us and our clients (oh, and win free stuff). This will help us really gather the insights of those around us whether it's friends or clients, and work to make what we do, and who we are, better. Oh, and if you do sign up, do us a solid and take the new website survey. We'd like to hear your thoughts (the good, the bad, and the ugly.)
The evolution and end of the redesign
The goal of the new KPS3 website was not only to redesign our old website, but end future "redesigns." We left ourselves room to grow, to continually improve the website without a major design overhaul. We want to end the conventional redesign and adopt the idea of continually enhancing the experience of our site.
Our goal was to make a website that represents ourselves by truly representing our clients, and the work we do for them.
- 150+ redbulls consumed in the making of this website
- 300+ collective hours went into the new site (that we can account for)
- 2 office sleepovers & an undocumented amount of 4am mornings
- 5,000+ photoshop layers (none of which were named)
- 2 weeks of portfolio samples spread throughout the entire office
- 10 hours of Rob's life spent in an oversized photo lightbox