The Design Files redesign

Published:  July 2, 2012
The Design Files redesign

Melbourne-based design studio, SouthSouthWest, was behind the recent redesign of The Design Files.

Words: Jesse Mallon

A few months ago, Lucy Feagins approached us with the exciting, although daunting, task of redesigning Australia’s most popular design blog, The Design Files.

TDF began in 2008, covering all forms of Australian design – from architecture and interiors, to craft, to graphic design to illustration and art. Since it’s humble beginnings, TDF’s readership has grown immensely. Now with over 120,000 readers a month enjoying Lucy’s daily posts, and over 10,000 subscribing to the daily email updates, the blog has certainly reached new heights.

Being well aware of the success TDF had achieved over the last few years, we were excited by the opportunity, though mindful that its loyal readers would not take kindly to a radical design change. As Lucy had mentioned in the briefing, reading the daily TDF post had become an essential part of morning routine for many of her readers, and therefore it was important that the blog retained the same personality.

With that in mind, our goal throughout the design process was to create a slicker, cleaner website that reflected the maturity and success the blog had found, without losing Lucy’s unique and friendly tone.

One conversation from the initial briefing that stuck with us was the story of how Lucy decided on the name, ‘The Design Files’. While working as a stylist and set dresser, she kept all her magazine cut outs and other bits and pieces of inspiration filed away, in her ‘design files’. Although a simple story, it acted as the inspiration for the style we developed for the TDF brand. Subtly referencing index cards, manila folders and similar stationery, the style was applied across the website and is also able to be used across other applications.

Initial design concepts, working with both two and three column layouts

Alongside aesthetic changes, we proposed structural changes to the site to improve ease of use and navigation. The image above shows initial design concepts, working with both two and three column layouts. The left and right hand side column of the original design were combined into a single sidebar, which immediately de-cluttered the homepage, allowing the reader to focus the content itself. We also increased the width of the main column to allow Lucy to share larger images, a key goal for the redesign.

We also implemented new functionality for category and archive pages, allowing readers to easily find articles from the last four years. For example, the most popular post category, Australian Homes, can now be sorted by year and by location.

The Design Files: before and after

The redesigned site

TDF is a blog that has carved it own niche, developed over time through good practice, diligence and genuine care for it’s readers and community. Reflecting on this, we were aware our role was to build on previous success, rather than having to recreate the wheel.

This article originally appeared on SouthSouthWest’s blog on 2 July 2012.

All images sourced by SouthSouthWest.

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