It’s been seven years since we launched the Walker Blogs and with the release of our new website back in December we thought it was finally time for a refresh. You’ll notice that the design has changed to align with our new website and we’ve used the redesign process as an opportunity to rebrand each of our core blogs. It was an interesting exercise and allowed us to assess the state of our collective blogging efforts—how each of our (now) nine blogs serves a different audience, how they all have different use characteristics by their audiences, and how they could all be focused into tighter streams of content. The blogs definitely represent the long tail side of our publishing efforts—lots of small bits of specialized content for micro-niche audiences—so maintaining a strong emphasis on the personalities behind the Walker and their specific interests was key. And the rebranding process illustrated for us that when you present people with tangible criteria to change, such as a new name, tighter description, graphic—an understandable format to inhabit—it helps them better speculate on what their blog can be.
We decided on a system of flag graphics to represent the various blogs, since each blog is really a representation of a different group of people at the Walker (in most cases the individual programming departments). It’s a tricky balance to strike between striving for traditional, recognizable flag forms and having a graphic that cleverly plays off the title, but we’re glad to have a consistent vocabulary to build on in the future, especially since the blogs now match our comparatively monochromatic main site. I’m particularly fond of the Green Room’s flag.
Beyond the simple graphic forms, this is the first truly responsively designed Walker site—resize your browser window to see things reflow to fit a variety of screen sizes. Content and interface elements of lesser importance become hidden behind links at certain screen sizes. The main content area, on the other hand, stretches to fill a large width when called for. It leads to some pretty long line lengths, but gives our older, image-heavy content the space it needs to fit. We’ll be soon applying this technique to the redesigned Walker Collections, which features a strong publishing component. With the easy adaptations to tablets and mobile devices, it’s a good fit for our eventual goal of efficient multi-channel communications.
Other, smaller items of note include the addition of a grid/list view toggle in the top left to make skimming easier, smarter ordering of categories and authors (by popularity and date of last post, respectively), and a little flag animation when you roll over the left-side blog names (in full-width view).
In the Design department, we’re excited to further explore the gradient between design and art and we’ve got a ton of new posts lined up. We’re looking forward to sharing more of the work we make, what it means to work in-house for an institution like the Walker, and innovations in the field at large that we look towards. Check the far left column for a list of all the great Walker blogs and feel free to drop by the Walker Design department page.
And just for kicks, here are some rejected flag sketches: