This is part 2 in a series on the redesign of fetchsoftworks.com; the series starts at Part 1: My Original Sin.
Finding a Web Designer
Having finally committed to redesigning our website, we started looking for a web designer. We tried to notice when we saw a site we liked. We paged through designs at CSS Zen Garden, looking for examples that struck a chord. At CommandShift3, the “Hot or Not” of websites, I noticed the newly redesigned home page for Happy Cog, a design firm with offices in New York and Philadelphia. The design wasn’t something that would work for us, but I was struck by how well and creatively it suited its purpose.
It wasn’t the first we’d heard of Happy Cog; John Gruber had written that “Happy Cog is one of, if not the, best web design agencies in the world.” Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software has blogged about his company’s experience having Happy Cog redesign their site. Happy Cog’s founder Jeffrey Zeldman had literally written the book on standards-based web design. Plus they had a sense of humor; the page footer on the Happy Cog site informs you that “XHTML and CSS keep us crispy in milk.”
I sent Happy Cog a project planner with some nervousness; it felt a bit like petitioning web design royalty. But Jeffrey Zeldman got right back to me, and we hit it off. The Happy Cog gang turned out to be Fetch users and fans, and they were psyched to give us a site that would live up to our product.
Next, A Step Back
The next step in redesigning the website was to tell HappyCog all about our existing company and brand identity, around which everything else would be built. In the project planner I explained what we do, the feelings I wanted the new site to inspire, and the adjectives I thought best described the Fetch Softworks brand. But a brand needs more than words — it needs an image, a picture, a logo.
And only then did I realize: we didn’t have one.