Building the new You Know Who website and updating the logo.

Preliminary sketches for You Know Who

The You Know Who website has been a real labour of love since January. We all know how it gets, you get busy with client stuff and you have to fit your own bits and pieces around downtime or weekends.

The old site was in need of a massive overhaul, and I wasn’t happy with the logo either. I went through lots of logo iterations before I finally realised, Candy Script and I had to call it a day. It is a great font, but it just wasn’t portraying the right kind of feel for me.

N.B. I’m eternally thankful to that little font though, as bizarrely, it’s what put me in touch with Carsonified all those years ago. Lots of people commented on how both of our logos used similar fonts, infact they used the same font and it was by pure coincidence, however, it put Carsonified on my radar and I’ve been friends with them ever since.

You Know Who has come a long way since I started the studio in 2003. The first logo we had was a mixture of Kabel bold and light with a quirky slanted question mark. It was fine, it did us well for a few years and was recognisable. Then in 2007, we rebranded to get rid of that awful slanted question mark that caused so many layout problems, and went to Candy Script with a little bit of customisation in Illustrator. In 2009 I began to feel unhappy with this too, I realised that with a quirky name such as “You Know Who” you can’t go too serious but I did feel the need to step it up a gear, which is the logo you now see today. It’s worlds apart from what we’ve had before and I love it.
YKW Logo through the ages

Tackling the website was an entirely different hurdle, time constraints were mainly the problem for me as I just never seemed to have enough time to sit down and get anything finished, and by the time I did – I didn’t like what I had done before.

Over many evenings and weekends, I actually got the new site to 80% finished and realised that it wasn’t very me. Despite the studio being made up of a select group of freelancers who I use again and again on specific projects, the studio has my name very much associated with it, and I wanted it to reflect some of my personality too, which the design before the one you see today, just wasn’t doing. It was busy, it seemed a little generic and not worlds apart from the site I was trying to update. I left it brewing in my “websites” folder, mulled it over and got married.

Whilst on honeymoon, we went to a beautiful restaurant in Hollywood called Dominicks – as we were eating I noticed a lovely postcard slipped behind the bottle of wine. I instantly fell in love with it and decided to use it as inspiration for my new site design.

Dominicks inspirational postcard

I know the vintage thing is very “in” right now, but I have a genuine love for everything like that, my house, especially my office, is very shabby chic/vintage and it made complete sense to make my online “house” reflect a bit of who I am and what I love. I decided to roll with it. Some might say, the clash of vintage with iOS4 and bang up to date technology, would be a weird pairing, they would probably be right, but what is the point of being cookie cutter and making the site another Apple-looking rip off?

So, £200 worth of vintage Getty stock photographs later, I was inspired, happy and making more progress than I had done all year. I want the site to have personality, but be professional. I also wanted to provide as much information for new clients as possible as well as giving them a feel for how I work and what to expect. I also needed to get various other bits into my “about” section and just neaten that up a whole lot.

Various You Know Who Site Designs

The same went for the portfolio. I personally prefer portfolios where I don’t have to click from lots of thumbnails into individual images, I like to get a feel for a portfolio as a whole and so decided to stick with the single page format that I had previously.

Of course, the whole backbone to the site is ExpressionEngine, something I’ve been learning on the fly but have always been exceptionally happy with. ExpressionEngine requires a different type of coding to regular HTML/CSS in the form of lots of curly brackets sprinkled amongst your code. These curly brackets are pulling in all the data on the homepage, the portfolio, speaking gigs and reading material in date order, so the newest stuff always gets pushed to the front, without me having to touch any of the HTML/CSS templates I have designed. This is great for keeping your site up to date when you have a spare 5 minutes.

Whilst looking at typography for the site, I had my sights set on FF Dagny via Typekit and whilst listening to The Big Web Show (Episode 18) one week, they featured Roger Black from WebType who have a long standing favourite of mine, ITC Franklin Condensed, which went perfectly with the vintage theme. I dabbled with Serif fonts for the main body but ultimately went with a Sans Serif because it looked neater on the page and, in my opinion, worked better, especially for some of the smaller elements of the page.

The site is by no means finished, I’ve still got iPad and iPhone specific versions to get sorted, but it’s a lot easier when there is already a live version to work from. I also have some work to do in ie6 & 7 as there are some bugs in there, but since they make up less than 0.6% of my user base, I felt I could launch without initially worrying too much.

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  • well done !

  • Loving the new site Sarah, I wasn’t sure about the new logo at first but its growing on me!

  • Great work on the new design, it mixes a few different styles very well. For example I wouldn’t have thought to put the geometric shapes of the logo with the vintage photos, but it works.

    I find the content a little confusing in places though. From what I understand you are a one woman studio and in places the site reflects this, but then it uses ‘We’ instead of ‘I’ in many places and it just seems to make it difficult to know the how large the company is.

    • Sarah

      Thank you Kean, I need to address this and will be looking into rewording the opening paragraph.
      I’m not a one woman studio, I have other people working with me however it depends on the project. I take on board everything you say though and will address this so that it is not confusing to people. Thank you.

  • I have to say congratulations on the new site design. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the previous version, I didn’t think it was a true representation of your talent. In all honestly, it looked almost beginner level. BUT the new site design is very nice. I saw some dribbble shots and didn’t know if the modern web trends mixed with vintage photographs would work, but, you have really pulled it off. Layout, typography, and colors all work well, I really like it Sarah, big big well done to you.

    I think some of the wording and information needs rejigging like what Kean suggested, as well as the site saying the user is on the ‘you know who’ website, but about suggests we find out more about Sarah. But not everyone knows straight away that you know who is Sarah, and as you say, technically, it isn’t. It’s a mix of various talented folk that you commission.

    Anyway – for now, it’s irrelevant, you’ve done a superb job Sarah.

    Gav

  • [oh and also – are you going to validate your new site?]

    • Sarah

      Thank you for your comments, I’m glad you like this one better.
      It already validates aside from the “About” page which I’ve put a note in the code to say, won’t validate because of Amazon Links and Google Map Code.

  • My apologies, I didn’t go to the bottom of the source. I was looking at the contact us page though?

    Still great work… sorry if you took offense by my comments.

    • Sarah

      I’m made of stronger stuff than that 😉

      Ahh yes, contact form – that is some ExpressionEngine stuff going on, I’ll look into that. Thank you.

  • Simply awesome redesign! I love the logo. It lends itself to so many creative uses!

    The combination of the modern style with the retro vibe work together really well.

    You’re an inspiration!

  • Great work Sarah! I really like what you did with the redesign. I love following your work. It show that you are very talented, hard working and you give me inspiration to do great stuff also. Thank you for existing and being awesome! 😀

  • Rob

    I only came across your site this morning after visiting the FOWD site. I then went back in the afternoon to take a closer look and it had all changed.

    Nice job, the new one has a lot more personality and I really like the new logo.

  • New site looks great Sarah! You should submit your wireframes to wireframeshowcase.com! 😉

  • I like very much you works. Compliments.
    I love the design studies u did and new logo is just awesome trendy!
    Looking forward to see you @ http://newadventuresconf.com/

    Regards,
    Riccardo

  • Bob

    Nice work Sarah, I like the way you describe how this came together, it’s really inspiring. Bob

  • Real nice work Sarah. Got a link through from Line25 and have to say I really like the retro quirkiness thing that you’ve got going on.

    Top stuff

  • I came to your site via one of the css galleries, can’t remember which one now.

    wow you have come a long way. I love the redesign! the colours work so well together, and I love love the logo, surprisingly goes well with the whole vintage feel.

    I always feel happy/proud when I see another great designer female in this male dominant industry.

    congrats on your wedding btw. 🙂

    Idil

  • Hi Sarah,

    Love the site, nice mixup of styles.

    With regards to the Google Maps code you can get it to validate if you change all the & to &

    It bugged me on a clients site, hence the fix!

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    p.s. am currently redesigning my site (needs to be in spanish as well and with a CMS).

    • Sorry that should be & the HTML version!

  • I just came across your site today…I like it a lot. But my gosh, I absolutely LOVE your logo. That treatment to create those type forms is awesome! Very nice!

  • Great work Sarah,

    Your new site design definitely reflects your shabby chic/vintage style. I agree with you that designing your own portfolio website isn’t like designing any other website. I found that I was definitely my own most difficult client. I took some time off to build my portfolio website and I finally came up with a design that I was happy with. Doesn’t it feel great once you’re done (at least with version 1 LOL!).

    Keep up the great work. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Adham