SuperFriendly helped Smashing Magazine Find a Point of View

Yeah. This has been a very long project. I mean it’s probably been the longest I had so far. I’ve been working on it, I think, from maybe August, September 2015, of course not full-time, but all the bits and everything came together very slowly. When we started working on the project, we’ve been doing creative explorations with Andrew Clarke. At this point, we’re looking at okay, how can we change the layout? What do we need to do? We actually also set up a pattern library at the time. We looked into okay, what would be the scope? What would Smashing look like potentially, right?

Then, we did a lot of comps and we went from one thing to another. In the end, we had some really interesting prototypes we could test as well. Then, we thought, okay. Let’s maybe try something very different. We have this which is great, major parts of what we established already through this process are going to obviously end up in the final design as well. What if we try to do something way crazier? Something that’s totally way off, where people would say, "This is not okay." In the beginning, I remember this conversation, I thought, no. We should have something that people don’t expect or they feel like this out of place or it just feels weird, in a way, or it’s really this amazing wow effect, right?

I remember you telling me, “Why do we need to do this? Why? Shouldn’t it be just readable? In the end, it’s all about the magazine.” We had this conversation back and forth. I felt like, again, we need to highlight the products in a nice way, even if you had a full width ad for the product, should still feel like it’s a part of the experience. Should not feel like an ad, right? It was really an important part of the design as well since now, this is why now, everything is really nicely organized and neatly organized together, integrated together.

Then, of course, it was only one part. The visual design took a while. Then, we also had to figure out a way of how to integrate everything. We’ve been working with Sara, who was the front-end developer, and she basically made it all happen. She believed so much in the vision, which is incredible, that I think, just during this process of building the site, she probably has become a UX specialist and visual designer, just through this process. She kept coming up with ideas and saying, “You know what? I think that Dan wanted to express this in his design,” because we had some mock-ups that were just not finished yet. There are so many fine details always that you need to tweak at the end.

She felt like, "Oh I think that Dan would love to do this." Then, she would go to you, I guess, at least this is what she was saying, she would go to you and then she would get some really quick feedback. Then, she would continue designing mock-ups, which she’s a front-end developer. Then, over time, she also became the UX specialist because she also felt like, "Maybe we should move these things around, change the flow and things like that." She’s been incredible. I feel like, if I look back now, it was really like a dream team. I don’t think we can ever had a better team, if you ask me. Then, of course, while this was being done, we also had the Netlify guys, Matt Biilmann, who is the architect of this new stack that we moved to. Technically, everything will be changing with the relaunch. It’s very different architecture. I don’t know if I should go into details here or not, because it would take another 20 minutes. It was really more about integrating everything nicely. This is where he was spending literally endless nights making it all happen, and building it up from scratch, which was amazing for us as well.

I don’t think that many companies or many projects have this chance, because we could do whatever we wanted. We could have just any e-commerce experience we wanted, move things around, change flows entirely. This is not what you can usually do if you’re relying on things like Magento or Shopify. You have certain things that just exist. I mean you can change them, but it will require a lot of work, right?

Here, we just from start, started really totally rethink what the publishing should be, what the editorial experience should be, what the article should look like. Also what the e-commerce experience should look like, what the job board should look like, all of the stuff which was really great. I mean I had a good time. I had a really good time.