Projecting trajectories

Updating a brand can be a difficult process. On the one hand, coming up with a new brand is difficult enough because of the blank canvas syndrome, but updating one; well that’s a wholly different albeit not incredibly dissimilar process. Ultimately they both really begin by defining tenants, or pillars of a sort, that can hold the weight of decisions made beyond them. Their primary purpose after all is to provide a foundation by which a team can frame future plans around.

Those plans don’t all need to be accounted for at first, mind you. And that’s mainly because they almost can’t be based on how quickly business needs change and marketing avenues expand. After all, we no longer live in world where a brand is defined by just a logo or it’s message portrayed just in a single tagline. In fact, it’s actually pretty difficult to know where the potential uses of a brand start and stop, which brings us back to relying on those tenants or pillars.

If we can’t know exactly where the boundaries of a brand will end, then hopefully the foundation laid by those pillars can provide enough strength that regardless of what get’s built on top of them, it’ll be supported. And first up for that strength test is our (team VIP) revamped home on the web.

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A new site

We just pressed the button last week, but vip.wordpress.com not only has a fresh coat of paint with all new messaging, but has been rebuilt as well with a few specific projects in mind for the future. Each of them (past and future) contributing to that new foundation that hopefully we’ll be building on for quite some time to come.

It’s been quite the process getting to this point and while we see it as only just the beginning, let’s take a look at the various sections we targeted as our pillars for the site.


Visual pillars

Last month we took a look at which pillars we chose to build our visual foundation around for the overall brand, but here we were looking to apply them on the site. We went more in depth on the rationale behind why those pillars were chosen last time, but one of the primary drivers behind all those decisions was alignment.

While VIP does operate quite a bit differently from the product of WordPress.com, it’s still considered part of the family and therefore should align itself with ongoing projects from both environments. The development of those projects are constantly shifting, but as we found out, there are still a few key visual pillars we can align with.

Color palette

A derivation of the current WordPress.com palette, primarily in the blue / gray spectrum. The addition of a gold being the only unique color from the original palette.

vip_palette-example

Typography

The “Noto” family of typefaces from Google. Selected primarily because of it’s fantastic language support and visual similarity to our previous serif selection of Merriweather.

 

vip_typography-example

Illustration style

Derived from the recently completed WordPress.com illustration project, lead by the WordPress.com team and Alice Lee, the VIP style is the same stylistically with updates to the color palette usage.

 

vip_illustration-example

Photography

We’ll be building up a library in the near future, but we’ve targeted a particular look for the photos we’re hoping to capture. Those can be summarized by the following attributes: people focused, naturally / brightly light, in a collaborative setting. Keep in mind that this pillar is intentionally forward looking as we don’t currently have a stockpile of photography to use, but we’re making it a priority and have taken steps towards building it up.

 

vip_photography-example


 

Positioning pillars

While we were evaluating, experimenting, and tracking projects to use for the visual pillars, we were also doing a lot of research on how we want to position VIP in the future. How WordPress is used in the enterprise has been shifting quite bit in recent years and not only did we want to capture that shift, but we also wanted to evaluate where VIP fits into that landscape.

Long tail

For perspective customers, one of the opportunities that came out our research and client interviews was where we / they viewed WordPress as a tool. In previous years, we’ve put emphasis on being the “best WordPress host on the planet” and that’s still true. However, it also means that our opportunity starts when a customer has already found out that WordPress is the right tool for them.

Now we’re setting our sights to way earlier in the journey by showcasing how WordPress is the “best enterprise content platform on the planet”. This shift not only mirrors real stories we heard from existing clients, but also intentionally extends our potential reach by showing up more in the path of potential prospects.

Freedom

Providing a fast, secure, and stable platform is ultimately the basis of how we enable all kinds of different technology to run on VIP. But our customers are looking for something more. They need something that enables them to not only focus on their business, but also enable their creativity and speed in pursuing that focus.

VIP isn’t just the best place to host enterprise level WordPress sites, it’s the best environment to enable content management at scale. Whatever they’d like to build, WordPress can handle it, and we’re here to support the freedom in can unlock.


Development pillars

When first started thinking about the site, one of our primary goals was to provide a framework for it to evolve off of. We wanted to get away from the idea that pages were specific entities, rigid in their own format and execution. Instead, we wanted the site to feel like a collection of building blocks, each one containing predefined visual direction that anyone could assemble with the need to edit and deploy code.

 

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Gutenberg

If that sounds familiar, you’re spot on. The idea of building pages out of blocks or modules is actually one of the core missions of the Gutenberg project. While we are not using the project initially for the new site, it’s only because of timing. That project is moving quite along and architecturally we developed the entire site with the ideals of it’s building blocks at play.

Image-1501548778

There are no specific page templates for any of the marketing pages on vip.wordpress.com. And that’s intentional. We want to be able to adapt quickly to various positioning needs (think positioning presentations, ad campaign landing pages, vertical marketing showcases, etc.) and having a library of blocks at our disposal is key in supporting that freedom.

On the right: sample of the available building blocks

Currently we’re utilizing a plugin called Fieldmanager built by one of our agency partners Alley Interactive to support this functionality, but designing and thinking in blocks is what we’re striving for. It’s this mentality that we’ll use going forward when designing anything for the site and when the project is ready, you bet we’ll have our list of blocks ready for Gutenberg.

Image-1501548726

Highlights module example settings

For those curious, I’d highly recommend perusing the sister blog to this one for anything Gutenberg related. There’s already some fantastic insights into the project that go into not only the background behind it, but also how Automattic is general is planning to use it.

Workflow

Another area we’re intentionally adjusting for has to do with how we handle code updates. The majority of what we need to do on the site can be done in the admin, but we also want to keep expanding on it’s functionality and for that we rely on code review.

pr-review-process

We’ve recently taken steps to ensure this process is integrated well with the existing tools in the marketplace (most of our clients like to use GitHub for this) and our clients told us how excited they were are about it. So, we’re using our own site as another way to continually use those integrations in the same way our clients do.


Just the beginning

Overall, we’re excited to have a refreshed home on the web, but really we can’t wait to use it as a platform as a major outlet of the updated VIP brand. Expect for it to evolve and change in the coming months, but in the mean time go check it out. We’ll keep you posted here with more and more VIP brand updates.

Thanks for reading!

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