If you’re reading this on the website, you may have noticed that today we completed stage one of rolling out the new design for UX Mastery.
Other than a new logo, not a lot has changed—we still have a lot of work ahead of us to get the information architecture, layout, and infrastructure up to scratch—but for us, this is a huge milestone. And it was a reasonably large job in itself, given the hacked together nature of the website we’re operating on, and the sheer number of web properties on which we have a presence (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and more).
Personally speaking, I love our new logo and the direction we’re headed. Luke and I talked through many of the design decisions in an Ask The UXperts session late last year, but here’s a bit more of the story behind the new UX Mastery logo.
Luke and I tossed around a ton of ideas, and had several goes at redesigning the logo ourselves. While we’re both handy enough with Photoshop, neither of us do a lot of logo design for clients. Still, getting these concepts out as a starting point was a useful way for us to begin exploring letter forms and styles. Playing with ideas like this is fun, but we came to realise that we hadn’t really defined what UX Mastery was about, so how could we possibly hope to encapsulate a brand that was still so nebulous?
After running into a few dead ends, we realised we weren’t the right people for the job, and instead engaged the amazing Danielle McClurg to help us extract some of our personal principles and explore our audience and vision for the brand. We provided Danielle with a collection of visual references for inspiration, and she asked us a bunch of difficult questions—who we were, what we were hoping to achieve, and what we believed.
As a result of these questions and the conversations that followed, Luke did some great work in identifying which elements of the old brand we wanted to set free, and which elements we wanted to retain. This was a great way for us to get on the same page, as it forced us to think harder about the specific values that we wanted to instil in the brand and what it stood for. Once we had agreed on these values, it was much easier to chart the direction that we wanted to pursue.
After doing her research, Danielle came up with four ideas, each with their own strengths and personality. I loved how creative and different each concept that Danielle presented was, but the ribbon concept immediately jumped out at us as being the strongest.
The reason we like the concept of a ribbon flowing through the U and the X is because it showed potential for capturing the very design process that is at the heart of what we teach—in particular, the idea of beginning ideas as a sketch, and finishing with a more polished, refined product, with some variation along the way. We’re hoping to build other elements of this ribbon and the meaning behind it into other expressions of the brand.
It’s important to recognise when you’re pushing something too hard though! We stuck to this idea of incorporating a sketchy feel into the logo for longer than we probably should have—we tried a few different ways to force “sketchiness” into the logo without making it look messy or amateurish, and the diagonal lines certainly showed promise. In the end though, we decided that they made things too busy, and we left them out.
Tweaking, refining, and feedback
Comic strips and sketching in general have formed a big part of the UX Mastery brand, and while we were happy with the direction we were going, it seemed a shame that we were losing that essence of irreverence that made us unique. It was at that point that Danielle suggested turning the circle into a stylized speech bubble by adding a small triangle.
Luke loved it, but I balked at the idea. However, after sleeping on it, I started to come around to it—especially when Danielle demonstrated that the triangle could be rotated such that the speech bubble originated from different sources. I fell in love with the versatility of this device.
However, just because we liked it didn’t mean that was the end of it. We wanted to check with our community to make sure that we hadn’t missed something and that they felt the same way about the new logo. Plus, as we all know, involving people in a change is the best way to get their buy-in. So we ate our own dog-food and opened the proposed changes up for discussion in our community forums—first in the Gold Members area, and later in the wider community.
We received some valuable feedback about the new layout and structure of the website redesign, and we’re still working through that. But the overwhelming response to the logo was positive. Thus our new logotype was born.
The colour palette
The choice of yellow as a primary brand colour is a not-so-subtle nod to that all important UXer tool, the humble post-it note. We also chose yellow because it’s much friendlier than the muddy red of the old brand, which sometimes felt a little angry.
That said, we’re aware that yellow is a tricky colour from an accessibility perspective (we can rule out white text on a yellow background, for one!) so this is something that will be front of mind as the rest of the site redesign rolls out.
The final product
A logo is just one small part of an organisation’s identity, but it’s a vitally important component that, if executed well, can bring a strong sense of unity and purpose to an otherwise disparate collection of brand assets. In our case, we’re just getting started, but we feel like we’re off with a bang.
I can’t wait to show you what’s next.