Co.Design

Welcome To Our Redesign! Here's Why We Did It

Right now, you’re looking at the redesign we’ve been sweating over for months, created by our incomparable design partners at Simple.Honest.Work. And you’re probably wondering, "What was wrong with the previous design? You’ve barely had it for a year!"

True, many people had grown to love our previous design--which was also created by Simple.Honest.Work. But there were some profound problems with it. While it was great at showing off big, crisp images, we had no sidebars pointing to highlights from our archives. And the process of clicking through to find stories from previous "issues," was a bit clunky. Our original idea was that the website would be less like a blog and more like a bonafide magazine section. And with that conceit, some of the metaphors we were aiming for, such as a "spine" of color-coded bars pointing to previous issues just like magazine spines on a shelf, could have worked better.

So what you see before you is a direct attempt to address those basic problems of functionality, while at the same time doubling down on what you come to expect from Co.Design--that is, big, flashy images that get you inspired. (Not to mention the interesting stories that keep you informed, of course.) That’s why the top-most images on each article and homepage are even larger, and why we’ve created an entirely new slideshow system. As for functionality, we’ve replaced our old system of paginated content with an infinite scroll. Now let’s get into some details!

A Tough Branding Problem

Our logo has changed. Previously, the "Co" was a direct descendant of the "Co" you find in the Fast Company logo. It made sense, to create a parent/child relationship between this site and the mothership. But since that original logo was created, we’ve launched two more spin-off sites: Co.Create and Co.Exist. We couldn’t keep up that use of the "Co" without making the logos for each of the sites look hopelessly similar. So we had to ditch it.

Instead, we went with something that we created which is meant to show that the various sites all come from the same family, but each follow a different voice and subject matter. It’s a dead simple logo, we’ll admit. Some people have already told us they don’t like it (Thanks, Nicole!). But we had to keep it very, very simple because it needs to be recognizable at the thumbnail size on Twitter. That design criteria made creating a logo much harder, but the fact is that Twitter is the single most important contributor to our traffic--and the visual noise you see in your Twitter feed creates a fiercely competitive atmosphere.

The typeface that you see in the logo is actually the same typeface you see in the headline and subheds: FC Zizou, designed by the unbelievably talented Christian Schwartz. Christian originally designed that face for the magazine, and the family is used throughout the print edition. To maintain something of a parent/child relationship, he adapted it for use on the web, along with another custom font we use, FC Kaiser, which you will see in the comments (more on that in a second).

A Shared Design Language

The point of all this is to make the website feel like a piece of the magazine--it shares a similar design language. Those details run throughout the design you see here. The cuts in the images are a central feature of the magazine. So are the editor’s notes (see above) and our pull-quotes (also see above). Open up the print edition, and you can see a direct line of descent. Compare them side by side, and I think you’ll agree that Simple.Honest.Work did a phenomenal job capturing the spirit of print redesign created by our magazine’s creative team, led by Florian Bachleda.

Giving You A Place To Be Heard

One problem: The comments aren’t quite styled right. The fonts are wrong, and they’re too big. When that problem is corrected, you’ll see a mixture of FC’s signature fonts. That’s because we wanted to metaphorically give you a piece of the website’s voice. And we wanted to show off the comments as beautifully as we could, so that they could really feel like a valued contribution to the site, rather than something relegated just to the bottom.

So those are the main points. We hope you like it, and if you’ve got any issues with the site’s functionality or you see any bugs, there’s a nice new feedback button on your right, in red. (Cool, right?!)

[Image: originalpunkt/Shutterstock]

Add New Comment

120 Comments

  • chsweb

    The mobile site needs help - it does not feel or react like a mobile site… feels slow and unnatural.  I think I even say a loading animation, which is extremely weird for text and general web content.

  • Hgfd Oiuy

    May be i am stupid or this is the site design , but i don't find any post date. For an information place this is a very bad design.

  • ericob

    Indeed, terrible terrible performance.  One page I was looking at had a status similar to "... completed 1278 of 1289 items."

    You MUST be joking!  

    There might be interesting stuff here, but the pages are VASTLY too complicated.

    As for the tiny, thin sans serif font... I find it very tiring to read.  And as others have said, the letter spacing is terrible.  

  • Benjamin Rogers

    The site looks great, but it is bar-none one of the worst performing news/information sites I've ever been to. It takes forever to load (if it doesn't crash my browser) and struggles to load content on pretty solid broadband and fiber. This happens to me on a Mac in both Chrome and Safari. Is it the Flash banners that bog it all down or something?

  • @Amaaanda

    I find the website hard to read and even harder to find things. Everything is so big and bold, I have no idea where to look. A good website design should guide the reader from one point to the next, but this design just shouts at you from every angle.

  • Redstar


    Great thoughts on redesign of site.

    A suggestion from improved audience engagement perspective and I am assuming,
    tagline for Co.Design page is -
    business + innovation + design
    tagline for Co.Create is - creativity/culture/commerce

    When Co.Design page is chosen, show that tagline under the title (somewhere near top left) so a new visitor knows what this site is about. currently, it shows somewhere in middle-right. known research says, readers eye works left to right for initial few seconds.

  • Al

    A couple of comments on the practical rather than purely aesthetic side of the design:

    1) An article like this should state its date at or near the top. I had to go to the first comment to discover that this "new redesign" I saw mentioned in the sidebar was the old redesign done in Jan 2012.

    2) If you are sorting comments reverse chronologically except for replies which are chronological below the post they respond to, that's great - but make it clear visually which posts are linked to which posts. Right aligning the post header at first glance just looks like a different kind of post (e.g. from a fastco employee or moderator or logged in regular or something) or just random. One thing that would work and fit the minimalist style would be the separating line above bending into a simple up-pointing triangle above the right-aligned person's name, encroaching just far enough into the space of the post above to be unambiguous.

  • Lauren Dillard

    Your typefaces are great. Classic. Reflective of the magazine. Great work. 

  • Gloria

    you have to be kidding. the typeface of the main font used for content has no kerning, and it's very noticeable; makes your eyes hurt. nothing could be further from professional typography than this. perhaps this could work in print, but my view is that it doesn't on the screen. just my two cents..

  • Justin

    F*%k what everyone says about the typefaces. I LOVE them! I especially want to get my hands on the condensed Kaiser font. The social counter looks great. When is Kaiser going to be available to buy?

  • Thomas Holmes

    Personally, I find this site one of the most attractive sites on the web. The use of (what up to now have been) enormous and hugely attractive imagery, combined with a clean background, beautiful text plus great inspiring content all adds up to that for me. Keep up the great work!

  • Guest

    What a pain on iPad and Mac...
    Takes way too long to load (and I'm on a 50Mbit internet connection...)
    I loved the segmented day per day website. Now I have to scroll for ages on iPad.
    Not sure if this redesign was worth the effort, nor the $$ :-/

  • M1ke

    Good looking site, however not so impressed by the annoying "Your browser is not supported" overlay that appears if I try to view the site mobile, even though the site was blatantly rendered correctly under the overlay. I know you probably spent too long on the site to imagine it being viewed on a tiny screen, but this is the modern world and I like reading websites from bed. At the very least, just let mobile browsers do with it as they will; blocking the whole site with a pop up is like slapping users in the face as you dangle your content over their heads.

  • Hornhj

    I applaud your creativity to deliver more appealing content - change can be good. In this case, not so much.  The font style is very elementary and at times, difficult to read due to the 'lightness' in color.    I don't like it, but because I'm a fan of FC, I will roll with it. 

  • Holltastic

    The typeface makes me feel like I'm reading a 12-year-old's Livejournal. Gawd, please pick a more professional font. This new one makes your content seem less legit.

  • Howard Stein

    I'm all in favor of redesign. Interestingly, Facebook continually changes their interface and one often hears an outcry from some users to go back to the old. But they keep tweaking and improving and I'm sure you will do the same. Interfaces are always in process! Readers get used to the new when they no longer notice it, being absorbed in content. Great site, future forward content, keep it coming.