Do you recall when MTN stripped its logo of all vibrant colors? The Pan-African telecom big, recognized for its signature “Y’ello!” greeting, bid farewell to its iconic yellow shade, italics, and purple underscore in favour of a stable oval, extra minimalist look. Regardless of the flurry of criticism surrounding the minimalistic rebranding, the corporate insisted that it mirrored a “refreshed technique.”
Nigeria-based digital media outlet Zikoko has not too long ago undergone an identical visible transformation, within the type of a major website overhaul.
Personally, I’ve discovered the new website to be seamless. With its extra intuitive interface, navigation to its exhilarating content material looks like a breeze. There may be now a important menu that options all of Zikoko’s classes, a facet menu that gives entry to varied flagship content material, a bit for trending articles and a video part referred to as Exhibits. There’s even a widget that results in all of Zikoko’s newsletters.
Zikoko, which is owned by Huge Cabal Media, has made a reputation for itself by telling tales in regards to the experiences, views, and humour of African youth via partaking and sometimes hilarious content material.
Maybe most excitingly, the web site revamp looks like a reinvention, particularly given the latest launch of Zikoko Citizen, a flagship for African youth who’re more and more all for politics. It’s as if the web site has been rebooted to align with up to date tradition—”A brand new web site for a brand new age.”
I believed you may wish to hear in regards to the design technique of the web site of one in every of Africa’s greatest youth-focused publications. So I had a chat with the members of BCM’s in-house design staff that labored to grasp this dream: Tuntamilore Tawak, Barbara Odusola-Stevenson and Osemudiamen Ehiabhi. Right here is how our chat went:
Me: What have been the primary steps you took to execute this undertaking?
Osemudiamen: We needed to perceive what the enterprise objectives have been and guarantee that they really aligned with the customers’ wants. It’s potential for a enterprise to see the issues customers are dealing with from a very completely different perspective than the customers themselves. Furthermore, there’s typically a conflict between enterprise objectives and customers’ wants. For instance, a media firm may must promote much more adverts, however the customers may discover the advert placement distracting. So our aim was to discover a method to merge each.
Barbara: Yeah, so we did plenty of analysis. Our viewers could be very partaking so each time we despatched out surveys, we acquired a whole lot of responses from customers telling us what they appreciated and didn’t like about their expertise on the web site. We had restricted time, so we did a thematic evaluation of the varied responses to seek out the frequent ache factors and set up a hierarchy of wants. Irrespective of what number of grand concepts we had, we needed to concentrate on fixing crucial issues for the sake of the enterprise.
The most important drawback was discoverability; there was a lot content material on the web site that even essentially the most lively customers have been lacking out on. So that’s what we centered on fixing.
Me: Apart from the express wants of the enterprise, was there a artistic inspiration behind the brand new design?
Osemudiamen: Our temper board was full. The enterprise and customers we surveyed really helpful the aesthetics of sure web sites they loved . We additionally had concepts of our personal, and finally, we drew inspiration from far and wide and filtered them via Zikoko’s signature vibrant vibe.
Me: How was your expertise working with Zikoko? Did you expertise any challenges?
Osemudiamen: It was an fascinating few months. They’re a really artistic staff, and I’m pleased with what we have been capable of obtain collectively.
Tuntamilore: Probably the most difficult half was the suggestions course of. Throughout our weekly conferences, it was tough to get actionable suggestions from the editorial staff. They have been saying lots about what they appreciated or disliked, but it surely was difficult to distil all they mentioned into sensible data for sufficient implementation.
I set free an unsightly giggle on the decision. Designers have had an age-long love-hate relationship with their purchasers centred round this topic of communication. There are a whole lot of memes making jokes in regards to the matter. I discovered it fascinating to study that even the expressive writers of Zikoko weren’t spared from the curse.
Me: So what recommendation would you give editorial groups or companies on the best way to talk suggestions to designers?
Osemudiamen: It actually isn’t simple determining the best way to implement “scented candle vibes” in a design, so it could assist each side to be affected person and clear of their communication. It’s additionally essential to grasp that we’re all on the identical facet. Typically it may really feel like designers are in a distinct world from the others within the enterprise, and which may have an effect on the way in which suggestions is communicated.
Barbara: I feel it’s additionally essential for all stakeholders to be in any respect the conferences in order that we don’t stroll again from selections and undo the progress we now have made as a result of somebody who missed the final assembly doesn’t like the place the design is headed.
Osemudiamen: That’s proper. Conferences are essential. Earlier than we started designing, we had tons conferences with completely different stakeholders within the enterprise, together with the tech staff, editorial, biz-dev, and many others. All of them want to supply their enter earlier than the design begins and all through the course of it.
Moments later, I spoke to Ruth Zakari, Zikoko’s managing editor. I instructed her in regards to the design staff’s feeling that the communication might have been higher, and he or she agreed.
Ruth: The work of the design staff was completely sensible. However I utterly agree that communication was a really exhausting a part of the undertaking. I didn’t notice it could be so mentally taxing to speak design suggestions in a sensible manner. All of it labored out in the long run, as they have been a really useful and understanding staff. We had a imaginative and prescient, and so they just about materialised it. Total, it was an fascinating and rewarding course of shifting from ideation to the ultimate product.
Me: Why was the redesign crucial?
Ruth: The web site is enticing, but it surely was not a conceit undertaking. We had a enterprise aim: our customers have been having bother discovering the content material we printed on our website. Zikoko pushes out plenty of content material constantly, however when customers acquired to the location, it was exhausting to navigate to the place all the brand new stuff was and to seek out outdated stuff they actually appreciated. On the outdated web site, it was simpler to seek out the most well-liked issues, reminiscent of the most well-liked quizzes, the most well-liked flagships, and many others. The brand new website makes it simple to seek out every thing, well-liked or not. It has a greater navigation bar and sidebars that present all of the flagships that you simply like.
Me: Typically, how essential is design to Zikoko?
Ruth: Design conveys all Zikoko’s content material—articles, movies, occasions, and all that we create. It channels our work to our viewers with a vibe that really displays what we stand for and our honest needs for our viewers.
Me: Now that this design is finished, it should really feel like a brand new age for Zikoko. What are the objectives Zikoko hopes to realize within the close to future?
Ruth: Zikoko has come a good distance. We now have advanced and are available to a degree the place our aim is to grow to be as unique as potential. We don’t want Zikoko to be described as, say, the “Buzzfeed of Africa” or the “Rolling Stone of Africa.” We would like Zikoko to only be Zikoko, and we’re working in direction of attaining that aim by overlaying African tales and publishing African content material in our personal distinctive manner.