Refresh the websites of two large, well-established artist representation agencies.
Client: Mendola Artists + Rapp Art
Project: Mendola and Rapp Website Refresh
Our directive was to replace the existing sites with a fresher, more modern design, while providing new logos, visually stunning layouts, and better search engine optimization.
Three key areas of functionality for each site were: a filterable portfolio, robust site search, and a clean admin interface.
Highly-customized WordPress site.
Goals + Ojectives
What type of website to build
The client needed a website that could be updated easily and frequently while providing managed access to the artists whose work was showcased on either site. We recommended the use of WordPress for both sites and noted that many prominent, high-scale sites are built on WordPress, including Mercedes-Benz, TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Sony Music, The Walt Disney Company, and many others. Tens of thousands of WordPress sites are added each day.
By default, unless there’s a very good reason not to, it makes sense to develop new, content-rich websites with WordPress, particularly given its strengths in Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Integration. There is also an enormous ecosystem of WordPress themes, widgets, and plugins so that most functionality can be had off the shelf (OTS) at a minimal cost. In order to get the most out of WordPress, however, a company often needs the technical expertise provided by professional designers and developers.
3 Key Areas of Functionality
- The Portfolio
- Admin Interface
Logo + branding
We decided to go with black/white logos for both sites, Mendola and Rapp. This allows all focus to be on the artists’ artwork without being distracted by the site brand.
We worked extensively with the client to develop mockups for key pages such as: home, portfolio, contact, about, etc. Once we developed a style guide, we then translated that into responsive layouts for additional breakpoints. The outcome was a set of unique layouts for desktop, tablet and phone.
DiscoveryThe project began with an initial call with Tim and other Mendola Artist stakeholders. To create context for design decisions, we asked about the business of artist representation and the role the website plays in it. We also discussed who uses the website and what they use it for and went over a list of major competitors. In addition, we went over the business objectives and priorities for the website and narrowed down ideas with respect to design aesthetics (websites, products, gadgets, etc., that represent the desired direction for the look and feel) and the highlevel elements of the Mendola Artists brand. Since there were two web properties involved, we went through the same process of discovery for both sites.
When designing a WordPress site, it’s important to get the right kind of hosting for that site. A small site without a lot of content or with low-levels of traffic might work well with one of the well-known providers that are available. In our experience with this project, we found that WPEngine offered the best combination of performance, reliability, and cost. We initially deployed the site to a different provider but ran into caching issues and image problems that prompted us to move both sites to WPEngine. When using WordPress for commercial use, it’s worth noting that most managed hosts provide staging, automated backup of site content, monitoring and alerts in case a site goes down, and technical support.
In addition, we went over the business objectives and priorities for the website and narrowed down ideas with respect to design aesthetics (websites, products, gadgets, etc., that represent the desired direction for the look and feel) and the highlevel elements of the Mendola Artists brand. Since there were two web properties involved, we went through the same process of discovery for both sites.
Themes + Plugins
Portfolio Management Training
Social Media Integration
Site Based SEO
Since the sites have launched, we have continued to support the client when hosting issues have come up or when there was a need to update any WordPress elements such as the theme, plugins, or the version of PHP they are using. We also continue to maintain the customized features we built into the site, from plugins (for images and social sharing) to search filters.
- Redesign from a mobile and tablet first perspective
- Incorporate an Instagram-like tiled feel with a minimalist and contemporary home page
- Improve navigation of images in the portfolios including the ability to swipe through them
- Add drag-and-drop functionality to the admin interface
- Simplify and streamline searching
- Add the ability to share individual images in addition to entire portfolios
- Add animated thumbnails
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