The Advomatic redesign process

Jack and I, co-designers/themers at Advomatic, were given no boundaries for our first redesign attempts. “We want to keep the Advodude and Advofont branding, but beyond that I’m open to anything,” Adam said. As designers know, the word “anything” is horrifying — and rarely true. But the ability to start out in left field and work inwards through an iterative and collaborative process was a refreshing experience.

After a few “left field” design attempts, helpful constraints DID eventually emerge:

  1. Color scheme: how do you make the color scheme of an American flag look fresh and new? And how do you keep dark red & dark blue from feeling heavy & overpowering?
  2. The retro font selection: same question, how to “do” vintage, yet convey to clients that we are cutting edge techno-geeks?
  3. Globey, also known as Advodude, and the use of clip-art: I don’t care much for clip-art. How can you use it without it looking like an afterthought — or campy?

At around the 15th iteration was really where I started addressing the design constraints:

  1. A screened-back blue with light gradients and transparencies made for the best choice for a color field — a little richer than plain white or gray, but not overpowering like the dark red/blue or a scaled back red (pink). The multi-layered look reflects the company’s own structure of many layers of service, and demonstrates the attention to detail that Advomatic provides. I scrapped sharp edges from earlier versions for some slightly Art Deco curves — once again, keeping it clean and sophisticated.
  2. We ended up scrapping one of the company’s original vintage fonts (Cocktail Script) and going with a different ‘50s-ish font for some accent text. It has been suggested that the fonts are a historically inaccurate — one from ‘30s-‘40s (Lionel Diesel), one from the ‘50s (Rocket Script). I see that point, but I also think that mixing eras isn’t always a bad thing — especially when creating something new.
  3. On a side note, once we discovered Cúfon, a nicely-degrading javascript font rendering tool, on a separate project, we realized that we could use Lionel liberally on dynamic titles and menu items — something that in the past has been a huge stumbling block. The Cúfon project has been liberating for many of us who straddle the design and programming worlds.

  4. I wanted to minimize the use of random clip-art, but I kept thinking back to this amazing collection of union-organizing clip-art from the ‘40s I found in the depths of a radical library. Years ago I borrowed it, made copies of every page, and returned it (upon which it was sadly lost or stolen.) For years I’ve been dying to use some of those images — which actually seemed to fit nicely with the globe Advomatic logo. I was really inspired by the New York buildings (which are not unlike the Advomatic home offices), and “Our Team” graphic made everyone unnaturally giddy. Happily that graphic includes some women, and women just not doing housework, like a lot of vintage-y clip-art! Because there was meaning behind these pieces (and Advomatic has a history of working with unions), it didn’t feel like it was random or cheesy.
  5. The original concept changed a lot between this iteration and how it is now, and a lot of that was influenced by Jack’s experience with user interface design — how people actually USE the website, something my initial designs sorely lacked. In that way, and through the exhaustive feedback from the whole team in our new favorite tool, Conceptshare, it truly became a collaborative effort.

    Also, later in the process, we needed some icons that would represent all the services Advomatic supplies, and Jack did such a great job rendering those vectorized tool icons, we decided to apply the same treatment to our staff profile photos. The stylization of those icons and our headshots all dovetail nicely with the overall aesthetic of the site.

    I’m proud to be have been a part of this process!