In early October I was sent an email by the guys at b5media asking whether I would be interested in working with them on a project that had a tight deadline. I’d heard of b5 and read their main blog a few times, but I wasn’t a regular reader and didn’t know any of the people running the network. A few days later they announced that they’d taken $2,000,000 in venture capital and then they sent me another email explaining that they needed an overhaul of their main page to turn it into a bit more of a portal. Suddenly everything made sense.
I talked to Aaron Brazell on the phone and started to get an idea of what they were looking for. I did a few comps for them, and the first 3 or 4 were pretty bad. Actually, they sucked. Everyone was sending emails back and forth with dieas. Then one of the guys said they wanted the page to feel like a place where people could “discover” b5media. That got things moving in my head and I came up with a design very quickly after that.
The comp is actually almost exactly the same as the final product.
Why I did what I did
The design itself is meant to provide a brief overview of the network for people who are new to the site, wondering about advertising options, or wondering how they could start blogging for b5media. If I did my job right the front page will be enticing enough to convince these audiences to click through the rest of the site and keep learning about the network.
The Ajax splash is the most obvious part of the design. It has information on advertising on b5media’s network, blogging for b5, or subscribing to some of their 100+ blogs. The goal was to let someone from any single person from the 3 key audiences find the information they wanted quickly.
The random channel is something that b5media didn’t have before on their homepage. It’s similar to what 9rules does – it gives each member a chance to show up on the home page and drive a little bit more traffic to their blog. The content is pulled using b5’s custom API. If you want to know how it works, talk to Aaron.
It’s not perfect
I know it’s not perfect (yet). The background image on the content doesn’t match to the background perfectly – that’s my fault because in the middle of the design I messed with my color settings in Photoshop and didn’t realize it until the design went live. The test comments I was looking at didn’t look as obvious for some reason. This mistake will be fixed sometime this week – once the guys are back from AdTech.
There might be errors in IE6, IE7, and even Firefox. If you find a problem, let me or one of the b5media guys know and we’ll figure out a way to fix it.
That’s all, folks
It was fun working on a small team to get the design launched by the deadline. Being a freelance designer means that a lot of times it’s just me working with a client who questions a lot of my decisions. b5media let me do the designing and worked with me on the coding. Aaron Brazell put together a few PHP scripts and even a custom WordPress plugin to make all the pieces of the design work. Everyone sent me what I needed on time. And it was impressive (and fun) to see it all take shape at the end.
I’m going to dig a little deeper in the code in my next post at The Blog Herald and explain some of the techniques I used to make the site look “right” in most browsers.