Carphone Warehouse: The Lowdown

CPW_oldSite

Recently I discovered that a site for Carphone Warehouse that I worked on last year had undergone a redesign. The above was our version.

I’m only too aware of how subjective the world of design is. The new site has some new features, but the issue for me is signposting. It’s something that’s really important to me and manifests itself in everything from the design I do, to the way I order my folders and even the subject headers of my emails. I’m a bit anal, but I like to know my way about – and I think the user should too.

Google and Apple are kings of this of course. It could be seen as minimalism; a trend. However the design they implement tends to have a great deal of clarity to it. Form follows function etc. So here’s a breakdown of why I designed The Lowdown the way I did.

Now the header and footer were no-go areas as they were consistent with the main site. For me that is good. Sure I might design them differently, but from a hollistic point of view I don’t believe that we should change Carphone Warehouse constants just because they will look nicer. Again, form follows function – not the other way round.

The grid I divided into 3 columns and rows of equal width and height. Although not essential within responsive design, I do find that a simplified grid structure will allow for more consistency between different platforms, so the user still intuitively knows where they’re going if they switch from their desktop in work to their mobile as they travel home afterwards.
This also dictated a clean system for allowing varying real estate for different articles. Each article would occupy 1, 2 or 4 box panels and screen resizes wouldn’t do anything too dramatic in terms of user experience.
Image test

So on to the content. That divided in to 2 sections: Latest and Regulars. I designed the layout so articles could be given varying real estate. This meant that whoever was authoring the content could promote something if they desired. In my mind this also allowed for rich imagery to aid the glossy feel.

CPW_wireframe

Each piece of content would have a headline and sub-stringed piece of text at the bottom to explain what it the article was about.

In the top right we would have a category box so the user would know what the article referred too. These would be colour coded – subtle signposting.

CPW_latest

For the Regulars panel I changed the design slightly so it would be distinct enough from the Latest panel without taking away from the consistency in the page. Articles also fit into categories, so I kept the colouring scheme but integrated it into the headlines as we had less real estate:

CPW_regulars

Obviously we as designers work from UX documents, so there will be different issues surrounding that, but for me the new site is using above-the-fold principles and in the process cramming in too much to a confined space. Category signposting has been forced out of smaller posts as a result. And four different ways of styling the same type of post is suggesting areas are different when they’re not: Design for design’s sake.

Anyway, just saying… 😛

 

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