Ever since it was announced late last year that VICE was buying iconic title i-D, many in and around the media have been keen to see what changes this coming together might engender. And last Friday we got a glimpse of the brave new world when the new i-D website went live (along with an exclusive video from M.I.A.). We caught up with VICE’s executive creative director Joel Kitzmiller to find out more about the new-look site…
What were the starting points for the redesign? What from the old site was important to keep?
Our first steps were to take a look at the landscape; analysing what i-D could add to online fashion. i-D has a longstanding history and there was a lot to think about in regards to what fashion-conscious people wanted to consume online and how they wanted to consume it. The editorial team at i-D were completely integrated in this process; feeding back every step of the way to develop a content strategy with which we were all happy.
We had to take a step back from the old site and get involved in some of the analytics to figure out what was successful. We got granular with this process and picked apart the content success – looking at everything from pageviews to bounce rates and site paths to figure out what we needed to save and what needed to be abstracted into something bigger.
What other sites were points of reference for the new design?
At VICE, we can see daily how fast mobile traffic is growing, so we knew that the new site needed to take that into account. The UX needed to consider how people interact with and consume the content the i-D team was going to produce. The site needed to be adaptable.
From a design perspective, the digital team at VICE get really excited about solutions to UI problems we encounter online. We all love discussing sites that have found solutions to ongoing issues we find online; stuff like sticky menus and contextual search results. We never wanted to rethink anything that had a solution, but rather adapt it where we could.
Inspiration-wise, we mostly looked to sites that we visited daily—asking ourselves why we visited them. Sites like Amazon and eBay—they know what we want and they allow us to tailor our own experience. We thought that was a really strong place to start.
How much pressure is there working on a new site for such a well-established brand?
Lots, but the i-D team is fantastic and super positive. VICE has a large knowledge base to draw from in digital and we knew we could help build i-D’s online video presence. However, the team at i-D know their market and their landscape. They are like a family and have been working with us every step of the way—so as long as they were happy, we were happy.
What would you say are the key features of the new look site?
Specifically, the key features are going to be user-centric design and video.
Video views across our other platforms are growing so quickly that we instinctively knew that video was the area we could help i-D grow. That said, probably the most critical part of the UX that we rethought was the user journey. We did some workshops with the i-D team, defining users and their journeys, making sure we were developing the type of content strategy that made sense to the team.
Personally, I am a firm believer that, soon, our user base is going to become too busy to babysit any website. There is just too much amazing content to consume online already and that is just going to grow. For i-D, I wanted to make sure we focused on building a site where the user could customise their experience and become a part of it. The content had to be intelligent enough to find them. At the end of the day it’s about them, not us.
“i-D has a longstanding history and there was a lot to think about in regards to what fashion-conscious people wanted to consume online and how they wanted to consume it.”
What were the biggest challenges you came up against?
Building a future-proof CMS. The backend often gets overlooked in scenarios like these, but in the case of i-D, the site needed to be scaleable and adaptable enough to be ported to any future platform we needed it to be on. It was very important to get off on the right path here. We had an amazing backend team of developers and consultants that did a great job at this.
How pleased are you with the final result?
Really happy. It was a long, long process and the team all worked tirelessly to make something of which we are all extremely proud. There are loads of bugs, and even more new features that we have lined up, but we are really excited about making them happen and are moving quickly to do so.