[noun] mɛtəˈmɔːfəsɪs — A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism.
So we’ve updated our website… Again. While this seems to be a yearly occurrence, as a company which is continuing to grow and evolve, we require an identity and message that grows with us.
Why Keep Changing?
We have at times been lax with updating our website, getting the correct message across, or showcasing our work. As the title suggests; we see Cocoon as a living, breathing, entity and as such will continue to evolve — and our website needs to reflect that.
Taking a look at the existing site we saw three core reasons for a complete redesign rather than a refresh or minor update.
Technically-speaking the old site worked fine, but it had been neglected and a while since any of the content had been updated. We feel our business has dramatically changed since the last website was created and as such the message and work displayed on the site needed to be changed.
We wanted to bring the site back to it’s purest form. To display work we’ve done and the awesome clients we work with. The pretentious crap from the copy has been removed and replaced with content that feels more human rather than robotic.
Lastly, why not?
Whilst some sites like Facebook have a need to keep an air of familiarity for their users a portfolio is under no such restrictions and we wanted to do something fresh and new.
Steps in the Right Direction.
Since Steve and I went full time at Cocoon in 2015, the company has had a variety of confusing identities that each focused on the path we believed to be correct at the time. Messages like ‘Not just another agency’, ‘Making web development fun again’, and ‘Working with our clients…’ littered the designs, distracting from the core message we failed to get across — We build apps & websites.
Initially our goal was simple, to build products which helped in day-to-day tasks. We planned to take on a few clients to cover expenses and salaries while also leaving us with enough time to crack on with the next product.
Steve had already released a few products under the Cocoon brand by this point: FTPloy and Former. FTPloy got some decent press coverage and was a finalist in the Net Awards for ‘Side Project of the Year 2013’. These two products gave us a solid foundation to build upon.
Things however look simpler on paper than in real life. It turns out that client work takes a lot more of your time than you anticipate, leaving you with little time of your own and resulting in none of your planned projects progressing. Overheads grew as we took on staff, moved to a bigger office, and upgraded equipment and we found that we were quickly taking on more clients to meet those demands.
Okay, I’m going to hold my hands up and admit that I thought adding these messages would make us sound more desirable to corporate entities but the fact is — no one reads them. If statistics show that people are willing to wait 4–6 seconds for a website to load, the time reserved to read content is even less.
There’s a great blog post I read recently, ‘Z-Shaped Patterns for Reading Web Content’ that highlights an interesting concept of how users navigate your content and that users don’t read pages — but scan. All that thought and effort you put in to create the correct message gets bypassed in an instant and this was what was happening to the latest reiteration.
The Beginning of Something Beautiful.
By this point, Cocoon was beginning to move away from the focus of creating our own products and into the realm of mobile applications. We had been approached by a few start-ups already and it was at this point, we really begun to see the path of mobile applications open up to us.
Messages became more focused on the services we provide as a company rather than some gibberish with big words and our recent works became more of a centrepiece rather than being hidden away.
We aimed to remove any content or visuals which distracted the user from our core message and work whilst making it easier to contact us. With the use of Hotjar analytics, we discovered which links users clicked on most and incorporated them into the core call to action which then flowed into some of our recent works.
Since then we have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people on some awesome projects. Our business has moved a few steps down the path and it’s time for our message and identity to grow with us.
We Build Apps and Websites.
The message is clear, bold and straight to the point — after all, it’s only five bloody words. Our work has now become the prime focus and replaces the homepage of the old site. The idea is that this new ‘Projects’ page will bloom into a navigable directory the more projects we complete. In anticipation of this expansion, users can click on ‘apps’ or ‘websites’ in the title to filter down to exactly what they want to see.
Subtle animations have been used throughout the site to add some depth and personality — bringing the site alive.
The new ‘Lab’ page highlights some experiments in both design and development that Steve and I have worked on to flex our creative muscles. These could be in the form of unsolicited redesigns of sites such as the Natural History Museum, a Mac app built to solve a minor problem, or a concept design popped up on Dribbble.
The studio page has changed to focus on the core of the company — Steve and I. We’re the people doing the work day-to-day and we wanted to convey that human element.
When we initially built our website in 2015 we debated starting a blog. There’s nothing worse than a site with stale content and a blog that hasn’t been updated in over a year. Our view is that this blog will become a place where we can shout from the rafters about projects we’re proud of while giving us a few more characters than Twitter to explain the details. I hope to spark a conversation with articles like ‘Designing in the Browser — is this the path designers should be taking?’ while Steve will likely focus more on the technical details of projects or experiments he’s worked on.
Agonising Over Details.
Although the use of videos has inevitably increased the size of the pages, we’ve agonised over every detail to ensure the site loads as quickly as possible. The result is that although the homepage is 3.7mb in size, it only takes 893ms to load.
While we’re happy with how the site sits currently, there’s no doubt that Cocoon will continue to grow and evolve. I personally look forward to the challenges that will bring us, not only as individuals but also as a company.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the clients which have trusted us to work with them on building an app or website and look forward to the continuing the working relationships we hold so dear to us.
If you have an idea for an app or website and would like to talk to us, feel free to give us a call on +44(0) 116 268 8721. Alternatively, if you’re in the Leicester area, pop in and say “Hi”, the coffee machine is always on.