With the rebrand for DreamHost, we wanted to focus on the qualities that we felt set the company apart from the competition of other web hosting providers. As a company, we wanted to remain authentic, and passionate that cares about its community and users. For a tech company, DreamHost takes pride in shameless honesty, being irreverent and fun while still being professional. It was important to us that our values and personality came across which the original logo kinda lacked.
The first stage was exploring updating the existing logo. How could we improve upon it? The original logo was set in Futura Condensed, which I feel was very common for many tech companies when it was designed. I explored new typefaces and different ways of incorporating the moon icon but still keeping it feeling familiar to the original logo. The leadership asked the design team to really push the creative envelop and not feel trapped to the iconography we had.
The first round of concepts went to the redesign committee who consisted of DreamHost’s founders, CEO, the VP of Marketing and a handful of other people. The initial concepts were met with a lot of positive feedback. Based on that feedback my team and I were able to refine the logos further before it went to a company vote.
The final three logos were presented at the quarterly company “All-Hands” event in front of the entire company. DreamHost is a very democratic company, and it was gratifying to share the hard work that had lead up to these concepts with our co-workers. The votes were tallied up, shared with our redesign committee - and the winner was a combination of the old and the new below.
The final logo is a nice update to the original one as it stays within familiar territory. It keeps the moon icon where much of our brand equity is, turning it around and setting it in an upward more positive direction. We also kept the camelcase while updating the typeface in the fuller rounder Futura case, giving it more confidence. The old tech color blues were axed as well making the updated blues feel warmer and more inviting. We shared our rebrand and full exploration on our company blog which can be found here.
The collateral that would accomany the new logo was important too. One of the values of DreamHost is to be irreverent and fun. We wanted to make sure our personality shined through, and a regular product brochure seemed to go against that. The DreamHost robot mascot has been hugely popular with customers and fans. We thought it would be fun for our users to be able to assemble and keep our little mascot on their desk. The robot was packaged together with a one-sheet talking about DreamHost and our products. We also design stickers, pins, notebooks, and other fun swag for our users to use.
Any kind of e-commerce site knows it needs a strong website that will promote its brand and high conversion rates. DreamHost has gone through multiple versions of its site through the 20 years of being in business and this was a big company undertaking. This update was even more ambitious than our logo redesign as it is our storefront and sole source of revenue.
The company site that was in place originally was built on Wordpress. Even though it was running on the largest content management system out there, we saw few benefits for it. The site was hard to update, clunky, and slow to load. The database made it vulnerable to hackers, and other malware. From a marketing standpoint, it was hard to run promos and doing any kind of PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising since each promo page had to be updated individually. From design and branding, it was hard to do any kind of design changes because it was built on a custom theme. We needed something that was more nimble, stable, easy to customize and update.
Along with the redesign of the site the team decided to use Jekyll as its new platform. Jekyll is a great blog-aware platform like Wordpress but a static-site generator. It doesn’t need a database to store and input data - making it harder to be hacked or defaced. Jekyll can also be built to be modular allowing you input the code in multiple pages without duplicating it. The site started to load faster because it was all static HTML files. Using markdown data files we could keep all our price points and promo dates in one place. The site was still built on templet files but we could easily experiment with a new product comparison chart or promo page. The code base is all HTML and SASS files in a well organized and structured directory.
On a personal note, I love Jekyll because it allows you to host the site locally on your laptop. Nothing will get committed to the staging or the live server until you are ready. I recommend Jekyll a lot to my clients. Even if you don’t want to touch the code, there are lots of CMS clients out there that work with Jekyll like Siteleaf, and CloudCannon.
Back to design - the new site was built to promote our new brand and convert new users. The new lifestyle photography was based on the brand personas we developed for each product. We hired Magnetic for the new photography. The new site also unveiled the new branding colors we had developed along with the new logo.
The summer before leaving the company the marketing team asked me to lead the redesign of both the homepage and company blog. The site was not meeting the acquisition goals that the team had set when compared to the competitors. We evaluated the current site and what areas we could improve upon. We also looked at our competition and other companies we wanted to emulate. We established the current site was very dark - we had been going overboard using the dark blue and felt very “boxy”. While we loved that the site templets that were so easy to use, it was not promoting very exciting design.
Establishing the new site we wanted to take our users on a visual journey. DreamHost offers a full spectrum of web hosting products and wanted to promote it was a company the customer can grow with. DreamHost could help them own their digital destiny. Keeping the lifestyle photography we also wanted the illustrations to support the products and help explain what they are. Working through the site now after doing the initial rebrand I added a few things I thought was missing - like a small promo call-out and clearer pricing.
Testing the new design with our existing page the redesign was chosen by our customers two to one. The new call outs to price and sign up buttons tracked well on our user heatmaps. The user feedback was positive and helped us determine if we should test the page further. Concepts below.