As a follow-up to the company’s identity redesign, the website needed to reflect many of the same attributes convenyed in the brand. Focusing on industry standard elements such as the printing dot pattern for the background was obvious. Having a site that showcased multimedia, RSS feeds, and an online store made their site a hub for information relating to their publications and related news.

Humble Beginnings

The Cranium website started as 5 static HTML pages to support the fledgling comic publishing company. It was determined early on that to successfully showcase the content and the recently created identity, it would be necessary to redesign the site.

Laying the Foundation

We identified key features that lead us down the path of choosing a blog platform for the redesign. We decided WordPress would be the best choice since many contributors were already familiar with it and the time/maintenance in getting it up and running would be negligible. The scope of the project included:

• Adding search functionality
• Creating an repository of hand-crafted articles
• Building a basic storefront in which merchandise could be purchased online
• Developing an RSS news feed to help keep people informed with the site
• Creating opportunities for Cross-promotion

Using a blog platform not only made maintenance easier, it provided a built-in search engine optimization options and helped the content be seen by more people.

The Design

Focused around its new identity, we created a site that used the halftone screen pattern that appears in the logo and comics to add texture. Colors were pulled directly from the logo, keeping the saturated red and orange prevalent throughout the site. We started with a basic template and customized it to suit the client’s needs.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

From a maintenance perspective, it was important to create an environment that could be updated from anywhere as the contributors live in different cities across the country. Multimedia was also an important consideration as Cranium wanted to broaden its reach beyond the standard search engines. What better way to do that than to create content for text, video, audio, and still image.

A company newsletter (Grey Matter) was created to reach out the hundred or so people who shared their email address with the company. Vertical Response was chosen for its ease of use, pay-as-you go options, and robust reporting capabilities. Articles are written and distributed via email to subscribers.

Success

Coupled with newsletter announcements, appearances at local conventions, and other marketing efforts, there’s been a steady increase in people visiting the site. While Cranium still boasts a modest subscriber base, the membership has steadily increased since the launch of the site and since then new titles have been appearing. Stats for the month of the launch revealed a 300% increase in traffic. Traffic spikes to over three times that amount upon release of each newsletter. Additional improvements scheduled for later this year include adding a way for visitors to subscribe to the site from the main page, links to social media, and more.

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