The Pet Show has a strong presence in it’s sector, being the largest indoor and outdoor event of it’s kind, but it’s branding was focused mainly around it’s logo and didn’t really have a strong system in place. One of my first tasks was to extend the logo and develop it to into full identity system.
The Pet Show is a really fun, family focused event, and so both the client and I had really strong ideas about how it should be brought to life, mainly with the use of bold, vibrant colours, but we also wanted to capture a sense of what the event really was. To bring the our ideas to life I produced three style tiles, each taking a different direction. The first was a sketchy, painterly option designed to show energy and vibrancy.
The second had a hand crafted/hand sewn feel and was designed to tie into the kinds of materials, toys and products that you would normally associate with pets.
The third had a deep ‘hyperreal’ feel and used cutout imagery and scenery to emphasise the countryside location. It was this third concept that proved to be the winner.
Producing style tiles enabled me to quickly establish various visual languages without spending a lot of time on full designs, and once we had chosen the final option, the branding system was ready to roll out to the designs. It was also an engaging process for the client, putting them in the driving seat.
Restructuring the website
After the branding work was complete, I moved onto the structural design of the website. This included a full audit of their current site, which turned up some interesting insights. The majority of pages tended to all be on the root level, and each page contained quite a significant amount of linking. A good practice in website design is to try and achieve a balance between contextual linking (links that appear within the content) and structural linking (navigation). In this case, there was too much contextual linking and not enough structural, so my main aim was to redress this balance and reorganise the site so it was easier for the user to find their way around.
The new site needed to meet the client’s business objectives, with the primary aim of the site to drive sales through engaging content. My new site structure worked hard to do this. I focused on two main sections – Attractions and Show Zones. I wanted to clearly distinguish between the events and activities that visitors could attend (the Attractions), and the actual physical spaces they would be happening in (the Show Zones). But I also wanted the connection between the two to be obvious, so that a dog lover could clearly see what dog-related events were happening, and in which zones.
The homepage was designed with the client’s business objectives in mind. The page is clearly defined into three key sections and is designed to explain what the event is about, introduce the show zones, and then introduce the attractions.
The Attractions landing page is also designed to present the content in an engaging way, and uses an irregular grid to create an eclectic layout. It also allows the client to raise the profile of certain key attractions that they may want to promote.
Both the individual Attractions and Show Zones share the same template, but each cross reference their relevant equivalent. So if a cat-based attraction is happening in the Cattery, the page for that attraction will link through to the Cattery and so on.
Though the site is based around key templates, I also wanted the design of the pages to be as unique as possible. All are built on my versatile 1000px grid system, which turns pixels into percentages and is designed to make building responsive websites easier. Although this website isn’t responsive, it could be made so easily.
Applying the visual language
With the branding and structural work complete, it was easy to apply the visual language to the page designs, but in fact the modular style of the branding actually worked to inform the layouts, so it was important that the branding work was completed first.
To continue with the ‘hyperreal’ feel from the branding, the sub pages are designed in a modular fashion, and the panels appear to be floating in the sky.
Although quite a graphical look and feel, the front end build of the site was actually very light and the site is comparatively fast to load. It’s built on WordPress, which is a very quick content management system, and allowed me to give the client almost full control over the content of the site. All of the technical aspects were undertaken by myself and the whole project was a pleasure to work on.