SecureWorld is a leading publisher of cybersecurity content, and they play host to a network of industry conferences that facilitate more connections than any other cybersecurity event in North America. Unfortunately, the brand’s old site had a dated look and feel, as well as a sub-optimal user experience.
The Project Challenge
Beyond the surface issues, the old site design was affecting the brand’s big picture business message. Because web content was buried down below the fold and past the events calendar, it often gave web visitors the impression that SecureWorld was really only a conference and events company for the cybersecurity industry. The site was failing to communicate SecureWorld’s identity as a producer of powerful content in an immediate, accessible way.
Salted Stone’s UI / UX Designer, Kathleen Huang, went into the project knowing that the first priority was to highlight SecureWorld’s stance as a premier publisher in the cybersecurity space while keeping user experience top of mind throughout every design element.
Huang says, “We did little things like using varying color schemes to help highlight the difference between curated and original content. We wanted an easy way for SecureWorld’s web visitors to be able to quickly make the distinction.” Even subtle changes can have a major impact, especially when you make a lot of subtle adjustments towards a single goal.
For this particular web design project, we had an extensive exploratory process with the client for the visual design. Huang created a mood board to get a sense of the exact styles the SecureWorld team was interested in.
Once we had a solid understanding of what SecureWorld liked, Kathleen was able to begin using style tiles, a tool that allows our team to design elements of the site—header text, body styles, button styles, imagery, etc.—before jumping headlong into the full site design. This allows us to map out the borders of the visual language & vocabulary before we start writing with it, so we’re able to iterate quickly without having to reinvent the wheel each time.
Using these planning elements, Huang and the design team solidified a single direction before moving into the design mocks phase.
Mitch McKenzie, Salted Stone’s Creative Director, says, “Kathleen (Huang) always does a great job of organizing and structuring several very different types of content in a way that’s really efficient and easily digestible for users.”
Huang says, “Because we were using a traditional workflow for this website design project (as opposed to a growth-driven design workflow), it was more important for us to really understand SecureWorld’s vision from the outset; we know that once the site goes live it’s going to be the face of SecureWorld for a long time.”
Our final design featured a large design element at the top of the page focused on showcasing new content across several categories. Event information still has an important place at the top of the page, but a difference in scale between the content and event information helps visually establish priorities right off the bat.
McKenzie says, “Our process really worked for us on this project. It gave us a really solid understanding of where we needed to go up front for both the visual design and UX. I’m really proud of the work both Kathleen and Natalie did on the site, I think it turned out great.”