Today we launched the new Cooper.com. It’s a work in progress. Agile in action: ship it, learn something, change it. But we’re enormously proud to reach this milestone.
A long and winding road
Cooper.com has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past couple years. In 2011, we introduced an interesting and innovative design for the site that some of us called the “Big Wall.” The whole site was there, all in one space. Navigating with links would zoom the viewport around the Big Wall of Content. It was like a giant whiteboard—and as everyone knows, designers can never get enough whiteboard.
It was a controversial design (we love controversy), and risky for a couple reasons. First, it broke with conventional models of how a website was supposed to behave. Instead of “drilling in” to see content, the big wall site had a kind of “meandering around” feeling to it. Second, it was a challenge to make it work well across browsers and devices, especially the iPad, which at the time was starting to sell like hotcakes. To help with this, we had a fall-back version of the site, without all the bells and whistles. It was the same content, in the usual tree-like static-page-based structure most browsers expect.
Walled off from search
For a variety of reasons, a combination of the Big Wall design and the move to WordPress resulted in a dramatic reduction in Cooper’s Google search visibility. So after a few months of troubleshooting and tinkering, we reluctantly tore down the Wall and reverted to less snazzy version. This also gave us better mobile compatibility, which had become a de facto necessity.¹
Back to basics
Ultimately, however, Cooper.com is not just a way to make a splash or show off an interesting new layout. It’s the way we tell our story to the world, talk about the amazing people who work here, and showcase the incredible things they do. Our new site is the first step toward that vision, with gorgeous new examples of client work, feature articles and upcoming events on the home page, and more of a focus on all the goodness we deliver to our clients, from research and design to custom training and Cooper U. All of it in a responsive, mobile-friendly package.
In the coming weeks and months, you’ll see a lot changing on Cooper.com, including a revamped and refreshed Cooper Journal, more case studies, new Cooper U content, and a host of other improvements. We hope you like it, and we’d love to hear what you think.
¹ Please pardon the rant, but it’s crazy that in this golden age of browser compatibility and HTML5, we have to worry so much about search engine frickin optimization. Google-the-search-engine is the new IE6, constraining our designs, guiding site architectures, even determining how many times we say “UX” in <h1> tags. This is the dark side of designing for the internet. The irony is that Google-the-Chrome-maker has done so much to enable the kind of freedom in web design that we’ve always craved. But don’t use that new power too freely, or make an invisible un-Google-friendly adjustment to your CMS, lest you be relegated to the dustbin that is The Second Page of Results. –ed.