Upcoming Redesign Concepts

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What is Upcoming?
Upcoming is a community for discovering and sharing events. It can help you find stuff to do, discover what your friends are doing, or let you keep private events online for your own reference.

Project Background
I was first approached to redesign Upcoming by founder Andy Baio (Waxy) back in June 2007. Andy was made aware of my work via a CNN redesign article I had written. Andy’s initial brief to me was concise and informed. He gave me an open brief, to use all the existing content on Upcoming, and redesign the site how I saw fit. Now this is the type of brief I like, because for a client to approach with this attitude means they have an understanding and respect for my design ability (usually demonstrated by past projects). Although this, by no means, means that I do whatever I feel like doing, it means I have a brief which is open enough to do what I believe is best for the website or brand. There is a difference.

Well, after that initial and informal contact there was some three months that past, yes three months, with intermittent emails back and forth getting various contract supplier details and forms to different departments of Yahoo! agreeing on terms and budgets so all the paperwork was approved for me to get started.

Finally everything got approved and I began the research phase of the project and initial ideas while awaiting a more formal brief or further discussion with Yahoo!. Almost two months later without much progress, I was informed that Andy had left Upcoming and I had a new point of contact. Being a virtual freelancer and working remotely from the other side of the world is usually obstacle enough, without having to reform a client relationship mid project. It was another bump in the tracks, but after a swift conference call, things seemed to be getting back on track. It was now December 2007 and it was agreed that I would work on the project in the next couple of weeks and deliver early January.

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Design Overview
I wanted to give you a brief overview of the layout and design elements without providing too much specific detail for reasonings. Upcoming already had some intelligent layout structure and information architecture. So when something is working, there’s no need to be ashamed of keeping it as it is, if this is already the best solution. Although, there was also much that I thought needed to be revamped from scratch. Here are some of the points which I looked at: The segmenting of information and hierarchy stayed similar with the grid layout reconsidered, typography layout enhanced, colour palette overhauled, graphic elements redesigned, plus a redesign of the identity.

Now, as listed, some of these points were beyond the scope of the initial client request, but as I saw them pertinent to the core design issues of the job, I thought it was worth exploring. It’s always better to push the boundaries and scale back, rather than play it safe and never break new ground.

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Delivery, and then?
Now I had completed a version of the homepage that I was ready to present, with expectations that this would not be final. I like to present concepts that are finished designs, but still open enough for feedback, new exploration and discussion. Many times within concepting I will develop new ideas or styles not originally discussed, so when a client is introduced to new elements it is best to explain the purpose behind the proposal and give them time to digest. If the direction or new idea is accepted, then you can expand on the idea fully. If not, you haven’t wasted your time. By doing this you are also involving the client in the process and gaining their valuable insights without allowing the project to become client driven.

Ok, so I deliver the proposed designs inclusive of a long descriptive rationale for ideas and direction. I await feedback, but nothing comes. No replies to my follow up emails until three weeks later. I receive an email notifying me that my services will no longer be required moving forward. So the project had come to a swift end. My assumptions lead me to believe it was connected to the news that was happening at the time. It seems changes in management, changes to internal Yahoo! structure, and a different direction for Yahoo! and Upcoming had a hand in the redesign being dropped. I don’t take it personal. This is the nature of business. They’ve paid me for services rendered and I’m happy to have been able to explore an opportunity I would not have had otherwise.

Through this article I simply want to share the results of my efforts with you, and share a look ‘behind the scenes’ of a web redesign gig from a lone freelancer.

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(Click images for full size versions)
Left: Upcoming Original
Right: Proposed Redesign Concept

Designed by Rhett Dashwood at wadestudios.com

Posted in: Articles  ·  Jun 15    

Andy Baio said,

June 16, 2008 @ 1:24 am

Hi, Rhett! Nice to read your writeup. Last year, I originally approached you, along with a couple other designers I liked, to create your visions of a completely redesigned Upcoming. The hope was that these design concepts would inspire new directions in our work, much like the commissioned concept art used by Pixar and Disney in their development process. I’m not surprised that conversations ended quickly, since it looks like you delivered exactly what we were originally asking for.

As for the delays, sorry about that! I can assure you that the recent issues with Yahoo! had nothing to do with it. It was much less exciting: getting the budget allocated for design, quirks related to hiring an international freelance contractor, and my own busyness. My apologies!

Rhett Dashwood said,

June 16, 2008 @ 2:27 am

Thanks Andy,

It’s nice to know the original motivations behind the commission. It gives me more clarity, and an even greater appreciation for the extent of efforts that you put into the projects you are working on.

Rus Yusupov said,

June 16, 2008 @ 6:47 am

Your redesign of Upcoming is great and it’s unfortunate that they pulled the plug. Happens a lot, I tell ya.

Fubiz said,

June 22, 2008 @ 4:57 am

Beautiful redesign!

Andy Howard said,

June 27, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

Awesome design! Shame it never went live… that’s one of my biggest frustrations about working in the web industry.

mike said,

June 23, 2009 @ 8:16 am

Yeah thats quite an overhaul that you produced, it must be frustrating coming up against a brick wall towards the end of it all, I guess that’s the nature of the business world.

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