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Interior design: Design VP Jeremy LaCroix on color changes at issuu

Aug 25th, 2015 by Issuu Ops

logo, company name

You may notice a few things look different around here. That’s because we have revamped issuu’s color palette, as part of a continuing effort to unify our brand presentation and experience across platforms. We call this our light theme.

If you use our award-winning iOS app (and if you haven’t yet, you’re in for a treat), issuu’s new color palette is an inversion of the dark theme found in that app. The shift in our design thinking began last fall when we launched the iOS app, and I wanted to share what we learned from a brand and UX perspective.

graphical user interface, website

There are two ways to roll out brand shifts and experience updates. One approach is the Big Bang, where all the guidelines get respecified; new assets are created; and products are built, tested and launched on all the platforms at once. Bang! This process can work for new companies that are able to design from scratch, or for large enterprises that can dedicate teams over the course of months, and sometimes years to the endeavor.

The second way is incremental. This is best for companies that are growing fast and focusing resources across a number of important projects. At issuu, our priority is on bringing as many features to publishers as fast as possible to help them grow their business and expand their audience.

Starting fresh on iOS, we had the freedom to experiment, since there wasn’t any risk of impinging on existing users. We went ahead and regarded the native app as a guidepost, a North Star indicating where we wanted to go with the brand and experience. We received a tremendous amount of feedback on the iOS app’s functionality and look and feel, and we’re using this to inform our evolving web and Android platforms.

Keeping it light

In developing the iOS app, we specified a family of colors, button styles, typography and personas to be applied across issuu. There was some technical work to do before we could push these changes to the entire website. We redesigned and relaunched the issuu Help Center a couple of months ago as an incremental test to see how it would affect performance. Although that update did indeed change functionality, based on our customer responses and user data we are happy to report we made the right moves.

user interface and help center

The tan hues in the new light theme of are meant to warm up the experience — making the site a more inviting and friendly place compared with the cold white, blue and green tones found before. Some of the changes are more subtle: The neutral gray used in the background of the reader is meant to showcase our publishers’ content more accurately than the heavy blue background used earlier, which applied something of a blue cast to the content.

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To be clear, we have not altered functionality; this is simply a color shift. All the menu items, stacks and controls are exactly in the same place and work the same way. What we seek is a clearer hierarchy of existing elements, such as the search box standing out in white, screaming “Type in me!” From this point we are monitoring reactions and responses, isolating and addressing any problems that arise.

Type the next chapter

One element that is quite challenging to change at our scale is typography. As we continue to improve our mobile offerings, we need to employ a type spec that adjusts to the various sizes of screens favored by our users. We have adapted our current type spec of 4 to a family of type specs of 28. There isn’t a definitive date on this release, but I pledge to keep you posted.

Brand guidelines will be changing as well with our new brand pages showing up soon, along with clearer messages about the services that make issuu great.

We’re always driving advances in the issuu experience. Yet we make these moves as thoughtfully as possible, and hope you find them to your liking. Our mission is to enable publishers to thrive and to connect readers with the content they love. Have comments or suggestions? Tweet at us @issuu. We’re eager to hear what you think.

Jeremy LaCroix is issuu’s VP of Design UX and Brand. Follow him at @J_LaCroix on Twitter.

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