Happy Cog redesigns site 'live'

Having last reworked its site in 2007, Happy Cog has decided to spend a week redesigning. President Greg Hoy outlined in a blog post that the company tried to update its site in 2010, but ended up “back-burnering the project”. Having in part been inspired by Site Night, the company is now concentrating on its own site once again – even pulling designers off of other projects to do so.

We spoke to Hoy (GH) about Happy Cog’s redesign week, to find out how other companies could learn from the process, and also what the agency hopes to achieve.

.net: Why did you decide to do a 'redesign week'? Do you think this sense of focus on one task will be beneficial?
GH: We haven't done anything like this before as a company, so we wanted to give it a shot. We know based upon past experience that if we continue to work on paying projects while simultaneously trying to accomplish an internal project, we get mixed results. There's always the potential to ‘back-burner’ the internal work because you know you can. And we have done that. Then things take much longer than they need to. By pulling people off of client work completely for a week and getting everyone working in the same room to accomplish the same goal, there's a sense of urgency and purpose. Everyone knows that failure isn't an option.

.net: Do you think agencies have a tendency to let their own sites fade away, unless really 'forced' to update them?
GH: I do think agencies can get somewhat complacent. It's not because they don't care – it's just because they get busy. Happy Cog has a strong pedigree and a portfolio we're really proud of, so for us, that does most of the talking. People can overlook the fact that our own site may look a little tired. That will all change this week, I promise.

.net: How open do you plan to be during the process?
GH: We plan on being pretty transparent, because we have a history of sharing. We've uploaded lots of stuff on Tumblr and we are documenting the ongoing Twitter conversation at Storify. I'm also tweeting from @hoyboy from the ‘client’ perspective and @happycog is tweeting from the ‘vendor’ perspective, so you get a sense of what it's like to work with ourselves. You can also view the hash-tag #siteweek and we'll probably do a follow-up Cognition article sharing the entire experience when we're done.

.net: What are your hopes by the end of the week? How long do you think it'll be before there's a new Happy Cog site online?
GH: We hope to have a new website live by midday on Friday, US Eastern time. You can likely expect to see an interactive, single page experience that's fully responsive. We're also creating a custom CMS using Ruby On Rails to keep things interesting. And we'll be unveiling our new brand, which we're very excited about. It'll be a whole new Happy Cog, just in time for Friday happy hour!

Our goal in the weeks that follow will be to have a suite of lightweight Happy Cog sites, each with their own dedicated content strategy and aesthetic to cater to the specific audiences they will serve. We're strongly considering abandoning the idea of a one-size-fits-all website. We have a lot of audiences to serve, and applying a single experience for each of those audiences no longer feels right.

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