Earlier today the new Motribe site was launched. The design is done by Obox (yours truly) and I could not be happier with the outcome.
It started with a phone call from one of their co-founders, Nic Haralambous. Nic and I have known each other for a while and we both respect each others businesses considerably.
My initial thought when he asked me to redo their site was “WOOHOO!”, however it wasn’t until I sat down to think of what I was going to do did I realise the pressure I had put myself under.
Let me explain why.
Motribe is one of the hottest startups to come out of South Africa. They are approaching 1 million users and only launched this venture in August 2010. It’s exploding in growth and, in my opinion, is by far one of the best SA Start Ups that I have seen. I didn’t want to disappoint and I definitely didn’t want the new design to be the weak link in the chain.
On top of the pressure to deliver ‘the awesome’ was also the timeline. Nic and Vince leave for SXSW tomorrow - I was asked to design the site 5 weeks prior.
For me personally, to come up with something decent I need a long time to think about it. No pen, no paper, just thinking.
Luckily through the whole process the ‘Mobros’ were open to all my suggestions / opinions on where the design should go, what colours to use and even what the copy should say. It was a special experience to have that much freedom with a client project.
At the end of the day the first design iteration got rejected but to be honest I sent it to them way too soon, but did so knowingly to gauge their initial reaction. Once that was out the way some of the pressure resided and I was able to do what I knew best.
The new designs focus was on clear typography, a clean and very professional feel (white space, font sizes) and nothing too playful. So the colours couldn’t be too vibrant and the icons I chose were from the solid vector side of life.
The 960 grid was used with a bit of ‘poetic license’ when aligning the elements. I have learned that some pages require a 16 column whereas others need a 12 column grid - I’m perfectly fine with that as long as it serves its purpose.
Flow and focus points were carefully considered which can be seen on both the home page and sign up page. A lot of questions were asked when it came to the layout of those pages.
My favourite pages:
And so, the end result is what you see today. There were minimum tweaks along the way, especially the sub pages - which got approved almost right away. I would say the home page got the most love and attention.
If you have any opinions please @obox me.
I also want to thank my main man Gavin Elliott for some invaluable help along the way. I think everyone needs an Elliott in their Skype contact list.
So this has been a looong time coming but I think that the timing, in terms of our theme collection and whats coming up, couldn’t be better.
It basically costs $150 to sign up and then only $15 a month to be a member. Being a member gets you full access to all our themes sold on site and discounts for those sold off it.
For our business it is a big step, there is now the possibility of genuine annuity revenue and that excites me very much.
Some peeps may wonder why we charging ‘so much’ to sign up but technically if you wanted to buy all the themes on our site it would cost almost $1000 and you would not get access to any future ‘awesome’.
In some cases we are cheaper than the competition and still offer more PER theme. To cut a long story short I believe it’s a bargain and I am looking forward to seeing the results :)
Just a few weeks ago I was craving my first holiday in 3 years, but that has been put on the back burner recently as I have found a new level of motivation in terms of our business and designing.
We have a Document which has laid out a roadmap for things that we are just doing for July. It’s over 3 pages long and we will get through all of it.
The problem is always that there are only two of us to put these ideas into practice, so you would think with that in mind I would try focus and stay ‘on point’ until all those items are completed.
Unfortunately I’m not wired like that, when I get excited more ideas start to stream in. So instead of just having a 3 page to do list for Obox I have also gone and designed a new look for this site, created a 6 page document for an iPhone app that we are potentially developing (along with friends Charl and Brad) and we have decided to take on two client projects ‘for fun’.
I think if we just look at our list for July its packed to the point where even 5 people would have tears in their eyes.
This is nothing new though, we have done this to ourselves before. When we created Obox Themes in 30days (it’s our birthday by the way) we also designed two massive 60+ page sites that same month.
I will write a post soon on how a two man team manages this type of stuff without getting into any fights or collapsing on the floor.
I believe that when you have an idea that you genuinely believe in you must pursue it as best you can. As badly as you want it, that is how aggressively you must pursue it.
Here is a little insight into life before Obox Themes. We wanted to create a content management system for ColdFusion.
We got so far into the project that we were this close to launching this site here: OCMX Live (don’t expect all the links to work).
We currently use an updated version of OCMX to run our Obox site, including shopping, affiliates, blogging and the showcase. All ColdFusion, all works. Maybe we should consider bringing this project back from the dead :P
I stumbled across the link while creating a new folder for our new version of OCMX for WordPress.
Oh how times have changed. Who of you would like this to be converted into a WP theme? If so then just @obox me with your comments ;)
“When are you doing a new From the Couch episode?”
I get that question almost everyday and almost everyday I say I will blog about the answer. So here it goes:
To say FtC took a lot of work is an understatement. We filmed it ourselves, edited it ourselves and marketed it ourselves. On top of that we had to do client work and still find time to do themes. 1am to 3am bed times were not uncommon for over a year.
It was hectic, it was time consuming and it was exhausting. Eventually our legendary sis, Natalie, came to work for us and thankfully she took over filming editing and uploading (BTW to anyone interesting, uploading is the bitch).
Around this time the effects of FtC started to show, in a positive way. Our work schedule was now booked 3 months in advance and what was initially our best friend had become our worst enemy.
Last year we were focussed on one thing only, turnover, so we took on all the work we could. We would try and close every opportunity that came our way and the result was as we took on so much work that finding the time and inspiration for From the Couch dropped.
Eventually we started to run out of ideas for content because we were so busy building that we didn’t have time to learn new things and share them with you.
We always said that when the quality of our content dropped we would stop sitting in front of a camera and wax lyrical.
Eventually the quality of content did start to drop so we tried to post weekly instead of daily episodes. This then resulted in us falling out of the groove/routine. It actually became harder to post weekly instead of daily.
I distinctly remember us sitting on the couch and asking ourselves what we were going to talk about. Usually we figured something out quite quickly, however this time we sat there for over an hour trying to think of something.
We knew then that it was time to take a chill. We decided to put FtC on hold. We thought we would come back to it in a few weeks time.
Problem is that its been on hold ever since.
Honestly, without it we wouldn’t be where we are now. We wouldn’t have a theme company, a recognizable brand (in our sphere at least) and a smile on our faces everyday. Most importantly we networked like crazy and met some truly awesome people all because we carried a camera around with us.
The amount of rad dudes we met in the online space has also been awesome. Seriously, it’s through FtC that our base of online friends have come from and you are all an awesome bunch of peeps.
We are super stoked where it got us but at 10 episodes short of the 200 mark I think it’s time to state the obvious. From the Couch, for the time being, is closed for new content.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to watch us. You have no idea how much we appreciate it :)
We released a new Premium Tumblr theme today, it’s called Splatter and I think it rocks (obviously I think that, I designed it, take me with a pinch of salt).
I am ridiculously fascinated with the micro theme market at the moment. It is the start of something huge and as long as Obox is pumping out good micro themes I believe that the future is positive for us as a business.
There are also some hidden gems in terms of innovation with these themes. I strongly suggest you keep your eyes peeled because when we created the slider for micro.Inkdrop we opened Pandora’s box :)
At the moment the biggest bread winner at Obox is still WordPress but I think this will slowly change over the next 8 to 10 months or so.
More details of the theme will be posted on Obox tomorrow.