7D8 is an independent art and design studio. Established in 2012 by Kent Miller and David Young, 7D8 approaches every project with a start-up mentality, welcoming new ideas and challenges. Multiple States restructured the backend of their portfolio site.
Rifke Sadleir talks to project lead Will McLean about reducing code complexity and building on an existing design.
We reached out to the guys at 7d8 as we loved their work. They asked us to do some small updates to their site. They needed the site to be made responsive and a few bugs had appeared since the site had last been worked on.
In the briefing stage we had a look at the build set-up that we were going to be working in. It was built using a php framework called Laravel. This is a very powerful framework but is too complicated for the 7d8 team to make quick and easy changes. We recommended stripping the site back to a basic php build and tracking all changes through a Version Control System that 7d8 would administer with our guidance. The aim was to reduce complexity, making it easier for anyone working on the site in the future.
Usually we design and build with responsive styles in mind from the start, so this was a bit different. I found it really nice trying to match the original designer’s vision with the new styles. I think it is important when adding to a piece of design - whether it be a website, brand identity or something else - to honour the original designer's vision. People are often too quick to say, “That’s old! Let’s start from scratch.” There is a lot to be said for building on what has come before you. This is what we were asked to do here and it was an enjoyable process.
Yes, there are always challenges with this sort of undertaking, but the original build was well done and the code was well structured. This made the process almost problem-free. The basic markup of the site is essentially the same. It is mainly the styles and build set-up that we have updated. The previous developer was really good at providing us with information when we needed it, which helped us a great deal. As with all our projects, we have written some very detailed documentation on the new build and the mechanisms used within. That will assist us or any in-house developers that work on the site in the future... VERY important!
We suggested to the guys at 7d8 that the site might benefit from these. We thought it would improve the user’s journey from the grid of images on the front page to a given project. We originally had the pages scrolling in from the bottom but during a period of experimentation we tried switching it around so they came in from the top. We found this a slightly more unusual way of transitioning between the pages. It now feels like the images are falling down into the layout, which we think works very well.
I really love the simplicity of the build. I think we achieved quite a lot there. I also love the pagination and I am proud of the way the pagination takes its order from the project list. That was pretty challenging to build. However, the thing I like most is the way we used .img and .txt as the links between the homepage thumbnails and project list on mobile devices. I just think it is so cool that 7d8 went with us on that.