If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing the new IndyHall website, refreshed for 2009. There’s a lot to go over here…so let’s go step by step together!
Over the last 2 years, we’ve been sporting a flourished Independents Hall silhouette as our iconic logo, designed by one of our longest standing members, Johnny Bilotta. We’ve been complimented left and right on this logo, and appreciate all of the accolades we’ve received and been able to pass along to Johnny. This logo isn’t dead, it’s evolving. Don’t be surprised if it pops back up again soon.
We’ve had one major complaint all along, and that was that the logo simply lacked our name in context. If we weren’t so darned good at branding, the tie between that artwork and our brand could have easily been lost. So when it came time to refresh, that was priority #1.
Geoff and I talked about the redesign and thought it’d be interesting to go a totally new direction to show the advancement and evolution of IndyHall. At the same time, he had the interest in taking it a new visual direction, and putting a more “classic Philadelphia” feel to it. We worked with Rick Banister, one of the lead designers at Geoff’s studio P’unk Ave, to achieve that feel.
There was admittedly some conflict here. Despite a few revisions, the one piece that came out of the original comps that we all really liked was the new logo: typographic, bold in statement, and most importantly: it was made from our name!
We test drove the new logo on a new batch of tees we took to SXSW and got great response from them. It was time to take Rick’s great work and drive it home.
When we returned from SXSW, I had a moment of inspiration (mostly induced by extreme stress and lack of sleep) and took Rick’s original layout concept and began down a new path. We kept minimalism a theme, and Rick’s imported the color swatch from the original IndyHall logo that Johnny created. That color scheme finds its way into a number of highlights on the site, not the least of which is the “member feed” section on the homepage. Function and feature-wise, the site began to take life.
One of the earliest iterations of the IndyHall website, long before we had an office, was an aggregate of activity about coworking in Philadelphia: blog posts being tagged indyhall and coworking, photos, and posts to our google group. It became difficult to manage as content started coming in from all over the web, so we lost touch with that concept.
In this re-approach, Rick had the concept for an accordion that let you expand each section to peer into life at IndyHall, a “lifestream” for our members, if you will. While the accordion visual didn’t do what I wanted to as far as being a dashboard into activity at IndyHall, the concept was strong. I poked around the web for ideas and landed on the column layout for photos, tweets, blog posts, and events.
Photos: this one’s simple: we’re pulling in photos tagged “indyhall” and displaying thumbnails. Clicking on them brings up a larger version, the title, and a link to the original photo.
Twitter: we asked our members if they’d like their tweets to appear on the IndyHall homepage. Many opted in, and provided us with their Twitter usernames. We started following them with a special, private bot account that makes it easy for us to add/remove members from the stream that displays on the homepage. The script that manages this was written by David Martorana in Python.
Blogs: just like the tweets, we asked users to opt in with their RSS feeds. We’re currently merging the feeds with SimplePie. This feed aggregation is pretty dumb for now, and will evolve as necessary.
Events: turns out iCal is a giant pain in the ass to parse. Luckily, David figured out how to hit the Google Calendar API with Python and created a feed of events starting on the current day, and reading 5 events forward. Want to view more events? We’ve embedded the entire IndyHall event calendar in agenda mode and linked below the feed. Still not content with the events we’re tracking? We link to one of the best event aggregation sites in the Philly scene, Philly New Media Hub, created by IndyHall Member Chris Morrell.
Our site’s sidebar has always been dismal and useless. Nowadays it sports our hours, address, phone number, and a place to sign up for our new weekly email newsletter.
Full copy rewrite
The copy on our site was always a mishmash that reflected the ever-changing status of IndyHall operations. Since we’ve stabilized a bit, we never got around to rewriting.
Another really disorganized part of our site since our original launch nearly 2 years ago was our membership page. It was never clear what we offered, though we got very good at describing it in person. We took those in-person descriptions and realigned the whole member page.
Thanks to Jonny Goldstein, one of our full time members, we have a fun video describing the types of membership at IndyHall and thats now placed prominently on our membership page. We also describe how to join, and have a slick slider that lets you choose what type of needs you have and it suggests the right kind of membership for you.
We also included “night shift” officially now, which we’ve been testing for the last couple of months. We’re pre-selling night shifts, currently Wednesdays from 6-10pm, as 5 shift punch cards. These cards are $50 for basic members, or $75 for non-members and are available during office hours at IndyHall or to be pre-purchased by contacting us.
Gosh, we answer a lot of questions. Most of the time, it’s the same questions! We’re hoping this page answers those questions before people need to reach out to us…and this page will continue to live and grow as those questions change and evolve. We’re super-excited about the video down near the bottom, where Geoff and I share some insights into how to develop the business side of a coworking space from a community. Be sure to check it out!
The blog is still our blog, all content has been migrated. We’re taking better advantage of tags and comments to organize information, and also have more prominent placement for author information. Our hope here is to encourage more of our members to contribute to the blog with this change, and consequently keep it fresh. The blog is still running on WordPress, and the latest and greatest version.
Easier to find us
Our contact info is easy to get to from every page. No excuses for not knowing where we are, how to get here, or how to get in touch with us!
I’m sure there are bugs, and opportunities to improve. Your feedback is welcome and encouraged. We want this site to do a great job of expressing what IndyHall is all about, what it means to be a part of it and what kinds of activities take place here. If you see something blatantly missing, or other ideas, drop us a note in the comments or email us.
And most of all, we hope to see you around the office to be a part of the excitement that takes place in our office. That’s right. IRL. In the mean time, go ahead and grab our RSS feed to get more. If RSS isn’t your game, you can sign up for our new newsletter.
Happy 2009 everybody, and Viva la Coworking!