If you swing by BrentOzar.com today, you’ll notice that ZOMG EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT!
About six months ago, we embarked on an ambitious project to redesign the entire BrentOzar.com. We quickly picked Synotac, a web design firm based in Portland, and they knocked it out of the park.
Synotac started by surveying our clients to find out why people called us for SQL Server help and what clients thought of us after the engagements. Armed with that knowledge, they built marketing stuff like customer profiles and key differentiators.
First Up: Our New Brand and Logo
The first Synotac home run – our new brand and logo:
Way back in 2011 when Jeremiah Peschka, Kendra Little, Tim Ford, and I founded the company, we wanted to use BrentOzar.com as the company’s online home base. The domain already had a lot of visibility in search engines, and we wanted to keep moving forward with what was working. However, we wanted clients to know our company was more than just one guy, and that the other founding partners were really equal partners. We came up with Brent Ozar PLF by using the first letter of each founding partner’s last name (Peschka, Little, Ford).
Nobody ever understood it. Even a year later, people still asked us in webcasts, “What does the PLF stand for? Is it like Page Life Expectancy?” It raised the wrong kinds of questions, especially since Tim had parted ways and focused on SQLCruise instead.
We changed to Brent Ozar Unlimited because it’s an amusing play on Limited, which is used in place of LLC in some places. Brent Ozar Limited was our first pick, and then Synotac suggested Unlimited instead.
The pocket is meant to evoke images of a doctor’s lab coat, only instead of scalpels and tongue depressors, we’ve got a pencil and a pair of glasses in ours. Synotac blew us away with this – during our online meetings together, they noticed that Jeremiah, Kendra, and I all had glasses, and they wanted to bring that into the logo. We loved it. (Someday, we’ll blog about the entire logo selection process because this was one heck of a tough decision. Synotac gave us several amazing choices.)
Next Up: Renovating the Home Page
Our old site’s top bar looked like this:
Who We Are and What We Do made sense to us database people, but as we worked with Synotac more, we came to understand why these headers didn’t work for the general public. Community was also a tough one – it led to our posters, video archives, and upcoming events, but those aren’t really communities.
The home page of BrentOzar.com was the blog. This is the way WordPress has always been by default – the home page is the latest blog posts – but it doesn’t make sense now that we’re a consulting company. (Frankly, I’m amazed anybody ever contacted us for consulting because we just looked like a blog.)
The first thing you’ll notice on the new home page is the “hero shot” of the four of us (Jes included) done by the wonderfully talented Eric Larsen. We’d loved our old illustrations by Kendra, who is much more talented than she will admit, but she got tired of us saying, “Can you make me look a little more intelligent?” We loved Eric’s analog style and sense of humor, and we added his funny illustrations on each person’s bio page too.
Above the hero shot, we’ve now got prominent links for problems we solve, services we provide, and first aid. First aid is where our free public stuff goes, and of course we’re going to continue to amp up what we give away.
Below the hero shot, we’ve got links for upcoming events and recent posts. We heard feedback that readers were most interested in these two things, so we wanted to make ‘em really easy to access from the home page.
Everything Else is Better, Too
Of course we’re biased, but here’s some of our favorite stuff about the new site:
- Better Blog Post Headlines – before, people kept leaving comments saying, “Hey, Brent, great post” on things I didn’t write. That sucked. Now, right at the top of each post, we’ve got very clear pictures showing who authored the post.
- Better Free Video Archive – we now include all of our past videos broken up into easier-to-understand categories.
- Better Descriptions of Our Work – Synotac’s copy-writing gurus blew us away with the way they translated our personalities into the written page. We’re so happy with the writing on the problems & services pages.
- Better Newsletter Signup – it’s at the bottom of every page, and the newsletter is now skinned with our web site template, too.
- Better Poster and Whitepaper Downloads – you’ve loved our posters, and now we bet managers will like our short solutions briefs too.
We could go on and on about how thrilled we are with the new site, and we hope you’ll like it too. When (not if) you run into bugs, drop us a comment here and we’ll check it out.