For the past 2.5 years, we’ve been improving and experimenting with our mixing skills by preparing a cocktail each Friday. All these experiments are captured on our Artificial Cocktails site, and they have become an important part of our studio’s culture. They even have their own book, and soon they will have their own stand-alone website. With all of this growth and change, we decided that a redesign was necessary, so Kamila and I worked together to bring the new website to life.
Defining Our Target Audience
For us to start designing the new website, it was necessary to identify our new target audience. The previous microsite was aimed at users that were familiar with the Artificial and that were interested in finding out more about the studio culture, or guests that simply wanted to know what they drank on the day they visited the studio. This was not the case anymore, so after analyzing our potential users we came to these conclusions:
a) The new website’s target audience is more likely to be someone who searched for “cocktail recipes” or “recipe mango firewater bitters”
b) Someone who linked to the page from Instagram or Pinterest.
So this user is:
- unfamiliar with The Artificial
- unfamiliar with our cocktails site
- possibly curious
Establishing this helped us to decide the contents of the website. Before it was just a cocktail catalogue that could be accessed from a section of our site, but because our new users where unfamiliar with The Artificial, it was necessary to add an about page with a brief history of why the catalogue exists, and a tools section to accommodate our legend. This last section was also aimed to inexperienced users that want to know what they would need to start making their own experiments.
Identifying Problems to Come up with Solutions
To create the new website we first analyzed what problems the previous website had. These are the ones we addressed:
a) the site wasn’t on brand
b) hover states were too heavily relied upon, making for a boring mobile experience
c) the animations weren’t bringing meaning to the visualizations
For the website to be on brand, we first locked down to a single concept. We wanted the website to have the look and feel of a botanical garden. For this we choose two colors that are part of our studio’s color palette – yellow for the background and inactive elements and green for accents and active elements.
To tie it closer together with the studio’s culture, we incorporated the masks we use (mostly when drunk) and that are soon to be hung in our newly decorated office. These represent our spirit animals and they appear in the background of the detail page when a resident bartender mixes a cocktail.
We also added frames to the cocktails to make the hoover state more obvious, and to provide the user with an even more celebratory experience.
To solve the boring mobile experience issue, we brought to life the previously flat garnishes by adding some color to them and separating them from the glass. This also helped the website feel a bit less monotonous.
The biggest challenge was to come with a solution for the last issue, the animations. Kamila and I are not exactly pros with After Effects, but we both love moving images and we wanted to improve our skills by making more challenging looping GIFs. For this, we first made did research on techniques and best practices and we found this great tutorial by Jake Bartlett that inspired us to create much more playful patterns and animations that were not limited to horizontal movement.
The new animation style brought up a new question: on the previous design we were stacking patterns to show multiple types of alcohol on a single drink, but with the new design this felt forced and not organic at all. So at the end we decided to break the animations in single rows and to interlace them when the drink had more than one type of alcohol.
Usually we don’t have drinks with more than 2 types of alcohol but we checked for the worst case scenario and found out that we have a boozy ugly Christmas sweater in our catalogue – very appropriate for the company.
Last but not least, we needed a logo that matched the contents of the website, so we took the organic shapes of the patterns as inspiration to create it, and decided that it had to be animated like the patterns. Only in this case we thought it was a good opportunity to go beyond a single animation technique and to learn how to do it using CSS and SVG animation. To my surprise it isn’t as hard as it seems; once you have the basic knowledge it is fairly intuitive.
We will soon release the new website, and we will keep keep adding our experiments to it. We hope you enjoy it! Cheers!