The History Man

Simon wanted a new take on his existing website, with a modern responsive layout honouring the spirit of his well established and respected brand. Showcasing recent publications, sharing helpful articles through a blog, and simplifying payments for important overseas customers were also important.

Website

The History Man

Information Architecture

First it become apparent that Simon would benefit from having somewhere to post articles about his research, writing and teaching.  Secondly the importance of his books indicated that these should be featured more prominently than had previously been the case.

Building a custom CMS using TypedCMS meant that the information architecture and content management functionality could be tailored to create and manage a unique user experience for Simon’s website visitors. 

Copywiting

We took a content first approach to developing the website which meant that the copy was able to help inform the design early in the project. The content from the old website had been written by the client and was of a high quality and had recently been updated. We therefore agreed that this should be used as the basis for the new site but with additional material to support publications, and to allow Simon to publish article about his ongoing research and new publications.

Logo Design

The logo and colour palette for The History Man (originally designed by Honeystone over 10 years ago) was is recognised and associated with Simon’s reputation for high quality of work. It was therefore decided to retain this and integrate into a new web design.

Web Design

We retained the existing brand and colours and integrated this into a re-imagined website design to provide a better user experience on modern browsers and mobile devices.

The user experience design work was undertaken using in browser design.

Front End

Laravel (an MVC framework built with PHP) was used for the website application (front end) so that fast, static content could be served, and content types (pages, case studies posts etc) easily modelled and output by category. This was key to delivering the core requirement of curated, sector specific user journeys.

SaaS and  webpack were used to compile dynamic dependencies into static assets and minify CSS. This reduced development time and build time and more importantly helped to boost the performance of the website.
 

Infrastructure

The History Man website application is deployed to a hosting account which runs on 100% renewable energy. 

Brief

Simon’s archive research website “The History Man”, was approaching end of life, and it was apparent that he could benefit from a new website with improved support for modern browsers and mobile devices.

The existing logo and colour scheme were still well respected by Simon's clients and it was important that a new website should retain the spirit of his existing classic branding.

Simon has authored a number of books since we built his original site 10 years ago. These have benefited from his ongoing work at the National Archives and their potential to help endorse his professional credentials was apparent.

A growing number of overseas commissions meant that a simple and cost-effective way to facilitate payments from these clients was an important ongoing requirement.

Approach

Write first time

A “content first” approach to the project meant that the copy and photography were able to inform the design from the outset. The existing copy had been written by Simon, was of a high quality and had been regularly updated. 

We therefore agreed that this should be used as the basis for the new site, with additional material to help promote Simon's books, along with a mechanism to allow Simon to publish articles about his ongoing research.

A new content structure was developed based on discussions with Simon in which we explored how his business had evolved, and what his goals were for the future.

It became clear that Simon would benefit from having somewhere to post articles about his research, writing and teaching. A  blog was integrated into the site, which allows Simon to publish articles to his site and promote the latest articles on his home page.

Something old, something new

The logo and colour palette for The History Man (originally designed by Honeystone several years ago) is well recognised and associated with Simon’s reputation for high quality work. It was therefore decided to retain this and integrate it into a more modern web design.

While Simon put the finishing touches to his new content, the website design was re-imagined through “in browser design".  Using HTML and CSS as the primary design tools meant that “production-ready code” was produced from the outset thus reducing development time.

The result is a fresh new design based on a wider, more modern canvas. This incorporates several new content features, while honouring the established brand.

Have you read my latest book?

As the project progressed, the importance of Simon's books become increasingly apparent. It was clear that these should be featured more prominently than they had in the past.

To address this we added a feature which allowed Simon's latest book Tracing Your First World War Ancestors to be promoted across the site.  The development flexibility afforded by TypedCMS allowed us to include this as a fully editable feature within the existing budget.  The feature also has the potential to evolve into a full blown publications module.

Client feedback - the website is vital

Simon has been kept busy with work coming in through the  new website and had this to say about it:

I really depend on the website for business. It is largely how potential clients first meet me. How the website feels to them and works for me is vital. I have complete confidence that Honeystone will deliver whatever is needed.

Simon Fowler

The History Man

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