Brand & website for Tudor Times

By Tom,

April 2014

Deborah and Melita have a passion for everything Tudor. Not just passion. Ambition and deep knowledge.

They wanted to disrupt the world of amateur blogs, enthusiast communities and passion projects by creating a beautiful, well-researched and engaging website.

Discovery & Planning

The Tudor Times team spent two days in the studio where we ran a discovery workshop. Here we established visitor types and their needs, business goals, technical requirements, commercial opportunities and decided on the site structure.

Images from the discovery workshop

Content Audit & Strategy

The success of Tudor Times hangs on deeply researched, accessible and brilliantly written content. We helped plan a content schedule, ran content audits and created a structure and strategy to make sure the content was suitable for its audience.

Back to School

It’s been a while since the team took a history lesson, but we needed to get a deep understanding of the Tudor times. We spent time looking back at the families, architecture, writing, colour, artwork and type of the 1500’s to gain important insights.

Images of the research we did for the project

A New Brand With History

Our first task was to create a relevant, flexible and memorable identity that would be the cornerstone of the brand. Using the insights we gained during our research, we identified the famous Tudor knot garden as a basis for the logo.

The new Tudor Times logo
Images from the development of the new icon set

From our content and information architecture phase we knew that content would be split into topics, so we developed a range of icons based on this theme to help identify the different content types.

Image showing the final icons

Building a Content Platform

Tudor Times is more than just a website. It’s an editorially driven publishing platform which over time will hold an entire era’s worth of historical content.

Image of the final website
We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Toward team—in fact, we felt they were part of our team and wanted the site to succeed just as much as we did.
Deborah Roil, Founder

Testing User Flow

To accommodate the editorial nature of the content we created low-fi wireframes to test the user journey around the site. We made sure there was a natural flow to content discovery and a structure that would lead visitors into related areas.

Images from the user flow tests

Choosing Craft CMS

During our scoping phase we looked at a number of content management systems that would provide the flexibility and scalability needed.

We chose Craft, a CMS we’ve grown to love due to the balance of ease-of-use and powerful features it provides.

Any project with such diversity of content types and potential ways to organise content demands a system that makes it easy to get things moving quickly and iterate regularly. Craft more than delivered in this regard, meaning we could make lots of structural decisions by designing “in the browser” with real content.

A key part of this was Craft's 'Matrix' content field—an incredible tool for creating more complex content than the traditional 'WYSIWYG' approach of other CMS.

Image of the Craft CMS admin area

Flexible Elements

To take advantage of Craft’s Matrix field type we used a modular approach to design. We created flexible elements that can be used to create a wide variety of page and article layouts and help define content on a mobile scale.

Image of the style guide

Designing for all Devices

Building an editorially led website to work on all of today's modern devices provided its own challanges. From breaking long form content up into more digestible chapters to designing mobile payment processes, we considered the user experience throughout.

Image of the website on mobile

One of the keys to Tudor Times’ commercial success is the highly detailed family tree digital downloads available for purchase. We built a one page, mobile friendly payment system using Stripe for managing transactions to make it as easy as possible.

Breaking up the huge amount of content on the site into easily digestible chunks helps users on smaller screens to find what they're looking for. Specifically designed landing pages are made up of large, ‘tappable’ buttons for easy navigation.

Images of the website on mobile

Founder Deborah Roil said...

"We really wanted an agency that could provide fantastic design as well as great technical skills—so many agencies just give you one or the other. Toward delivered both in spades! Tudor history was a new subject area for the team but they embraced it and created a design which reflects our desire to have mediaeval themes in a contemporary context, without all of the old clichés. We would highly recommend Toward."