The new public face of KnowledgeOwl
Kate Mueller | March 3, 2021
We're pleased to announce that KnowledgeOwl has gotten a makeover! We've rebranded our public website, blog, and support knowledge base. This is the first in a series of posts about these changes.
Here, we will explain the changes and let you know what's up next.
Why the change?
Our existing brand look and feel was put together after we transitioned from HelpGizmo to KnowledgeOwl in 2015 - 2016. We had never really updated it.
Since then, we've grown from two owls to eleven, plus a growing number of guest bloggers and occasional freelancers. We've matured as both a product and a company. In the winter of 2018 - 2019, we began working on ideas for a brand update with The Rectangles, our UX design firm.
We also began trying to more intentionally ask questions like: who are we? What kind of company do we want to be? This process fed a number of initiatives, including our B Corporation certification application.
Initially our goal was just to update the look and feel to be a bit more modern, but along the way we realized that we wanted the public face to properly reflect who we are and where we're going--a tall order, indeed.
Ultimately, we felt we wanted a site that was both mature but also playful, to better reflect who we are as a team. You'll see design elements throughout that should help reflect this mentality.
Well, aside from a big chunk of copy and the URLs, pretty much everything.
Some of the things we're most excited about in the new layout:
- White background and streamlined top navigation elements: We've shifted from that teal-based background generally to a white one, which feels cleaner.
- A more interactive, more detailed pricing calculator: We've always valued transparent pricing, but the new calculator is...well, it's AMAZING. Even if you're already a customer, you should go check it out!
- Custom icons and banner images: You'll see Tetris-themed icons and highlights throughout the new site. Customers build all kinds of knowledge bases with our product, and we fell in love with the concept of reusable/modular components as a visual representation of what we do. That sort of dot matrix look is reflected in the new banner images on all our major site pages, too.
- About us: We're excited to showcase bios for every single member of KnowledgeOwl on our new About us page. Also, my personal favorite: the KnowledgeOwl owl you see in the upper left of every page is named Linus. We now each have our own Linuses in our bios. #allthelinuses #linusesoftheworldunite
- New Testimonials: We have a lot of amazing customers, and many of you offered testimonials, headshots, company logos--or left us reviews on review sites. We've always featured a few of these on our website, but we hadn't updated them in awhile. We will be adding more customer testimonials and logos moving forward, but for now we're thrilled to have added these!
- More links to support documentation: Our previous public website didn't make it easy to find our support KB. Now we have a top-level navigation link and some links to common resources in the site footer.
- The new Features page links over to our documentation quite a bit, too, and we've added this page into our release documentation updates.
- We've updated the trial sign-up experience to only require a name and password; we've heard less is more when it comes to sign up forms. We've also extended trials from 14 to 30 days.
- First-time users in trial accounts now have a much more detailed, helpful onboarding experience in the app.
Behind the scenes
The biggest changes, though, you can't really see. The architecture is very different.
Our old public website and the support knowledge base were both built entirely within KnowledgeOwl knowledge bases. With this redesign, we've changed the basic architecture of the public website, which has been an interesting experiment.
The copy and content is still created and maintained within a KnowledgeOwl knowledge base, but that content is fed into a Static Site Generator (SSG) to handle all the styling and design bells and whistles that we wanted. Now, instead of saving a change and seeing it instantly, we have to wait about 5 minutes. (But have you seen the new layout and how fast the site loads? That delayed gratification is totally worth it!)
We'll have another blog post in this series with more details on that setup, in case you're interested in learning more or trying it out yourself.
The support KB remains 100% created, designed, and maintained within KnowledgeOwl itself. So if there are some elements of that you'd like some behind-the-scenes "how'd they do that?" answers to, let us know! (I especially love the Linus icons before most of the alert callout divs!)
More to come
You'd think after two years, we'd be "done", right?
Well, if you've ever gone through a major rebranding effort, you probably won't be surprised when I say: nope, we've still got more to do!
I'm a firm believer in Minimum Viable Product and breaking releases into phases, and I've also been impatient to get the new design in front of your eyes. So what you see now is phase 1 of our release. We still have a sizeable release tail for phase 2+ of this project.
Here's what we'll be working on in the coming months:
- Full redesign of the blog: Right now, we've done a fairly minimal update of the Owlery's main landing page and the blog post styling, to keep it consistent with the overall changes. We're working on a full redesign here that will totally change the main blog landing page, add new categories for blog posts and author landing pages, and further streamline the individual blog post pages, too. So you'll likely see an even bigger facelift in this corner of the site later this year!
- Full redesign of our support knowledge base: As with the blog, we've done a quick style update for now, but we have a more involved redesign of the support KB coming, too. In the past, we've often made our support knowledge base double as a demo resource. We're moving away from that and getting pickier about which features we use (rather than trying to showcase them all), as well as making some minor tweaks to how we organize and present our support documentation.
- New pages on the public website: In this first iteration, we've really focused on updating existing copy and getting all of the existing site into the new design. We have some brand-new pages and copy to add, too.
- App rebranding: No, we're not totally rebranding the entire KnowledgeOwl application. But in the coming months we will be making some small changes to the overall look and feel and the app login page to bring it more in line with the new brand style guide.
For now, we hope you enjoy the new designs as much as we have enjoyed creating them, and we look forward to your feedback on the new look and feel!