Viewing the World Through Red-Colored Glasses
If you’re a frequent visitor to our site, you may have noticed something different about the page today. After years of living with a blue color scheme we affectionately called “cadaver blue”, we’ve finally gone and put the “red” into Redfin. The new look is just the latest — and most visible — example of our efforts to strengthen and evolve our brand. For example: remember that tree in our logo? Yeah, me neither.
A Look Into the Kitchen
Redesigning an existing site can be very complex. Even pulling off a relatively small-scope change such as updating our blog theme can be so daunting that many companies and their designers decide to start from scratch. Why? Because when you’re updating an existing site, the hard work tends to be less in the design process and more in the updating for an ancient code base or normalizing different ways an element — like a button — can be put together.
To put it another way, which do you think is easier: cooking a great meal from scratch, or taking a bunch of leftovers and making a meal that tastes better than the original?
Back when the internet was younger and the technology was simpler, there were more complete redesigns done, but as the net has matured and the number of people relying on sites has grown, “redesign” has given way to “refine” and “iterate”. That means more incremental changes — page by page, or section by section. That’s the approach we took.
But It’s Not Just a Fresh Coat of Paint
When we started the effort to update our web site’s visual branding, we took a long, hard look at the common elements that make up our site – the “widgets”, if you will. We’re in the midst of unifying and updating them on our site, though it’s a long term project, and our refreshed home details page was just the beginning.
Redfin was built by many hands over many years, using different programming languages, styles, and coding practices. Eventually we’re going to unwind all this and have everyone using the same set of widgets, but in the meantime, we’re using the power of CSS to bring some visual similarity to the elements that have the same purpose — page navigation, buttons, tooltips, dialogs, etc. One of our goals is to simplify the elements you interact with, just like we want to simplify real estate.
It may be a lot of small changes, but in this case, small changes make a big impact. Just by removing the blue backgrounds we reduced the “boxiness” — the heavy framing of some elements — by an astounding 70%! Okay, so maybe that’s a made-up metric, but it still illustrates the dramatic effect we were able to achieve. One small change that gives the site a night-and-day kind of difference.
We’re also starting to express Redfin’s personality with our new color palette — bright, vibrant, engaging, alive. That’s how we want people to see Redfin, because that’s just what we are as a company. Compare that to cold & confined — two words we heard about our old theme — and you feel the disconnect in who we are and how we presented ourselves to the world. Now our outsides have started to match our insides.
These changes have been a long time in coming, and by no means are we done yet. In the past year, we’ve doubled the size of our design team between our Seattle and San Francisco, which means these changes are going to be coming fast and furious as we work on improving the look of other elements and sections of the site, which you’ll be seeing in the coming weeks and months.
So a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this a reality over the past few months. This was a labor of love, and I was proud to have played a part in its creation. And to our dear customers, we hope you will enjoy our face lift. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
That said, we’re thrilled to finally be putting our fresh, new face forward.