Visual restyling

Digital Services Georgia

In 2016 and 2017, my team revamped our digital presence.

In this study, I'll cover the visual changes. Check out the website re-architecting case study to learn how we handled content and organization.

Several pages from the Digital Services Georgia website.

So here’s the problem

Digital Services Georgia — known as GeorgiaGov Interactive at the start of the project — provides design, development, and consultation to state agencies and elected officials.

By 2016, our website was old and it showed.

‍Sure, I like rainbow bubbles as much as the next person, but I think we can do better.

Meanwhile, we were trying to convince others to hop on our train.

We needed an attractive, usable website that would show other agencies what the platform could do.

As leaders of Georgia’s digital presence, our website needed to look good so others would want in. It was time for a refresh.

Pinning down the illustrations

To start, I adjusted what we already had…

Took it a step further…

Forgot that and tried for something new…

At this point, we knew our blog would be a big focus moving forward. This is where we share best practices and platform news, and it's really where people get to know us. It needed to feel personable, calling for a hand-drawn look. One order from Wacom later, I had the tools and direction needed to get to work.

My first illustration with my new toy, paired with Peter Lee's 2016 blog post Usability Testing on the Cheap.

Great Scott, that’s it!

Getting it on the homepage

We’d found the style. Sketchy drawing. Minimal color. Very human.

‍Intrigued? Make sure to check out all my illustrations.

Time to feature them on our sad, forgotten homepage.

I checked other blog-heavy websites — particularly GOV.UK’s Digital Service site — for inspiration. Essentially, we were looking for two blocks:

  • One to automatically feature the latest blog post and illustration
  • One to highlight manually-selected posts from the past

So, I wireframed some options.

Along the way, I stuck in our site colors and a real illustration to better understand how it would all come together.

With that, the finished product was a few pieces away:

  • 3 wireframes for 3 breakpoints (I did that)
  • 1 pixel-perfect requirements doc (that too)
  • 1 developer (nope, not me)
‍We designed and developed the Featured Blog and Popular Posts blocks for our own site, but made them available to all GeorgiaGov platform websites. I love seeing them out in the wild.

Complementing with simple icons

Now we had our illustrative style and a block to feature it on the homepage. Next, there were a few more spots for visuals, primarily a block of what we call “Tiles” (clickable squares) on the homepage.

To start, I continued with the same look that was so successful for the blog.

We realized that right next to the person-centered blog illustrations, maybe we should focus on just objects. I did and stuck them in the Tiles.

Better. We kept this for a while. But still, it was a lot of the same look. So I reintroduced simple icons.


Implementing a new brand

New illustrations. New icons. We were feeling great.

The final piece was a new brand.

To better embody our growing responsibilities and boost our credibility, GeorgiaGov Interactive became Digital Services Georgia. Along with the name, we designed a new logo and color palette. My job was to get it on all the things.

The final outcome?

Homepage, desktop and mobile
Twitter profile, when a advertising for an upcoming GOVTalks event
Slide deck

I even animate the brand for the title of our recorded conference talks.


One for the books

This project was so much fun! It feels great to put pencil (Wacom pen) to paper (definitely a digital tablet). I learned a lot about visual styles, what makes sense where, and how colors can turn everything around. Though the web platform provided structural constraints, we gave the site a complete 180 with what’s inside that structure.

And was it worth it?

For one, we have a site we can be proud of. The team loves the new look.

For two, blog views alone increased by over 65% for the first few months of 2018 compared to 2017. I’m not saying it’s all because of the new look. Maybe we just write better stuff these days.

But when Tweeters used to see this…

… and now they see this…

… it’s hard not to take a little credit.

See all projects.