A Note on our New Design

September 17, 2015 By Chris Johnson

We’ve just launched a whole new design and brand identity for Uncubed and our Wakefield* publication. It’s a big moment for us – and here’s a look at what went into it.

We published our first Wakefield issue in March 2012. In the months leading up to it, we’d worked to create an identity for Wakefield that captured the spirit of that time. Startups were booming, smartphones were starting to yield astonishing capabilities, and tech ecosystems were reaching real magnitude in places in Chicago, New York, and LA and bubbling up with fervor in others.

We wanted a name that captured the sense of wonder of the time, and also felt nostalgic just the same.

Wakefield was inspired by Wakefield Damon, a zany character in the Tom Swift novels – an American adventure series that captured the imagination of young people starting in 1910 and spanning more than 100 books. (Inc. gave us a nod for Wakefield their article The Makings of a Great Startup Name.)

To evoke the spirit of Wakefield, we leveraged an aesthetic of manilla folders, typewriters, and the worn wood of a news bureau. We wanted our readers to feel like they were getting something special – something nearly-handwritten – delivered every day. Our editorial was carefully made, and we wanted it to feel like that.

Our Uncubed conference series had a different spirit. It was an ecstatic burst of energy, a reflection of what’s possible. These events feature hundreds of the most innovative startups out there, music, inspirational talks, and skills courses. The conference called for brighter lights and bolder colors.

The new design, though, marks where we are now at as a company today – and what’s happened in the world around us.

Tech has now become cultural. Like music. That sense of wonder gave way to everyday awareness. People now read up on tech just as they read up on the economy, or politics. It’s in the fabric of our commonplace conversations. Anyone with a smartphone or an internet connection has access to enormous amounts of software.

This flood of technology has also ushered in a new era of work. We’ve shed the standards of the post-war office. Cubicles, worker productivity, communication, ergonomics, team dynamics have all been reexamined – and smart companies have new standards.

For the person that learns to harnesses these changes, builds their awareness of technology, and learns modern web skills – a buffet of opportunity awaits.

Uncubed has evolved to be a far more complete solution to guide that person. The new design and brand capture that.

We now have a modern web experience for our content. Wakefield was always meant to be a digital magazine – it’s just that previously it was optimized to be published as a short daily email. Email is still the best way to take in Wakefield, but it now has the complement of a top-flight reading experience on the web, where it’s far easier to discover more of our content.

On the email itself, we’ve ditched the manila and any whiff of the smokey news bureau. Instead, you’ll see a cleaner, flatter design, with much improved cross-device optimization.

We think Wakefield is the best way for anyone to stay current on tech – and now the experience has been built to let far more people in.

Our conferences pages are now integrated into our site design as well. (All of our events are still powered by our friends at Splash.) It’s easier to check out our updates there and then navigate back to a Wakefield article or an Uncubed class.

And then there’s Uncubed’s video platform. Our original intention was always to build a product for our community –something that allowed us to provide value beyond the daily conversation of our content and the periodic gatherings offline at our events. Our video platform is that product.

With this release, Uncubed got a total overhaul – down to the tech. The initial product was housed on a third party learning management service. Now, we have our own platform, allowing us to make changes and add features at a far greater clip. The in-course experience is far more seamless; course search, account creation, content discovery, and the general UI have all been enhanced.

This was a big push by the team and it marks a big moment for us as a company.

It’s effectively a big thank you to our community, for taking an interest in what we’re doing, and believing in us as we’ve grown. We hope this allows us to deliver more – the people in our community certainly deserve it.

*In September of 2016 we re-named (and re-branded) Wakefield as Uncubed Daily.


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