A new face
As you perhaps noticed when we launched blogs.skype.com, it looked at little different from other Skype websites. More bubbly, if you want. More bubbly, more colorful, more hand drawn.
That was on purpose. It was a prelude for a rather major shift in our design style — a shift we recently applied to the good, old Skype.com website. And it also gave us a chance to change our main color from green to blue.
Why is that, you may ask? Or you may not, but I’m still going to pretend you did, and go ahead and answer your question.
]]>Skype is approaching its second anniversary, and we have grown a lot and in a lot of different ways since our beta birth. I have personally been involved in all aspects of design, from user interface to website and business cards since Day One (or actually Day Minus-a-couple-of-hundred), and in that time we have changed and tweaked our design more than a few times.
But this time, it’s a little different. As Skype and as our competition grow, our brand is becoming one of our more important assets. To put it short, our brand (for lack of better word) will help us distinguish ourselves from our competitors, be more memorable to people, attract more new people to try out Skype and help keep people currently using Skype to continue to do so. So we want to grow up a little, if you want, and be a little more consistent in our efforts, from website, to the Skype application, to a piece of hardware sitting on the shelves of a giant store in the middle of Tokyo. It’s a large undertaking, and everybody in Skype as well as all our great partners must work together for it to be successful. As I’m sure they will.
What’s different when working on Skype as opposed to many other projects I have worked with over the years, is the fact that it’s not necessary to gloss over questionable spots or hide less admirable goals behind pretty pictures and “mission statements”. We do some pretty great stuff here at Skype, and the core product is free to get started on and free to use forever and ever. There’s nothing to hide there. So ever since we began, I’ve tried to convey the sense of honesty, down-to-earth-ness, competence and slight quirkyness that I see among the people working at Skype.
As always, the fun part is the result. All these words and thoughts meant that we needed to change and tweak quite a few areas of our design and brand.
First, the visual design. Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles everywhere. Speechbubbles are perfect for conveying what Skype is mainly about: Talking. Talking all day long, to anyone, anywhere in the world. For free. Of course we all originally know speech bubbles from comics (sorry, “graphic novels”), and we’d like to retain a bit of that fun and entertainment. And to avoid looking stiff and formal, we opted out of doing them in a strictly geometrical design style, with nice, straight lines and correctly sized pointers and whatnot. Keeping the hand drawn style makes the design more fresh and interesting to look at for a longer time. Of course, now the challenge is to not make the design busy and fragmented and unseable for people. We’re aware of that danger, but please let us know if you think we step over the line.
Second big change is the main color. For you, Skype has mainly been looking green this past year or so. Before that, it was red, I think. Before that, purple (I kid you not). Actually, all along, we’ve had no less than 7 official colors for Skype, but now it was time to consolidate and chose one and only one. And that, ladies and gentlemen, became blue. Or cyan, as the correct name is. I can’t say that there were strict, scientific reasons behind the choice. Red, orange and green are already being used by major companies, so that was a no-go from the start. Blue is used everywhere, but we really liked blue. It works well online and offline, so blue it was.
Thirdly, we changed our tagline. If you’re hardcore into Skype, you will remember that the very first tagline was: “P2P Telephony That Really Works.”, which was actually written by and snuck in by yours truly at some point while developing the first generation web site. That morphed into “Peer-to-Peer Telephony That Just Works” into the last one: “Internet telephony that just works.”.
Now, we’re pretty particular about our words here at Skype. And we really didn’t like the “telephony” word. It smells like telecoms and is really weird to pronounce. Try it. “TE-LÉ-PHO-NY”. It really doesn’t sound very friendly, does it? No, it doesn’t. The “Internet” part tied us too closely to a computer and “that just works” is not as unique as it was when Skype first launched. So we cooked up a new tagline: “The whole world can talk for free.” We’ve cut away all the layers and gone directly to the interesting part: the “talking”. The “whole world” indicates, well, the whole world, because that is in fact where you can call with Skype. And “free” is just that, as you know.
So, these were the words and thoughts behind our new look. Don’t hesitate to make a comment or ask me a question — use the comment field below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Hey, speaking of the new design, did you see the new film on the frontpage of Skype.com? If not, I’ll just cut and paste it below, for your viewing pleasure. We’re working on a few more, and we’ll make a little notice here when they’re done, so be sure to check back.