The Nau Collective
Nov 15 2012

Headquartered in Portland Oregon, nau is a lifestyle brand with a reputation for hiqh quality outdoor apparel that is attractive, functional—and also consciously aware.

From their commitment to use natural, renewable fibers in a sustainable manner to the fact that they give back 2% of every sale to one of their preferred charities, their creed is to “use design to redefine business so that it can be a positive force for change.” And we think that’s pretty awesome.

This year they launched a new endeavor, the nau Collective, a curated collection of high-performance products manufactured by other companies. It’s made up of products that complement nau’s “do well by doing good” philosophy—brands such as Nudie Jeans, Filson, Red Wing, Timberland, and Pendleton—and makes them available for purchase online. It’s a bold concept and a pretty big step not too many other manufacturers would be willing to take.

“The nau Collective provides us with new merchandising opportunities as well as the opportunity to give exposure to brands we respect who are also trying to challenge the norm in terms of doing business differently to create positive change,” says Josie Norris of nau.

The company also used the opportunity to revisit the overall aesthetic of the website which hadn’t changed since it first launched in 2008. To create the new look and feel, they enlisted graphic designer Christina Speed to design it and ZaneRay to implement.

The site refresh introduced new fonts, a new palette, an airier, more content driven home page and a product description template that accommodates more images and information about the products. Perhaps one of the unique aspects of this project was the significant impact a few subtle design changes had on the site’s overall aesthetic, proving that “less” can often times be “more.”

“It was an interesting experiment, says Christina. “Could we update the look of the site to be fresh and relevant and better position the product—without starting from scratch?”

The process did not involve any changes to the backend. The ZFoundation Commerce Suite framework had proven to be a stable piece of their architecture and was not something that required updating in this process. However, the process did involve, a number of late “nau’dy nights” at the office in order to meet the aggressive deadline. The ZaneRay team had just two weeks to program and implement the new design.

“From a users standpoint the changes to the site were subtle, but from a programmers standpoint, it involved quite a lot of work.” says Tyler Furry, one of the programmers who worked on the project. “The site was built several years ago and sites are built a little different today. Not mention, things that used to be done with images can now be achieved with HTML, so it involved a lot of updating code and implementing new technology.”

Fortunately, Tyler’s malamute, Blaze was willing to hang at the office late night and keep everyone company.

The new site went live in September 2012. And if you haven’t checked it out, we encourage to do so now. Not only do we think the new design is pretty amazing, but from now until December 1st, every Friday you can save score some killer deals on some off nau’s best sellers, simply by following the link.