You “Might as Well Have the Best” Blog
Fly fishing on the Keno, the benefits of beekeeping, traveling along the loneliest road in America — the stories you’ll find at Filson Life, the Seattle-based outdoor clothing company’s blog, are genuine, unique, and intriguing — and as rich and as rugged as the brand itself. A collection of adventures and tales contributed by existing customers, brand advocates and employees, they bring to light the diverse nature of the Filson customer and their interests.
“They’re written by fly fishers and hunters, ranchers and travelers, photographers and survival specialists, and anyone else that refuses to stay indoors,” says Travis Gillett, Filson’s social media specialist. “For them, Filson is a valued and necessary companion on outdoor excursions.”
Since launching the blog in 2011, Filson Life’s popularity has steadily and quietly prospered. It presently attracts approximately 30,000 unique visitors a month and the numbers continue to climb. Implemented in WordPress, the first iteration of Filson Life was a custom template designed to reflect the styling and aesthetic of the main Filson website.
Earlier this year, the company decided it was time to kick things up a notch. Having just completed a redesign of their main site, they decided it was time to take a second look at the blog.
“In order to create an intriguing blog, the content must seem fresh, interesting, and easy to find,” says Gillett. “These were the guiding principles of our re-design. We also had a goal to make Filson Life an immersive hub for our digital content strategy.”
They called upon ZaneRay to build upon the existing platform and create a more ‘intuitive user interface that offered a higher degree of social media integration, a more sophisticated aesthetic, and better categorization. UI Developer/Designer Tyler Furry led the charge, working in tandem with Filson’s in-house design team to program a new destination that made Filson’s wish list a reality.
“Their in-house designer made the mock-ups and I made it happen,” says Furry. “There were major design changes. We introduced new web fonts, reorganized elements, added a hero slider, created a new navigational element, and redesigned the feature stories, individual blog post pages, and comment forms.”
All social media feeds were optimized. Rather than simply being an icon and a link to a social media destination, they introduced various elements and characteristics of each.
- The Instagram widget embeds the latest images posted by Filson.
- A Twitter feed displays the company's latest tweet.
- The Facebook widget uses Facepile, to show a user small thumbnails of other Facebook friends who also “like” Filson.
“We utilized a plug-in called Royal Slider to drive the hero slide show on the main page,” says Furry. “It is one of the best slideshow solutions I have ever seen. This was the first time we implemented it, but we’re now using it on other sites as well — it’s pretty neat!”
In light of a few creative overhauls and internal changes, the entire project took about six months.
“All I can say is the flexibility and determination of the ZaneRay team was remarkable,” says Gillett.“They could take any change or nitpicking concern with aplomb and rarely got flustered. Tyler and the rest of the team were available almost any time we had a concern and were extremely quick to return e-mails, correspondence, or over the top distress calls.”
“The new design reflects an elevated, aspirational brand and highlights the uniqueness of our company,” he says. “For that reason alone, I consider the project a complete success. However, we have also seen an increased amount of navigation throughout the entire library of content on Filson Life. Articles that have not been seen in years have been resuscitated and brought back to life. The blog breathes now and has a dynamic nature which was a major milestone for the project.”