A few days ago DreamHost launched a new, much smarter and cleverly branded website for their hosting business. There are two definite themes on the new site; business and WordPress.
We include screenshots of both the new and old designs a little later in the article, but we would say at this stage that we very much prefer the new site. Not only is it less cluttered, it more portrays a definite sense of what DreamHost are about, and the information is much better presented enabling you to understand some of their more advanced and unique offerings such as their DreamPress WordPress Hosting or DreamObjects (which can form the basis of a very decent and cheap CDN).
There is a lot less text on the new site, and it sports a responsive design making it mobile and tablet friendly. Also, the logo has had a bit of a refresh with a much cleaner style and slightly heavier font.
The old Dreamhost site used to run on WordPress, so it has created a bit of a discussion in the community on why they changed over to Jekyll. While they admit that Jekyll is not strictly a CMS and not as user-friendly as WordPress, they quoted the move for development reasons as it was easier to fit into their development workflow. This is what Dreamhost had to say:
Great question. WordPress is a great blogging platform and a fantastic CMS. We love it like we love our own mothers. However, our particular staging and production deployment system is very dependent on the use of a versioning system. When website content is stored in a database as it is with WP, that makes it slightly problematic for our workflow. We also had some custom scripts that run outside the WP environment, so we were having to maintain two separate code repositories.
We're now using Jekyll. It's not strictly a CMS and it's nowhere-near as user friendly as WordPress, but it works for our situation.
We are of course obviously huuuuge fans of WordPress, its devoted developer community, and its passionate users. We're committed to providing WordPress users with expert support, custom-built services like DreamPress, and ongoing support for WordCamps.
There has been at least one complaint about the new site being difficult to navigate, and we put this down to people getting familiar with where to find things and not liking change. To a certain extent, we experienced this when Namecheap launched its new site. However, we think the new site is a massive upgrade, and we wouldn't be surprised if this is not already paying off for them.
You can see screenshots of both the old and new website design below. Which do you prefer?
Update - 25th August 2014: DreamHost Changes its Logo
Recently Dreamhost redesigned its website and subsequently promised to reveal further information on what went into the redesign, including the slightly more refined and smarter logo. This article revisits some of the old incarnations of the Dreamhost logo and looks into how the design was developed into the latest version which compliments the new website design.
The Old Logos
Dreamhost is a very old and established web hosting company, with three logo designs being used since 1997. All of these logos feature a "moon mark" being the visual element of the logo. Despite the font, and styling of the "moon mark" being changed in each iteration, it is evident that the underlining feature is the moon crescent, which ties very nicely in with the "dream" element of the name. You can see the old logos below:
So Why the Redesign?
Jace Brown, the Dreamhost Creative director, had this to say:
The easy answer would be that we wanted a fresh logo to compliment the new website design we’ve been working on. The deeper answer [...] would be that we’ve grown quite a bit since the last redesign, and we wanted that to reflect through a fresh identity.
As a result, Dreamhost took a very technical approach to designing the new logo. They created a committee of their founders, along with the CEO and VP of Marketing as well as a select few others. Jace, along with two others on the design team then created a bunch of concepts to be submitted to the committee as follows:
The committee were then tasked with selecting three of the concepts that would then be developed further by the design team, each team member being responsible for one of the concepts. The following were the designs created, which were then voted on by the Dreamhost committee:
The Winning Logo
Out of the three logos presented to the committee, the second logo was chosen, despite the creative director, Jace, preferring the top one. We think this was the wisest choice, retaining a more professional look in line with their existing branding which reflects some of the more professional Cloud and Opensource products they are have been developing. If Dreamhost only concentrated on standard web hosting, then the first logo could be ok, but it is quite a departure from their current image, and not as crisp. Of course, we are no designers, and this just represents an opinion of the author. But regardless, they did indeed choose the one we like best.
This is what Jace had to say on why the second logo was chosen:
The DreamHost moon has been with us since the beginning. The icon is in our DNA, and it has been in front of millions of web users for nearly two decades. The new logo carries that old school swagger with the freshly refined moon icon, which is now facing forward – note the symbolism there – while the easy to digest typeface sits bold and confident. It made sense, and we all fell in love with it.
You can see the winning logo in all its color and glory below:
What do you think?
Which one is your favorite? Do you like the current choice? Please let us know in the comments.