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PolyphonyHS.com redesign
PolyphonyHS.com before (left) and after (right).


Polyphony HS is a literary magazine written and edited by high school students. It is a high-quality and unique publication and organization. We’ve been working with Polyphony HS for many years and recently, we helped them upgrade their web site.

We designed their first web site in 2008. So much has changed in five years! Let me walk you through the changes.

  1. Switched content management system from Joomla to WordPress
  2. Used all live web fonts instead of graphics
  3. Upgraded the organization and navigation
  4. Refreshed the design

1. Changing Joomla to WordPress

WordPress LogoWhen we designed their original site, we worked with an outside developer who suggested Joomla as the content management system. Since then, we’ve determined that WordPress is the best tool for our studio to use for web site development. We now develop nearly all of our web sites in-house using WordPress. If you’re curious about why we love WordPress and so do our clients, read this blog.

Unfortunately, the fine folks at Polyphony HS made a mistake that is common to small business and non-profits that are stretched too thin. They put off updating and upgrading their web site platform. While they did post new content, they did not take care of (or have us take care of) maintaining the software and backbone of their web site. Their web host eventually starting sending notices because they were concerned about security issues with the outdated Joomla and related code.

Over the course of five years, Joomla had changed so much that to continue using it would have required a significant overhaul to the site. We strongly recommended that if we were going to go in and rebuild a lot of the infrastructure we move the site to WordPress.

2. Web fonts

The design of the Polyphony HS web site makes a direct connection with their beautiful printed magazine covers that are always designed by Tony Fitzpatrick. These illustrated covers are visually rich and a bit gritty.

Polyphony HS covers
Polyphony HS covers


Back in 2008, the only way to get this effect was to use a lot of graphic files. We had to use image files, even for some of the navigation areas (yikes!). Because of this, the site was not as easy to update or search engine friendly as it could have been.

In the past five years, web fonts have exploded. Check out the new web site and you’ll see how we are now able to use live text in nearly all areas of the site, and still keep the same visual feel.

3. Reorganized content

As you can tell, by this point, we were doing a top-to-bottom complete redesign and overhaul of the site. So, it made sense to reorganize content to make things easier to find. When the first site was launched, the non-profit was just getting started. Now, it is a more mature organization with a clearer sense of purpose. We were able to adjust the navigation so it was easier to find information.

4. Refresh the web site design

When you look at the series of printed covers, you see a clear connection between them, yet each one is distinct. This is how a brand identity system should work. Our goal for the web site redesign was the same: refresh the look and feel, but keep within the core visual system. Rather than just recreate the old design, it was an opportunity to work in more details from recent cover art, and make the entire feel of the site not so dark.

Here are a few more shots of the web site as well as the e-newsletter that we designed for them.

PolyphonyHS.com web site and e-newsletter design.
PolyphonyHS.com web site and e-newsletter design.

We are thrilled with the results, and so is the client.

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