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CASE STUDY

Garden & Gun

OVERVIEW
My team was approached by Garden & Gun to help them relaunch their website. With a 6x/year publishing calendar, G&G's new website had to provide solutions to keep things fresh despite limited content. We designed a CMS driven site that empowers editors to create completely custom pages that generate automatically by categories and tags. The system allows evergreen content across issues to mingle in engaging ways with minimal effort. The site design offers the same luxurious long form reading experience as the print publication and adds digital perks like video, audio, and immersive galleries with online only exclusives.

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PROJECT

Re-imaging an Iconic Southern Brand

ROLE: Design Director, Product Director, Solution Architect
CATEGORIES: Design, Development, Strategy, Websites

THE BRIEF
Garden & Gun were looking to push their website to the next level. They approached my team to help them create a new digital platform that would allow them to grow.

PROJECT GOALS

  1. Refresh the design of the Garden & Gun website.
  2. Migrate all existing content from the previous website.
  3. Create new opportunities for advertisers and sponsored content.
  4. Allow the Garden & Gun team to easily create engaging long form feature articles.
  5. Create opportunities to highlight and curate evergreen content around the site.
  6. Help the editors and the web team keep the content fresh and new throughout the day.
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RESEARCH
We had an extensive discovery and market research phase. We looked at all of the different content types Garden & Gun produces as well as what their competitors were doing. We interviewed members from all of their different teams: marketing, web, editorial, etc. to track down their pain-points, bottlenecks, and most desired features. The Garden & Gun team wanted a way to easily produce beautiful immersive features, highlight their evergreen content (like recipes), offer more opportunities for advertising, and make their lives easier with automatically curated content and pages around a specific categories, content types, themes, or tags. 

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AN EMPHASIS ON VERITCALS
Garden & Gun content is organized into a series of verticals (content types). We decided to  improve the experience and display of content on these pages. Each vertical can highlight the most important content for that page. Editors can hand-select content to feature or allow the system to refresh the content for them automatically. 

CUSTOMIZABLE & AUTOMATED
All Garden & Gun pages are built utilizing a system of modules that allow for both customization and automation. Garden & Gun's editors can select a specific piece of content to feature or set a category, tag or content type to keep things refreshing through evergreen content. Site visitors see both highlighted and new stories on every visit. 

The modular system can expand the site’s functionality with new modules designed and built for needs as they grow with time.

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CITY GUIDES

We created City Guides to offer a new service for travel hungry readers. We aggregated evergreen content and organized it in actionable ways — where to eat & drink, where to shop, and what to see and do.

A SLIDESHOW UPGRADE

Desktop slideshows were designed for full screen for a completely immersive view. Mobile employed a listview to serve up images via scrolling. 

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A SLIDESHOW UPGRADE

Desktop slideshows were designed for full screen for a completely immersive view. Mobile employed a listview to serve up images via scrolling. 

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RECIPES

We broke out recipes from longer articles and categorized them for searchability and ease of use. They could be then be embedded into longer form articles but still keep a separate space.

Key Takeaways

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TAKING IMAGES FARTHER
Garden & Gun commissions some of the most talented photographers to capture the southern spirit. The online platform allowed them to show even more images than the print — in their best light.
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COLLECTIONS

We created a simple system that aggregated content by tags and themes, so Garden & Gun readers get more of what they love — Good Dogs, Derby Days and Biscuits.

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SPONSORED CONTENT

Every page and article can support a sponsored partnership, offering an enticing opportunity for advertisers.

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REVENUE FORWARD
The site supports varied forms to keep the company generating profits.
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INTERNAL ADVERTISING

Revenue generating Garden & Gun events, excursions, promotions and products can be advertised through the site.

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SUBSCRIPTIONS

The site encourages subscriptions from top (header) to bottom (footer).

THE RESULTS

It was a big hit on launch. Garden & Gun readers loved the new site and people took notice of the new design. After the launch, Garden & Gun won countless Society of Publication Design medals including Gold Medal for Brand of the Year in 2017.

Advertisers were excited too. With new avenues for sponsored content and advetisting channels, Garden & Gun saw an increase in reader viewership and engagement as well as an increase in advertising revenue.  

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ABOUT ME
I’m Kirk Mueller – designer, builder, and previous partner and director of digital at Studio Mercury.

At Studio Mercury, I produced comprehensive award winning brand identities, campaigns, and digital products that spanned multiple industries and platforms. As co-founder and director of digital at Studio Mercury, I oversaw the creation of digital identities, translation of brands throughout their digital projects, and manages all aspects of projects from start to finish between multiple stakeholders, designers, and development teams. I wrote, pitched, and presented proposals that allowed our studio to compete and win projects with $500k budges. I lead both creative and development teams of between 5-15 people, all while working on multiple projects (usually between 8-12 concurrently). I lead branding and strategy sessions for all of our new clients. I’m a passionate leader with success in building, mobilizing, and developing cross-functional teams of strategists, designers, programmers, directors and photographers.

While pursuing my Masters at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), I developed a healthy skepticism of the role of technology in our lives. He believes the integration of technology should be purposeful and well thought out and applies this ethos to my work.

Sometimes when I’m tired of looking at the screen, I’ll hand-print wallpaper or hack Nintendo cartridges. Working with my hands helps fuel my inner maker.

I currently live and work in New York City.

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You can reach me at: [email protected]
LinkedIn or Instagram.

You can reach me at: [email protected]
LinkedIn or Instagram.

kirk-profile

You can reach me at: [email protected]
LinkedIn or Instagram.

You can reach me at: [email protected]
LinkedIn or Instagram.

You can reach me at: [email protected]
LinkedIn or Instagram.