This is a personal project that wasn't solicited by the great team that runs MamaMia.com.au. I had the chance to work with them a while back (and kind of messed it up when life became really hard) and the work that they do is simply inspiring. Their website, in its current form has been around for a while, and – with no disrespect intended – it is looking a little dated, and not on par with the quality of writing on the site (nor the half a million monthly visits and extensive community that loves the site dearly). I read the site often (Mia Freedman just posted a heartbreakingly impassioned piece about why marriage equality should've happened, already) and for practice, redesigning their site – taking into account what I know about its backend – was loads of fun.
The first task was clearing up the hierarchy of content and making the most of it (they do have over 300 contributors). The homepage and section pages all have carousels (with some very sexy animated sequences to make the most of the new multi-faceted/fractal/foldy shape branding) and modules that feature a variety of ways to show off their content (as a result, each of these pages can now contain almost 40 articles, which is a major improvement to their existing site, and leaves the user with a whole lot more to explore). The header has been simplified and sections keep their different colouring, but the treatment is a bit more sophisticated to ensure that branding doesn't get in the way of content. Using coloured bars for content pages also alleviated the need for breadcrumb navigation, as they took care of showing where the user is at). Advertising spots have been placed around more prominently, and the masthead banner placement has been removed (during two different user testing studies I've observed, users are so used to completely disregarding everything in the masthead and scrolling down to content areas, that this move makes sense) as well as showing how more adventurous advertising opportunities are available (like the skins on the homepage). It was also important to offer the ability to showcase content from different sections within the site and the tabbed carousels take care of that.
Another big change was reducing the amount of social media noise. There are too many different call to actions for different social actions. I feel that there should only be two: liking or following MamaMia on either Twitter or Facebook or wherever, and sharing the content a user is looking at. The first one should have less prominence than the second, because it's an action that only needs to be performed once. Getting users to share individual pieces of content is more important and have therefore been given more prominence.
Lastly was the introduction of the sticky user bar, which houses constant sharing links and more profile actions the user can perform without using the Wordpress backend. I've also tried to show what a section within the site could look like if it were to be treated differently, but still look like it's part of the MamaMia main website (take a look at the Business Directory modules around the site). Everything was designed with Wordpress in mind, and the modules would be built as widgets to create a fully customisable site that could be tailored to whatever is needed at any given time. Galleries were made more exciting (if they're something you'd want to spent time exploring, you won't mind the occasional banner ad that pops up), which seems to be a new trend and for the record, I designed the black overlays in the gallery long before Facebook introduced it to their site.
I'd really like to see this thing built (even if it won't be for MamaMia). If anyone's interesting in buying this Wordpress template (I can provide more customisation), please let me know.