Heyo! We’re Zao (note the rhyme 😉). We’re excited to release our new website! At long last, a website that reflects who we really are as a WordPress development agency.
We partnered with Shay Bocks to give our website and brand the facelift that it needed. She did brilliant work digging in deep to understand our core values and design a new site that we think is really special. From the brand mark to the animations to the site design, we are so thrilled with her work. We couldn’t have imagined a closer and more enjoyable partnership with a designer. Thank you, Shay!
Additionally, we’ve begun working with the inimitable Janine Duff for our copy, starting with our new About page. If you’re looking for a brilliant copywriter, look no further! We’re unbelievably excited to partner with her in the future to continue helping…our…words…be….gooder.
Lastly, Liz Karaffa, our lead front-end developer, put in a phenomenal effort in building out this site. As an elite WordPress development agency, we’re known mostly for our backend code and technical solutions. That’s what makes Liz’s work all the more valuable – she’s an incredible and unique asset to our team. Beautifully crafted code, copy, and design – finally, a site that I am proud to call our own.
History of Zao
Can you believe we’re now in our 16th year as a WordPress development agency? We can’t believe Zao is officially old enough to drive 😬.
We did our last major facelift back in early 2014 by using a pre-built theme. Using the lovely Ampersand theme from Mike McAlister (whom we adore!) was always intended to be a stop-gap. However, this particular stop-gap had a much longer lifespan than any of us expected! That’s a testament to Mike’s beautiful work – WP Engine is lucky to have him!
If you want a terrifying trip down memory lane, check out our first site design, circa 2005-2006. We’ve come a long way 🤣. This iteration of the Zao site has been an exercise in reflecting the excellence here at home that we bring to our clients on a daily basis. This initiative had a number of implications, the first being that we had to ensure that our new site was built from the ground up with Gutenberg in mind.
The number of people I trust to work on a serious eCommerce store can be counted on one hand. Justin and the Zao team are at the top of that very short list. From custom payment gateways to full site builds, you’re in good hands.
Chris Lema, VP of Products & Innovation, Liquid Web
If you read our recent article, Crafting a Starter Gutenberg Theme, you’ll be familiar with the CSS Grid approach we used to handle alignment in Gutenberg. Something we didn’t cover in that article, but you can see in play on this post, is supporting sidebars and regular/wide/full width blocks at the same time! (Scroll up to the top left and see our “Building the next great thing” sidebar). Check out how you can do something similar in one of our other posts about CSS Grid.
One of the first things our clients recognize about us is that it is just as important for us to ship excellent work as it is to have fun doing it! We wanted our new site to reflect that as well, and one way of doing that was adding in some playful animated flourishes.
With Shay’s help, we’ve upped our animation game and love the fun impact our home page hero and footer animated illustrations add to the site. Hover over our logo in the top left corner, or watch it on page load. Give one of our buttons a click. You’ll get a fun surprise if you’re not using a screen reader.
Speaking of screen readers and accessibility, much of our work this year has centered around helping our clients improve the accessibility of their websites. Working with tools like Lighthouse, Koa11y, and WAVE, we’re proud to have helped many of our clients create a more open and accessible web.
On our own site, we worked hard to implement a design that was visually accessible, and create systems and a codebase that created an equitable experience for all of our guests. We also added some fun elements for visitors who experience our site through a screen reader or prefer to have all animations turned off. Use Chrome’s prefer-reduce-motion emulator and refresh the page if you want to check it out.
What’s Next for Zao?
We expect this new design to serve us well over the next 5-10 years. Because of our partnership with brilliant folks at our side, and our incredible clients, we couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds here at Zao. Zao continues to be on the cutting edge of what’s possible with WordPress as a development agency.
Whether we’re pushing the boundaries of Gutenberg, eCommerce, systems integrations or just building out your next beautiful website – we’re excited about our story, and can’t wait to be a part of yours.