When writer Shawn Blanc quit his job to pursue writing full-time, part of his strategy was to launch other properties in addition to his then- 4 year old blog. One of those properties, Tools & Toys, was spun out from Shawn’s proclivity for sharing links to tools and gadgets for his design-savvy audience.

Edited by Shawn and Stephen Hackett and written by a growing number of freelance writers, Tools & Toys had started publishing richer content and wanted to present it in a more immersive responsive design. The team also wanted to rethink the publication’s branding and increase the revenue generated through affiliate links for the products they share.

Tools & Toys Masthead

The Logo & Masthead

Tools & Toys’ audience is smart, creative, and adventurous. They are as comfortable in front of a BBQ as they are a keyboard and have a finely-tuned sense of quality. In designing the logo, we wanted to set Tools & Toys apart from other gadget-focused publications. By leaning into a more outdoorsy look, I was able to design a logo that sits as the centrepiece of the site’s masthead.

In contrast with the logo’s flowing nature, the site’s navigation was designed to be sturdy and structural. It allows users to quickly navigate between categories on the site, search for content, and engage further with the publication.

It’s been 90 days since the re-design of Tools & Toys went live, and compared to the same quarter last year we saw a 3x growth in pageviews, unique visitors, and site revenue.

Shawn Blanc Editor-in-Chief

The long-form reviews and product guides had built a tremendous reputation amongst Tools & Toys’ readership, but the team wasn’t proud of how their work was being presented. They also wanted to put a heavier emphasis on the amazing photography that accompanies each piece.

Tools & Toys Featured Content
Featured articles are designed to present the site's beautiful photography

Although it’s been around since 2011, [Tools & Toys] launched a beautiful redesign just 3 months ago that just looks gorgeous and the content posted since then has improved as well. The site looks great on all my devices and the large photos that are posted look terrific.

Preshit Deorukhkar Editor-in-Chief, Beautiful Pixels

Tools & Toys was founded on sharing beautiful and useful products for geeky outdoor enthusiasts. The design of the product pages on the site now feature larger photos and clean typography, as well as the ability to browse related products and articles featured on the site. The site’s writers now have an easy way to include affiliate links that drive the site’s revenue.

Tools & Toys Product Page
The new product page design features bold, beautiful photography and clean typography

Shawn and his team have continued to produce great work since the redesign. I was proud to provide photos for a review of the Goruck GR1 written by my good friend Ben Brooks.