You’ve probably noticed the blog is looking a little different these days. What you’re seeing is the Charlie blog, reimagined for the future: created to showcase the best and most vital writing from the world of People, Operations and HR.
When we launched CharlieHR in 2015, we had a very clear goal in mind. We were here to make it easier to build and run small businesses - to banish the administrative headaches that mount up as your company scales.
As Charlie has grown, the scope of that mission has naturally grown with us. We’ve always understood there was more to good HR than just automating admin - our founders have been building small companies for years and if one thing was clear, it was this:
When it comes to building a truly great place to work, the banner of ‘Human Resources’ barely even scratches the surface.
Building a great place to work encompasses hiring, interviewing, onboarding and everything else it takes to find and keep great people.
It accounts for individual development and progression, as well as helping people grow both personally and professionally.
It spans nurturing relationships, building teams, and then helping those teams do amazing work together. Underpinning all of this is the indefinable, ungraspable concept of ‘culture’.
The scope of this work is deep, and its breadth is wide. But the more we immersed ourselves in this field, the clearer it became there was no one place to learn about these ideas. There’s no single forum to read the latest arguments and air your own thoughts, no central hub to compare challenges and swap solutions.
So - we decided to build it ourselves.
The old blog - which listed content in reverse chronological order, cramped our illustrations with crowded formatting, and provided limited navigation - has been put out to pasture.
In its place, we have a new design. One that not only showcases the sheer breadth of thought and debate within the world of HR, but also makes it easier for you to discover and read it.
Welcome to The Workspace
From early on in the design process, we tried to develop a broad understanding of what we wanted the blog to look, sound, and feel like. To get started, we went back to the very earliest iterations of the CharlieHR personality.
Among all the briefing docs and style guides, this quote stood out.
“What was this thing we’re trying to build? It was essentially the best person you’ve ever met. They’re smart, but not a show-off. They get things done, without bragging. They’re attractive, but not arrogant. They’re funny, but at the right times. They’re cool, but not so hip that you’re intimidated.” - Tom Carrington-Smith, Charlie Co-founder.
While it was no good to just ape the original personality of the CharlieHR product, it was the right place to start. Charlie is a character built on clarity of communication and a crystal clear UX; a friendly and approachable touchpoint for team members.
The Workspace was something else - connected, but different. It would be a platform for many different voices from the world of HR, a sounding board for ideas, an exchange of competing (and sometimes conflicting) viewpoints.
If Charlie is the ‘perfect person’, then The Workspace would be the conversations they have and the arguments they follow - the lively debates that happen around their dinner table.
With this idea in mind, we nailed the spirit of The Workspace down to three words.
Bold - The Workspace is home to the newest and bravest ideas in HR - it is opinionated, straightforward and confident.
Informed - The Workspace thinks critically about everything we write about - it talks not only about what is done, but what works best.
Hopeful - The Workspace is hopeful about the new shape of work, and believes in a better way of building and running businesses.
Making it real
When it came to putting these ideas into practice, the first task on our list was deciding what this new space would look like, and how it would be laid out.
First and foremost, we wanted it to be a true hub - a destination in its own right. We wanted our audience to come to The Workspace and lose themselves in a topic, encouraged by a reading experience that immersed them in the subject they were exploring.
To this end, we structured the blog around three themes:
Culture: Create a workplace that your team loves
Operations: Everything that makes your company tick.
Performance: Help your team deliver their best work.
While by no means all-encompassing, we feel these themes structure our content in a way that is at least discoverable. On other blogs, that end had been taken to the other extreme - sub-categorisation to the fragmented nth degree, making discovery harder and trickier rather than smoother and cleaner.
With each theme hosted on its own designated homepage, we were able to cut away some of the noise that plagues other blogs in this space. Meanwhile, with each post serving up a set of suggested reads at the bottom of the page, we hope our readers will be able to travel easily through the themes that interest them.
Over and above navigation, we wanted to ensure that reading the blog was an engaging experience. In the blog’s previous iteration, our illustrations were hamstrung by a busy and cluttered layout. Now, they are given centre stage.
At a more technical level, we optimised our ‘characters per line’ to around 60 and honed our vertical spacing to keep our content clean. On the home page we incorporated suggested read lengths, to ensure the content always respects our reader’s time. Meanwhile, a new integration with Pocket makes it easier for you to read our writing when and where you prefer.
Finally, we made sure to include more info on the post’s author, to help reinforce a fact that is often overlooked - that HR content is about people, writing about other people.
The Workspace is by no means a finished project. It will inevitably grow, change and adapt as we better understand what our readers want from it. We’re excited to see where it goes.
The Charlie blog is dead. Long live The Workspace.
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If you’ve got something to say about the worlds of HR, Ops and HR, and want to contribute - then come say hello at [email protected].