Ransel Kecil literally means “a small backpack”, which comes handy in describing what the website is all about: traveling independently. This website serves as a collective repository of thoughts, facts and experiences on independent travel curated with care from various contributors. The site won bronze in national-scale Internet Sehat Award 2010, nominated in the international-scale 2011 Deutsch-Welle Blog Awards (“The BOBs”), and won the national-scale 2012 AXIS Blog Awards in Jakarta, Indonesia. The blog was featured in The Jakarta Globe, Jawa Pos, TigerAir-Mandala inflight magazine, InfoKomputer magazine and Her World Magazine Indonesia. Twitter account @ranselkecil attracts nearly 32,000 followers as of January 2014.
Create and maintain a travel blog that serves a repository of amateur travel writing by Indonesians to Indonesians. With this, we evangelize the importance of good writing in travels, and as a campaign to travel better and responsibly. We aim to excite, inspire and motivate young Indonesians to spend their youth time traveling in a way that will enrich themselves and their future.
Apart from the website, we also want to promote this endeavour further by designing some memorabilia like t-shirts and creating travel guide e-books.
I run the site voluntarily and accept voluntary contributions from friends and strangers, who happen to send their materials in to the email. Maintaining quality editorial process is a challenge, since we used to be a two-men team, and now still is, considering that we don’t reject contributions that often. We want to be inclusive, but at the same time, we want to maintain quality.
With a personal project, I had a bit of a freedom to define where this project goes, even if it includes failures. I embraced them, and the site has undergone at least five redesigns since the start in 2010.
Design-wise, I tried to make it look somewhere in between practical and nostalgic, while keeping enough space for content to grow. This is an ongoing experiment and we do not know what the future might be: whether to collect all of the information and compile as travel guides, continuing to be a blog, or a much more selective curation, we decided to openly classify information according to their types and study which type of information will evolve best. Color codes are used to make things look friendly, which also symbolise the diverse experience of travel.
I start with the concept of the various themes explored in the blog, among others: travel notes, accommodation, culinary, tips and places. Each of these can be a world of its own. Thus, I started with the color-code concept for each of the theme. This color coding eventually ceased its way during the last two years, to accommodate easier addition of themes.
I normally start out with wireframes and prototypes, then continue on the small details along the way to iterate. Often, the actual HTML/CSS templates are much different from the static mockups, because I compromised on several design decisions.
The results have been satisfying for me, but continue to excite future experiments. From 2010, there have been several redesigns that were notable.
The 2014 design (soon to be launched) is a design that would be bullet-proof to any amount of content it holds. This design caters for more addition of article themes, types and provides easier search & category/archive navigation interface.
The 2013 design was an experiment in readibility. I took it a step forward for experimentation: wide, single column. Big types. Large pictures.
The 2012 design was a step towards pictures as focus.
The first design was an experiment in content categorization, and a year where we focused on finding a design and editorial style. We gained momentum this year.