Damn that unfinished extension (AKA building our new website)
I have something to confess. For the last couple of years I’ve been the brickie who’s built some cracking stuff for other people but has a half-finished extension at home.
OK, so I’m not really a brickie (unless you count a few wobbly DIY projects) but what I am is the fella who creates spangly new websites for his customers all year round but has had the same online presence for a slightly-too-long-for-a-designer five years.
The website we had up until this week had served us well. Plenty of new customers finding us, good google rankings and no violent objections to its design. But times change, designs age and five years is, by anyone’s standards, too long to go without at least some kind of refresh. Given the industry I work in, and the fact that we want to showcase our web projects to potential customers, I absolutely have not been practising what I preach.
It’s not like we haven’t thought about a redesign. About 18 months ago I decided I was going to update the site. It needed a new look, new work, a new logo…it’s so hard to look at design objectively when it’s for you – and it always takes twice as long as it does for your customers. But I set to work and spent a couple of months creating a brand new site to be proud of. Except when I sat back and looked at it, I wasn’t proud. I didn’t like it. It wasn't awful, just a bit blah – and my partner agreed. So it got parked. I made a promise to come back to it again as soon as we hit a quiet spell and I had some time to be reinspired, except (happily) the quiet times didn’t come. We just got busier and busier. And although it constantly niggled away at the back of my mind, I just didn’t have the time, headspace nor motivation to redesign a website which wasn’t offensive nor ineffective. The kitchen wall had been knocked through and the foundations for the extension were laid – but building work had ground to a halt.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when me and my partner were planning for 2015. At one point, we both looked at each other and knew we couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer. We needed to get the extension finished.
So, this time we sat down and created a proper website design brief, just as we do for our customers – doh! We laid out what we wanted the site to achieve, created a concept for how it should look, tweaked the logo, wrote new copy, rewrote that copy, created a shortlist of the work we wanted to highlight and contacted customers for testimonials. If it was down to me I would have got it finished in a woolly ‘sometime soon’ but my partner pushed to get it ready in time for our festive email which meant there would be a hard and fast deadline of 18th December.
And plenty of late nights later it’s done! And this time it’s something I am proud of. It's much cleaner, it’s responsive (meaning it works on all kinds of devices) and it shows off some of the cool stuff we’ve had the privilege of working on. We’re now looking forward to putting our feet up over the festive period and feeling smug that the extension has been built, the fixtures and fittings are connected, the painting is done and the furniture is in. Just don’t remind me that it will all need redecorating again in a couple of years.
Posted by: John