I spent almost two years trying to redesign my previous website. I loved the original design, but it was a single landing page for my online portfolio, and my business was outgrowing it.

My original site around 2013

I could have just worked with what I already had, but since I had gotten some feedback that my site was too dark, I decided to start fresh and hopefully come up with something I’d love even more. 

I was busy working with clients and didn’t want to take too much time away from them to work on my own stuff. So, I was hoping to find a beautiful, ready-made theme that I’d fall in love with and that would allow me to just drop in my logo and content and call it a day. 

That didn’t happen. 

So I settled for using a solid, but “meh” theme with the idea that I’d customize it to look exactly the way I wanted. But everything I added to make it more “me” fell flat.

What was supposed to be a quick little side project had been dragging on for months. So I decided to wrap it up, launch the new site, and use it for the time being until I figured out my next move.

I wound up sticking with that design for over a year… even though I low key hated it. 

It’s not that it was a terrible site, but when I looked at it, I felt like I was looking at a failed attempt to create something that reflected my style and personality. And even worse, I couldn’t pinpoint why or how to fix it.

What finally turned things around for me was working with a copywriter, the uber-talented Jessica Manuzak of Verve & Vigour. And no, she didn’t take over web design responsibilities in addition to helping me with my copy. She just had me do the same thing I do with my own clients but never thought to do for myself – fill out a brand questionnaire.

By answering those questions, I began to realize that I had been following the whole throw-darts-at-a-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach with my redesign.

No wonder I hated it.

There was one question in particular where I had to pick the image and caption that did the best job of describing my brand. And one of the choices was so on point, it was like Jess reached into my subconscious and plucked it from my brain. 

I had instant clarity on the vibe I wanted my website to have and how it should make people feel when they see it.

The only thing left to do was figure out how it was gonna look. And this very thing that I had been struggling with for almost two years became a breeze because I now had a compass to help guide my every decision. (More on that in a bit.)

I could finally stop wasting countless hours trying out every single design option that might appeal to me. Now that I actually knew my brand, I was able to look at an image, layout, color palette, or font choice and know right away if I should keep it, tweak it, or get rid of it. 

Case in point, I had another redesign in the works that I had been going back and forth on for months. 

I ditched it immediately, found a theme that was a better fit for my brand, and got to work on starting yet another redesign. 

I finished it within a few weeks of filling out that intake form. And this time, I was thrilled with the results.

The final redesign for the old N.Creatives

So here’s the takeaway. If you put a ton of time and energy into your website and for some reason, you still feel a sense of website shame when you look at it, it might be because you made the same mistake I did. You didn’t get clear on your brand first.

If this is you, then your first step before even touching your website design is to get strategic. Start by asking yourself 2 questions:

1) What vibe do you want your site to communicate?
2) How it should make people feel when they interact with it?

Once you figure that out, get those ideas out of your head and into something more tangible by creating a style guide. A one-page reference that lists your brand’s attributes (or keywords) as well as fonts, colors, textures/patterns, and inspiration images. Then use it as your compass to help you make decisions and filter out any design options that aren’t a fit.

My branding mood board for the old N.Creatives

If you’re not sure how to create a style guide, I go over how to create one in my program, Get Pressed. It’s similar to the mood board above, but it’s more web-design focused and even works as a preview of what your website will look like before putting in the effort to build it.

Normally, this training would only be available to get Get Pressed or FLEX members, but next week I’m going to share that process with you as well as some of the resources I’ve created to speed up the process. No sign up required.

So if you’re feeling stuck with your current site design, I can’t wait to share this info with you next week.

See you then!

Xo,
Nicole