May 17, 2017

How To Retain Your Sanity During A Blog Redesign…& A Sneak Preview!

how to stay sane during a blog redesign

A few tips for staying sane during a blog redesign

The title of this post is not to insinuate that undertaking a rebrand and redesign project will drive you insane!

If anything, its one of the most exciting, amazing and important things you can go through as a blogger or business owner. Ask anyone who’s been through the process and I’m sure they’ll say the same.

But because it feels monumental, pivotal and crucially important to get right, all at the same time, the process can feel a little stressful at various touch points.

This week I celebrated my ninth year year in blogging (because all things big and small need celebrating right?), so I’ve been through this process or at least a derivative of it, a few times now.

The Online Stylist was previously known as Forty Not Out and has seen a gazillion tweaks, several major facelifts and a number of enhancements along the way.

This is the first time I’ve
worked with a brand designer…

But this one feels pretty major. Its the first time I’ve worked with a brand designer (say Hello to Emily Wells!) and really thought about the outcome way in advance of actually jumping in and acting on it.

I’m going to stop there with the nitty gritty detail of what, why, who, when and how as I have a whole other post (maybe two!) planned for later on with plenty of rebranding/redesign tips that I hope you’ll find useful.

For now, lets get back to staying calm, sane and focused throughout the process. Oh and a sneak peek of the new blog design mood board…

online stylist desk and work space

light box coffee served here

Make Notes Now!

I know it sounds obvious but when you have a head filled with ideas, inspirations, thoughts and questions, its SO easy to forget that brilliant point or pertinent question that just popped into your head.

Make copious amounts of notes… and make them the minute you think of The Thing! This is the only way I can feel I’m on top of the whole process whilst trying to run the blog as normal…and the rest of everyday life. Write it, type it, scribble it or record it.

Whenever I speak with my web developers and support team at Chloé Digital or my brand designer Emily Wells, I regularly check in with the pad on my desk, iPhone notes and voice memos to make sure I’ve left nothing out.

Writing it down the minute it
pops into my head is crucial…

I have notes for design/brand ideas including a list of immediate action points that have to happen to keep things moving along.

There’s a list of things I want to tidy up ahead of going live and one for things to check once its all systems go.

Writing it down helps the minute it pops into my head is crucial to ensuring that when it is time to switch off my work brain, I feel I can relax. At least a little anyway!

Try Monica’s take on Macro & Micro Lists to ensure the long term priorities tie in with the short term ones.

marble mouse flowers and desk calendar

Have Patience With The Process

One thing that this process has taught me is to be patient.

As someone who’s excitement and enthusiasm will carry them away in five seconds flat, I’m well aware that patience can go out the window!

…I’m like a kid on
Christmas Eve!

Once I get an idea, the idea turns into a plan. Once that plan seems doable, I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve – I want it all to happen now!

But if you’re about to invest some hard earned cash (be it a large or small amount) into a refresh, don’t jump in with the first plan that pops into your head.

Before you set the wheels in motion to make design changes, stop, re-group and run your ideas and plans past anyone else who might be able to offer some helpful insights.

The last thing you want to do is miss something crucial and possibly end up shelling out more cash for an essential element later on. Or have to live with second best for a long time.

Logging on to an inspirational screen saver in the morning

Plan Ahead & Don’t Forget To Take A Break!

This is one where I really need to heed my own advice a little bit more but I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing when to take a take a break during this process.

Implementing a new blog redesign will undoubtably impact on your time so try and plan ahead for that.

If you’re dealing with web developers and dsigners, try and talk final deadlines from the beginning as you’ll need to know when you can expect completion on the project. That way you can be realistic about your time commitments too and build in any contingency if needed.

As you work towards implementation you might need to cut back on your blog content schedule and the number of meetings and blog events you attend.

Not only to give yourself headspace and time to plan for the big launch but to give yourself the chance for time off. An afternoon here, a morning there or just making sure you meet a friend for coffee or still attend that fitness class will all help.

Stressed to the hilt, I spent
launch day in tears…

Don’t do as I did some years ago when I had a redesign of the blog and launch of the no longer present Style Advice Service.

We ended up working on the main build during the school six weeks holiday – really bad (lack of) planning on my behalf! I had no childcare and basically ran myself into the ground trying to get it all in place.

Sleep deprived and stressed to the hilt, I spent launch day in tatters and tears over a few technical hitches. Not my finest hour!

desk flower single pink hydrangea in copper pot

Ask, ask and ask again.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.

Whilst us bloggers tend to be self-taught, one woman/man shows who can learn multiple skills they never even thought possible, we don’t (and shouldn’t have to), know it all.

That’s probably why you’re hiring a site designer or brand consultant right? They know more than you in their chosen field so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

A good designer will never make you
feel foolish for asking for clarification…

If you don’t understand something technical, ask to have it re-explained. A good designer will never make you feel foolish for asking for clarification.

If the final stages are coming together and you can’t remember if something was discussed or noted in the original brief, ask again.

Chloé Digital are incredibly patient when I invariably raise a point I may have already mentioned way back in the beginning. Or if I can’t get my head around the technical side of a design aspect.

Working with an individual or company who understands bloggers, their needs, hopes and aspirations will always make your blog redesign journey so much smoother.

And so to that sneak preview! If you’re signed up the Online Stylist newsletter, you might have already seen this but if not, this is the mood board that the amazing Emily Wells created for me…

Online stylist final mood board by emily wells

When I received it, it was love at first sight and if Emily had been in the room with me, as opposed to all they way across the Atlantic in Alabama, I would have picked her up and spun her round!

It formed the jumping off point in her process of imagining what the new Online Stylist brand would look like. She pulled it together after we had our initial phone chat and I had answered some extensive branding questions.

After seeing her vision formed of images from my secret Pinterest board and Instagram feed, together with a brand colour palette, I had every confidence that she got what the new Online Stylist was about.

Once the new design is live, I’ll share some more practical tips about what I’ve learnt from the process and hopefully you’ll find them useful if you’re about to go down this route yourself.

Until then, have you been through this process and if so, did you manage stay calm and focused throughout?

Feel free to share how in the comments below!

Images by Lauren Garvey – A Piece Of The Party

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