The last quarter of the year is an introspective time for me. From October 1 through January 1 I go through a deep dive into honing my mission, spending more time creating, and developing a strategy for 2020.
I’ve done this for years, it is actually the entire reason I started my Creative Shift Mastermind, to help others spend a quarter of the year getting radical clarity and a plan to reach their creative goals.
A lot of people do this type of thing in a day, a weekend, or a week. For me, it takes a full 90 days.
As part of this process I am redesigning my website. Today I want to share with you what that process looks like so far, and why I would encourage you to consider how your website becomes a part of your creative vision. I’ll try to offer as many practical tips as I can.
Have Collaborators Help You
The very first thing I did in this process of a deep dive on my mission and website redesign was to identify collaborators. These are advisors who will help me work through strategic decisions. I have a 153 slide document of strategic ideas I have collected, and the very line of the first slide lists out my collaborators.
Why was this my biggest priority? Because I will fail if I do it alone.
I wanted people who could challenge me, who could explore with me, who could give experienced feedback, who could help me see my own blind spots, and could keep me accountable.
None of these people are building the website for me. I am doing that myself. These advisors focus on messaging, layout, design, and how a simple website can represent a deeper set of creative values.
These are the collaborators:
- As always, Jennie Nash is the first on the list. We talk every week (and have done so for years), and at this point, we have probably assisted each other with hundreds of website redesigns!
- Lori Richmond and I have a standing weekly call as well, and she has this laser-focused ability to identify what works and what doesn’t. Her own website recently went through a redesign and it’s really wonderful.
- I reached out to my friend Diane Krause to join me in this process. She had previously worked for me at WeGrowMedia, and we remained friends since then. Since October 1st, we have had so many calls addressing both specific strategic elements of my work, but also much broader conversations about my my creative vision and the mission of my company.
- Klare Petit-Frere joined WeGrowMedia earlier this year to assist with social media and some design work. Recently, she began helping with the website redesign as well as strategy. She’s not only a good designer, but she has great insight into the real purpose of design: meaningful moments of connection with real people.
If this sounds complicated to you, I don’t mean for it to. When I consider the purpose of a website, to communicate what you create and why, and to do so in a manner that truly engages a reader, I think collaboration is the best way to do that well.
Hone How You Describe Your Creative Work
Soon I will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of WeGrowMedia. (That feels strange to even write down!) Yet here I am, after spending 3,000+ days of doing this work full time, still honing how I describe what I do and what I create.
Honestly, I have done this again and again, year after year. Why? Because as a writer and creator, I am constantly growing as a person, and so is my creative vision.
I know the themes I write about better. Each year, I speak to hundreds more people in my audience, and that helps me learn what connects with them and why. Describing these things is not easy. I am always — always — honing my creative vision and how I describe it to others.
This is work I do so often with writers. How can they best express what they create, why they do so, and who they are. That is no easy task, and it is one that evolves as you and your work grows.
Simplicity Takes Time
Each year, my website gets simpler. Even though I create new blog posts, new podcasts, new services for writers each year, my goal is always for the website to have less, not more.
I want the navigation bar to have less options. I want the homepage to be radically clear. I want every page to draw the reader in, but not waste even a moment of their time.
The website redesign I’m working on will remove more than it adds. It is a process of cutting so that whatever remains can be even stronger — more helpful — to writers. I want it to express my creative vision with immediacy. And I want it to help writers achieve their own goals.
Good design is about less. That takes a lot of time.
Incremental Growth Instead of Flashy Redesigns
I suppose my goal is for you to view the new website in January and say, “Um, this looks exactly like the old site.” Why? Because I’m not trying to elicit “oohs and ahs” with something flashy and new.
Too often we overlook the value of incremental growth. Of honing the core of who we are, what we create, and why. For my website redesign, much of the site will look similar to what it looks like right now.
An effective website redesign is not about painting the walls a flashy new color. It is about making the room feel more like home.
Likewise, I see so many author websites that have simply been neglected, even though they still write and release books. Homepages that have a big banner that says “Coming in summer 2017, my new book!” Or an author bio or photo that hasn’t been updated in 5+ years.
Showing up for incremental growth is about attending to your creative vision and how you connect with others around it.
This is a process I’m in the middle of. I wanted to share the practical and philosophical side of this to help you approach your own website goals for 2020. Below are some previous blog posts I’ve written on the topic of website design. You will see how I approach this again and again over the years, as my creative vision grows and evolves:
- Creating a Radically Honest Homepage
- How to Create an Effective Website
- Lessons From Redesigning My Website
- How I Redesigned My Website