Rocket Polish II Launches
It's time for Rocket Polish to take another step forward. For a while I've been actively seeking out inspiration for redesign the site. Then I saw the following Tweet: http://t.co/pQfW1jkeWo
I'd seen that kind of layout before, but this time, combined with the use of tiles in Windows 8 and 10, it struck home. I began the preparation work last week, which helped the re-design process go much quicker than it would otherwise have done. I'm delighted with the result, but how did I achieve it?
Creative Website Design
It all began when I started to add menus to the previous version of the site. The original 5 menus grew to 8, making the navigation area look cluttered and unattractive. This could have been corrected, but I also felt the site needed a new look, and there were some SEO (search engine optimisation) issues to resolve as well. That made me think that sweeping the old site away would make better use of my time and have much greater effect. With time carved out of my schedule, I was able to begin in earnest early last week.
I began with simple pen and paper design. What pages did I need and why? Over the past month or so I've come to realise that I haven't been giving enough voice to my copywriting skill. I've got great experience as a copywriter from a year of solid freelance ghost-writing on a wide range of topics. This gives me the ability to help clients present themselves more effectively. The previous version of this site mentioned social media, but didn't give it its own page. That had to change. Website Design had previously been framed over 3 pages, a deliberate thematic reflection of the 3 stages of the Saturn V rocket. That was all very well, but clarity and the practicalities of SEO are more important. The blog, Dance with a Muse, and Contact pages needed to stay, but also needed to be reworked.
Next, with time to spare, I was able to do something that very few of us have the time to do in our craft: play. I took time to combine the tools at my disposal with what I've learned to see what I could create, to see what I was capable of. This is an option that we rarely ever get, but it can be so important to us, as both Trent Reznor and Hans Zimmer revealed:
After play came the methodical process of working through what I'd created in play. With the tile idea (mentioned in the tweet above) in mind, I suddenly hit upon the current design. I can't say it was coincidence, too much work went into it, but it was suddenly there. Creating a test site, I put everything into place, and that sense within me that every creative person has went 'DING DING DING'. I stepped away from it last weekend, came back to it on Monday this week, and it still felt every bit as good. Not only was it still looking great on desktops, it looked at least as good, maybe better, on smartphones. I spent Monday and Tuesday writing the text for the new pages, making sure I knew how to implement redirects from old pages that wouldn't exist once the new version launched, getting the step-by-step process in order, and generally putting everything in place. I didn't want to start work until I felt completely in command and that I wouldn't be surprised.
The actual process of implementing the new site to a point where I felt able to take it live took less than 4 hours because of the effectiveness of the preparation. Unexpected things still arose of course, but they were easily managed. Last night and this morning I nailed down the remaining issues, and everything slipped into place to create the attractive website that you can see now. So what's the result? What's better than before?
- Navigation is clear and intuitive, especially for smartphone users
- The use of images on the homepage gives it an attractive and modern feel
- The tile design chimes with Windows 10, launched recently
- Using the tile design with the blog keeps the site coherent
- Page speed for the home page has improved by 21.7%
It's also re-engaged me with the site, making me get on top of little niggles and issues that weren't being dealt with. I've worked on the Pinterest widget so that the feed on Dance with a Muse is now much more in keeping with the rest of the site, especially the tile design. What can't also be underestimated is the way in which this redesign and dealing with outstanding has been a boost to my morale. I feel great about how it's turned out, and about how I transformed that single source of inspiration into reality.