My style as a teenager was very eclectic. You may have described me as a hippie/ vagabond dreamer, who wore wanderlust on her sleeve.
Or an eccentric artist who embraced her weird and didn’t care what others thought.
I remember my brother asking me, “so, what are you? I mean, are you a skater-gothic chic or a cowgirl?” I looked down at my wide-legged skate pants, my brown polyester shirt that I got from my grandpa’s yard sale, and touched the cowboy hat on top of my head.
I thought about my purple ombre hair (I was ahead of the times), and the other “strange” things that I did to feel like I was expressing my love for creativity and art on the outside.
I had more confidence in my youth, but his comment somehow got cemented into the corner of my memories, and it’s taken me hostage in my adult life.
His comment along with many other comments throughout the rest of my childhood.
They would later make me doubt my aesthetic. To the point where I started watering everything down. I felt like I needed to be put into a box because he’d said that I didn’t fit in any box and it confused him.
I didn’t realize that I would take these little snippets of doubt with me when I became a small business owner, but I’m still carrying them.
Fast forward to late 2016, when I decided to have headshots taken for my website redesign that I wanted to complete in early Spring of this year. I hired my cousin, Michele, who did a fantastic job of capturing the things that I had envisioned in my head.
But I never took the time to do my website redesign. I had this idealized picture of what my site would look like, but I wasn’t sure what it looked like on paper.
[clickToTweet tweet=”I had this picture of what my site would look like but wasn’t sure what that looked like on paper.” quote=”I had this idealized picture of what my site would look like but wasn’t sure what that looked like on paper.”]
I looked around at other websites and took screenshots of what I liked about those sites, but I wasn’t sure how to include the elements I loved in my Brand. This thing that I get paid to do, I couldn’t even do it for myself.
It came easy for me to create website mockups for my clients, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do it for myself.
And you know what I uncovered during the process? I discovered the fact that I was telling myself these little phrases that I remembered from my childhood.
“You’re so strange and eclectic.”
“You like too many things, and they’re all so different.”
“You can’t match this pattern with that pattern.”
“Those things don’t make sense together.”
I just went about telling myself that the things I liked wouldn’t work together and that they weren’t good enough. I said to myself that what I had in my head wouldn’t ever work.
So, I put my website redesign on hold for almost 11 months.
Until one day, I just sat down with the photos my cousin had taken, and I went to work. I stopped saying that my ideas were crazy and I just went about redesigning my website quickly, but with certainty.
I kept my ideas and my mockups secret, except from one of my closest friends. When I shared them, she was ecstatic, because she knew I had struggled throughout the year.
When I finally had my site up but just needed my developer Krista to fix one small thing on the site, Krista told me that my website was SO much more me.
That’s what I wanted.
And I’ve received such good feedback ever since.
Looking at my website now, it doesn’t seem like it’s weird or like I’m “strange” or “out there.” I took ideas that I had played around with in the past with my design aesthetic, and I just let it naturally unfold without editing myself.
So telling myself things that weren’t true, they were keeping me from moving forward. I was needlessly stuck.
All of this to say that, you too can embrace your website Brand style. Here’s how:
Stop thinking about the ways that it’s not going to work, or the reasons why it’s not going to look good.
When you continually look at the negatives, instead of putting your head down and going through the process, you don’t allow yourself space to create/produce. You edit yourself or stall out before you even start, and that isn’t moving forward. It’s keeping you stuck in the same spot.
Websites aren’t supposed to be the Mona Lisa. They aren’t masterpieces that once you’ve added in the perfect highlight or gotten the shadows just right, that then you can finally hang up your hat and call it a day.
Nope. Websites are and should be everchanging.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Websites are everchanging. Regularly look at your site and see how you can improve the aesthetic.” quote=”Websites are everchanging. Regularly look at your site and see how you can improve the aesthetic.”]
You should regularly look at your website and see how you can improve the aesthetic because small tweaks can help make your site better. For example, you can make your content easier to consume or help to steer your viewers to where they need to go next after you’ve received feedback from your audience.
So, no, your website isn’t finished when you’ve completed your redesign. If you get stuck before you even start, that will just prolong you from getting to a place where you’re able to make small tweaks after you’ve received feedback. Don’t stay stuck in the building/construction phase instead of the redesign/redecorating phase.
Get all of your ideas out and don’t edit yourself.
I learned this tip when I started writing on a more consistent basis. I discovered that we edit during the creative process, no matter what it is that we are creating.
We edit, most of us, in our heads before we ever put pencil to sketchbook or paintbrush to canvas.
[clickToTweet tweet=”We edit, most of us, in our heads before we ever put pencil to sketchbook or paintbrush to canvas.” quote=”We edit, most of us, in our heads before we ever put pencil to sketchbook or paintbrush to canvas.”]
But in the case of your website, you need to get all of your ideas out first. So write out the things that you like and that you want, even if they seem like they are impossible or like you might need to sell your firstborn to make them happen.
When you get everything out, you allow the fun/creative ideas to happen. Then you can go back later and make some cutthroat decisions on whether or not you’ll include particular ideas in your website design or redesign.
Understand that it can take many versions of something to get to a version that you can feel proud of or confident that you’ll stick with it for more than a hot minute.
Again, just like with writing, you’ll have a rough draft of your website. Now that rough draft might be live and available for all the world to see, but that doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone.
You should want to go through multiple versions of a website.
If you use the Wayback Machine and look at the earliest versions of websites, you’ll see and know that even large companies have gone through multiple versions of their websites until they have the version that we know today.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Use the Wayback Machine to look at early versions of sites by your favorite Brands.” quote=”Use the Wayback Machine to look at early versions of sites by your favorite Brands.”]
(I looked back at the earliest versions of one of my favorite Brand’s websites and noticed that the earliest site appears to be a straightforward, somewhat dull page. Whereas today’s website is just perfection. And it took them multiple versions to get there.)
You’re no different. You’ll go through multiple versions of your site, and that’s okay. Embrace the process.
Embrace your quirks or the weird things that you love. And let them come out through your website.
Listen, I’ll be 35 tomorrow, and I’ve told myself for most of my life that I can’t do x or y because someone won’t like it.
Well, yeah? That certainly is true. People won’t like many of the things that I do, but I’m not going to let that rule my life anymore.
I’m going to grab hold of the quirks and weird idiosyncrasies and just have fun with my business and Brand. (And my style too.)
Sure there will be people who don’t like what I do. There will be the inevitable unfollow, the unavoidable click out of my website because I’m not the web designer for them. And it will be okay.
[clickToTweet tweet=”There will be the inevitable unfollow, the unavoidable click out of your site but it will be okay.” quote=”There will be the inevitable unfollow, the unavoidable click out of your site but it will be okay.”]
I promise the same is true for you.
People will unfollow you because you decide to use the color orange on your website. But on the flip side, lots of other people will feel the confidence you have when you embrace your website style, and they’ll also love that you used that color.
So embrace it, friend.
In the end, moving forward with your website and embracing your style with confidence is all about taking action first and thinking second.
What’s something that you’ve wanted to try out on your site but you’ve been too afraid that you’d get some snarky remarks from people? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Anita Van Hal says
Great post Amanda! I think, for me, it’s listening to what the “experts” say about color and the colors you should never use. Here’s the thing. I LOVE color and while I have my favorites, I’m not afraid or intimidated to use color. Except brown. Brown is like the color of death. But hey, who knows, maybe next year brown will be my new favorite color. Or not!
Amanda Creek says
Hahaha! Yeah, brown really isn’t my favorite color either. Thanks for stopping by! :)
You could’ve been describing me. After several decades of designing print and websites for others, designing my own will always be the very hardest. For my most recent site, I considered too many options…directions…colors…moods…
And I chose to feature two things I now do (art and children’s books), rather than just one. It might’ve been a no-no to everyone else I would counsel, but it was a no-no I said yes to for me. Because my two things are related. But they’re also stand alone.
And my opt-in is kind of out there…and I’m still too close to all of it to determine if I did even one right thing. But I still love it.
Amanda Creek says
I think that art and children’s books make a beautiful combination! :) I understand about the opt-in…sometimes you just have to put it out there and see if people like it and opt-in. I like to put out new opt-ins every once in a while to see if one works better than another. It’s all about testing and giving things a try!